There are several levels of ministry. Level 1 is exclusive internal ministry. This is where all the ministries of a congregation are focused internally towards meeting the needs of its members. There is a definite need for this level of service.
Level 2 is where a congregation graduates to external ministries. These ministries are focused towards needs in the community (external/outside of the church). Level 2 ministries aren’t necessarily large ministries and yet they are meeting some need in the community.
Level 3 ministries are sometimes called parachurch ministries wherein a church pairs up with a community non-profit and both organizations work together for a common good. In our present congregation, we have several members who have graduated to this level. Our annual “Love Athens” event puts members in contact with local non-profits for assistance, support and ministry. Level 3 is the level to which every Christian and congregation should strive. This is where we really shine as lights in the community.
With this in mind, when folks from your community start calling the local church for help, I believe you have ‘finally arrived.’ You have reached the level, I believe, the Lord wants us all to reach. Yes, we are to serve the brethren first (cf. Gal.6:10) and yet however, we should be ready for every good work (Titus 3:1).
More recently, we have people from our community calling us about Grief Share and Financial Peace University. They are calling us. This simply means that we have met needs, and needs continue to be evident, and we are the ones who can meet them. This is a great thing! This should also encourage us to carefully choose our outreach ministries. They should meet real needs.
A good number of folks in your community do not know you exist. We (Athens church of Christ) are known for the church behind Taco Bell. But we are known for more than that. We are also known as the church that helps pay rent and utilities. We are the church that provides help for those who grieve and those in financial binds. We are the church that is involved in the local jail ministry. We are the church that provides ‘bears’ for children in the local ER. And, community folks call us. This is Level 4 of ministry. It is when your congregation is offering something that is really needed and the community responds to it.
At what level is your congregation? Are you striving to grow to the next level?