Ephesians 4:11-17 – “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 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; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ — 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” NKJV
We talked about the Great Harvest of the Last Days last time. Today, I must state at the outset that “if” there is going to be a harvest of the magnitude the Bible speaks of there are some critical factors involved.
What does that mean to the Church local? What does it mean with regard to Leaders and/or Laborers? What do we need to know to be prepared for our participation in this Harvest? One of the obvious factors is if there are going to be multitudes “born again” and brought into the Church local the influx of souls will bring an increase of problems.
Don’t become alarmed, the problems can be good problems rather than problems of discord, but that will come as well. If you will recall in Acts 6 when the number of disciples multiplied so did the problems facing the church. That begs the question, “What is the Church local to do?” We must become a people “equipped and trained” for the work of ministry because ministry will be the theme of the Church in those days.
Equipping and training cannot be the work of ONE MAN or “The Pastor.” That would guarantee both the smallness of the congregation and the failure of its purpose. That we do not want! The congregation will NEVER become EQUIPPED if we have one man standing at the sacred desk for one hour per week teaching and preaching.
Sadly, too much of the church world is satisfied with “one hour weekly” and as a result, they are “weakly” spiritually. I find it amazing that one of the only organizations in the world that would accept that approach is the Church local. Virtually every organization in existence demands more and to be a part of many of them there is the requirement of discipline and even discipleship or training and development of skills.
Have you ever wondered why organizations or groups such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons grow and become numerically strong in a community? They are disciplined and disciple. They have a vision, which I believe is incorrect, but they have a vision and have joined themselves to that vision with total commitment and the result is outreach and growth. Someone said to me, “Sincerity with commitment and diligence brings results.” There is a lot of truth in that statement.
There is a flaw in some of the church world today that has moved the Church local from becoming an institution rather than a community and the results of that are problematic. Too much of the church world is satisfied or believes that Pulpit Pastoring is the right path rather than Personal Pastoring which would involve and demand small groups or groups in the church where there are captains of 10, 50, and 100. Do not take those to be numerically specific for that which the Bible speaks of also has captains of thousands.
We have divided the church between clergy and laity and never the twain shall meet. We hire a pastor for him to do the spiritual lifting for us and we are content to let “Clerical George” do it for us. That is not his job, biblically. Imagine the military functioning that way! There would be utter chaos and no ability to engage an enemy would be possible.
Paul addressed the need for the congregation to be EQUIPPED to function according to gifts and callings rather than positions and titles. We become a Program rather than a Purpose focused on People. Sadly, some are so desirous of having a “mega-church” they turn the Church local into an Assembly Line rather than seeing to Assembly the living stones in their place and equip them to function in their purpose.
Someone said to me recently, “The church more nearly resembles an orphanage than a family.” That is tragic and got my attention. We will never become what God wants unless we are “put together” or “assembled” and “equipped.” Our focus should be MINISTRY not PREACHING. Nothing wrong with preaching, it is wonderful and powerful but our purpose must be to MINISTER.
If we do not SEE the problem we will never take steps to correct the problem. Moses was guilty of following the ONE MAN culture or spiritual leadership and his father in law chastised him. Jethro told Moses, “You are going to wear yourself and the people out doing it this way.” In Exodus 18 the advice was clear and powerful. In Numbers 11 and Deuteronomy 1 God gave Moses that same directive. There were to be Two Changes immediately.
- Moses was to cease being a ONE MAN SHOW utilizing Corporate Teaching. He was to select individuals and individually train them the principles God had taught him. Then, he would release them to function in ministry. He was to train them in God’s Word, the Way of God, and teach them the Work or Assignment God had given. He was teaching them to take Personal Responsibility and in so doing opened the door for them to find the resources personally to meet their needs.
- Moses would select men with particular heart characteristics and place them as leaders over 10, 50, 100, and 1000’s. These men would hear the cases and address the needs of the people and the only cases brought to Moses were those so complex and complicated they could not arrive at a solution.
Interestingly the Disciples fell into the same trap and finally had to appoint deacons to do the everyday things so they could focus on the word and prayer! When they did and got things in order the Church exploded and there were structure and preparation to take care of that growth.
Church if we are going to be prepared for the Harvest we must follow the prescription of Moses, the Disciples, and make Ephesians 4 a cornerstone in our local fellowship’s purpose and function.
God bless you as you embark on today’s journey!