What is the ministry of our church?
Yesterday Pastor Al preached through Ephesians 4:11-16:
And he gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, equipping the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God's Son, growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ's fullness. Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head - Christ. From him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building itself up in love by the proper working of each individual part.
The first 16 verses of Ephesians 4 highlight the church's unity under God, diversity with different gifts, and then goes back to our unity of ministry.
We are one people under God with many different gifts that are used to build up one another with the single goal of maturity in Christ.
Most people understand ministry being done by the paid church staff. Pastors are called, ministers, after all. This passage turns that view upside down: every believer is called to be a minister and pastors are to equip and train believers to do that ministry.
The ministry that Paul is talking about here is one that, first and foremost, focuses on Christlikeness. He says that our maturity is "measured by Christ's fullness," and that we are to "grow in every way into Him who is the head - Christ."
Next, our ministry to one another grounds us in right doctrine. False doctrine is usually connected with other religions like Islam, Buddhism, or Mormonism. But, it can also be subtle beliefs that subvert the gospel like a self-centered worldview, or a consumer mindset that believes one should be constantly served and entertained. We must fight to stand on the pure gospel as taught in God's word.
The ministry of the local church also seeks to speak the truth in love. As we are properly grounded in biblical doctrine, we must speak those truths to one another in a loving manner. These truths are what build us up and help us pursue Christlikeness.
Last, the ministry of the church is one in which everyone is engaged. There are no passive participants in God's church. We all have a part to play in building up other believers. If you know Jesus, then you are needed in the church. God wants to use you in the lives of others.