Building up believers and the New Testament church



Those in close fellowship with Brother Gordon Gentry heard him mention on several occasions that he wanted to write a book on ministry. For reasons known only to him and the Lord, he did not complete the task before passing on to his reward (in April 2002), although he ministered extensively to share what he saw in this area. He considered ministry to be one of the most crucial needs for the function and growth of the local assembly, and he was always laboring to see the overall ministry strengthened. He himself always ministered to "lose his ministry" and to see every member of the body functioning under Christ the Head. His definition of ministry was "a supply of Christ to the body."

The text of this book was taken primarily from tapes of two sessions on ministry by Brother Gordon. The first series was given in 1974 to the brothers in a local gathering in West Palm Beach, over a period of four weeks. The second series was given in three meetings a few years later to a group of brothers in the same gathering who were preparing to give leadership to special home meetings. Additional material was taken from a tape recorded about the same time to be sent to radio listeners, and a few excerpts from out-of-print booklets published by Brother Gordon were also used as appropriate.

Since most of the material was originally delivered in spoken form, it has been edited and organized to be more readable. Subjects from the series overlapped, so the topics have been merged and arranged for a logical flow of thought. The material from written sources was used to fill in topics that were not covered in the original presentation. The manuscript has been reviewed for accuracy by several brothers who knew Bro. Gordon and heard him minister on these subjects many times.

There is much debate today over the subject of ministry and the place of ministers in the body of Christ. Some have sought to defend a "clergy-laity" distinction, feeling that this is necessary to maintain order and purity of doctrine, while others have sought to emphasize an "every man ministry" or "level brotherhood," often as a reaction against the abuse of authority within certain realms of Christendom. Bro. Gordon did not believe ministers were to be given a special place (or office) above others, but that their place was to be "brothers among brethren." The distinction he drew was that ministry is not a "position" but a God-given grace. His goal was to encourage every member to function in the place God has put them in the body, and to serve other members with a supply of Christ. He taught that the more grace a brother has, the more God expects him to lay down his life and serve, and that the proof of effective ministry is a reproduction of the life of God in other members.

The last thing Brother Gordon would want to publish is a "how to" book on ministry, to be used as some kind of formula, separate from a vital relationship with God. Perhaps teaching in any area could be taken that way, but the primary purpose and value of this material is to stimulate fellowship among brothers on the subject of ministry, sending them back to God and the scriptures for a living revelation of Christ and His design in the body. If this book accomplishes that, its goal will be realized.

David SheatsMarch 2010