Summary: Leaders are equippers. It requires hard work. It renders our work to become more effective. It rests on teaching the word of God.
One of the most thought-‐provoking articles I’ve read lately is “8 Reasons Most Churches Never Break the 200 Attendance Mark.”1 Now the author Carey Nieuwhof is not saying that it is a sin to be a small church. He just analyzed why it stays small.
Nieuwhof clarifies that it is not about a lack of desire to grow. Most leaders want their churches to reach more people. It is not about a lack of prayer. These small churches are incredibly faithful in prayer. It is not about a lack of love. Smaller churches enjoy closer fellowship more than mega-‐churches. It is not about a lack of facility. Nieuwhof wrote, “Growth can start in the most unlikely places.”2
So, why do these churches never break the 200-‐ attendance barrier? We will not look at all the 8 reasons. But according to Nieuwhof, the number one reason why “churches who want to grow end up staying small [even if they] have a solid mission, theology and heart to reach people” is that “[t]he pastor is the primary caregiver.”3
He wrote, “Honestly, if you just push past this one issue, you will have made a ton of progress. When the pastor has to visit every sick person, do every wedding, funeral and make regular house calls, he becomes incapable of doing other things. That model just doesn’t scale. If you’re good at it, you’ll grow the church to 200 people and then disappoint people when you can’t get to every event any more. Or you’ll just burn out. It creates false expectations and so many people get hurt in the process.”
If God truly called the pastor to be the primary caregiver, I have no problem with that. But we really have to make sure that that is his responsibility. This morning we will look at Ephesians 4:11-12 and 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 to see what leaders are called to do—not just the pastor but also all the church leaders as well. Here we will see that LEADERS ARE EQUIPPERS, not caregivers. Let us pray first...
The Apostle Paul wrote most of his letters to deal with specific problems in the churches. However, the book of Ephesians was different. It was not to settle an issue in the church but it was to show an ideal of the church.
Now that’s a very important distinction to remember. We cannot just apply a solution to every situation in the church because we have to make sure first that we have the very same problem that called for that solution. But, since Paul wrote Ephesians to show God’s original intent for the church, it is directly applicable to us.
In Ephesians 4:11-‐12, we see the job descriptions of both the leaders and the members of the church. “And [Christ] gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ”.4 For the sake of time, we will not discuss why I believe we no longer have apostles and prophets today. I just want to highlight some important words here. I also want to clarify that when we say “leaders” we are not just talking of the pastor but the church board and the rest of the leaders such as ministry heads.
First, note the word “some.” That means not one and not all. Some... not just one. Some... not all. We have to have more than one leader. In the book of Acts, we see that there is a team of leaders in every church. For example, Acts 20:17 goes this way: “From Miletus [Paul] sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church.” Note that we read “elders,” not “elder.” Plural, not singular. It’s “the elders of the church,” not “elders of the churches.” A team of leaders in a church. Not a solo flight leader in every church. As we say, TEAM stands for “Together Everyone Achieves More.” One leader can only do so much. But a team can do so much more. So, the word “some” means that there is more than one leader in the church.
Also, the word “some” means that not all are called to be leaders. There are those who called to
be members. That doesn’t mean that the leaders are more important than members or that the members are less gifted than the leaders. We are all equal before God. We just have different callings. The only reason why there are leaders and there are members is so that there would be order. If all are leaders, we will have a power struggle. If all are members, we will have a waiting game. Either way, we will not accomplish much. But, if we follow that order, we will be the church that God intended us to become. Not all are in charge. But all of us are responsible to fulfill whatever God called us to do.