What does "ministry" mean?
Answer: "Ministry" is from the Greek word diakoneo, meaning "to serve" or douleuo, meaning "to serve as a slave." In the New Testament, ministry is seen as service to God and to other people in His name. Jesus provided the pattern for Christian ministry—He came, not to receive service, but to give it (see Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; John 13:1-17).
The Christian should minister by meeting people's needs with love and humility on Christ's behalf (see Matthew 20:26; Mark 10:43; John 2:5,9; Acts 6:3; Romans 1:1; Galatians 1:10; Colossians 4:12). Christians are to minister to others out of their devotion to Christ and their love for others, whether the other people are believers or unbelievers. Ministry to others should be impartial and unconditional, always seeking to help others as Jesus would.
The ministry in our day has taken on more of a vocational meaning as we call pastors "ministers" to full-time service. Pastors do spend their lives in the ministry, they do minister to others, and they can rightly be designated as ministers, but pastors are not the only ones who are to be involved in ministry. From the early New Testament churches to the churches of our day, each Christian should be in the ministry of helping others (see Romans 12:3-8, 10-13; 2 Timothy 2:24-26).
The content of ministry seems to prioritize the ministering in spiritual things, not just practical things. Ministry should certainly place emphasis on sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with others so they can come to know Him and receive Him as personal Savior, go on to experience Him as Lord of their life, and go even further to know Christ as the essence of their Life (see John 1:12; Colossians 2:6-7; Galatians 2:20; Philippians 3:8-10). Ministry can, and should, include ministering to the physical, emotional, mental, vocational, and financial needs of others. Jesus did, and so should we!