The third level of Designed Cooperation between families and churches in making fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ of their students is directing them to SERVE God with their lives. SERVING God includes two components: ministry and missions. Generally in the church we use these two components to mean the same thing, but functionally and in the Bible they describe two different tasks. Ministry takes place within the body of Christ (the church; to Christians), missions happens outside the walls of the church (to unbelievers). For example, if a group of students goes to the home of a shut-in church member and performs various tasks such as home repair and yard cleanup-that’s ministry. If however, the next weekend the group of students performs the same tasks but at the home of a non-believer, and while working shares with that person who they represent (Christ and the church) and how that person can be saved-that’s missions. Both ministry and missions are required components of SERVING God. Our students need to find out what their spiritual gifts are and find their place of service within the life of their church. They also need to be on mission with God, telling the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ as they go about their daily lives. But how do we raise students up to SERVE God in these ways? By families and churches partnering together…
First, the church has a huge obligation to call, equip, and release students to SERVE God. Student ministries and the church at large must begin by calling students to SERVE God. Salvation does not begin and end with a free ticket into heaven. And it goes further than growing as disciples. It extends to the point of actively living as servants of God. The church must courageously set this expectation (from God) right in front of students’ noses! As Samuel instructed Israel we too must “Obey the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart.” (1 Samuel 12:24) Next, the church must equip students to SERVE God. Equipping comes through Bible centered teaching and preaching, testimonies given from experience, opportunities for students to discover and understand spiritual gifts, and “laboratory-type” opportunities through which students can try and even error and SERVING God through ministry AND missions. Finally, the church must release students to SERVE God. Simply put, students are placed into both formal and informal roles of ministry provided the opportunity to be on-mission locally, regionally, and world-wide (see Acts 1:8). Note: missions is both corporate (accomplished through teams) AND individual (everyone is a missionary to the immediate context they live and exist in).
Second, families have a huge obligation to raise up servants of Jesus Christ. The church is not the sole proprietor of making servants of God; SERVING must be expected, modeled, and intentionally accomplished within individual families. Has your family ever provided an act of service or ministry together? Gone on a mission trip together? Shared the gospel with the next door neighbor together? Before the church corporately gathers students together as ministers and missionaries, releasing them for service, families must first be calling, equipping, and releasing their students to SERVE to the best of their ability. There is no template for SERVING God that all must adapt to; simply get out there and meet a need with the love of Christ for a fellow believer (ministry) and convey the gospel message of salvation to the lost (missions).
Quite frankly, this level of SERVING God is the most avoided by families, individual Christians, and even churches. Why? Because it requires pro-activity, courage, time, passion and compassion for people, and consistency. But just as CONNECTING and FOLLOWING are purposes of God, so too is SERVING. As you serve, both as families and churches, understand the difference between ministry and missions while knowing that God calls you and I to both.