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In Christianity, ministry is an activity carried out by Christians to express or spread their faith, the prototype being the Great Commission. The Encyclopedia of Christianity defines it as "carrying forth Christ's mission in the world", indicating that it is "conferred on each Christian in baptism."It is performed by most Christians. This is distinguished from the "office of minister", to which specific individuals who feel a certain vocation. It can signify this activity as a whole, or specific activities, or organizations within a church dedicated to specific activities. Some ministries are identified formally as such, and some are not; some ministry is directed towards members of the church, and some towards non-members. See also Apostolates.
As churches attempt to meet the needs of their congregations, they often separate their members into groups according to age categories. Age-specific groups meet for religious study including Sunday school programs, fellowship, and other activities. These age divisions may include:
There are several advantages to the concept of age-specific ministries.
Age-specific ministry does have certain disadvantages, mostly stemming from the separation of children from the primary church functions.
Nearly all churches feature some form of worship music, whether from a choir, orchestra, or worship band, whether accompanied or a cappella. Religious organizations also incorporate other forms of creative and performance arts into their services or programs.
Many churches sponsor ministries designed to reach out others on a local and global scale, usually grouped under the heading of missions. There are many organizations which perform missions on a fully funded and organized level, such as the North American Mission Board, operated by the Southern Baptist Convention and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC).
However, some Christian churches and ministries have evolved to take on a larger role in the community service and global outreach programs. Community service ministries may include a "soup kitchen", homeless ministry, crisis center, food pantry, unplanned pregnancy center, senior visitation program, new parent support, Animal Chaplains, or a number of other specialized ministries. These specialized ministries can include formal or informal approaches to intentionally interacting with others, encouraging, counseling, and providing relational care to them.
If activities such as these are held at a church but are not organized primarily by its members and do not contain religious overtones, the activity would better be classified as church reordering, rather than ministry.
Theologians[ who? ] differentiate between Religious ministry and Apostolates. Ministry, for Catholics, pertains to the administration of the Sacraments, and their appropriate ministers are as follows:
|Baptism||Any person (even an unbaptized person); preferably a priest or deacon|
|Confirmation||A bishop, or a priest delegated by him|
|Eucharist||Consecrated by a priest. The Eucharist may be administered by a priest or deacon, or laypeople in extraordinary circumstances.|
|Marriage||The spouses administer the sacrament to each other (witnessed by the priest).|
|Anointing of the Sick||Priest|
A final, and most proper, use of the term "ministries" pertains to those instituted by the bishop:
Ordained ministers are those who have received Holy Orders: deacons, priests, and bishops. Note that a bishop can do anything a priest can do, and a priest can do anything a deacon can do.
Clergy are formal leaders within established religions. Their roles and functions vary in different religious traditions, but usually involve presiding over specific rituals and teaching their religion's doctrines and practices. Some of the terms used for individual clergy are clergyman, clergywoman, and churchman. Less common terms are cleric, churchwoman, and clergyperson, while clerk in holy orders has a long history but is rarely used.
A deacon is a member of the diaconate, an office in Christian churches that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions. Major Christian churches, such as the Catholic Church, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Anglican church, including the Free Church of England, view the diaconate as part of the clerical state.
Ordination is the process by which individuals are consecrated, that is, set apart and elevated from the laity class to the clergy, who are thus then authorized to perform various religious rites and ceremonies. The process and ceremonies of ordination vary by religion and denomination. One who is in preparation for, or who is undergoing the process of ordination is sometimes called an ordinand. The liturgy used at an ordination is sometimes referred to as an ordination.
In religious organizations, the laity consists of all members who are not part of the clergy, usually including any non-ordained members of religious orders, e.g. a nun or lay brother.
A Protestant/Evangelical Youth ministry is a Christian ministry intended to instruct and disciple youths in what it means to be a Christian, how to mature as a Christian, and how to encourage others to claim Jesus as their Saviour through evangelism and apologetics. This is accomplished through teaching, relationship building and/or mentoring. Youth ministries may vary widely depending on their denomination, size, liberal or conservative outlook and geographic location. The ministries themselves are almost always built on relationships between the youth minister and the student and their shared perception of their relationship to God. Youth have become an integral part of nearly every church’s ministry programming, and youth ministries continue to have a profound impact on the societies in which they exist.
A house church or home church is a label used to describe a group of Christians who regularly gather for worship in private homes. The group may be part of a larger Christian body, such as a parish, but some have been independent groups that see the house church as the primary form of Christian community.
A church service is a formalized period of Christian communal worship, often held in a church building. It often but not exclusively occurs on Sunday, or Saturday in the case of those churches practicing seventh-day Sabbatarianism. The church service is the gathering together of Christians to be taught the "Word of God" and encouraged in their faith. Technically, the "church" in "church service" refers to the gathering of the faithful rather than to the building in which it takes place. In most Christian traditions, services are presided over by clergy wherever possible.
In Christianity, a minister is a person authorized by a church or other religious organization to perform functions such as teaching of beliefs; leading services such as weddings, baptisms or funerals; or otherwise providing spiritual guidance to the community. The term is taken from Latin minister, which itself was derived from minus ("less").
The New Apostolic Church (NAC) is a chiliastic Christian church that split from the now defunct Catholic Apostolic Church during an 1863 schism in Hamburg, Germany.
The phrase Catholic youth work covers a wide range of activities carried out with young people, usually in the name of the Catholic Church and with the intention of imparting the Catholic faith to them and inviting them to practice and live out the faith in their lives. Activities in the field range from small scale youth groups attached to parishes or Catholic schools, to large international gatherings, such as World Youth Day. It is a field which has evolved much over recent decades, especially in comparison to more formal methods of education or catechesis within the church. Nearly all dioceses and a great deal of parishes have some form of youth provision running, although a great deal of areas particularly in the developed world are finding youth work both more difficult and rare as the numbers of young people regularly practicing the Catholic faith continue to decline. In contrast, though, the new and exciting developments of recent decades and particularly the influence of the new movements within the Church are ensuring that youth work continues to be an active and fruitful field.
The lay apostolate is made up of laypersons, who are neither consecrated religious nor in Holy Orders, who exercise a ministry within the Catholic Church. Lay apostolate organizations operate under the general oversight of pastors and bishops, but need not be dependent upon them for direction.
In Christian theology, a sodality, also known as a syndiakonia, is a form of the "Universal Church" expressed in specialized, task-oriented form as opposed to the Christian church in its local, diocesan form. In English, the term sodality is most commonly used by groups in the Anglican Communion, Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Lutheran Church and Reformed Church, where they are also referred to as confraternities. Sodalities are expressed among Protestant Churches through the multitude of mission organizations, societies, and specialized ministries that have proliferated, particularly since the advent of the modern missions movement, usually attributed to Englishman William Carey in 1792.
Youth ministry, also commonly referred to as youth group, is an age-specific religious ministry of faith groups or other religious organizations, usually from ages 12 to 30, whose mission is to involve and engage with young people who attend their places of worship, or who live in their community. Christian youth ministry usually encompasses one or more of the following:
Pastoral care is a contemporary term for an ancient model of emotional, social and spiritual support that can be found in all cultures and traditions. The term is considered inclusive of distinctly non-religious forms of support, as well as support for people from religious communities.
The priesthood is one of the three holy orders of the Catholic Church, comprising the ordained priests or presbyters. The other two orders are the bishops and the deacons. Church doctrine also sometimes refers to all baptised Catholics as the "common priesthood".
In the Roman Catholic Church, a parish is a stable community of the faithful within a particular church, whose pastoral care has been entrusted to a parish priest, under the authority of the diocesan bishop. It is the lowest ecclesiastical subdivision in the Catholic episcopal polity, and the primary constituent unit of a diocese. In the 1983 Code of Canon Law, parishes are constituted under cc. 515–552, entitled "Parishes, Pastors, and Parochial Vicars."
An apostolate is a Christian organization "directed to serving and evangelizing the world", most often associated with the Anglican Communion or the Catholic Church. In more general usage, an apostolate is an association of persons dedicated to the propagation of a religion or a doctrine. The word apostolate comes from the Greek word apostello, which means to "send forth" or "to dispatch". The Christian origin of the word comes from the twelve apostles who were selected by Christ; they had a "special vocation, a formal appointment of the Lord to a determined office, with connected authority and duties". An apostolate can be a Christian organization made up of the laity or of a specific Christian religious order.
A religious brother is a member of a Christian religious institute or religious order who commits himself to following Christ in consecrated life of the Church, usually by the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. He is a layman, in the sense of not being ordained as a deacon or priest, and usually lives in a religious community and works in a ministry appropriate to his capabilities. A brother might practice any secular occupation. The term "brother" is used as he is expected to be as a brother to others. Brothers are members of a variety of religious communities, which may be contemplative, monastic, or apostolic in character. Some religious institutes are composed only of brothers; others are so-called "mixed" communities that are made up of brothers and clerics.
The role of a Catholic catechist is to catechise (teach) the faith of the Catholic Church by both word and example.