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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 all 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.
An alternative to age-specific ministry gaining ground is the concept of inter-generational ministry, which seeks to include all age and peer groups in primary church functions. Family integrated churches eliminate "all age-graded classes and events."
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 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. This is evidently exemplified by many of the Christian Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).
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.
|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.