It Is Your Ministry, So Own It

It Is Your Ministry, So Own It
As I drive by any given church property, I typically see the name of a pastor on the sign.  Looking further, it isn’t uncommon to see a reserved parking spot for the pastor. You will also likely hear talk around town where people refer to the church as Pastor Jones’ church as if he owned it. And, in the media, you will hear and see ministries named after the person preaching and teaching. Sure, of course, on the one hand, a pastor has a key role as a leader, administrator, shepherd, teacher and preacher.  And in a some cases, he is also a visionary. But, on the other hand, Jesus is the head of the church. In fact, the church is referred to in scripture as His body (1 Corinthians 12) and His bride (Revelations 19 and 21). In addition to that, every Christian has an important role in the local church. For that matter, it takes the entire body, with all of its parts, to execute the ministry of the church. Technically speaking, as I’ll explain, the work of the ministry actually belongs to those who form the membership of the local church.  That’s Right!  It is your ministry, so own it.
Pastoring a church has some similarities to coaching. Notice I said, “some similarities.” With that said, a coach teaches, trains and equips each athlete for the game.  In a similar way, a pastor/teacher teaches, trains and equips each Christian in the local church for the work of ministry. Obviously, a coach and a pastor have important responsibilities, but the players who make up the team play the game and the members who make up the local church do the ministry. And, as you have observed, the local church across America is in disarray. And for this, there is plenty of blame to go around. In some cases, the blame rests in the lap of the pastor because he doesn’t train and delegate ministry to those so gifted to do so.  In other cases, the average church member is unaware of their spiritual gift given to them by the Holy Spirit for ministry. In addition to that, they don’t avail themselves for training and equipping and are thus unfit for ministry. Think about it. Can you imagine an athlete joining the team but never attending practice?  No, he will soon be moved to “fan” status and get to sit and cheer in the stands instead of suiting up for participation in the big game. As Kyle Idleman points out in his book, “Not A Fan,” Christians are followers of Christ not fans. That’s Right!  It is your ministry, so own it.
Look closely at what the Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the church in Ephesus.
EPH 4:11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Paul clearly teaches that some people with specific spiritual gifts are given to the church for the purpose of equipping others for the work of ministry.  Notice that Paul didn’t say that pastors and teachers were the ministry.  He said they equip others for the ministry. Allow me to note that legendary missionaries like Ying Kai and Bill Smith use a method called “Train the Trainer” to reach hundreds of thousands of people for Christ. Simply put, they multiplied themselves through training others who could, in turn, train others. What would happen in the local church if the pastor/teachers trained people who could train others and the cycle continues without end? Yes, we can easily envision healthy churches who are multiplying small groups and planting healthy churches. So then, if we say that we are Christians and we love Jesus, why isn’t executing the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) being multiplied throughout America and beyond?  Well, honestly, by in large we have limited our Christian experience to an event on Sunday morning where we sit as fans and watch the pastor and a few others lead us. You might say, entertain us. In fact, as many do, we rush in, get frustrated if the event lasts more than an hour, and once the entertainment is finished we say see you next week and likely it is next month. However, in reality, the ministry of the local church isn’t restricted by what a pastor can do and it isn’t limited to an artificial boundary marking what happens on Sunday morning. That’s Right!  It is your ministry, so own it.
There is a purpose so stated in this passage of scripture explaining why pastor/teachers and others are given to the church for equipping others to do the work of the church. The purpose is to build up the church and for its members to reach maturity in their faith. This begs the question.  What happens if pastor/teachers aren’t equipping members of the local church for the work of the church?  For simplicity sake, allow me to ask the question worded differently. What happens when the local church is permeated with immaturity and workers are few?  Instead of the church being characterized as a center for ministry or in terms of the Great Commission, it will be described by expressions related to survival and even death. And yet, isn’t that what we are seeing all across America and even Europe? Don’t we care?  Haven’t we learned our lesson? Well then, instead of blaming politicians, the government or the age we live in, why don’t we simply take up the mantle of following Jesus because we love Him and prove our love by obedience? That’s Right!  It is your ministry, so own it.
My friends let’s not lose hope. Instead, let’s ask how a revolution in the church might be birthed?  Actually, it can begin with you. What can you do? Take the initiative. Sit down with your pastor and work with him to help you formulate a training plan designed for your gifting and ministry.  This training plan must include Bible study, reading related books and opportunity for practical experience. In addition, your training must be characterized in terms of relationship and mentorship not exclusive to a formal classroom. After that, multiply your ministry by repeating what your pastor teaches you by training others. Beyond that, surround yourself with people for fellowship and accountability. You will need continual nurturing through your small group and follow-up visits with your pastor. That’s Right!  It is your ministry, so own it.
A Work in Progress,
Pastor Gene

Gene StocktonComment