Multi-Dimensional Ministry by Tony Cooke

Multi-Dimensional Ministry
Tony Cooke

One thing is certain about ministry; it is not one-dimensional. Ministry requires that we be able to adapt ourselves and our methods to different people and to different situations. Consider some of the following Scriptures that express this necessity:

Romans 12:15
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

1 Thessalonians 5:14
14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.

Jude 22-23
22 And on some have compassion, making a distinction; 23 but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.

If these weren’t enough to make us realize that we’ve got to be flexible, strategic, and targeted in how we minister to people, we can always remember how uniquely Jesus ministered to different individuals and how Paul stated, “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22).

One-dimensional ministry occurs when there is no flexibility in our methods, our styles, or our message. It’s a cookie-cutter approach that assumes “one size fits all.” Abram Maslow summarized this type of mentality when he said, “If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”

Paul was keenly aware that there are different components are involved for thorough, comprehensive ministry to take place. That awareness was reflected when he summarized his work in Ephesus.

Acts 20:20-21, 26-27
20 how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, 
21 testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.
27 For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.

In the above verses, Paul refers to ministering:

  • Publicly and from house to house > This represents multi-dimensional venues.
  • To Jews and Greeks > multi-dimensional people groups.
  • Repentance and faith > multi-dimensional content.

When Paul related that he had shared with them the “whole counsel of God,” he was making it clear that he had been thorough and complete in covering all the bases with them. He had given them a comprehensive foundation in the things of God. He had not just covered a few favorite topics, but had taught them everything that God had wanted him to convey to them.

In the summer of 1981, I attended an evangelism conference in Kansas City. During one of the workshops, a speaker addressed major attributes of the church in the book of Acts, identifying seven traits, each of which began with the Greek letters kappa (K) or delta (D). Though I don’t remember the presenter or the title of the session, I still remember those points. They remind me yet today that the church is not a one-dimensional entity. Any pastor can review this list and ask the question, “How are we doing in emphasizing things that were vital in the life of the early church?”

Key Characteristics of the Early Church

1. Kerygma (Proclamation)

This word can refer to the content of what is preached, or the act of preaching itself. Kerygma was eventually understood as the initial message proclaimed by the apostles as they introduced unbelievers to Christ. In other words, it was the foundational truth of the gospel that was proclaimed to persuade individuals to put their faith in and to become followers of Christ. A great example of kerygma is found in 1 Corinthians 15:3. “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,  and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures…”

2. Didache (Teaching)

This word refers to “doctrine” or “teaching.” Once people had responded to the kerygma and had put their faith in Christ, it was necessary to teach them and establish them in the truths of the Word of God. After preaching and leading to people to Christ, Paul labored extensively teaching them. Referring to his time in Corinth, Acts 18:11 says, “he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.”

3. Koinonia (Fellowship)

Part of Thayer’s definition for this word is, “…that in which any person or thing is inherently fixed, implanted, or with which it is intimately connected…” Acts 2:42 describes the richness of communion enjoyed by the early church. “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship [koinonia], in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

4. Kartartismos (Equipping)

The leaders of the early church did not see their role as that of entertaining the saints, but as that of equipping the saints! Ephesians 4:11-12 (AMP) says, “And His gifts were [varied; He Himself appointed and gave men to us] some to be apostles (special messengers), some prophets (inspired preachers and expounders), some evangelists (preachers of the Gospel, traveling missionaries), some pastors (shepherds of His flock) and teachers. His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), [that they should do] the work of ministering toward building up Christ’s body (the church)…” That word, equip (kartartismos), was used of fishermen repairing their nets, of a doctor setting a bone, or of a house being furnished. It meant to bring something or someone into the condition it was intended to be so that it was adequate for its intended task.

5. Diaspora (Scattering)

Diaspora, which means “scattered abroad,” is used twice early in Acts 8. Verse 1 says, “At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.” Verse 4 then says, “Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.” It’s interesting that the first evangelistic scattering of the believers was not in response to prayer or a missions strategy, but rather, was a reaction to persecution.

6. Diakonia (Serving)

You may recognize that word as being somewhat similar to “deacon.” It refers to ministry or serving. Jesus not only modeled this virtue through his life, but also said, “…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…” This reminds us that when we follow the example of the Lord Jesus, we also will seek to serve both the plan of God and the people of God.

7. Doxa (Glory)

Doxa is where we get the word, doxology. The New Bible Dictionary says that this word, doxa, refers to, “…the revelation of the character and the presence of God in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. He is the outshining of the divine glory (Heb. 1:3).”
Ephesians 3:21 (NLT) says, “Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.”

Recognizing these seven vital functions and emphases of the local church can provide a helpful checklist. We can study these areas, and then ask ourselves how we’re doing in our ministries and our churches. Where we sense we’re doing well, we can be glad and continue to cooperate with the Lord. If we sense a deficiency in one or more of these areas, we can prayerfully consider how we increase our effectiveness with Heaven’s help.