Summary: This is a passage that is going to help us all to understand why our involvement in a local church is so important to our spiritual life.

God has designed His church to function like a loving family that you can invite people into. Church is

1. not a place to make rules and demands on people

2. a place to nurture growth.

3. a place for shepherds, not generals

4. a place that exists for the purpose of helping people grow and mature from being spiritual babies to being spiritual adults.

It would do us good to remember that Jesus praised little children for their humble and trusting faith (Matthew 18:3,6), He opened His arms so they could come to Him, and warned people not to ever harm them. Jesus loves babies a lot!

But nobody thinks it’s cute when a person remains a baby for too long. If a small child never learns to walk and talk, never figures out how to feed himself, never outgrows his need for diapers, it’s a sign that something is terribly wrong.

God does not want any of His children to remain baby-like forever. Just like every other father does, our Father in Heaven wants His children to grow!

Text: Ephesians 4:11-16.

This is a passage that is going to help us all to understand why our involvement in a local church is so important to our spiritual life. Here we learn what we need to do in order to make sure that we grow up.

Verse 11 spells out four specific gifts of church leadership, each one of which involves teaching God’s Word.

When God gave birth to the church in the First Century, He used apostles and prophets to establish healthy believers by means of writing down the New Testament Scriptures. Today, God continues to build up the size and strength of Body of Christ through the work of evangelists, many of whom serve as missionaries around the world, and pastor-teachers, both of who teach the Scriptures to people.

Question: What’s God’s goal behind a pastor teaching the Bible to people? God’s answer to that question, in verse 12, is that the job of evangelists and pastors is -- "to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up..."(NIV)

Now let’s compare God’s job description of the "pastor" in our culture who is expected to preach, lead, administrate, visit, marry, bury, care, and counsel. In many people’s minds, he’s supposed to be the superman who "does" all of the ministry for the flock, putting out all the fires, oiling the squeaky wheels, and solving all the problems.

But that’s all backwards. Ephesians 4:12 makes it very clear that a pastor’s main role is to equip and prepare God’s people to do the work of the ministry.

My primary job is to help you to grow spiritually so you will become willing and able to do the ministry of the church.

Look again at verse 12 -- This word "prepare" comes from a Greek word [katartizo] which speaks of repairing and preparing a person’s life in order to equip him and get him ready for service.

For example in Matthew 4:21, this same word is used to describe James and John as they repaired and prepared their nets for fishing. It says (v.21) this involved cleaning the nets of seaweed and sticks, then mending parts of their nets that had been torn or damaged, and then untangling and folding their nets so that they would be quickly useable at a moment’s notice. All of this preparation was so that their nets would be ready to catch more fish. [These nets were not being prepared for storage, but for service.]

It gets you ready to be effective fishers of men.

The way it works is that through the process of being equipped, trained, prepared and completed, Christians are restored to their proper dignity as ministers. According to 1 Peter 2:9, 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.

During the Dark Ages there was the distinction between clergy and laity, between priests and lay people. It was contrary to the Word of God.

The Bible calls you a priest! One of the key Christian values/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.

Please don’t call me "Reverend," because only God is worthy of that title.

Ps 111:9

holy and reverend is his name.

Question: "How’s your ministry going?"

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Jerry Weiss

commented on Oct 4, 2006

This is a fantastic message! I am using the concepts from it this coming Sunday. To be honest, this message is exactly what I was wanting to say to the congregation. I believe God is going to use this message to motivate many Christians to a new level of service. Thanks!

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