Competent for ministry
PHILOSOPHY OF MINISTRY
(consider using The Message version in addition to NIV)
1. Last week we discovered that God calls us to salvation for service. God desires each person to know him personally. When we accept Christ as our savior, we also accept His call to service. Every Christian is a minister. Each of you has a ministry. God has designed the church to be an institute for training so each Christian can be involved in the ministry that God called them to do. God provides the church with pastor-teachers who has the job of preparing God’s people for this work.
2. We saw that our relationship as pastor and God’s people is like that of a coach and his team or a conductor and her orchestra. We discovered each of us has a different role to play in the church. We are all equal. There are no 2nd class citizens. Our roles are different but our value is the same. We all matter to God. We all have an essential job to do so that God’s kingdom’s grows bigger and stronger.
3. Tonight let’s discover 2 more things. 1) Our commission is to build up the church until we are reach unity and maturity. 2) God made each of us competent for the ministry he has call us to do through spiritual gifts. By giving each of us a spiritual gift, God has taken the worry and excuses out of serving him.
I. OUR COMMISSION
A. UNITY IN FAITH/KNOWLEDGE: doctrinal
1. We answer God’s call to salvation for service. We come together in a faith community and work together as team. What for? What’s are commission? What are we supposed to accomplish? Football teams and their coaches work together to win ball games. Orchestras and directors work together to produce beautiful music. Pastors and God’s people work together to build up the body of Christ. God commissions us to build up his body, the church. The method God uses to build the church is us working together. The results are that the Church becomes bigger and stronger. Building up the church means growth. Paul identifies the growth in v 13-16. Growth comes in two areas: unity and maturity.
2. Notice the first word in v 13—until. This tells us how long we to continue our works of service. How long are we to work together? Until we all unified and mature. In practical terms, that means God has no retirement plan this side of heaven. Until doesn’t mean we work in God’s kingdom for 20-30 years and then retire. We serve God until we draw our last breath.
3. In v 1-6, Paul talks about 2 kinds of unity. In v 4-6, he talks about doctrinally unity. At the core of this unity is our faith in Jesus Christ. That’s what makes us family. All Christians are brothers and sisters. It doesn’t make any difference what culture we from, what social-economic background, what color our skin, what denomination we belong to or any other exterior characteristic. If we know Christ as our personal Savior through faith then we are one in Christ. We share basic beliefs. The question is: How can two people who are both loyal to Christ be opposed to one another?
4. Do we have any work to do here? Having worked in an interdenominational environment as a chaplain, I can tell you we Baptists don’t have the best reputation for being united. Our current state and national convention do nothing to convince people otherwise. Most church conflicts have little to do with theological beliefs. That’s also true between most mainline denominations. When you compare the core doctrine of most Protestant denominations, you’ll find far more similarities than differences. Most of the differences between denominations revolve around church organizational structure rather than doctrine.
5. The unity called for here protects us from what I call denominational pride. That is the idea any group has the exclusive right to God. I’ve got it and sorry about you. When we were getting ready to go to SW, my mother-in-law was deeply concerned about our standing with God. Her missionary Baptist pastor has some real doubts if we were going to heaven. If we were, we’d just get our feet in the door.
6. Paul’s goal for unity reminds us-we are all on the same side. One faith, one Lord, one hope is what unites us. So what if you wear a robe and I don’t or if I use a piano and you sing acapella.
Those are not dividing issues. What is critical is do you believe in Jesus by faith and faith alone.
7. Prayerfully we gathered here at First, Roanoke share doctrinally unity—at least on the issues that determine our eternal destiny. Our BFM establishes our basic beliefs that should unify us around the cause of Christ.
B. UNITY: LOVING ATTITUDE
1. V 1-3 outlines another unity we are to attain. Paul talks about a unity of a loving attitude toward each other. We are to be humble, gentle, patient, bearing with one another in love, peaceable. We are to get along with each other. Surely, the first application is the Christian community in its relationship to each other. Christians are to get along with other Christians. Wouldn’t that be wonderful if we responded to each other like that?
2. This unity highlights the spirit of cooperation. It counters envy, jealousy and the other cankers that eat away out the heart of our witness. If we don’t care who gets the credit, we can get a lot more done for the kingdom of God than we do. The Kingdom is larger than FBC, Roanoke or DBA or BGCT or SBC. Let’s remember that God’s people come in all shapes and sizes. When we get this global perspective of God’s work then we can embrace more a loving attitude and spirit of cooperation. There will be greater unity.
3. What are some impacts of disunity? What is the fallout when Christians fight Christians? Surely our witness and message are greatly weakened. We become suspect to the unbelieving world and disappointment to fellow Christians. Both groups are turned off. Christians fall by the wayside and unbelievers are hardened. I began visiting all the members of the church in Mo immediately upon arrival as I am doing here. I went to one member’s home. I had not seen her in church. She explained she didn’t go anymore. She related an incident that happened at church where some members responded to her and her daughter with less than a loving attitude as expressed in these verses. She told the story with such detail and emotion I thought it must just have happened. I asked her when the incident happened. She said 11 years ago. What a tragedy both for her and the church. Christians, weak Christians, in variably, get hurt and fall by the wayside. I visited a man in Lewisville. He has lung cancer. I gather the prognosis is not good. He’s in his 50s. He said he accepted Christ as a child in a church in West Tx. He played drums at a night club to earn the money to go to college. His fellow members of the Baptist church told him if he didn’t stop, he’d go to hell. Of course they didn’t offer to help him find other ways to go to school. He and his wife dropped out of church and now when they need the community of faith the most, they are isolated.
4. The fallout is great when we don’t have the unity of loving attitude toward our fellow brothers and sisters. Consider the results in the lives of nonbelievers. Christianity becomes a laughingstock. Our in-house fussing and fighting only confirms to them we’re blowing hot air. There’s really nothing of substance to our message of salvation and change. What an evangelistic tool unity—doctrinally and loving attitude—would be in our world today.
5. We are to build up the body until we have unity. What can you and I do to build the body of Christ by reaching toward the goal of unity? For one thing we realize we are Kingdom Kids, not just Baptist kids. We are part of the body of Christ, the universal church. I think that is one value of emphasizing world missions. It shows us the Kingdom work stretches beyond our state, our nation and indeed to the most uttermost part of the world. Sometimes we get fixated and think Christianity is an American invention.
6. Then let’s realize God uses many groups and denominations to reach the world. For some 15 years we have supported a Wycilffe missionary. He and his wife were in our first chapel congregation. They have worked primarily in Africa. It’s broadening to know God uses many instruments to reach people all over the world for his Kingdom. It is not as important who won them to Christ as long as they were won to Christ. I think this is the value of ministerial alliances and community worships and ministry actions. When Christians from various denominations work together they realize we are not competitors but co-laborers. We work for the same carpenter.
7. Then we need to take a personal inventory. Do I dislike someone merely because they are another denomination? Am I guilty of saying all ….are going to hell? Do I immediately condemn their worship because they clap and lift their hands? Is there a member in the church that you really can’t get along with? You need to go to that person and seek their forgiveness so there will be unity. God will not bless a church filled with strife and discord.
C. BECOME MATURE
1. We are to work together as pastor and God’s people to build up the body of Christ until we become mature attaining the full measure of perfection found in Christ. In v14, Paul shows us what unity is not. He says don’t be like infants who are tossed here and there by every teaching that comes along. Be spiritually stable and grounded in Scripture so you can discern truth from error.
2. Think about what advertising does for our children. They see the newest toy advertised and they must have it. I’ll die if I don’t have it. Their life will be over. They’ll be the only one in school without one. They’ll be so embarrassed they can never show their face again. We give it and buy it. They no more than get home and there is another commercial and another I must have or I’ll die toy. This is what Paul is describing here. Christians swayed by every novel teaching that comes along. They jump on the bandwagon of the newest teacher on TV. They buy his or her books, prayer cloths or ram’s horn. Paul describes them like a boat on the high seas. They are tossed here and there by the waves and wind. Paul says the methods these people use is trickery and deceit. They manipulate you to get the jingle of your money to jingle in their pockets.
3. Don’t be infants. No more milk or baby food, it’s time for steak and broccoli. Be mature in knowledge. I wish God has made us with a tank that we could just pour the bible in and we’d immediately know every truth it contains. Or that we could just hold the bible to the side of our head and by osmosis, all the knowledge of the bible would just soak in. He didn’t. We have to get down to some hard and consistent study. We have to spend a lot of time in study and prayer. That’s why we have SS. Are you in a SS class? If not, where do you get your spiritual steaks? Emphasize our hi attendance Sunday.
4. Be mature in practice. As we study, we put it into practice. Study and Apply. Lean and do. My guess is we all know more bible than we do. When I do a study using one of those study guides and come to the practical application, I like to skip on to the next chapter. In what area do you need to…I had rather know what the word “transform” means than to be transformed. Are you that way? Application of the knowledge is a quick way to become mature.
5. What can we do as a church help our members become mature? I want to challenge both the church council and spiritual formation team to develop a curriculum of studies that will develop a new Christian and/or new church member to a fully devoted follower of Christ. Not every person is at the same level of spiritual maturity. If you put a 9th grader in a 1st grade class they’ll be bored and drop out. If you do the reverse, they’ll be so frustrated they’ll drop out. We need to offer studies that advance a person from new believer to mature follower and every where in-between. We go from Babe’s where you can get chicken or chicken to Lubby’s cafeteria. We go from one item menu to look at all the choices we have. There’s something everyone will like.
A. YOU ARE GIFTED
1. What a challenge we have for building up the church. We have our work cut for us. God has commissioned us to develop Christians to attain Christlikeness. You may be saying that sounds great but I can’t do that. I am not qualified. All I can do is just come. I have got some great news for you. God says you are competent. I have made you competent through the grace gifts. Look at v 7. To each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned. Paul is talking about the diversity of gifts. God gives each of a gift so we can be involved in building up of the church.
2. Every member is a minister. Every member has a ministry. God has gifted each Christian with a spiritual gift to allow them to be competent in fulfilling the purpose of building up the Church. When we are use our gifts and work together the church will be built up. Note v 16. As each one does his or her part. God has taken the worry and excuses out of service. He has gifted you. You are competent. I am convinced that within this church there are sufficient gifts to get the job done. God is not going to command us to do something and not give us the where with all to do it. I didn’t say everyone was using their gift but that they are available.
3. You are members of the gifted and talented class. On what basis did God give you a gift or gifts? Purely his choosing. You didn’t do anything to earn it. It is not a spiritual merit badge so you can’t go around bragging about your gift or think you are more important than someone who has a different gift. Whatever spiritual gift you have you don’t deserve it. We don’t deserve anything God gives but God’s nature is giver of good gifts.
4. Why did he give it to you? 1 Corinthians 12:7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 1 Peter 4:10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. These verses tell us our spiritual gifts are for the common good, to serve others. It is not for self use or self advancement but our contribution to building up the body of Christ.
5. We work together by using our gift to serve others. What if some don’t contribute their gift to the building up of the church? 2 results. The body unhealthy. A lot of ministry will go undone. Paul makes this point in 1 Cor 12 by comparing the church to a physical body. He says we have many parts but each must function and contribute if the body is whole and healthy. Frankie shared this insight with me recently. Let’s say here a believer who says I don’t have to worship in community to please God or maybe a believer who attends only and contributes nothing beyond that. That’s like a part of the body lying over by itself. Say a hand. Over there is a hand. Looks healthy-have all 5 fingers, etc. What can it do by itself? Nothing. That hand if attached the body, might write a best seller or play the most beautiful violin or fix in car in a flash or fly a plane or operate on the brain or tenderly care for a child. As long as it is by itself, the world loses benefit. Apply the same to the church and spiritual gifts.
6. There’s another point. God has commissioned each of us to be involved in the works of service to build of the church. Think of it like this. I put in the bulletin next Sunday: Ministers: every Christian who worships here. Pastor: Gene Griffin. Consider God’s wisdom. There are about 100. What if we consider there was 1 minister and 100 cheerleaders. We gather, worship, study and then all the cheerleaders go home to save their voices for next week and the 1 minister goes out to minister. God in his wisdom has said no there are 101 ministers called to do the work of building up the church. We come together to worship, study and then 101 ministers/missionaries go out to build up the body. Which is the most effective? Which will build the body of Christ?
B. TYPES OF GIFTS
1. There are many types of gifts. We have the list here, Rom 12, 1 Cor 12. It is not my intent to go into a lot of detail in this sermon on spiritual gifts. That’s a future sermon as we need it. There are action gifts like teaching and preaching. There are help gifts such as serving or showing mercy. There are encouragers who have the right word to say at the right time. Some are gifted with generosity. Others are gifted leaders or gifted organizers.
2. What is your gift? You might not know your gift or have developed it. That’s part of my job to help you discover your gift and to challenge you to use it. Why is that important? Let’s take the illustration I used earlier about the hand. What if we took that hand and sewed it back on the body but put it in the place of an ear. Could the hand be used for what it was designed? Perhaps a little but very little. Apply that to the church setting. That’s like putting a person who doesn’t have the gift of teaching into a SS class. It is putting the square peg into the round hole. I believe that is why so many Christians get burned out. They respond to a ministry they are not gifted for and get so frustrated they quit altogether. I believe that is why a lot of Christians just set on the sidelines. No one has told them they are gifted and challenged them to get into the game. On the other side, how many people are doing work in the church only because no one else will do it. I’d rather a position go unfilled until God raises up someone than have it filled by a person not gifted to do that. Our challenge working together is to discover your gift, find your ministry and empower you to minister.
3. I want us to be aware we are competent to do the building up. God has gifted us. He has gifted each of us so that each can contribute. We can do what God has commissioned us to do.
1. What have we learned these 2 weeks? God calls every person to salvation. He doesn’t desire that any should perish but that all come to repentance. He sent Jesus to die in our place to redeem us from our sin. God calls us to salvation. Do you know Christ? God calls every Christian to service. Every Christian is a minister. Every Christian has a service to perform.
2. God provides the community of faith we call the church to carry out His commission to build up the church. He assigns us different roles. The pastor-teacher prepares God’s people to do the works of ministry through teaching, training, and coaching. When the worship huddle breaks on Sunday we all go out and build up the church. We all help make the church stronger and bigger. We do that by bring doctrinal and loving attitude unity. We practice our faith before each other and the world so we get along with one another. We mature in our Christian journey by becoming spiritual adults.
3. Just so we won’t disqualify ourselves from works of ministry, God makes us competent by giving us spiritual gifts. Through these grace gifts, God takes the worry and excuses out of service. God’s plan for building up the church seems so logical. His plan will work. Unfortunately, we have put dents into his plan through disunity, excusing ourselves, doing too much, not growing in our faith and practice.
4. What do you need do? I pray each of us will affirm God’s plan and make yourself available to God to prepare for and do the works of service he called us to.