Common Ministry Misconception: The people of God are comfortable sitting in the pew watching the clergy do all the ministry.
The Truth of the matter is: The people of God do not want to sit they want to be equipped and sent. If you get nothing else from this series on engagement get that point.
The church is not a gallery where we exhibit the finest of Christians. No, it is a school where we educate and encourage imperfect Christians. 1
The concept of “equipping the saints” is complex. Church leaders often focus on only a portion of this verse, “equip the saints for the work of ministry.” Stopping here leaves out the reason for the equipping and what we are equipping people to do. Here is the complete verse for our study and reflection.
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.2
There is much to unpack here. And too much to cover in 500 words or less. With that in mind, this will be a two-part blog post. Come back next week for the conclusion.
Equipped to Build Up the Body of Christ
As leaders of the church, you have been given gifts for God to accomplish His mission. The caution for leaders is understanding how to use your gifts. The gifts given to leaders are to unite the body of Christ not to tear it apart. One of the sadist things I have witnessed in the church is to see leaders get puffed up because of their gifts and what was intended for good, destroys unity in the body and eventually does damage to the mission. Gifts were meant for the edification, uplifting, strengthening and building up the people. He arePaul’s words again.
Eric Alexander remarks on this passage that the principle of unity is inviolable, having been established by God. The practice of unity, however, is violable, being broken all the time. The goal of maturity in Christ is to successfully unite those two. How ironic it is that the very unity of the faith, and unity of the knowledge of God, is, in fact, the very thing that causes schisms. Paul here is speaking doctrinally—there is but one true gospel to which all believers should adhere. How desperately sad is the fact that the church is known by schism, not unity; ignorance, not knowledge; and indecisiveness rather than maturity. How it must break God’s heart to see us continue in such a poverty-stricken condition in light of what he has done, stands ready to do, has the resources to accomplish, and has defined as our calling in Christ.
Step one in equipping the saints is to lead the Saints to use their gifts for the strengthening of the body of Christ. Next week come back for the second critical piece.
1Green, M. P. (Ed.). (1989). Illustrations for Biblical Preaching: Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively(Revised edition of The expositor’s illustration file). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
2The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Eph 4:11–14). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
3Sproul, R. C. (1994). The Purpose of God: Ephesians(p. 104). Scotland: Christian Focus Publications.
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