Summary: Church is a place where people come together; a place where everyone, not just the pastor, cares about and takes care of one another; a place where every person matters.
Opening Statement: In a society that is becoming increasingly fragmented, in which people seem more and more separated from one another, the church can be a refuge. It’s more than a building, more than a Sunday morning meeting, more than an organization. A community. Church is a place where people come together; a place where everyone, not just the pastor, cares about and takes care of one another; a place where every person matters. At Sunman Community Church, that’s what we aspire to be - a community, a new community. And we are not just hoping to be a new community. We are taking practical steps to make it a reality. We are developing a process that will result in the body of Christ being equipped to do what “New Community” people are supposed to do.
Observation: It all started when I asked myself this question sometime ago: “God, if you give us a new believer who shows an interest and a desire in spiritual growth, what processes and opportunities do we have in place that will equip and grow that new believer in a healthy, balanced manner?” Since then I’ve discovered that there are not only new believers who need equipped, but there are many believers who have never been equipped in some essential areas of the spiritual life. Our key word here is “equip.” The operative phrase from the text is to equip the saints for the work of ministry.
Title: Equipping Them!
Opening Statement: In my reading, I came across this advertisement. WANTED: Minister for Growing Church
A real challenge for the right man! Opportunity to become better acquainted with people! Applicant must offer experience as shop worker… office manager… educator (all levels, including college)… artist… salesman… diplomat… writer… theologian… politician… Boy Scout leader… children’s worker… minor league athlete… psychologist… vocational counselor… psychiatrist… funeral director… wedding consultant… master of ceremonies… circus clown… missionary… social worker. Applicant should be everyone’s friend, but cannot have close friends. Helpful but not essential: experience as a butcher… baker… cowboy… Western Union messenger. Must know all about problems of birth, marriage, and death; also conversant with latest theories and practices in areas like pediatrics, economics, and nuclear science. Right man will hold firm views on every topic, but is careful not to upset people who disagree. Must be forthright but flexible; returns criticism and backbiting with Christian love and forgiveness. Should have outgoing, friendly disposition at all times. Should be captivating speaker but should not get upset if people can’t remember what he spoke about only a week ago. He should be an intent listener. Will pretend that he enjoys listening to people talk. Education must be beyond Ph.D requirements, but always concealed in homespun modesty and folksy talk. Able to sound learned at times but most of the time talks and acts like good-old-Joe. Familiar with literature read by average congregation. Must be willing to work long hours, subject to call any time day or night but not receive any overtime pay ever. Must be adaptable to sudden interruptions. Will spend at least 25 hours preparing a sermon that people will forget in less than 1 hour and must spend an additional 10 hours reading books and magazines. Applicants wife must be both stunning and plain, smartly attired but conservative in appearance, gracious and able to get along with everyone, especially women. Must be willing to work in church kitchen, teach classes, babysit, never listen to gossip, and never become discouraged. Applicants children must be exemplary in conduct and character; well-behaved, yet basically no different from other children; decently dressed. Opportunity for applicant to live close to work. Home provided; open door hospitality enforced. Must be ever mindful that the house doesn’t belong to him. Directly responsible for views and conduct to all church members and visitors, not confined to direction or support from any one person. Salary not commensurate with experience, education, or need. All replies kept confidential. Anyone applying will undergo a full investigation to determine sanity.
Transition: For the most part, this ad struck me funny, but the amazing thing about it, is that it’s true in many people’s minds. Many cultural expectations have come to be attached to this role of minister or pastor while the biblical aspect of this position is often ignored. In fact, the job description didn’t even mention one key area of a pastor’s job.
Observation: That’s why today that we are focusing our attention primarily on the greatly neglected matter of equipping the saints. It was never God’s intention for one individual person to meet all of a congregations needs, i.e., visiting all the sick, comforting all the bereaved, preaching to all the lost, or teaching all of the newly converted. While the pastor models these things, it is his job to equip the congregation to engage in these things as well. It is part of what our text calls "the work of the ministry and the building up of the body of Christ." The pastor-teacher is to impart what he is and does to the congregation so that they can also be “ministers.” Do me a favor, when someone asks you, “Whose your minister at SCC?” Answer them: “We all are.” Ideally, a pastor-teacher is to work himself out of a job.