Marriage Advice From A Christian Perspective

How to Step Into Ministry as a Couple

  • April Motl Contributor
  • 2021 19 Aug
How to Step Into Ministry as a Couple

"He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately." Acts 18:26-27

Aquila and Priscilla are some of the most well-known married ministry partners in the Bible. If you and your spouse are looking to step into ministry, this couple has some great wisdom for you!

1. God Will Call You Right Where You Are!

Sometimes we think we need to leave everything to serve God. Sometimes, He does indeed call us to this, but most often, even if He calls us to leave everything we've previously known, the calling happens in the midst of our very normal, everyday lives.

"After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them." Acts 18:1-3

Aquila was a tentmaker, and Paul was too! They crossed paths as the two were settling in at Corinth. Aquila was on the move because politics had pushed him from one town to another. Paul was on the move with his missionary journeys. The two teamed up for work and then later for ministry.

"Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them." 1 Corinthians 7:20

This verse is an excerpt from a greater portion of Scripture dealing with the common urge we have to throw off our current life in search of another "better" one to serve God through. In it, Paul explains that whatever season or station of life we find ourselves in is right where God would have us serve Him! I've known couples that felt like they needed a bigger house to serve the Lord. And I've known couples that felt like they needed a smaller house with less upkeep to serve the Lord. This sentiment can be applied across every facet of our lives. Serve the Lord where you are with what you have!

2. Through Changes in Your Circumstance, Trust God with His Call on Your Life

Priscilla and Aquila served the Lord with Paul by their side and without him.

"Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time. Then he left the brothers and sisters and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. Before he sailed, he had his hair cut off at Cenchreae because of a vow he had taken. They arrived at Ephesus, where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila." Acts 18:18-19

God calls us to serve Him with and without certain, very dear people in our lives. This point is a deeply personal one for me at the moment.

My husband is a pastor, and we recently lost our very precious associate pastor. We had served together for 15 years. We'd been through major fires together. His faith was pure, sweet, and oh so contagious. In a world where great men and women dramatically fall away from God or into deep pits of sin, where they fight and devour one another for petty church politics, it was a gift to serve alongside this beautiful brother who so loved God's word and His people.

For my husband, the church ministry leaders, and our congregation, this has been a season of "how do we go on without him?" He had lymphoma of the spine and was paralyzed in his last days. Despite this, he never stopped praising God and sharing Jesus with everyone he had the opportunity to. My husband asked him what he wanted for the church, and he said to keep loving each other and God's word. So, we keep doing apart what we did together. And while it hurts all of us to feel the great absence of him in our midst, we know we have work to do. So we do our best to run the race well, just as he exampled for us.

On a much less profound note, we live in an area of the country where people constantly come in for work and then move on. Many years back, we went through a season for three years where every six months, our newest ministry partners would surprisingly move out of state for work. I was flabbergasted! Not only was it pretty impossible to develop the leadership structure that was on our hearts, but we loved these people, and it was a major heartbreak to see them go. When you answer God's call to serve Him as a couple, undoubtedly, you will go through seasons of great people-grief. Whether you serve with someone who crashes and burns, leaving you and so many others reeling from shock and hurt. They get job transfers and leave the state. Or you serve with someone indescribably precious that is called to heaven. You will grieve. And God's call to serve won't change. Even when the pain is so great, we feel our heart is too broken to serve with; our call from the Lord isn't dependent on other people or even on us. It is HIS work through us. It is dependent on God. As people come in and go out of your serving journey, trust God's plans and His calling for you. (And yes, sometimes we need breaks to heal and recoup, but that is another topic for another article! Tuck into your heart the promise that you aren't alone in your people-grief, and God will see you to the other side of it, serving Him along the way.)

Paul's words shortly after he had served with Priscilla and Aquila:

"Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have not coveted anyone's silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" When Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship." Acts 20:32-38 (emphasis added)

3. Use Your Strengths as God has Chosen to Give Them

My grandma was famous for saying she was "behind the door" when God passed out talents. It wasn't a bit true, but her talents were less flashy than some people's. They were, however, quite practical. As we strive to serve God, we can fall into comparison traps and struggle to find the best way to use what God has given us. Serving as a couple can cause unique moments of tension as we learn to work together, but we don't need to stay there in our serving journey. Aquila and Priscilla had learned this secret!

"Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately." Acts 18:24-26

Priscilla and Aquila were a team, and God used them as such. Bible scholars have debated as to why the order of their names is sometimes hers before his; maybe she was more outgoing and dynamic than her husband, etc. It doesn't really matter. God used them together and gifted them just right for that purpose. I tend to be more outgoing than my husband, and I've wrestled with finding the right "speed" alongside him. It's pretty common for couples to have one member with one gift and the other to have what's lacking. I think we do best when we allow God to hand out the gifts, and we just make sure we are faithful with them!

4. Open Your Home for Ministry

In my experience, one of the most powerful ways a couple can serve together is by opening up their home. The families that have opened their homes to the church and to me have been special gifts to all of us!

Here are some practical ways you can open your home to bless your church family:

-Know any college kids or people without laundry facilities in their home? Offer yours! It's a big blessing when you don't have a washer/dryer in your house to come over for a couple of hours of hanging out and laundry!

-Offer your home for a weekly Bible study, a youth/college/seniors event, or an annual gathering. In the summer, we've had people open their home for families to use the pool or another that had a great country home for a harvest festival. It doesn't have to be that you open your home forever; it can be a once in a while thing and still be a real joy for everyone!

-Invite families to your home for lunch after church. This is a HUGE blessing! We live in an arm's-length culture where we like to know people through the internet. Church fellowship can so easily fall into the "hi how are you" category and never progress into a relationship that helps anyone grow. Inviting someone to have lunch at your home after church pushes those social boundaries and helps to foster a real atmosphere of growth in your church family!

Hospitality isn't just for in your home! We've gone through seasons where our home wasn't hospitable. If your baby is colicky, you are going through home renovations, living in a super cramped space, or just working so hard that tidying is a super low priority, don't feel like hospitality has eluded you!

"We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth." 3 John 8

-Invite someone out for lunch after church! This is great, especially if you don't know the person well!

-Invite people to a public space, like a park or lake, for a BBQ dinner. We've really enjoyed doing this with young families. Sometimes it's hard to have lots of people in your home, but a picnic at the park is enjoyable and easy. For Summer evening hangouts at the bay, I like to buy a big pack of glow sticks. The kids love playing with them, and as it gets darker, we can all keep a good eye on the kids.

-Invite someone to share a fun or refreshing experience with you. We went through a hard time some years back. We were super tight on funds, working really hard through a lot of disappointments, and someone invited me out of lunch and a pedicure. I still cherish that gift. It was 16 years ago. And before that, I remember the women who invited me to retreats and conferences I couldn't have paid to attend. Major blessings that twenty years in the future still bring sweetness to my soul.

Remember, hospitality means making people feel welcome. You can welcome people into your life in all kinds of ways! And the blessing of embracing someone doesn't quickly fade! Serving the Lord together is absolutely a calling every married couple has on their marriage. Your marriage is a reflection of Christ's love and relationship with His people. In a world where marriage has been so often broken, tending your marriage and then serving from it is a powerful and vital witness to those who don't know Jesus yet. For those who do know Christ, the ministry God pours out through your marriage can be a fountain of refreshing!

"For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you." Philemon 1:7

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Shironosov

April Motl is a pastor’s wife, homeschool mom, and women’s ministry director. When she’s not waist-deep in the joys and jobs of motherhood, being a wife, and serving at church, she writes and teaches for women. You can find more encouraging resources from April here and here