EVERY MEMBER has a ‘MINISTRY’ in the CHURCH today: “And he (David) gathered together all the leaders of Israel, with the priests and the Levites. Now the Levites were numbered from the age of thirty years and above; and the number of individual males was thirty-eight thousand. Of these, twenty-four thousand were to look after the work of the house of the Lord, six thousand were officers and judges, four thousand were gatekeepers, and four thousand praised the Lord with musical instruments, ‘which I made’, said David, ‘for giving praise.’” (1 Chron. 23:2-5)
Towards the end of King David’s reign, a census was taken of the Levites from the age of 30 years and above, as this was the age at which they could begin their active service. These instructions were divinely inspired and communicated to David through his prophets (see 2 Chron. 29:25). The total number of Levites counted from the age of 30 years and upward (presumably up to 50 years, see Num. 4:3) was 38,000. These Levites were then divided into four groups:
- 24,000 priests and their assistants who were divided into 24 divisions of 1,000 each; they were designated for temple service/overseers at any given time. Their work clearly involved anything around the temple.
- 6,000 officers and judges (26:29–32); they were to provide ready access to the Levites in matters of religious questions and activities.
- 4,000 porters or, gatekeepers (26:1–28); they guarded the temple and surrounding areas, and
- 4,000 singers who praised the Lord and led in worship through instrumental music (25:1–31)
In his classic book ‘Body Life’, Ray C. Stedman makes the argument that the present day churches are not following the original blueprint that Jesus Christ had in His mind for His Body, the Church. Many deviations have been permitted, which have become detrimental to the life of the Church. Through the centuries, the Church has turned away from the simple provisions that had made it such a powerful and compelling force in its early years. The popular thinking has fastened upon the building as the identifying symbol today. In the beginning, “working in the church” meant to exercise a gift or perform a ministry among God’s people, but now it means doing a religious act within a building.
There has also been a gradual transfer of responsibility from the people to “the clergy” (in Latin means clericus, meaning a priest). The scriptural concept that every believer is a priest before God has been lost, and now this special body of super-Christians called “the clergy” is doing the entire ‘ministry’ functions today. Since ‘the ministry’ has now been left to the professionals, the lay people just come to the church only to sit, warm the pews and listen. Christianity has now become a spectator sport, with just the ministers doing most of the action and everyone else watching the show!
It is high time that the entire body of believers attempt to do the work of the ministry today, whether it is evangelizing the world, counseling the distressed and broken-hearted, ministering to the poor and needy, relieving the oppressed and afflicted, expounding the scriptures to the believers, etc. Let each person exercise the gift that God has placed in his/her heart to minister for the glory of God. Let’s never forget this fact…every member has a ministry in the Church today!