Thursday, February 21, 2013

Equipping the Saints

A key controversy in the church today is revolves around a comma. The comma is after the word "saints" in Ephesians 4:12. It asks whether it is the job of a leader to do the work of the ministry or to equip the whole congregation to do the work of the ministry. In the nearly 40 years that I have been involved in the Christian church, the most openly advocated position has been that all Christians are ministers. But for all the push, this view never seems to gain general acceptance. Why this is so?

Scripture pictures the church as a body, with every member having an important function (1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Romans 12:3-8; 1 Peter 4:10,11). Therefore, every Christian has a job to do. But this also implies that every Christian has a different function and is not simply to be pushed into the same mold. But it is common to see only one methodology for doing ministry and to try to force everyone into it. Now there is no gift of evangelism listed, and I am convinced that all Christians should be involved in evangelism, but they should be involved in a way that reflects their gift. Again, there is a tendency to expect everyone to use a particular method.

I am convinced that Christ is at work within His church to accomplish His purposes (Matthew 16:18; 1 Corinthians 3:6,7; Colossians 2:19). I believe that God's purposes are not so easily thwarted that questions of organization prevent them from being accomplished. I am convinced there is much ministry that takes place informally and flies under the radar. Also, those whose gifts are best exercised in a position of leadership tend to seek such positions. But we are imperfect people (Philippians 3:12-16; Romans 7:14-25; Galatians 5:17) in an imperfect world (Romans 8:19-23; John 16:33; Acts 14:22). Therefore, it is not surprising that the church organization does not perfectly reflect the actual body of Christ. There are undoubtedly people in certain positions who should not be and people who are not in positions that they should be in. There are people who are not involved who should be and people who are doing things they are not qualified for. And though we should work to correct things wherever possible, we also need to trust God to accomplish His purposes despite them (Psalms 127:1,2; Romans 8:28; Ephesians 2:10). And we need to avoid unrealistic expectations of a perfect church. Now I do think there is too much tendency to put the good of the organization above the good of the people and to see the clergy as mediators who we go through to get to God (1 Timothy 2:5, Hebrews 4:14-16; Acts 4:12). But I am convinced that the main thing we need is a real desire to grow in Christ. If we have that, the organization will not stop us, and if we do not, it will not help us (Romans 12:1,2; Colossians 2:6,7; Titus 2:11-14). 


  1. Perhaps each of us equip each other in some way?

    1. Since we are all part of the body and all have a function in building up one another, I would not argue with that.