Ephesians 4:11-16 “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, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
I’m going to be really honest and maybe others can relate. When I look around and see what I think to be a “lack” at church - for example, a lack of needs met, a lack of fellowship, a lack of communication - my heart instinctively wants to blame someone else. “Why isn’t ______ doing more?”
A passage like Ephesians 4:11-16 is quick to convict my sin-bent heart. While the leaders of a local church are to “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ”; it is easy to forget (or maybe ignore) that God says we, the members, are given the role of performing the tasks of the ministry. We are responsible for promoting each other’s growth into Christ-likeness. The job of service and discipling is ours.
Yes, leadership ought to train, guide and protect us with the Truth. They ought to be pouring into us the whole counsel of God, reminding us of the gospel and teaching us to proclaim it; but, we are a part of the living and breathing Church. It isn’t something we merely attend once a week. Learning from shepherds and actively participating is vital for maturity. A better understanding of this will help us to cultivate a culture (habits/values) of mentoring at Faith Community Church.
The Bible refers to the Church as a body in several places in the New Testament and gets very specific in 1 Corinthians 12. This passage is an excellent metaphor to show our position in Christ, how we function in a healthy way and how Believers need one another. Here are some of the main points:
All the parts of the Body are absolutely necessary, there are no “super-Christians” (v 22)
The stronger and the weaker are attached together (v 22-23)
There are diverse gifts given to local churches which in turn help create unity (v 12-13)
The head of all the Church is the Lord (v 5)
The same Holy Spirit animates all the members - there would be no ministry without the Holy Spirit (v 11)
God arranges us as He purposefully chooses (v 18)
We affect one another, “if one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (v 26)
Each gift is given for the common good, your gift is for others (v 7)
Do you believe this? That at salvation, God equipped you with gifts perfectly suited to serve your local church? Do you believe that this is true of every follower of Christ?
No exceptions, every member has a role. A church where all the members are not serving faithfully will always be a church lacking in maturity. No church will ever be perfect on this side of heaven, but we can either fill a gap or leave a gap. This is not meant to be a guilt trip, but rather a call to obedience and transformation. What a mercy and privilege that God is not calling professionals or programs but is instead calling everyday people to make His Church beautiful. (1 Cor 1:27)
A church where all the members are not serving faithfully will always be a church lacking in maturity.
The Church’s beauty looks like one body with the common goal of passionately pursuing God’s glory. It looks like all the members of FCC, under the headship of God, soaking in the Word in order to stay pure and stand firm. (Eph 4:14) It looks like every member speaking the truth in love to one another so we all come to a deeper knowledge of Jesus. (Eph 4:13,15) There is nothing greater, “Indeed I count everything as a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord”. (Phil 3:8-10)
Maturing is a lengthy process, but we must endure. Everyone will go through stages of “weakness” in their life. A season when it may be difficult to participate. Reach out, ask for prayer. This is a time when the strong can step up, surround, and pull the weak forward. We are joined and held together. As tempting as it might be to not engage with fellow sinners, we’ve been given gifts in order to do this job.
I need to be careful when my gross heart wants to complain about the Church - God LOVES His Church. He delights in her because Christ’s righteousness covers her and she is altogether lovely (Song of Solomon 4:7). Her worth, and mine, is found in Christ’s finished work alone. There is no better investment than building her up through discipleship. This is work that lasts. Next time we'll talk about Titus 2 and how this mentoring culture applies more directly to women.