“Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people.”
Acts 6:8, NIV
It is a mistaken and detrimental concept to think that ministry should be performed by professional clergy. The job of pastor is to equip people to do the work of the ministry. It is the work of lay people to actually perform the ministry.
Stephen is a good reminder of this. Counted among the first number of deacons, Stephen reminds us where the cutting edge of ministry really is. The Bible tells us Stephen was willing to serve and work in the church. He was willing to give of his time and talents to perform his tasks within the church.
The Bible clearly indicates that he saw himself as responsible to God for the ministry entrusted to him. He did not work reluctantly or half-heartedly. He did it with faith and was filled with the Spirit of God. Stephen also was willing to stand up for Christ in the midst of adversity. Many lay people do not believe it is their place to take a public stand for Christ. The church and the kingdom have been immeasurably weakened because individual Christians have not stood up for Christ as Stephen did when the church faced opposition.
Stephen also spoke up for Christ. He could clearly articulate the tenants of his faith. There was no intellectual gap between the theologians and the laity. The cutting edge is significantly dulled when those doing the work of the ministry do not understand the truths of their faith.
Finally, Stephen was willing to suffer for his faith. He was willing to put his life on the line. Everything he said he lived for he was willing to die for. It is no wonder that God used Stephen. He was on the cutting edge.
QUESTION: Whom do you see as being responsible for the work of God’s ministry? Where is your place and how are you serving God?