Summary: (Part 1) I would like to describe a healthy and an effective local church as an equipped, mission-oriented and growing local church.
BIBLICAL DESCRIPTION OF A HEALTHY AND EFFECTIVE LOCAL CHURCH MINISTRY
I would like to describe a healthy and an effective local church as an equipped, mission-oriented and growing local church. I would like to explain these three key words: “equipped”, “mission-oriented” and “growing” local church.
I. THE HEALTHY AND EFFECTIVE LOCAL CHURCH MUST BE TOTALLY EQUIPPED
First of all, I think that the reason many Christians are not involved in the ministry is not just because they are lazy or uncommitted but because they are THEY ARE NOT TOTALLY UNEQUIPPED.
In Ephesians 4:11-12, Paul was very clear that church leaders are “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (RSV).
The word “equip” in Greek is “katartismos” which has the meaning to “make something or someone updated, suitable, perfect. The word is applied as a medical term for the setting of a broken limb or for putting a joint back into its place. In politics, it is used for bringing together opposing factions so that government can go on” . This is to watch for under-develop powers, to draw them out and to bring actuality in human lives. Elton Trueblood compared this work of equipping to a “coach”: “Everyone knows that in the development of a football or baseball team, the quality of the coaching staff often makes a crucial difference… The glory of the coach is that being a discoverer, the developer and the trainer of the powers of other men…. He is more concerned in developing others than enhancing his own prestige”.
The equipping ministry is a process for church leaders with a goal to discover the spiritual gifts of their members and leading each of them to do something according to their gifts. In equipping, theology, ethics and ministerial practice are taught together in both one-to-one and corporate setting.
A LOCAL CHURCH THAT IS EQUIPPED HAS BASICALLY TWO CHARACTERISTICS.
A. The first is that there is UNITY IN THE LOCAL CHURCH.
The basis of the unity of the church is the fact that “there is one body and one Spirit, just as also you received your calling, with one hope; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who governs all and pervades all and is in us all” (Eph. 4.4-6). The Lord Jesus Christ desired and prayed for the unity of the church (Jn. 17). The very first believers had unity of purpose and mind which led to the unity of their fellowship and possessions. It was this unity that attracted many people to join them (Ac. 2.44-47). Paul, in practicing this Christian unity, he said “I endeavored earnestly to preach only where the name of Christ was not yet known, in order not to build on the foundation of someone else” (Ro. 15.20). Paul would not start his own fellowship at Rome but would only help the already existing churches. Unity in order to be preserved needs the individual believer’s humility, gentleness, patience and love (Eph. 4.1-3). It also preserved by “doing nothing out of selfishness or conceit, but with humility regarding others superior to yourselves. Neither must each be looking only for his own interests but also for those of others” (Phil. 2.3-4).
Also, there is here the challenge for the whole church to work together and not just the leaders of the church. Hence, unity is not just a moral aspect but a practical reality especially in the exercise of spiritual gifts and talents. This means discovering one’s vocation and station in life. This means also an intelligent submission to church leadership and authority even for the sake of letting go of one’s interests and desires. Robert C. Anderson believes that it should be more of mutual submission as the pastor respects the ideas of the members.
B. The second characteristic of an equipped local church is that it can MAINTAIN PERSONAL HOLINESS.
The church’s final destiny is to be presented to Christ “as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Eph. 5.27). But holiness cannot be achieved by withdrawal neither conformity with world. Jesus calls individual believers and the church to live “in the world” but “not of the world” (Jn. 17.11) which means neither belonging to it, nor imitating its ways.
Holiness should not be thought as sinlessness for believers are still sinful. Hence, a holy person is humble and willing to repent and restitute for his own faults. In the church setting, this calls for church discipline to function to maintain its purity. Also, holiness, rather than a sad disposition, is a peaceful and joyful relationship with God sustained by a daily spiritual communion with God through prayer and the word and by the giving of oneself to others for service.