church steeple

What’s the Pastor and Church’s Goal and Purpose in the Work of Ministry? – Part 2

Some of my readers may know that I attended the University of Georgia for my undergraduate studies. When I entered the University, I hadn’t declared a major. Eventually, I landed on Biology. Why I landed on Biology as my major I don’t know. I’ve never worked in my degree field and the classes I had to take were much more difficult than those in other majors. But that is where I landed.

Even though I was a Biology major, I had to take a number of classes in other disciplines. English Literature, Psychology, Sociology, Philosophy, and Spanish to name a few. While I wished I didn’t have to take those classes when I was in college, thinking back I now see that there was a method to the University’s madness. There was a sort of unity in the diversity. The subjects they selected were designed to work together to make me a well-rounded student. Teaching me skills I didn’t have and helping me hone the ones I did possess.

The church works in a similar way. While there’s not a diversified list of classes we have to take, there is a diversity of gifts that exist within the church. Within that diversity, there should be a unity. Last time I argued for a unity in diversity based off the idea that Jesus has given these gifts to the church and we should be unified in Jesus. You can read that post here.

Today, I’m going to focus on some of the gifts Jesus gives in order to equip His saints for the work of ministry.

Jesus gives certain men to the church as gifts to equip the church for the work of ministry (vs. 11-12)

We are still in the book of Ephesians chapter 4. Look at verse 11 and I will show you what I mean,

“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” (Eph 4:11-12)

So you have an idea of what these people do, let’s run quickly run through this list. First we are told that He gives:

Apostles

When Paul uses this term, he is not referring to The Apostles, the disciples that walked with and were commissioned by Jesus, instead he’s referring to little “a” apostles. You can think of them almost like church planters or church strengtheners.They are the sent out ones. While the title is not used often, if you see that on someone’s business card or website, that’s typically how they are thinking of themselves.

Next, we are told that He gives:

Prophets

The prophets Paul is referring to don’t operate in the same way that the Old Testament prophets did. These aren’t people who foretell the future like Daniel, Isaiah, or Jeremiah. Instead prophets are those who speak Spirit prompted truths to the church in order to strengthen, encourage, comfort and build it up. These truths are not their own. They are based off of and derived from God’s Word.

Next, we are told He gives:

Evangelists

Evangelists are those who are especially gifted to speak the gospel to others. Now, that doesn’t absolve us from our responsibility to present the gospel to others. I don’t want you to get that impression. It is just that these men have been especially gifted in evangelism.

Lastly, we see that He gives:

Shepherds and Teachers

I don’t believe shepherds and teachers represent two distinct categories. Instead, I believe they tell us the dual role of a pastor. As we consider both of those terms together, we see that a pastor is supposed to: (1) Shepherd the flock, protecting and correcting them. (2) As well as they are to teach others God’s Word.

Paul tells us that all of these men have been given, they have been gifted to the church:

To equip the saints for the work of ministry

Now, you more often than not interact with the last category on this list — a pastor, so let’s talk about that for a minute to try to bring a proper perspective to how we should think about pastoral ministry. As we do, the main thing we see is that it is the pastor’s job to equip the saints for ministry.

Who are the saints?

You, Christians, Church Members. You are the saints. It is my job, then, as the shepherd/teacher to equip you to do the work of ministry. Now, that doesn’t mean that I don’t minister, I do. But it means that I am not the only minister in the church. You, the saints, are also to think of yourselves as ministers. This is where the idea of The Priesthood of all believers in the Reformation era came from. There isn’t a special class of people — pastors, priest, bishops, etc — that do the work of ministry. Everyone is a priest. Everyone ministers.

So when a church calls a pastor, they aren’t to call them with the mindset of outsourcing their ministry to a hired hand.

No, they are to call them with the mindset that this man is going to equip them to do the work of ministry.

Not only does Scripture tell us that is how we are to think, but practice does as well. It is physically impossible for one person to do all the ministry in a church. Considering the job of a pastor, we have learned that he is to be a shepherd and a teacher. With that in mind, let’s zero in on one aspect of a pastor’s job, the teaching aspect, and specifically as it relates to the Sunday morning service. Now, you have to know that God doesn’t tell me what to say, He doesn’t provide me with an entire message, as I’m walking up to the podium. No, I spend hours thinking, reading, writing, praying, and preaching this message before I ever deliver it to you. Just to give you an idea, I spent 15+ hours on my last message I preached. That’s just for the Sunday Sermon. There is also Wednesday night and Sunday School to prepare for along with other things I am tasked to do.

Now, I don’t tell you that to complain. I love doing what I do. It doesn’t even feel like work to me. Instead, I tell you that so that you can see from a practical standpoint, that’s it’s physically impossible for one person to do all the ministry that takes place in the church, even a small church. That’s why God gives men to the church to equip the saints for the work of ministry.

This is also why I also said last time that everyone must do their part; everyone must be in the game. We can’t afford to have anyone sitting on the sidelines. We all must be ministering and working toward the same goal.

Next Time

Next time we will look at the purpose and goal of ministry in the church.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you see why it is necessary that a pastor work to equip the saints for the work of ministry?
  2. Are you allowing your pastor to equip you to do ministry in your church or do you expect them to do the work of ministry alone?

Resources

Post developed from my sermon: What’s the Pastor and Church’s Goal and Purpose in the Work of Ministry?

church steeple

What’s the Pastor and Church’s Goal and Purpose in the Work of Ministry? – Part 1

Some of my readers may know that I attended the University of Georgia for my undergraduate studies. When I entered the University, I hadn’t declared a major. Eventually, I landed on Biology. Why I landed on Biology as my major I don’t know. I’ve never worked in my degree field and the classes I had to take were much more difficult than those in other majors. But that is where I landed.

Even though I was a Biology major, I had to take a number of classes in other disciplines. English Literature, Psychology, Sociology, Philosophy, and Spanish to name a few. While I wished I didn’t have to take those classes when I was in college, thinking back I now see that there was a method to the University’s madness. There was a sort of unity in the diversity. The subjects they selected were designed to work together to make me a well-rounded student. Teaching me skills I didn’t have and helping me hone the ones I did possess.

The church works in a similar way. While there’s not a diversified list of classes we have to take, there is a diversity of gifts that exist within the church. Within that diversity, there should be a unity.

There should be unity in the diversity of gifts within the church (vs. 1-7)

Ephesians 4 will be the main text we look at. Here is what Paul says in verses 1-7.

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” (Eph 4:1–7)

Paul begins this section by calling us to walk in a manner worthy of our calling. Then in verse 2 he tells us what it looks like for us to live in a manner worthy of our calling and that is: It looks like us bearing with one another in such a way that we are unified and at peace with one another. Admittedly, living in unity and at peace with one another is difficult, but that difficulty shouldn’t keep us from striving towards that end because we are all one in Christ. Paul drives that point home in these verses with his consistent use of the word “one”. He tells us that there is “one body…one Spirit…one hope…one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.” You see as Christians, we are all one with another.

Paul illustrates the idea of our oneness well in his letter to the Corinthians by the use of a body metaphor. When you look at yourself in the mirror, you should see only one of you. There aren’t two, three, four, or five Casey’s running around. I’m one person. Sometimes I wish I was more than one person. I’m sure at times you do too. But the reality is, there is only one of us.

Even though you just see one person in the mirror, if you look closely, you see that your body is comprised of many parts. A head, eyes, nose, mouth, arms, hands, legs, feet, and so on and so forth. There are different parts that make up our body. In order for us to walk away from that mirror and go about our day, all those parts must work together.That’s the same with the body of Christ, the church. There are many different parts that make up the church, yet we are called to function as one, which means there should be unity in our diversity.

We should be eager to maintain that unity because we have all been called and gifted by Jesus who is the conquering King.

We have all been called and gifted by Jesus, who is the conquering King (vs. 8-10)

Look at verses 8-10,

“Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)” (Eph 4:8–10)

The picture Paul presents for us here is that of a conquering king leading a host of captives, or prisoners of war, in a parade through their kingdom. As the king would lead his captives through the kingdom, those who were a part of the kingdom would line up to see the parade. Not only was this a time of celebration for the kingdom, just as parades are for us, but during this time the king would give gifts as he saw fit.

Paul is taking this same picture applying it to Jesus as the conquering King. But Paul flips the script a bit and tells us that Jesus didn’t conquer in the way kings normally conquer. No, the way He conquered was by dying on the cross, then descending into the grave. Just when everyone thought that was the end, Jesus did something no one else could do, He resurrected from the grave defeating sin, Satan, and death. Then He ascended to His heavenly throne were He now reigns and rules.

Just as conquering kings in Paul’s day had the right to give gifts to men in their kingdom, Jesus as the conquering King, has the same right, and that is exactly what He does. He gives gifts to all those in His kingdom as He see fit. He expects them to use those gifts in a unified manner to accomplish His purpose.

Next Time

Next time we will look at some of the gifts Jesus gives in order to equip His saints for the work of ministry.

Question for Reflection

  1. Is there unity in your church?

Resources

Post developed from my sermon: What’s the Pastor and Church’s Goal and Purpose in the Work of Ministry?

What Can You Do To Get in the Game?

Before going off to seminary in Fort Worth, I lived in Dallas and I attended FBC Dallas. While I was there, they ran a campaign entitled “Get in the Game”. The purpose of this campaign was to call people off the sidelines and into the game. They ran the campaign because believe it or not, there was a lack of people who were serving, even though they had thousands of members.

The problem they had isn’t uncommon or unique to them. Many churches face similar issues. I am not sure who did the research, but the consistent statistic I see over and over again is that 20% of the people do 80% of the work in churches. That means only 20% of the people are employing their God given gifts to further the kingdom of God. That is a problem because Jesus expects 100% of the people who are following Him to be employing their God given gifts to further the kingdom.

Jesus expects everyone to be on the field, He expects everyone to be in the game. In His kingdom, no one sits the bench. Everyone plays.

What Can You Do To Get in the Game?

Let me give you three fundamental things you can do right now to get in the game.

(1) A relationship with God is needed before you will use your gifts for the kingdom

If you don’t have a relationship with God, you aren’t going to exercise your gifts to further His kingdom. It’s as simple as that, so if you want to get in the game, you have to first have a relationship with God.

The only way to have a relationship with God is through Jesus. You must believe that Jesus is your Savior and you must profess Him as your Lord.

So that’s the first thing that must be true in your life, if you are going to get in the game. You must have a relationship with Jesus and the Spirit must be working in your life.

(2) Trust God enough to use your gifts to further the kingdom

Working for the kingdom involves risk and cost — emotionally, physically, and monetarily. These costs might be what’s keeping you out of the game. But they shouldn’t. God is the all-sovereign, all-powerful God of the universe. He controls everything, which means that He can and will provide us with what we need to serve Him. We just have to trust God enough that He will do that.

(3) Care about and love others enough to use your gifts

When we don’t use our gifts to serve others in the church, essentially what we are saying is that we don’t care about and love others enough to do so. Instead, we care more about ourself, our comfort, our life, than we care about them.

But here is the thing. Christianity isn’t a religion that is focused on self. It is other oriented. Jesus is the prime example. We are Christians today. We experience salvation and a relationship with God today because Jesus was selfless. He cared about and loved others more than Himself. And that’s what drove Him to serve us on the cross.

So if we want to get in the game, we need to first have a relationship with God, then we need to trust God, and lastly, we need to care about and love others more than ourselves. If we need the motivation to do that, we only need to look to Jesus and the care and love He extended to us.

Question for Reflection

  1. Are you using your God-given gifts to further the kingdom?

Resources

Post developed from my sermon Why Should We and How Can We Use Our God Given Gifts?