This is meant to be a plea not a rant…
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
Ephesians 4:11-12 ESV
I don’t know how many times I’ve read these verses, & yet, I’ve never really paid attention to WHY the Lord gave the apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, & teachers. Maybe I’ve noticed in the past that the point is to equip the saints, but it’s the next phrase that stands out to me right now: “for the work of the ministry”. Do you recognize what that means? The work of the ministry is not just for your pastor or elders or deacons. It’s not just for the teachers in your church. It is for you! And for every other Christian.
And what is the work of the ministry that you are called to? To use your gifts & talents “for building up the body of Christ.”
And for how long are we to do this? Verse 13 says,
“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.”
Even if you think you’ve somehow achieved “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,” (hint: you haven’t) you are still called to the work of the ministry until all have attained that. We have work to do, brothers & sisters!
Let me ask a question here that may rankle you a bit: how are you possibly going to be equipped to do that work if you’re not consistently plugged into a local body of believers (i.e.-a local church) where the shepherds & teachers can equip you? Consistently is one of the key words here. If you don’t feel connected, don’t think that it means the people there don’t care about you. Maybe you don’t feel connected because you’re not there consistently enough for people to be able to connect with you. Or maybe you’re there consistently, but come in late & leave as soon as the service ends so others don’t have the time to get to know & connect with you. Or maybe you’re there but you don’t take part in any of the ministry opportunities that are available. Or maybe you don’t go to any of the events that are designed to try to help people connect (or when you do, you come in time for the food & leave as soon as you finish eating).
Events; ministry opportunities; time before, after, & between services are the times where relationships are built, & where we have those opportunities to see how people need encouraged & built up. Life is difficult sometimes, & work and family obligations take up the majority of our time during the week which makes it hard to connect with people. Why should it be so hard for us to take one day each week to corporately feed on God’s Word & worship together while also taking time to build one another up & find ways to partner in the gospel with one another?
What we might discover is that our priorities are out of order, not just on Sundays, but throughout the week, too. May God work in our hearts to conform us into Christ’s image, & may we heed God’s Word & work to build one another up in & through our local churches.