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Summary: We are in our series on Core Values. Core Values are the DNA that define who we are, what we are in infancy and in greatness. What God has called us to be. They are not just creeds on plaque or notes in book somewhere. They are the essence of who we a

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Core Values: Equipping – Five Hour Heroes – Ephesians 4:11-16

11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,

12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up

13 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.

14 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.

15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.

16 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.

We are in our series on Core Values. Core Values are the DNA that define who we are, what we are in infancy and in greatness. What God has called us to be. They are not just creeds on plaque or notes in book somewhere. They are the essence of who we are, if you were to describe our church in 12 words, the core values would be it. The core values we’re going to be speaking of for the next few months are establishing a foundation for New Mercy Community Church – Prayer, Holy Spirit, Evangelism, Equipping, Relationships, Love, Family, Sound Doctrine, Character, Excellence, Worship, and Missions. Today we’re going to talk about the core value of equipping.

According to 1 Peter 2:4,9, if you are a believer, you are a priest. Maybe you see yourself as just a regular, everyday, garden-variety Christian, but God sees you as part of a holy and royal priesthood. The ancient medieval distinction between clergy and laity, between priests and lay people, is completely unbiblical. The Bible calls you a priest! One of the key Protestant doctrines is "the priesthood of the believer".

What it means is that you and I are spiritual equals. I am no better than you are in the eyes of God. The fact that I went to seminary and wear the title of "pastor" is insignificant. God gives you authority to do ministry. You are not a second-class Christian. You are a minister. We have an entire congregation full of ministers. That includes you. So, if God gives you a vision to launch a new ministry that is uniquely your own, my desire is to release you to do it.

So when you’re talking to other people, please don’t call me "your minister," because according to the Bible, all of us are ministers. Please don’t call me "Reverend," because only God is worthy of that title. Don’t call me "clergy", because the Latin "clericus" means "priest", and scripturally, we are all priests before God, and your prayers are just as effective as mine. So, keep it simple; just call me "Bo". If you need to use a title, call me "Pastor". The younger kids can call me "Pastor Bo". But please, no priestly pedestals. Why? Because you are the ministers! Claim that title for yourself. You have a ministry!

In fact, a legitimate question for me to ask you is, "How’s your ministry going?" Do you see it? God’s plan is -- "to prepare God’s people for works of service". The word for "service" or "ministry" in the Greek is diakonias, which is where our word "deacon" comes from.

Think about that. If you had a young daughter, would you teach her to swim by having her take a correspondence course in swimming? Would you teach your son to drive by tossing him a driver’s manual, but never giving him a chance to drive? Of course not. To really learn, she’s got to get down into the water; he’s got to get behind the steering wheel and practice on low-traffic roads. In a similar way, the only way that you and I can ever grow spiritually mature is by putting our biblical knowledge into practice in the daily experiences of our lives, and that takes time. [As Hebrews 5:14 says -- "solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil."]

The New Testament model requires us to all serve together, where I focus on the ministry of the Word, and everyone finds their place of service:

Acts 6:1-7 “In those days when the number of the disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the Word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.’”

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