If “everyone a minister” meant that everyone has been given various vocations in which God places people into our lives to serve, then the statement would have truth to it. After all, to “minister” to someone, simply means to serve them in some capacity. Sadly, this phrase is used to blur the distinction between laity and clergy. The book which bears this name, authored by Dr. Oscar Feucht in 1973 neglects the fact that there is this distinction, even calling it a false dichotomy. Feucht draws largely upon Reformed and [Ana]Baptist theologians, who have a completely different theology of the means of Grace and of the Office of the Ministry, to support his point that the pastor is mainly there “for the equipping of the saints” (Ephesians 4) to essentially do the same thing he is doing. Where Feucht goes gravely wrong is that he denies that Christ instituted a distinct Office of the Ministry and that this Office has a purpose distinct from other vocations: namely that he is more than a “coach” of sorts, but that the pastor actually has been charged to speak for God in terms of binding and forgiving sins (Matthew 16 & 18) and that the Pastor has been charged by God to publicly preach, publicly read the Scriptures, and publicly administer the Sacraments (eg. 1 Timothy 4:13). So in short, “everyone a minister” as it is commonly used is not Biblical at all.
Where the Church gets off track is in two ways. The first is to see pastors and laity as in opposition with each other. Pastors are not any more holy by virtue of their vocation than anyone else. But this leads to the second way the Church can get off track, and that is overreacting to seeing pastors and laity in opposition to one another and eliminating any kind of distinction between the two. We each have our God given vocations, and it is O.K. that we not have every vocation under the sun. That would be quite a burden if it were the case.
So is it wrong for you to aspire to work in the National Park Service? In fact, it is not only not wrong, but very God-pleasing to aspire to work in a secular vocation. There certainly is a place for speaking the Gospel to friends, family, co-workers in the place that God has placed us and at the appropriate time. At such appropriate times our private speaking of the Gospel ultimately connects people with the Church itself where God’s Word is publicly proclaimed, where sins are publicly forgiven, where the Sacraments are publicly administered… and ultimately where faith is created and sustained.
Finally speaking as a pastor, I can’t possibly be everywhere. So there are people that you will run into in your various vocations that I wouldn’t normally meet. Probably one of the best things a layperson can do in this respect is to invite someone to meet their pastor or to attend church with them.
Blessings to you as you pursue your vocation.
Matthew Lorfeld, Pastor
Messiah Lutheran Church
La Crescent, MN