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Tuesday, June 04, 2013

The Role Of The Saints In Church Growth

Ephesians 4:11-16 helps me think differently about church growth.  Here in Ephesians 4 Paul is discussing the body of Christ; that is, the church. The true church of Christ is distinguished by unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (4:3), with one Lord, hope, faith, baptism, one God and Father who graces through the gift of Christ. Within this body are found other kinds of gifts given by God: some who are called to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Verse 12 explains the purpose of these gifts of God, “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”  Here we find a way that Jesus grows the church.

The saints are to be equipped for the work of ministry by those whom God has appointed as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Since the local church is the microcosm of the true, universal (“catholic”--to use an old term) church, those who walk in the manner worthy of their calling (the saints) are to do the work of ministry. Those who train them are those who are loaded up with the cargo of God’s Word (apostles), by those who teach the gospel and God’s’ Word under His authority (prophets, evangelists and teachers), by their shepherds (pastors). The saint when properly equipped, is to prepare and present God’s Word to the world.

Let’s not miss one important feature: those who are not born again are not the church, so the ministry of the saints is to bring people in. The way Jesus grows the church is through the ministry of the saints in the world by the promotion of wisdom, godliness, happiness and holiness. Let’s approach this from a different angle: what keeps the church from growing? Foolishness, lack of commitment, conformity without transformation, depression and impurity. The enemy trips us up by suggesting we flip the model and hire professionals to fill the building to occupational capacity by professionalism and marketing then refer the nurture of those who come to other professionals.

If anyone is to go out there and get ‘em, it’s the saint;
If anyone is to teach ‘em, it’s the saint;
If anyone is to think rationally and stand up for truth, it’s the saint;
If anyone is to think theologically, it’s the saint;
If anyone is help people through their stuff, it’s the saint;
if anyone is to have experience in matters of God, it’s the saint;
If anyone is to be content, it’s the saint.

Perhaps we have it backwards, calling our pastors “ministers” when it is the saints who are the ministers. The saint is to be all the offices rolled up in one. Pastors and teachers, we should have “trainer” on our business cards. Instead of “clergy” on the bumper sticker of our car (for parking privileges?), we should have “consultant”-- or perhaps a more biblical term, “counselor.” And find another parking place.

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