Summary: Many Christians believe that ministry should only be attempted by "trained professional". "Don’t try this at home" is their mantra. But Ephesians 4 teaches something entirely different.
OPEN: (The following illustration originated from either Tom Osborn or Lynn Malone here on sermoncentral.com)
I read the following description of a preacher’s job from someone who had known a number of preachers over their lifetime, and they had put together a synthesized view of a man they called “Pastor Fetch”.
They said that pastor Fetch’s job description looked something like this:
Unlock the doors to the church before the services
Turn on the lights
Check the water in the baptistery
Make sure all the pews have hymnals
Type, print and fold the bulletins
Preach both Sunday morning and Sunday night
Teach a Sunday school class
Teach a Wednesday night Bible study
Lead the youth group
Attend all class functions
Be an ex-officio member of every committee
Take communion around to the shut-ins
Type, print, fold, and mail the church newsletter
Attend the board meetings
And, mow the church grass, if necessary.
The only person in the congregation - besides the janitor - who had keys to the church was “the preacher.” If he could not be there, meetings did not happen.
His role was to preach, baptize, hand out communion, visit the sick, bury the dead, marry off the young, and bring in new members.
He was to be every one’s friend - and was to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
He was expected to return home from vacation if someone became seriously ill or passed away.
The members came first; his family a distant second because, after all he was the minister, the only minister, and that was his job.
This preacher did the ministry because he was paid to, and the members CONSUMED ministry because they paid for it.
APPLY: Now, that was not a healthy church.
That congregation was not the priesthood of believers described in I Peter 2:9
They were just a bunch of people who got together once a week to observe somebody else serve God.
Ephesians 4 tells us that is NOT how the church should function!
In Verse 1 Paul tells us that we need “to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1)
Verse 12 says preachers and teachers and the like should “prepare God’s people for works of service…” (Ephesians 4:12)
And verse 16 says a healthy church “…grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:16)
God never intended the church to be a single celled organism.
He didn’t design His church for His people to wait around for a priest or a pastor to do work for them.
Nooo. A healthy church - a strong congregation - is a place where the people realize the importance of there being a priesthood of ALL believers.
Where many people have keys to the building
Where meetings take place where the preacher doesn’t have to show up
Where people take on jobs like the bulletin and newsletter
Where people are waiting in line to teach SS. classes and mid-week Bible studies, and work with the youth.
By that standard this is a fairly healthy church.
We have so many keys floating around that it drives Jim (our building supervisor) nuts.
Meetings take place all the time that I don’t have to be at.
There are people doing the bulletin and newsletter
And we have lots of people teaching and willing to teach.
So this sermon isn’t intended to be a rebuke to this congregation. We already do a lot of things right. But, there’s always room for improvement and this sermon is intended to challenge us and encourage us to be even more involved in ministry.
I. But, someone might ask… why is it MY job?
Why should I do ministry? Isn’t that what we pay preachers and youth ministers for?
ILLUS: That kind of thinking reminds me of the story of the Sunday School teacher who was teaching her children the benefits of being unselfish. She concluded by saying “Kids, the reason you are in this world is to help others.”
After a moment’s silence, a little girl piped up “Well, then, what are the OTHERS here for?”
There are Christians who believe that ministry is something ONLY professionals ought to do.
You know the saying: “these are trained professionals… don’t try this at home!”
Basically these Christians are saying: “I don’t think I ought to ‘try this at home’”
But that’s not what Ephesians 4 is telling us:
According to vss. 11-12, preachers, teachers, elders, evangelists and missionaries have one goal:
“to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Ephesians 4:12)
These leaders have been ordained by Jesus to train the rest of us for ministry, so that we CAN try this at home. So that we CAN serve God even though we aren’t “professionals.”