Throwback Thursday ~ Amputating Discernment Ministry from the Body of Christ

Originally published February 2, 2018

“There’s no place for Christian blogs and podcasts. Preaching, teaching, and encouragement should only be done by pastors and teachers in the local church.”

“Open air preaching ministry needs to go the way of the dinosaur.”

“Pro-life ministry organizations just cause too much strife. Lost people are going to reject the gospel because of them.”

“The Bible nowhere mentions Christian legal defense organizations.”

You’ve probably never heard someone give one of these statements as a reason for doing away with podcasts or street preaching or the ADF, but these days it seems like everybody – including doctrinally sound, discerning Christians – is screaming, “Off with its head!” about parachurch discernment ministries for these supposed reasons, and others. It’s become the bandwagon du jour. The popular whipping boy for Christian social media. The here-today-gone-tomorrow zeitgeist of online evangelicalism.

Among those who wish to amputate discernment ministry from the Body are good, solid, loving, godly brothers and sisters in Christ. I just wish they realized that there are many of us on this side of the discernment fence who are also good, solid, loving, godly brothers and sisters in Christ.

Among those who wish to amputate discernment ministry from the Body are good, solid Believers. I just wish they realized that there are many of us on this side of the discernment fence who are *also* good, solid Believers.

It is a sad irony that the genuinely good guys who are clamoring for the death of discernment ministry are, in some cases themselves doing the very things they accuse discernment ministries of doing. While they may give a brief hat tip to “some discernment ministries aren’t so bad”, in calling for the disbanding of discernment ministry across the board, they effectively lump everyone who does any sort of discernment work – regardless of how infrequently or how biblically it’s done – into the same category as those who indiscriminately lob a constant barrage of truth-bending, vitriolic grenades at everyone from the rankest heretic to the reputable, doctrinally sound brother who has a slightly different take on their eschatological view. And in the same way it wouldn’t be fair to throw these brothers and sisters who speak from biblical love and concern for the church into the same bin as “Christians” who scream like banshees about discernment ministry because they just want to worship their idols in peace without their consciences being pricked, it’s not fair to unilaterally declare that discernment ministry should be banned, either.

Rebuke those doing discernment work whose character, behavior, and handling of Scripture is so egregious it disqualifies them from any ministry whatsoever (and, unfortunately, they do exist) but encourage those who do discernment ministry right.

Just like you would with any other ministry.

Rebuke those doing discernment work whose egregious character, behavior, and handling of Scripture disqualifies them from ministry, but encourage those who do discernment ministry right. Just like you would with any other ministry.

Because if there were ever a dire need for discernment ministry done right and biblically, it’s now. Banishing the discerning altogether would be neither biblical nor beneficial to the Body.

Discernment: A Major Theme of the New Testament

The Old Testament is rife with idolatry, syncretism, and false prophets. Every book of the New Testament except Philemon deals in some way with false doctrine or false teachers and the importance of keeping them out of the church and away from Christians. It is a major issue throughout the Bible, but particularly in New Testament theology and ecclesiology. Jesus dealt with it. Paul dealt with it. So did Peter, Jude, John, and other New Testament figures.  Part of the reason the 21st century church is so steeped in false doctrine and enamored with false teachers now is that we have been brushing discernment aside for so long instead of bringing it front and center like the Bible does. If the Holy Spirit – the author of Scripture – considers discernment to be so vital, shouldn’t we?

If the Holy Spirit – the author of Scripture – considers discernment to be so vital, shouldn’t we?

Amputating Body Parts

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit…the ability to distinguish between spiritsAll these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills…But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”
1 Corinthians 12:4-8a, 10b, 11, 18-21 (emphasis mine)

Discernment (distinguishing spirits) is just as ontologically valid a spiritual gift – a manifestation of the Holy Spirit – as any of the others listed in 1 Corinthians 12. It is a biblically legitimate gift, service, and activity given for the common good of the church and empowered by the same Spirit, Lord, and God who gives and empowers the spiritual gifts of those who would do away with discernment ministry. Spiritual gifts are given by God and arranged in the Body as He sees fit. It is not for one individual body part to say to another, “I have no need of you.” Selah.

Discernment is a biblically legitimate gift given for the common good of the church and empowered by the same Spirit who gives and empowers the spiritual gifts of those who would do away with discernment ministry.

Check Your Privilege

If you’re a discerning person who goes to a discerning church, has a discerning pastor and elders, and hangs out with discerning friends maybe you don’t see that there’s much of a need for discernment ministry.

And if you lived in Hawaii, you wouldn’t see much of a need for snow shovels, either.

But if you lived in Alaska, you would.

We each exist in our own little bubble of personal experience. And if your bubble is one where pretty much everybody is discerning, make sure you thank God profusely for that every day, because you are extremely blessed. You’re also an extremely rare anomaly, because the vast majority of the rest of Christianity has no clue what that’s like. The 99 per cent-ers live in a bubble that looks like the shelves of your local Christian retailer – some good stuff (if you know where to look) and a whole lot of skubalon. And most of them don’t know the difference because they’ve never been taught. Don’t assume your experience is the norm for everyone.

Maybe you don’t see that there’s much of a need for discernment ministry. And if you lived in Hawaii, you wouldn’t see much of a need for snow shovels, either. But if you lived in Alaska, you would.

Of Course Pastors Should Be Leading the Way

One of the most common arguments I hear against discernment ministry is that it’s the job of the pastor, not discernment ministries, to teach discernment. And with that statement, I could not more heartily agree! Discernment work is half of a pastor’s job description:

He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
Titus 1:9 (emphasis mine)

So let me ask you 99 per cent-ers: when was the last time you heard a pastor rebuke someone who contradicts sound doctrine? Or call a false teacher by name? Or teach about a currently popular false doctrine and warn against it? I am honored to know several pastors who aren’t afraid to faithfully perform this part of their job, and God bless them for it. We need far more pastors like them. Yes, pastors should be spearheading the work of discernment in their local churches. But by and large, they’re not. And the Bible doesn’t say that only pastors have the gift and responsibility of discernment. It is insanity to tell ready, able, and willing laymen with garden hoses to stand down and watch a building burn to the ground while they wait…and wait…and wait…for the professional firemen who may never show up.

Yes, pastors should be spearheading the work of discernment in their local churches. But by and large, they’re not.

But Lost People Will Reject the Gospel!

Lost people already reject the gospel. That’s why they’re lost. They don’t get any lost-er by seeing a discernment ministry critique a false teacher. In fact, I’ve known of lost people who have expressed their thanks to discernment ministries for denouncing the blasphemies of false teachers. Even in their spiritually blind state many unbelievers know a wolf when they see one. Sometimes – to our shame – even better than those who call themselves Christians. When someone rejects the gospel, it is no more the fault of a discernment ministry than it is the fault of a pro-life ministry, a ministry that disciples newly saved homosexuals, or any other type of biblical ministry. God is sovereign in salvation. He will save who He means to save, and no mere mortal is going to prevent Him from doing so.

When someone rejects the gospel, it is no more the fault of a discernment ministry than it is the fault of a pro-life ministry, a ministry that disciples newly saved homosexuals, or any other type of biblical ministry.

Your Comfort Versus Their Souls

Whatever it is that bothers you about discernment ministries, is your state of botheration as important as the spiritual condition of the person that discernment ministry is reaching? Maybe you’re worried about those lost people out there who might reject the gospel because of discernment ministry conflict. Are you just as concerned about the lady in the pew next to you at church who’s every bit as lost as those people “out there” because she listens to false teachers who preach a false gospel that’s made her a false convert? What if a discernment ministry could help her understand the truth of the gospel? It’s happened. I’ve heard many stories of false converts Providentially “stumbling upon” a discernment ministry, hearing the unadulterated gospel for the first time, and getting saved.

What about the Christian woman who spends her quiet time in tears every day because she’s been falsely taught that God will talk to her if she just listens hard enough and has enough faith, and she’s in despair because she’s not hearing from God? What if a discernment ministry could set her free from that burden by teaching her what the Bible really says and steering her away from those who have deceived her? It’s happened. I know it has, because something similar happened to me. Is your annoyance at discernment ministries more important than her spiritual health?

Whatever it is that bothers you about discernment ministries, is your state of botheration as important as the spiritual condition of the person that discernment ministry is reaching?

There is absolutely a place – a good, God-ordained, nobody-puts-Baby-in-a-corner place – for discernment ministry in the Body of Christ. Inside the church, online, in parachurch ministry, from pastors, elders, and laymen alike. Yes, those who abuse their position of ministry – in any ministry – should be rebuked and removed. But we don’t do away with entire spiritual gifts and areas of ministry because of a few bad apples. Instead of amputating, maybe we should be excising gangrenous tissue instead. Otherwise we’ll just be shooting ourselves – the Body – in the foot.

There is absolutely a place – a good, God-ordained, nobody-puts-Baby-in-a-corner place – for discernment ministry in the Body of Christ.

Holidays (Other)

7 Ways to Encourage Your Minister of Music

Originally published November 18, 2014

October is Pastor Appreciation Month. Don’t forget to encourage and appreciate all of your pastors, including your minister of music!

Numerous articles have been written about how you, as a church member, can be an encouragement to your pastor- how you can constructively praise his sermon, pray for him, get him a great gift for Pastor Appreciation Month, etc. These are good things. Please be sure to support your pastor. Being a pastor is one of the toughest and most thankless jobs out there, and if you’ve read the statistics you know pastors need and deserve all the encouragement they can get.

But your preaching pastor isn’t the only person on your church’s staff who needs your support. So does your minister of music. And, having been married to one for over twenty years, I can tell you there aren’t many articles out there letting you know how church members can encourage their ministers of music. Ready to show some love? Here are seven ways you can be an encouragement to your minister of music.

Make practice a priority.

Before you join the choir or praise team or volunteer to play an instrument, find out how much of a time commitment it will be, and consider whether or not you can diligently keep that commitment. Once you’ve joined or volunteered, attend rehearsals, worship services, and performances faithfully, and be sure to arrive on time. You have no idea how much it means to your minister of music that he can count on you.

Get to church on time.

Think about how you would feel if you planned a dinner party, worked hard all week cooking and cleaning, and then one of the couples you invited carelessly showed up halfway through the meal. You’d probably think that was kind of rude and feel somewhat discouraged. That’s sort of the way a minister of music can feel when people (especially the same people every week) habitually arrive late to church for non-emergency reasons. Not only that, but it’s a distraction to others when you come in late, plus you’re missing out on praising God and getting your heart prepared to receive His Word during the sermon. Being on time and ready for worship benefits everybody!


If you were in a meeting at work or in a college class, would you pick up your knitting, clip your nails, walk around the room chatting with friends, or bury your nose in your phone the whole time? Probably not, yet, over the years I have seen church members do all these and more during the music portion of the worship service. It’s disrespectful to the God we’re supposed to be worshiping and to the minister of music who is trying to do the work God has called him to. On the other hand, I love it when we get in the car after church and my husband says, with a smile on his face, “Wow, they were really singing today!” We have an incredible Savior who has given us the privilege of praising Him, so let’s take Him up on it. Sing out! You can worship and be an encourager all at the same time.


It’s pretty disheartening for a minister of music to stand up front, giving it all he’s got, and then look out over the congregation and see a bunch of people looking like they’d rather be at the dentist. Think about Who you’re singing to and all the reasons why you’re singing to Him, and I challenge you to keep a frown on your face! Just the simple act of smiling while you’re singing will do wonders for your minister of music (and for you!).

Think before you complain.

Has your minister of music said or done something that’s clearly a sin or false doctrine? If so, you have a biblical obligation  to go to him -kindly and in love- and talk to him about it directly.

Is your complaint a matter of personal preference- style of music, whether or not he wears a tie, etc.? Give it 24 hours. Does it still seem just as important? Could you possibly be a servant to him (and others in the congregation whose opinion is the opposite of yours) by overlooking an offense and not complaining?

If you do feel the need to voice your concern (and there are valid concerns that aren’t sin-related), approach your minister of music the way you would want to be approached. Instead of, “Turn that dadgum volume DOWN!” how about, “I was wondering if it would be possible to ask the sound tech to lower the volume in the house speakers a little? My baby’s ears are very sensitive and she gets fussy when it’s that loud. I hate missing worship when I have to take her out to the lobby.” Instead of, “Hymns are so boring. I don’t see why we have to sing them half the time,” how about, “I really loved those two worship songs we sang this morning! Do you think we might be able to sing more songs like that soon?” Christ wants us to be kind to one another, so show your minister of music a little “Golden Rule” love.

Speak encouraging words often.

It’s been our experience, and seems to be the general consensus among ministers of music, that the most common kind of feedback they get is negative feedback. People are much quicker to complain than affirm. Buck the trend. Did he choose one of your favorite songs for the service? Did a certain song help you to understand one of God’s attributes better? Did the choir do a nice job on their anthem? Are you praying for him? Tell him. He appreciates it more than you know.

Show tangible appreciation.

It is amazing what even the smallest gift can do to lift my husband’s spirits. A card of appreciation (I have come across cards that he has saved for years), something related to one of his hobbies, a church member buying him lunch at a fast food place. They might be small items monetarily speaking, but their message is, “I care about you, and I appreciate your hard work.” And that’s priceless.

We have been blessed over the last two decades to serve at several churches that had members who were very good at encouraging their minister of music. Their love and support made my husband’s ministry a joy. What are some ways you can think of to encourage the minister of music at your church and spread that same kind of joy?

This article was originally published at Satisfaction Through Christ.

Holidays (Other)

Top 10 Ways to Appreciate Your Pastors During Pastor Appreciation Month

Originally published October 13, 2017

I’m so glad somebody thought up the idea of Pastor Appreciation Month and made it a thing. If you’ve never been a pastor (or been married to one), it’s difficult to adequately convey just how simultaneously challenging, joyful, devastating, frustrating, and fulfilling it can be. If you have a good pastor, who rightly divides God’s Word and is a man of godly character, you are very blessed. And that goes for your minister of music, associate pastor, youth pastor, etc., too. Be sure you show all of them (there’s nothing worse than being left out while everybody else is being appreciated) your appreciation for their hard work, and your encouragement, support, and love not just during Pastor Appreciation Month, but all year through. Here are ten ways you can do just that.

1. Pray for your pastors.
Time and again, when pastors are surveyed about what their church members can do to bless them the most, the number one answer is, “Pray for me.” Your pastors need you to pray for them personally, in their work, for their marriages and families, and for the health of your church. Pastor Appreciation Month is a perfect time to make a commitment to pray for your pastors on a regular basis. (And don’t forget to periodically tell them you’re praying for them!) Need some suggestions on how to pray? Check out my article Top 10 Ways to Pray for Your Pastor.

2. Words of encouragement
Pastors get a lot of complaints, criticism, and words of discouragement. Brighten your pastor’s day by telling him something specific you learned during the sermon. Tell your minister of music you really enjoyed the choir anthem this morning. Repeat to your youth pastor something positive your child has said about him or the youth group. Drop your pastor a note, e-mail, or social media message of support. Make a point of looking for ways – all year long – that you can offer “a word fitly spoken.”

3. Babysit
If your pastor and his wife have young children, offer to babysit so they can have a date night or go Christmas shopping for the kids. 

4. Gift cards
Perhaps along with the offer to babysit, you could give your pastor and his wife a gift card to a local restaurant. Gift cards to his favorite specialty store (outdoorsman stores, music stores, etc.), a Christian retailer, or one of his favorite online stores (or a more general site like Amazon if you’re not sure of his preferences) make great tokens of appreciation, too.

5. Honorary offerings
Is there a certain missionary or mission project that’s near and dear to your pastor’s heart? A crisis pregnancy center? A church plant he’d like to support? What about donating Bibles in his honor to an evangelistic organization? Put out the word to the congregation, take up a special offering (or simply give as an individual), and make a donation in your pastor’s name.

6. Make sure his needs are met.
Your pastors shouldn’t be living like televangelists, but they shouldn’t be struggling to survive, either. Surprisingly, many people have unbiblical opinions about pastors’ salaries, from the notion that anyone in any kind of ministry should be doing it for free, to the downright evil concept of keeping the pastor near the poverty level to make sure he stays humble (yes, really). The Bible says pastors have a right to make their living from preaching the gospel, and that a workman is worthy of his hire. Check with your church’s finance and/or personnel committee. Is your pastor making an appropriate salary? Are his housing and insurance needs being met? Is he receiving adequate vacation and sick days? If not, see what you can do to help rectify the situation.

7. Conferences
There are lots of fantabulous Christian conferences out there that your pastor would probably love to attend, but it’s not in the church budget and he can’t afford it, personally. Find out his favorite or choose a great one (make sure you vet the speakers first to make sure they’re doctrinally sound), take up a special offering, and send him there, all expenses paid (conference admission and fees, travel, meals, lodging, and some extra “walking around money” for purchasing books, gifts, souvenirs, etc.).

8. Volunteer
One of the things that can be stressful for pastors is empty positions that need godly people to fill them. Volunteer to teach that Sunday School class, play the piano at the nursing home, help chaperone the youth trip, work in the nursery, get trained and run the sound board. Find out where you’re needed at your church and jump in and serve.

9. Help out around the house.
Pastors have those “fix it” needs around the house just like everybody else does. Are you good at repairing cars, fixing roofs, mowing grass, maintaining air conditioning units, cooking meals, or another special skill? Save your pastor some time, money, and effort by putting your experience to work for him at his home. 

10. Set the example of a healthy church member.
What could be more encouraging to a pastor than biblically healthy church members? Study your Bible. Be faithful in your church attendance. Pray for your pastor and the church. Serve where you’re needed. Don’t complain or criticize your pastor and others over petty matters. Avoid controversies and personality conflicts, and be a peacemaker. Walk in humility and selflessness, and give glory to God. Show appreciation for your pastors by setting a godly example for other church members and encouraging them to do the same. 

💥Bonus!💥 Get on social media, e-mail, or the phone and share this article around so your pastors don’t have to!

What are some other good ways we can show appreciation for,
and encourage, our pastors?

Guest Posts

Guest Post: Ministering to the Sick: More than a Checklist

If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in my “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs in the blue menu bar at the top of this page) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail, and let’s chat about it.

Note from Michelle: This practical advice could be very helpful for the people in your church who minister to members who are ill or disabled. I would encourage you to ask your pastor about printing it out and distributing it, posting it on the church bulletin board, using it as a bulletin insert, re-printing it in the newsletter, etc. Just make sure you include the author’s name: Melissa Morris.

Ministering to the Sick: More than a Checklist
by: Melissa Morris

Someone gets sick. Someone has surgery. Someone is going through cancer treatments. Until ten years ago when I had my own life threatening/life changing illness, I was guilty (unintentionally) of treating these opportunities as a checklist to be done and not really considering the person. Make a meal, give them a call, drop them off at the doctor – I mean, what’s wrong with that? People should be thankful that we care enough to be involved, right?

As the body of Christ, we have a huge responsibility to help out when illnesses occur. In the midst of all of the chaos, there is a person who has had his or her world turned upside down by a diagnosis or a surgery. People are individuals and so are diagnoses and treatment plans. There’s not only the physical side of sickness, there are also the emotional, mental and spiritual aspects to consider. It shouldn’t be a “fill in the blank” approach, it should be based on the individual.

Instead of treating our ministry as “one size fits all”, what are some things we need to consider to effectively and practically minister to someone experiencing an illness?

Cancer treatments and doctor’s appointments

It’s more than giving someone a ride.

When my mom found out she had cancer, we needed help getting her to and from the cancer center. We live 45 minutes from the hospital where she would be receiving  her treatments. She had radiation treatments five days a week for six weeks. 

We had several people volunteer to take her, and it soon became evident that not everyone fully comprehends that it’s more than a ride.

When providing cancer patients with a ride to treatments, it’s important to understand several things. They are weak, before and after the treatments. Whatever the extent of the disease they are fighting, it is wreaking havoc on their bodies. They may be experiencing pain, nausea, vomiting, bathroom issues, and more. Therefore, they may need physical assistance walking, going to the bathroom, carrying their things and staying hydrated. When you offer to give someone a ride to treatments and you are the only one with them, they are expecting some things from you. Please understand that it’s more than dropping them off at the door of the hospital, coming back to pick them up, and dropping them off at the door when you get them home, especially if you are leaving them alone.

What can you do?

  • Remember that it’s not about you. You may be tempted to take the opportunity, especially if you are making a long trip, to do some shopping or errands while you wait. While this is not entirely wrong, there are some things you need to consider.
  • Walk with them to the office where they are receiving their treatments. Make sure they don’t need a wheelchair or some sort of assistive device to get them there. 
  • Check with them and see if they would be more comfortable if you waited for them in the waiting room before you go off to run errands. Sometimes it makes a patient feel better if they know someone is close by. The staff there might also need you to be available if there is an emergency or the patient needs something.
  • If you do leave the patient, make sure you arrive back in a timely manner so that they don’t have to wait for you when they are done. 
  • When you arrive back at their home, make sure they get inside safely and have everything they need before you leave them. Help them get comfortable, get something to eat or drink, go to the bathroom, etc. It might be awhile before someone gets home to be with them.
  • Don’t plan anything else that day – there will be times when the person receiving the treatments might need extra care. For example, there were times when my mom went for radiation and she was dehydrated. This required her to go to the medication oncology lab and receive fluids before they would send her home. This could take a couple of hours.

Taking Food/Other Items

I live in the South, and I’m a Baptist. We treat any and every illness with food. There’s a special joy in preparing someone a dish and delivering it to them. There’s also the comfort you feel in receiving a meal from someone and you know that they prepared it with love. You sure don’t feel like cooking when you’re going through an illness. 

It seems like an easy thing to do, but when I experienced surgery and a colostomy, my diet completely changed. We received so many wonderful, heartfelt meals, but to my dismay, there were many things that I wasn’t allowed to eat anymore. Some people come home with a new diagnosis of diabetes. Some have food allergies. Cancer patients might be experiencing nausea and vomiting/diarrhea. So, what can we do to make our meal ministry more effective?

  • I know we like the element of surprise, but to make it easier on everyone, it would be best to call and ask if the person has any dietary restrictions. It doesn’t do much good to take someone a meal they can’t eat, no matter how good it might taste.
  • If they can’t have certain things, consider taking prepackaged food items that they can easily put together themselves, but still ask for preferences and restrictions. Some examples:


    Canned meat/soups/fruits/vegetables (I know that fresh fruits and vegetables are ideal, however, when someone is recovering from an illness, they may not feel like eating a lot at one time. The fresh food might spoil before they can eat it.  Prepackaged and canned allows for the person to use the food when it benefits them).

    Sandwich meats and bread

    If you live in an area that provides meal delivery from restaurants, offer to pay for their orders for a specified amount of time.

    Offer to grocery shop for them and help put items away when you deliver the groceries.

    Offer to prepare and refrigerate simple items that can be microwaved or warmed up easily.

There are other items that might be needed that we might not think about. 

  • Cleaning supplies.
  • Toilet paper, napkins, paper towels.
  • Hygiene items (deodorant, soap, feminine products, etc.)
  • Medications (over the counter and prescription)

They also might need you to run errands for them, to the post office or to pick up prescriptions. Whatever the need may be, communicate with the person so that your efforts can be beneficial to them.


I love to talk. In fact, after I had major surgery, the nurses told my mom that I would sleep all night from the anesthesia. I woke up at midnight and talked all night long!

But as much as I love to talk, when I was recovering, I wanted to rest. I had been in the hospital for ten days, not knowing if I was going to make it back home or not. I was discharged home with IV antibiotics around the clock for seven more days. I had nurses coming in daily for wound care and colostomy training. I didn’t get much sleep in the hospital, and, for a while, I wasn’t getting much sleep at home.

Before visiting, call the person and see what a good time might be to show up. As I was talking with Michelle about this article, we discussed that the old theory is to “just show up”. I had people show up to see me that I would have enjoyed visiting with, but I was either sleeping or having a visit from the nurse. If the person recovering has a caregiver, that caregiver might be taking an opportunity to rest while the patient is resting. 

What do I say? (or NOT say)

Some people said some crazy things to me and to my mom while we were dealing with recovery/cancer treatments.

  • My mom had a pastor who she thought a lot of visit her the day after she found out her initial diagnosis but before we found out the extent of the disease process. He seemed in a bad mood when he got there, preoccupied and distracted. My mom shared with him that she wasn’t afraid, that she had lived 67 years (at the time) and if the diagnosis was not good, she’d had a wonderful life and she was ready to meet Jesus. He looked up at her and rudely said, “Well, you might only have 67 more days, have you ever thought about that?”
  • A friend of my mom’s from church came to see her and pray with her. As they talked, this “friend” said, “Well, Pat, you know you have this cancer because you have sin in your life.”.
  • I woke up extremely depressed one day, so I actually reached out to someone I thought was a close friend via text and said I needed someone to talk to. Five days later, I got a text back that said, “Hope you found someone to talk to.”.

Don’t be that person – if you’re in a bad mood, visit another day, and as I was taught, if you can’t say something nice (or encouraging), don’t say anything at all. When I worked in healthcare, we were taught to leave our personal lives outside the door when we came to work, because they would be there for us to pick up when we went home. 

What else?

I never realized until I became disabled how many things there are around the house that need to be done.

  • Cleaning
  • Laundry
  • Yard work/mowing
  • Errands
  • Taking care of the kids

There might be adaptations that need to be made to the home, or adaptive equipment put in place (grab bars, a handicap toilet, etc.)

The person might need help with bathing and dressing for a while, and this might not be something insurance covers. I needed daily wound care and my insurance only covered three days a week. I was blessed to have nurses in my life that covered the other four days. If you are a nurse or a C.N.A., you could offer your time and services. Even if you’re not, you can be trained in some instances to help with certain medical issues.

One of the biggest issues many deal with is the financial strain not working can put on a person. If the illness ends up being a permanent disability, it can take years (it took 3½ for me) to receive benefits through Social Security. I would hate to think where I would have been had the Lord not given me a wonderful mother and a few anonymous donors to make it through. Even with those things, I had to sell my car, and some of my instruments and sound equipment just to get medication and colostomy supplies. People may also need help filling out applications for assistance, disability, or in-home services. 

Some of the things from our previous lists can carry over if the illness becomes a permanent disability.

Whatever the situation, keep this one thing in mind: be available. If you can’t meet the need of the person, help seek out someone who can.

It is my prayer that this will assist you in more effectively serving those in your community.  And remember, somebody can’t do everything, but everybody can do something.

Melissa is a retired long term care/hospice social worker/bereavement counselor. Compelled to give up her career due to illness, she now spends her time raising her two cousins, singing and writing songs, and traveling to different churches and organizations sharing music and laughter. Check out Melissa’s website, I Got Sidetracked where she shares her music and her blog.

Christian women, Church, Complementarianism, Ministry

Throwback Thursday ~ Let Me Count the Ways: 75 Ways Women Can Biblically Minister to Others

Originally published September 1, 2017

I recently heard someone remark that, among complementarian Christians, there’s a lot of emphasis on the things women can’t do, biblically, when it comes to ministry, but not much has been written about how women can serve in ministry without violating Scripture.

There are some valid reasons for that.

First, the false teaching of egalitarianism (women can hold any position in ministry that men can hold) is running rampant through the church, even infecting traditionally conservative churches and denominations. It is imperative that Christian men and women who have a biblical understanding of the role of women in the church continue to teach loudly, boldly, and relentlessly against this doctrinal error.

Next, there are so many ways women can serve the body of Christ without violating Scripture that it would be impossible to list all of them. The prohibitions placed on women in ministry are comparatively infinitesimal and, therefore, faster and simpler to dispense with. In other words, it’s quicker and easier to say, “Women can serve in literally any scriptural position or function of ministry in the Body as long as they’re not instructing men in the Scriptures or holding authority over them,” than it is to list every particular ministry women can participate in without transgressing God’s word.

But sometimes our brains get stuck and we need some specific, real world examples to oil the gears and get our own thought processes moving. Especially when we hit that mental roadblock of “Ministry equals only preaching, teaching, and leadership positions. Period.” That’s not all ministry is. In fact, it’s only a tiny part of ministry. God uniquely gifts His people in a variety of ways for a variety of services. And Scripture is very clear that all members of the Body are essential regardless of the role God has called us to. Jesus was the best preacher, teacher, and leader of all eternity, and yet the pinnacle of His ministry was not a sermon, a Bible lesson, or position of leadership. The most important act of ministry Jesus ever performed was to humble Himself and to give His life for sinners. Let’s make sure we think about ministry the way Jesus thought about ministry:

…whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:43b-45

Keeping that in mind, here are just a few of the ways women can freely serve God, their churches, and their neighbors without violating Scripture:

1. Pray for your church, your pastor and staff, your teachers and elders

2.  Teach a women’s Bible study or Sunday School class. (Remember, teaching isn’t the only avenue of ministry, but it is one of them.)

3. Teach a children’s Sunday School or Bible class.

4. Play an instrument in your church’s music ministry.

5. Sing in the choir or on the praise team.

6. Direct a children’s choir.

7. Run the Power Point for song lyrics during the worship service

8. Learn how to run your sanctuary’s sound system and board

9. Help set up and put away chairs for services or classes

10. Be the hero who gets to church early and has the coffee ready when people arrive

11. Serve as a greeter

12. Serve on the security or parking lot duty team

13. Serve in the nursery

14. Volunteer to help out in the church office

15. Serve as a chaperone for a youth trip, fellowship, or other activity

16. Open your home to traveling pastors or missionaries who need a place to stay

17. Volunteer your home for the next church fellowship

18. Organize a potluck dinner for your church or Sunday School class

19. Take some treats up to the church office during the week to encourage the staff

20. Serve in Vacation Bible School

21. Offer to help your pastor vet new Bible study and Sunday School curricula for doctrinal soundness

22. Go on and/or help organize a short term mission trip

23. Organize meals for a new mom or a church member who’s ill

24. Help clean the church kitchen after an activity or event

25. Visit hospitalized church members

26. Visit church members who are shut-ins or in nursing homes

27. Pick up someone who needs a ride to and from church

28. Nursing home residents often have no way to attend church. Organize a way for your church to take church to the nursing home.

29. Many people have difficulty attending church because they’re caretakers for an ill or disabled loved one. Set up a rotation of church members to be sitters so the caretaker can come to church.

30. Mow the church’s grass

31. Serve on a committee

32. Volunteer your IT expertise for the church’s computer system

33. Open your home to a college student who needs a place to live

34. Open your home to a woman in a crisis pregnancy who has nowhere else to go

35. Teach cooking, homemaking, or parenting skills to the younger women of your church.

36. Start an after school tutoring program at your church where kids get help with their homework and hear the gospel.

37. Volunteer at a Christian crisis pregnancy center

38. Organize and serve at a church work day (cleaning, painting, facility maintenance)

39. Donate money, gift cards, gas cards, or hotel vouchers to your church’s benevolence fund

40. Get trained in disaster relief and serve the physical and spiritual needs of those impacted by natural disasters

41. Serve in your church’s food pantry

42. Serve in your church’s clothes closet

43. Help organize fundraisers for missions, youth camp, disaster relief, church needs, etc.

44. If your church decorates the grounds for Christmas or other special events, lend a hand

45. Start a backyard Bible club (Bible lesson, game/activity, snack) at a park, apartment complex, school, or other gathering place near your church

46. Start a women’s prayer group with sisters at church

47. Organize a “mechanic ministry” – church members who can fix and maintain the cars of your church’s widows and single moms

48. Organize a “honey-do ministry” – same idea but for repair jobs around the house

49. Disciple a younger woman one on one

50. Invite new church members over for dinner

51. Be your Sunday School class’ secretary or fellowship organizer

52. Take food baskets to church members who are in need

53. Do baptistry duty (help those being baptized with robes, towels, etc.)

54. Set up a sewing or craft ministry, making items for the elderly, disabled, newborns, the homeless, or missions. This idea is one of my favorites (don’t forget to include the gospel, verbally or in print, with your ministry project items).

55. If your church is in a high traffic area, stand out front on hot days and hand out bottled water and tracts to passers by (be safety conscious). You can also put a sticker or label on the bottle with your church’s info or a web site that gives a gospel presentation.

56. Sit and talk – but mostly listen – to the elderly people in your church. You’ll minister to them, and they’ll minister to you.

57. Serve on your church’s wedding, funeral, or special event team

58. Volunteer to care for small children of wedding or funeral attendees in your church’s nursery during the event

59. Work in your church library, or set one up

60. Organize a Parents’ Night Out so church members with young children can have a couples’ night without the expense of a babysitter

61. Babysit your pastor’s children so he and his wife can have a date night

62. Clergy appreciation month is October. Organize gifts or other demonstrations of appreciation for your pastor, minister of music, associate pastor, youth director, etc. (Make sure none of your ministers are inadvertently overlooked.)

63. Teach an ESL (English as a Second Language) class to minister to church members and others who are learning English.

64. Write letters and e-mails of encouragement to the missionaries your church supports (send care packages too!)

65. Send texts of encouragement to your Sunday School class members

66. Start a birthday card ministry. Pray for each church member as you send out his or her card. In a year, you will have prayed individually for every member of your church.

67. If you’re a health care professional, volunteer to provide basic health or dental screenings to church members in need.

68. Minister to battered women at your local shelter by listening, sharing the gospel, and caring for their material needs.

69. Instead of Toys for Tots, organize a “Bibles for Tots” drive for Christmas. Give young readers Bibles to children at local schools, the mall, or a community event as a Christmas gift from your church.

70. Research and write a book about the history of your church.

71. Help set up for the Lord’s Supper

72. Do laundry duty. Take home towels and robes after baptisms, table cloths after church dinners, costumes after the choir’s musical, etc., launder them, fold them and return them to the church.

73. Go to the grocery store and run other errands for church members unable to do these things for themselves.

74. Run your church’s web site or admin your church’s social media accounts

75. Organize an abortion clinic sidewalk ministry team from your church

As I said, there are so many ways women can biblically participate in ministering to others that there’s no way to even think of all the possibilities. But I’d love to add more ideas to this list.

That’s where you come in!

What are some ways you, women at your church, or women you know at other churches minister to others without teaching or preaching to men and without holding authority over men in the gathered body of Believers? Leave a comment and let’s see how many more ways women can minister biblically!