Equipping the Saints

– Pastor Brandon’s article from the February 2016 Newsletter

As you may have figured out by now, I am not much of a “handyman.” While I have some reasonable competence in certain areas, (Bible teaching, computers, music), maintenance and construction just aren’t on the list. Although I’m trying to add to my DIY skills, I often find myself out of my league. And, few things are more frustrating than getting into a relatively simple job and realizing I don’t have tools to get it done right. In moments like this, I pick up the phone and call for help: “Hey Dad, what do you think about…oh, and can I borrow the…ok, see you in a few minutes.”

Thank the Lord for the people in my life who are able to help. What I enjoy most about these times is figuring out how things work and learning how to get the job done. I would much rather have someone teach me than to have them do it for me, and I am grateful that others take the time to help me develop these skills. It’s also fun to watch my tool collection grow.

You might have noticed that we have been working our way through the book of Ephesians in these monthly articles. In the next section, we find a discussion of a healthy, growing church:

“But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men. It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

“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. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Ephesians 4:7-16)

There are many things to talk about here, but allow me to focus in on one aspect of the passage: the role of leaders in the church. Paul begins by naming some of the leadership offices within the church. The way he writes seems to indicate four main groups: 1) apostles, 2) prophets, 3) evangelists, 4) pastors and teachers. The linking of these last two terms implies that the office of the pastor-teacher entails a responsibility to care for and provide instruction for God’s people. He says that all of these leaders were given to the church for a common purpose. Their job is to prepare God’s people for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up.

We often think of church leaders as “doing ministry,” but that’s not quite the picture here. The term for “ministry” is simply the term for “service” that is used in the passage. Thus, we see that all of God’s people are called to do ministry in some way and that the specific role of leaders is to prepare God’s people for this work. The word “prepare” involves the idea of training and equipping.

Think back to my developing DIY skills. I truly want to be able to tackle some of these projects myself, but I often need someone to come alongside of me to teach me how to complete the job. In the same way, the role of leadership in the church is to come alongside of God’s people. Church leadership is not here to do ministry for us. Rather, leaders help members of the community gather the “tools” and develop the skills needed to accomplish what God is calling them to do. They help people get ready to do ministry.

With this in mind, let’s look at the flow of the passage. Leaders train God’s people for works of service (ministry). God’s people perform works of service that result in the strengthening of the fellowship of believers. As each member performs his or her God-given ministry, the whole body grows to maturity in Christ. Thus, we all share in the process of growing God’s church into what he wants it to be.

My primary job as your pastor is to help you prepare for the life that God has for you. He has called us to serve one another and build one another up, and it is only as each of us does our part that we mature in Christ and grow his church. I invite you to ask what specific role God has called you to play in this body? What is it that he has placed in your heart to do in this world? In what way is he challenging you to advance his kingdom? I want to see you thriving in your relationship with the Lord and in your service to one another.