Ministry (8): Messengers of Jesus

Not every gift requires a ministry in order to unfold. And not every duty requires a ministry for its implementation. This is always a question of the respective duty—and there are some clear distinctions here.

Serving God and one’s neighbour: that is the core idea in Christendom. After all, it is a well-known fact that Jesus did not come to this earth in order to be served, but rather to serve Himself. And those who wish to serve Him must follow His example.

The service of all upon all

Thus one of the commonalities among all Christians is the “call that has gone out to all believers to serve the Lord through following,” as it says in the Catechism. Here too, love for God goes hand in hand with love for one’s neighbour—on the one hand, the idea is to proclaim the great deeds of God, but on the other hand, it is also a matter of actively caring for one’s fellow believers and fellow human beings.

In the end effect, the object is to give credible testimony of Jesus Christ. Everything required for this duty is contained in Holy Baptism with water. Those who are baptised with the Spirit have the additional responsibility of supporting the mission of the Apostles.

Service in doctrine and pastoral care

Beyond that, all denominations acknowledge tasks and duties that serve for the proclamation of the gospel and for pastoral care. What is required here in principle is an express calling. In the New Apostolic Church, these services are not only performed by ordained ministers, but also by teachers and caregivers for specific groups—for example, youth leaders.

Service in the name of God

Within the scope of doctrine and pastoral care, there are services that are expressly exercised in the name of God. This includes the dispensation of sacraments—such as Holy Communion—as well as the sermon as the proclamation of God’s word. Speaking in His name also requires express empowerment, according to the New Apostolic understanding. This can be found in the appropriate authorisation inherent in a ministry bestowed through ordination.

The service of spiritual leadership

Yet another service is provided by human beings who have assumed a spiritual leadership function. After all, this is not limited to organisational and administrative functions. Above all, the object here is to preserve the unity in the respective area of responsibility, and to assure the spiritual care of those in one’s care.

This is indeed associated with ministry—after all, the preservation of the doctrine is based on the proclamation of the word of God. And in order to ensure that sacraments can even be dispensed, the mandate also extends to the administration of sacraments.

Nevertheless, the exercise of leadership cannot claim the same divine authority as for the sacraments or the sermon. This is something the Chief Apostle has made abundantly clear: “We must be able to explain these decisions. There must be a good reason for them. They must be convincing to people.”

Photo: Jakub Krechowicz -

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Andreas Rother
ministry, Structure, Congregational life