Summary: We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.
Every Member a Minister
Rev. Brian Bill
I heard about a woman who was visiting a church one Sunday. The sermon seemed to go on forever, and many in the congregation fell asleep. She liked to meet new people so after the service she walked up to a very sleepy looking gentleman, extended her hand in greeting, and said, “Hello, I’m Gladys Dunn.” To which the man replied, “You’re not the only one ma’am, I’m glad he’s done too!"
I don’t think that’s going to happen today because this sermon will be shorter than normal so that we’ll have time to move from this room to the Fellowship Hall where all of our ministries have set up tables filled with information. Actually, the service is not really ending early; we’re just changing location. When we’re finished here the service will continue down the hall. And then our real service begins when we leave here today.
Last week we learned that when you and I are on mission, we will connect others to Christ. That’s the first part of our mission statement: “To connect people to Jesus.” Today we’re going to look at the last half of our mission: “…And equip them to be growing and faithful followers.” If you can only remember two things, remember these two words: connecting and equipping.
I ran across a phrase this week that I can’t get out of my mind: We may not have it all together, but together we have it all. That’s exactly what we’re going to learn in Ephesians 4:11-16. This is really one long sentence in the Greek but we’ll look at it piece by piece.
Let’s begin in verse 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…” In this verse, we see that Paul is not so much speaking of spiritual gifts given to Christians but is specifically speaking of Christians who are given as gifts to the church. The other passages on spiritual gifts describe God-given abilities but here the emphasis is on God-given individuals.
We don’t have the time to fully explain each of these categories, so suffice it to say that the first two are foundational groups of people that the church needed before the New Testament was completed. Evangelists are “bearers of Good News” and continue their work today, presenting the gospel in a compelling way so that people get saved. I see pastors/teachers as one category because the article “some” is not used for teachers as it is with the other groups.
The word “pastor” literally means a shepherd and pictures the caring, feeding and leading of the flock of God. As “teacher,” pastors must teach the Word of God, knowing that a well-fed flock will grow to maturity. Pastors then are to tend and to teach, in large formal settings like this, and in smaller informal settings as well. I heard a speaker at a Pastor’s Conference describe the pastor/teacher’s role like this: Your job is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.
The Real Ministers
Before we move to verse 12, I’d like to suggest that we lose the laity label. When the church was launched in the Book of Acts, everyone saw themselves as ministers. Sometime during the Dark Ages, the distinction between “clergy” and “laity” came about. Even the definition of these terms is telling. Clergy means “God’s lot or heritage” while laity is derived from a word that means “the people of God.” One of the rallying cries of the Reformation was that every member of the Body of Christ is a minister. In fact, 1 Peter 2:9 paints a beautiful picture of how God views every Christian: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
Have you ever been asked how many ministers we have at PBC? You might be tempted to say that we have three. Actually, that’s not a biblically correct answer. The right answer is that we have over 400 ministers and three equippers.
* Pastors Prepare. Let’s look at the first part of verse 12: “…he gave some…to be pastors and teachers to prepare God’s people.” This word “prepare” is the same word used to describe what James and John were doing when they were “preparing” their nets in Matthew 4:21. That means they had to clean all the seaweed off them, stitch up the sections that were torn, untangle them and get them ready to be used again at a moment’s notice. The nets were prepared for service, not to be put in storage. In classical Greek, the word was used of the setting of a bone in order to put it back into proper alignment in the body. Pastors are to repair what’s broken and supply what’s missing so that you can be strengthened to serve.