Ministry Beyond Your Front Door
Here’s a passage that jumped off the page at me recently:
“Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas?” (1 Corinthians 9:5).
The writer here is Paul. What most surprises me is his mention of the other apostles' wives. Honestly, I’d never given much thought to whether or not the early apostles had wives. Now that seems silly. It isn’t likely that God chose to build His church only on the backs of bachelors. And if they had wives, we should assume that they had children, as they lived long before the era of modern birth control.
So the apostles had wives and children . . . what’s the big deal? The big deal is that their families didn't stop them from ministering to those around them. In fact, according to Paul, many apostles brought their wives along with them as they served.
I am a big believer that our families need to be one of our top priorities. First Timothy 5:8 is a passage that our family strives to keep in mind as we balance the demands of ministry and family. It says, “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
I don’t think God is honored when we throw our families under the bus in the name of ministry. What’s more, as a woman, I believe there is biblical backing for me to see marriage and motherhood as my most important mission fields. However, I worry that we can get so caught up in making our families a ministry priority that we allow the ministry to stop at our front door.
Yes, our families matter, but what about these passages?
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" (James 1:27).
"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me . . . Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me'” (Matthew 25:34-36,40).
"Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age'” (Matthew 28:18-20).
In just these three passages we are urged to look after orphans and widows, feed the hungry, show hospitality to strangers, clothe the needy, care for the sick, visit the imprisoned, make disciples, and teach God’s Word.
Clearly God’s Word calls us to do ministry. And while I know that ministering to our families is of utmost important, I don’t believe we should confine ministry to what happens behind our front door. It isn't easy, but personally I want the ministry in my home to flow out to others more and more. Here’s what that might look like for you:
If you’re a stay-at-home mom in a season of pouring into your kids, reach out to other moms. Invite a lost friend over for a play date. Start a mom's group with moms at a local homeless or women’s shelter.
If God is working in your marriage, pass it on. Find a young married couple to intentionally mentor. Get involved in a Sunday school class for young marrieds at your church with the purpose of building relationships.
Find a ministry that you can do as a family. Volunteer together at a local soup kitchen. Dedicate one Saturday a month to visiting sick children at your local hospital with homemade baked goodies and the good news of the Gospel.
My point is simply this . . . don’t let your service to Jesus stay within the walls of your home. The Great Commission is God’s mission for all of us. If the apostles can involve their families in the creation of the early church, surely we can love our families well and serve those in need beyond our doorstep. What can you do to today to expand your ministry to those in need?