What is your first thought when you read the title of this post, ‘front line ministry’? Did you think about those in ‘full-time Christian work’ (a phrase I loathe)? Did you think about missionaries, pastors, evangelists, apostles, people working for Christian charities and so on?
Or did you think about yourself?
The term ‘front line’ is defined in the dictionary as ‘The military line or part of an army that is closest to the enemy: “the front-line troops”.’ or ‘The most important or influential position in a debate or movement.’ As far as it goes, that definition is fine. But in church terms, if it has come to mean simply those with official roles or titles, it’s a very poor definition.
All of us who are called to be disciples of Christ are called into front line ministry. Graham Cray (Archbishops’ Missioner and Team Leader of Fresh Expressions) says ‘There is no way to re-evangelise this nation apart from the impact of the daily lives of ordinary, everyday Christians.’ (Foreword to ‘Imagine Church’ by Neil Hudson) I believe that. I believe we all have our ‘mission field’, that field of influence and work in which God has placed us. We all have family, friends, neighbours, colleagues and acquaintances who need to know more of Christ and for whom, perhaps, we are the only Christian they know. Our front lines may all look different and hopefully will be less physically dangerous than those faced by soldiers who are on the physical front line of war. But, as Stephen reminded us this morning, our struggle is not against flesh and blood and we are all engaged in God’s war. We need to see that no one is more ‘important’ than anyone else and that our front line requires as much prayer, determination and faith as anyone else’s. I am not denigrating those who serve overseas or who are paid to work for the cause of the gospel. But I do want us all to remember that discipleship is a lifelong process which involves obedience to Christ in our everyday contexts, wherever we are and whatever we are doing. Let’s pray for each other and seek to serve God in our own front lines.