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What is Ministry?


More and more people in ministry today, so what exactly is ministry? How do we do ministry, and why? As I will show, ministry is closely tied to who we believe our God is, and who we are in relationship to God.


There has been an enormous renewal in how the term “ministry” has been understood since Vatican II. Before this time, ministry was considered the work of ordained clergy - not even the services provided by vowed men and women in religious orders were called ministry!

Today, the word “ministry” is used to describe any service that a person provides in the name and expression of the Christian community. Grounded in the gifts of the grace of the Holy Spirit, ministry in the life and experience of the church is a much larger reality than the ministry of the ordained clergy. It consists of a broad spectrum of services that have come into existence over the centuries.

This spectrum continues to expand as new forms of service for the nourishment and leadership of the church continues to emerge under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This is to be expected as the needs of our church community grow and as new challenges in the world demand new ways of providing service to those to who long to hear the liberating news of the gospel. This point was powerfully articulated by the Second Vatican Council:


To carry out such a task, the Church has always had the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel. Thus, in language intelligible to each generation, she can respond to the perennial questions which people ask about this present life and the life to come, and about the relationship of the one to the other. We must therefore recognize and understand the world in which we live, its explanations, its longings, and its often dramatic characteristics. (Gaudium et spes, no. 4)