From the moment I became pastor at Towne Church, I have said repeatedly that I believe God wants us to be a church that is biblically-based, Christ-centered, non-denominational, and ministry-oriented. Today I want to talk about this last identity marker: ministry-oriented. God wants us to be a church that ministers to the community and to one another. Ephesians 4.11-13 reads, "And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (NKJV). We learn the following about ministry from this important passage.
Ministry is the responsibility of all God's people. The Apostle Paul clearly says that spiritual leaders are to equip the saints for the work of ministry. Leaders are not to try and do all the ministry themselves. Ministry is the work of the saints. So who are the saints? The saints are not a special, elite class of Christians; rather, the saints are simply Christians. According to the New Testament, all Christians are saints (Eph 1.1). By virtue of our relationship with Christ, we have been set apart and belong to God. Not only are all Christians saints, but all Christians are gifted for ministry (Eph 4.7; 1 Pet 4.10). We all have a place of service in the body of Christ. Thus, it's important that we find that place and get involved.
Ministry requires training and equipping. Paul mentions various spiritual leaders in the church. These are God's gifts to the church. The apostles and prophets played a foundational role in the church (Eph 2.20). There are no more apostles or prophets providing fresh revelation today. All the revelation we need for salvation and spiritual growth is found in God's written word (2 Tim 3.16-17). Evangelists are those like Billy Graham who travel around and preach the gospel to people. We are not all evangelists, but we are all called to evangelize. Pastors and teachers probably refer to one group: pastor-teachers or pastors who teach. There is one article in the Greek for both titles. A pastor's primary responsibility is to teach God's word clearly and accurately (1 Tim 3.2; 4.11, 13; 2 Tim 2.24). This is how he equips the saints for ministry. There are a lot of responsibilities in pastoral ministry, but our main job as pastors is to teach the word.
Ministry is work. Paul speaks of "the work of ministry" (v. 12). There's no way around this. Ministry requires time, sacrifice, and hard work. But we are called to work in the church (1 Cor 15.58). By God's grace, our work is permeated with joy, and it will be richly rewarded. It's a joy to serve the Lord. Psalm 100.2 says, "Serve the Lord with gladness." There is the joy of helping others, the joy of seeing God at work in our lives, and the joy of pleasing the Lord. And one day we will experience the fullness of joy when we receive our heavenly reward and hear the Lord say to us, "Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord" (Matt 25.21).
Ministry leads to unity and spiritual growth. When we serve together, we're united around a common mission and we grow together (Eph 4.16). The opposite is being an ingrown church. An ingrown church is one where few people are involved in ministry, the people complain a lot, and the focus is on themselves. A unified, growing church, on the other hand, is one where everyone is involved in ministry. Its focus is on serving others, not serving itself. Our church will never reach its potential unless we all do our part. TEAM stands for "Together Everyone Accomplishes More." So where has God called you to serve? What are you doing to help this church grow? Let's all join in and do our part. If we do, we will be amazed and humbled at what the Lord will do through us.
-Dr. Mark Jackson