The work of ministry is a task for every Christian. The work of ministry is not just the pastor’s job—the pastor’s job is to equip the church to do ministry:
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:11–16 ESV, emphasis added)
The biblical vision for the work of ministry is ultimately every believer taking part in the Great Commission: sharing the gospel and teaching folks how to follow Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20).
Acts 18:1-11 provides examples of three roles that every believer can and should have in the work of ministry.
Support the Work of Ministry
Paul worked as a tentmaker/leatherworker in Corinth to support the work of ministry (vv. 1-4). He continued to do so until Silas and Timothy brought financial support from the Macedonian church which freed up Paul to be fully occupied in the work of ministry. The church in Macedonia sent support for Paul so that a church could begin in Corinth as it had in Macedonia.
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he stated his preference to forego his rights to be supported by the church as a worker in the word (1 Cor. 9:1-18). However, he also makes it clear that the church has an obligation to support the ones who shepherd the church.
Prepare for the Work of Ministry
In Corinth, Paul does not just wait for opportunities for ministry to come to him (v. 4). He puts himself in a situation where he will have the opportunity to do the work of ministry: he goes to the synagogue.
Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half (v. 11). By receiving Paul’s teaching and growing in their walk with Christ, the Corinthian believers are preparing themselves for the work of gospel ministry.
This passage does not say whether or not Aquila and Priscilla were already believers when they met Paul (vv. 2-3). However, it is safe to say that, at a minimum, they learned much being discipled by Paul for a year and a half. After that period, Aquila and Priscilla fruitfully discipled Apollos (v. 24) who went on to do the work of ministry in Achaia (v. 28).
Do the Work of Ministry
At Corinth, Paul spent every Sabbath in the synagogue persuading Jews and Greeks to trust in Christ. He discipled Aquila and Priscilla—and countless others, no doubt—for eighteen months. As has already been mentioned, Aquila, Priscilla, and Apollos were engaged in the work of ministry. Upon trusting in Christ, Crispus presumably shares the gospel with his household and they believe and are baptized (v. 8).
What we have in Acts 18 is a beautiful picture of many followers of Christ—some well known and some that are not—engaged in all three phases of the work of ministry as God moves the gospel of grace forward.
If you are a follower of Christ you have the same duty to support, prepare for, and do the work of ministry.
How can I do the work of ministry?
How can I support the work of ministry?
How can I prepare for the work of ministry?