This August my husband and I will celebrate twenty-eight years of marriage. As I reflect upon our marriage, God’s grace, faithfulness, and love is overwhelming. For us, doing ministry together is our normal. During the first three years of marriage Scott led the student ministry, and I taught youth Sunday School and discipled teenage girls. Four years into marriage, Scott became a full-time pastor, and I served the church by teaching a women’s Sunday school class, directing vacation Bible school, serving in Mission Friends, and leading local outreach in the community.
During the last year of our pastorate, God gave each of us a burden to see the nations come to Christ. This call led us to serve eight years with the International Mission Board in Europe and Central Asia. Our experiences on the mission field awakened a desire to mobilize and equip others for missions so we moved back to the states for Scott to pursue a PhD. Today, he is a seminary professor and directs the mission efforts at Southeastern Seminary. He also serves as the chairman of elders of our church and leads a small group in our home. I serve full time on our church staff as the Women’s Discipleship Director and we both offer premarital counseling and disciple and regularly mentor men and women; we also serve on the weekend in our church.
I do not mean for any of this to sound like a resume or come across as boasting. I am not recommending that you use these examples to measure your service or that you seek to emulate it. Simply put, this is our story of ministry.
Through the years people have asked us about being involved in ministry. They ask about balance, family time, and about keeping rhythms and meaning in life. Those are important questions; they are ones I am happy to write about later. In this post, I want to share the great blessing and benefit of Christian ministry as a couple.
I want to encourage every couple, every family, to serve in ministry for the sake of the gospel because it is through your service together that the gospel becomes flesh and is proclaimed. This post isn’t about professional ministry with public platforms. Instead, it is a glimpse into the ways the gospel is displayed through your ministry together.
1. Through Marriage
First, the gospel is proclaimed through marriage (Ephesians 5:22-33). How we relate to one another in marriage as husband and wife should show how Christ loves the church. Because of this, couples can display the gospel in word and deed to fellow church members, guests, neighbors, coworkers, family members, and beyond.
2. Through Parenting
Second, the gospel is proclaimed through parenting (Deuteronomy 6:5-9 & Titus 2:1-7). God expects parents to disciple their children to love Christ and His mission. This task of spiritual parenting extends as we disciple younger men and women in their faith. Couples can also partner together and multiply their efforts as they walk alongside younger parents.
3. Through our gifts
Third, the gospel is proclaimed through our gifts (1 Corinthians 12:4-31). The Holy Spirit gives each believer gifts to edify the body. When couples recognize, celebrate, and steward each other’s gifts, this will serve as a beautiful testimony of the gospel. One reason Scott and I have been able to thrive both in our marriage and walk with the Lord is because we know, affirm, and support one another in our spiritual gifts, encouraging each other to steward God’s gifts for kingdom purposes.
4. Through work and community activities
Finally, the gospel is proclaimed through work and community activities (Colossians 3:23). Though we have spent most of our marriage in vocational ministry, we have also worked to display the gospel in other jobs. Christian couples have a unique opportunity to take part in God’s mission in the workplace and through volunteering their time and talents to better their communities and the world.
The foundation for every disciple
As you can see, there are many ways a couple can and should partner in gospel ministry. The bottom line is this: as a follower of Jesus, your purpose as an individual and as part of a married couple is to love Christ and His mission and to bring glory to His name. This will look different for each person and for every couple; however, the “why” remains the same. You see, living a life that displays the gospel is not just for vocational, bi-vocational, or even “certain” Christians. It is the foundation of every disciple who follows Christ.