Sunday, April 29, 2018

Equipping – The Ministry-Minded Work of the Church

"For the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry..."  This is how the Apostle Paul described the purpose of the gifts of Christ to the Church (apostles and prophets, evangelists, and pastors/teachers).  God has created the local church to be the primary place where you as a Christian get what you need to grow.  To accomplish this, God has given leaders to the church in order to teach you His Word and give you the tools you need to both enable your own spiritual growth and help others in their spiritual growth.

As Americans, most of us figure that church is a nice place to go on Sundays (maybe even every Sunday) in order to be encouraged as we worship God.  But, the church is much more than that.  The church is the ONE place that God has designed for us to minister to others and be ministered to.  Unless we are actively engaging in mutual ministry with other believers, we will never become more like Christ, which is our ultimate goal.

But, we don't know what we're doing, do we?  We don't naturally know how to minister to others?  In fact, we don't naturally know anything about the ministry that Christ calls us to.  That is why we need the equipping ministry of the church.  And, by "equipping ministry" I do not mean some prepackaged program.  I mean the church being who the church was meant to be.  I mean the elders and deacons functioning in the way God intended.  I mean the Gospel being the central focus of everything the church says and does.  I mean all the members of the church being actively involved in serving one another and the community around them.

So, what does this look like?  Well, there is no simple 4-step program to Christian growth.  Similarly, there is no simple 4-step process of equipping people for ministry.  It is a life-long job.  The Word of God is our primary tool.  As the servant-leaders of the church pour the Word of God into the lives of other believers, those believers begin to do the same with others.  We teach, we preach, we train, we counsel, we pray, we disciple.  We all do this.  Not just the pastor.  Not some board of super-spiritual people.  Paul says Jesus gave the pastors/teachers to equip "the saints".  That means all Christians.  And we equip with the Word because that is what God says He uses to make us all more like Christ, which is the goal.

As you become a part of a local congregation, your job is to find two types of relationships - 1) you need to find someone who is more mature than you spiritually so they can help disciple you, and 2) you need to find someone who is less mature than you spiritually so you can help disciple them.  Think about this for a minute.  What is your goal when you look for a church?  Why do you go to church?  What do you hope happens?  If you go to a church looking for what it can do for you or your family, you are only looking at half the picture.  The other half is what you can do for others within the congregation.  The question that remains is, "How have you purposed to get involved in the equipping ministry of your local church?"

No comments: