Summary: A sermon on Ephesians 4:11-12 (Much material adapted from Lynn Anderson’s book, "They Smell Like Sheep")
Morning Sermon for 8/23/2009
A child once said: “The preacher is paid to be good. The rest of us, we’re good for nothing!”
A. Vs. 11- Church leaders are one of Christ’s gifts to the church.
1. Apostles- These do not exist today. An apostle was an eyewitness to the physical ministry of Jesus Christ. Jesus personally equipped these people to set up the church. It has been set up. (Eph 2:20) built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
2. Prophets- I believe that the position of prophet is also not for today. Now we have many who are prophets in the sense that they forth tell the Word of God like the prophets of old. The main mission of a prophet was to be the mouthpiece for God (while they were forth telling the Holy Spirit gave them foretelling as well)
3. Evangelist- Not every Christian has the gift of evangelism, but all Christians share the role of witnessing. All Christians, regardless of their individual gifts, have their God-given places in the evangelism of the church. The Biblical position of Evangelist is more like a church planter today or the preacher.
4. Pastor/ Teacher- These are shepherds of the flock (of the church). They smell like sheep. They nourish, protect, and care for the church (the believers). Now there are some who carry the title “Elder” and there are some who shepherd the flock who do not have that title. No matter the trappings of titles or positions, there are some who by God’s grace naturally shepherd the flock. There are more than one in every local church whether they have that title or not.
B. (Acts 20:28 NIV) Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.
C. Here we have 3 with the title of elder: Robert, Russell and Paul. However, I know that we have many more that are really gifted in this area.
D. Vs. 12- What purpose do they have? The main purpose of the leaders is to teach the word of God? The main purpose of the leaders is to make sure the church is unified? The main purpose of the leaders is to oversee the programs of the church?
G. No, Paul doesn’t say anything about these.
H. To Prepare God’s people for works of service.
I. Aim of these leaders is to equip God’s people for service.
J. Perfecting, preparing, equipping= the idea of preparing someone for a job or rendering someone functional. Task of leaders is not to do the work of the kingdom on behalf of other Christians; it is to equip other Christians to do the work of the kingdom.
K. Leadership should usher Christians into the heart of the church, make them feel at home, and see how they can use their gifts and abilities for the good of the church.
Q. Why isn’t more equipping going on? Two problems:
1. The leadership.
a. They think they are the ministry.
b. A lot of times it is the preacher.
c. John Mills- Of course the one who preaches is the main actor. The implication is that no one else can do anything worthwhile. The preacher is the main doer! This picture of the church has a built in system for laziness. If the church grows, it is to his glory. If it does not grow, then of course we need a new preacher.
d. The leadership takes all the ministries. They are the focal point of the ministry.
e. A pyramid with the leadership at the top of the hill. This type of organizational system says silently to the rest of the congregation who are not in an official position. “They are to do as they are told and pay the bills for what we plan.”
2. The congregation.
a. The congregation has no sense that everyone is to minister.
b. We are the laity and the clergy is to do all the work. No distinction of clergy and laity in the Bible. Everyone is equal in the church. You are ordained (Ephesians 2:10)
c. Leonard Griffith says that the church resembles a theatre and an audience made up of critical spectators who believe that they have performed something good by their mere presence at worship. Instead of church attendance as the only important thing, Sunday worship should be seen as the beginning of the Christian’s ministry. A community of Christians will come together on the Lord’s Day, and one of their number, because he has been trained and set apart to interpret the Word of God, will brief his fellow workers and help them to begin a new week in their ministries.