Everyone knows the pastor has an obligation to care for the spiritual well being of the people in the church. Not every knows the individual members of the church have an obligation to care for each other’s spiritual well being. Each Christian is responsible to minister to the believers around him. A Christian must not see someone with a need and say, “someone should talk to that person.” You should talk to that person. No Christian can say the obligations of encouragement, exhortation or assistance are someone else’s. Every Christian must minister to the spiritual needs of their fellow believers. Each Christian must edify other Christians.
1 Thessalonians 5:14 instructs how to edify others. “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.” Genuine ministry does not take a one size fits all approach. Ministry is custom tailored to each person. Genuine ministry is not usually accomplished through a set of memorized, cue card responses that never change. A Christian does not usually strengthen one struggling with sin by rattling off the same set of verses they say to every problem regardless of the specific sin. A Christian does not genuinely minister to one grieving by repeating a specific Psalm that is repeated to every other grieving person regardless of the cause of their grief. Ministry does not match need “a” to verse “b” and pithy quote “c”.
One exception is when a person is learning to minister. Memorized responses offer a starting a point to begin to help those in need. A Christian learning to give the gospel may learn a specific gospel presentation, like the Romans Road. The new evangelist will use the Romans Road in every situation, but as he continues to learn the Word and continues to give the gospel he will move from the cookie cutter approach to a more versatile, fluid and personalized witness. So it is in ministry to Christians. A memorized response to grief, marriage troubles or financial woes is a good start. Through practice the Christian becomes skilled in ministry. By intentional edification the Christian becomes less scripted and is able to respond to the specific needs of the individual. Ministry is customized because it compassionately seeks to understand the need of the other and to serve another’s specific spiritual need at a particular time in their life.
The need to minister carefully to a specific individual in a particular situation makes drive-by ministry impossible. The compassionate Christian will not hear of a need, swing by, shoot a few poorly aimed verse in someone’s direction and race off again. Genuine ministry is up close and personal. Ministry is hand to hand. Ministry requires knowing the person and knowing the situation. Ministry requires listening and learning before speaking. Ministry requires patience, wisdom and compassion. Ministry requires discernment to know if a person is struggling because of rebellion, fatigue or weakness. Ministry requires personal investment in the lives of others and precise instruction to the need of the individual.
Every Christian has been supernaturally gifted to do the work of the ministry. You have been supernaturally gifted for ministry. You are commanded to do the work of the ministry. You have been placed in a local church to minister to specific Christians. Warn, encourage and support them. Minister to others for their good, leading to edification. (Romans 15:2)