In my travels to hundreds of congregations, I have one new common question I ask members. “How are you being trained to use the spiritual gifts God has given you?” The blank looks or even looks of confusion tell a troubling tale of a failure by the church.
As we continue this series on ministry engagement, allow me to take you deeper into Ephesians 4.
Importance of development
Paul in verse 14 says, then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.
R.C. Sproul points out, “One of the greatest obstacles encountered in a teaching ministry is this idea, pervasive in the Christian church, that there is no benefit to be had by the laity in serious study of the Word of God or in the study of theology. We have elevated to the level of an idea the idea of having a simple, childlike faith. We find people saying, ‘I want my faith to be simple and childlike, I don’t need to know any theology. All I need to know is Jesus.’ That sentiment is a childish sentiment and, I suggest to you, it is a sinful sentiment.”
The church is doing their members no favors by watering down the importance of growth we receive in the study and application of God’s word. The enemy of spiritual growth is time. Our schedules don’t allow for intense training. It is easy to skip our need for spiritual maturity in the things of God. Paul warns that this lack of depth leaves our people targets, even prey for the craftiness and cunning of men and Satan. I would also argue this leaves our churches open to whatever new wave of false teaching and ministry misdirections may come our way. The church that is not grounded is susceptible to every fad that comes down the line.
In my research on Millennials two essentials things they value is: 1) Leadership they can believe in and 2) Leaders to help develop them. I don’t think that only applies to Millennials. This leadership development is what Paul is describing. He talks about living a life above reproach and one where he does not become a stumbling block. Here in Ephesians 4 he also champions developing the people God has called us to shepherd. Both are vital elements in engaging the people sitting in the pews. Come back next week for the next installment.
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