What is the purpose of Christian ministry? The answer to this question is fairly straightforward, but it’s one that is always worth revisiting, especially when our perspectives become fragmented.
As my church studied Colossians in the fall of 2022, I was struck by Paul’s clarity of purpose. He knew what he was all about. He knew that the work he was called to was eternally significant, and driven by a clear purpose.
Paul described that purpose this way:
I became a servant of the church according to the stewardship from God—given to me for you—in order to complete the word of God, that is, the mystery that has been kept hidden from ages and generations, but has now been revealed to his saints.Colossians 1:25–26, NET
Revealing a mystery
These two verses are head-scratchers. Paul described being called to his role in order to “complete” the word of God. But this “completion” isn’t in the sense of filling any holes, as if it were lacking anything. Instead, this “completion” means to make the word fully known. To go forth and proclaim “the mystery that has been kept hidden from ages and generations, but has now been revealed to his saints.”
This mystery language is important. The Colossians were facing false teaching built around the promise of secret knowledge. This knowledge was made available through a form of mysticism that mixed elements of Judaism and local pagan religions. Paul countered this teaching by saying that there was nothing secret about this mystery. The mystery was one God always intended to reveal at the appropriate time and was known to all the “saints.”
To all the Christians. Everywhere at every time. To “make known the glorious riches of this mystery… which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).
Christian ministry’s radically single-minded purpose
So if you had to summarize Christian ministry into one sentence, it would look like this:
We are about making the gospel of Jesus known.
That has many different applications and touches every sphere of life, but whatever we do, that’s what we’re about. Christians are about seeing people come to know Jesus. We do it through proclamation and teaching, instruction and correction with our words and our actions. In practical acts of service, in pursuing justice and compassion, in defense of the truth, it all is to this end. To reveal the one amazing thing we have to offer—Christ in you, the hope of glory.
And this is what makes Christianity so special, so unique—so good that it can only be true. The gospel’s promise, the hope of glory, isn’t just that we will live with Christ forever in the future, although we will. It’s that Christ dwells within us right now.
Our ever-present power and hope
This is good news in two senses: First, it means that our hope is always with us. Christ is with us because Christ is in us. And this isn’t just about us individually. It’s about all of us collectively. As a church, right now, we are united because Christ is in us. And we are united together with all believers, across space and time, regardless of nationality and ethnicity, one in Christ because Christ is in us. So in everything we face, we are never alone—Christ, our hope, is in us.
Second, it means that the one who empowers our ministry is always with us. We don’t make Christ known under our own power. We can try, but we’ll ultimately fail. It requires more than human effort and ingenuity.
Christian ministry only happens by and through the power of the Holy Spirit.
So we work, yes, and we work hard. But we don’t work alone. The Spirit of Christ is with us and in us. He works through us so that Christ will be proclaimed to all people in word and deed. To present all who believe mature in Christ. To “make known the glorious riches of this mystery… which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).