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Summary: The activation factor in church health is to get every member involved in ministry.

SERIES: HEALTHY CHURCH!

“THE ACTIVATION FACTOR”

EPHESIANS 4:7-16

OPEN

We finish up our series on church health this morning. First thing this morning, I want us to consider how we know that a human body is dying. One of the indicators is when the individual members of the body begin to shut down. They quit working. There is liver failure. Or kidney failure. Pulmonary failure. Heart failure.

The same is true of the church – the body of Christ. You know a church is dying because its individual members quit working. They look for any reason to quit working. They’ll say, “I’m tired.” Or, “I just don’t have the desire any more.” Sometimes they say, “It’s somebody else’s turn.”

It can be extremely difficult to get a well-established church to moving again. We become like the old farmer who frequently described his Christian experience by saying, “Well, I’m not making much progress, but I’m established!”

One spring when he was hauling some logs, his wagon wheels sank down to the axles in mud. No matter what he tried, he couldn’t get the wagon out. Defeated, he sat atop the logs, viewing the dismal situation.

Soon a neighbor who had always felt uncomfortable with the farmer’s worn out testimony came along and greeted him, “Well, brother, I see you’re not making much progress, but you must be content because you’re well-established!”

So, how do we get moving again? The activation factor is every member in ministry. One key issue in church health is that every member of the body needs to be working in some form of ministry.

Somewhere along the line, from the 1st Century to now, we have confused the teaching of Scripture concerning how ministry is to be performed in the local congregation. Somehow, we have developed a “hired gun” mentality. The congregation has become an audience watching the “hired gun” do the work. We look at ministry as something that happens to us and blesses us instead of as a service we perform and that makes us a blessing to others. A congregation that utilizes this method of ministry will become stagnant and die.

The Dead Sea is so mineral rich, especially with salt that it contains no fish or plant life. Why is that? It’s because there are no outlets. A great volume of water pours into this area, but nothing flows out. Many inlets plus no outlets equals a dead sea.

This law of nature may also be applied to the church, and it explains why many congregations are so unfruitful and lacking in spiritual vitality. It’s possible for large numbers of people in a certain church to attend worship regularly, go to conventions and seminars, listen to Christian radio, read Christian books, study the Scriptures, and continually take in the Word as it is preached from the pulpit, and yet the congregation can be lifeless and unproductive.

A congregation that has a large number of its members receiving ministry but not working in ministry is like the Dead Sea.. There are plenty of inlets but no outlets. To be a vibrant and effective church, we must not only “take in” all we can, but also “give out” all we can in service to others.

Eph. 4:7-16 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: ‘When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.’ (What does ‘he ascended’ mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe. So Christ himself gave the apostles,

the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body

of Christ may be built up 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. 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 people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in

every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 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.”

OUR MANDATE FOR MINISTRY

Few things are more exciting than to see numbers of people willingly give of their time and energy to see

that the church’s ministry continues. But on the other hand, few things are more frustrating than to be burdened with the majority of the work of ministry yourself.

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