The Core Value of FAITH: Indicated by a Life that Ministers
Early in Ephesians 4, Paul uses adult language to now in Ephesians 4:14, he tells them to not be childlike. In this passage, there is a major theme of Christian growth.
Growth patterns, Ken’s illustration of his kids being at both ends, with a first grader and two in college.” The tooth fairy can’t visit this time because tuition and rent are due.” It is tragic when living things don’t grow and mature. A haunting question is, does all of Jesus affect all of me?
- Name a time when you realized that you were not growing spiritually, and what did you do to make a change?
- What are some actions or disciplines that have been effective in your spiritual growth?
- How is it possible to approach someone who lacks maturity and encourage them to begin the journey?
The Plan – Ephesians 4:7-11, Jesus is the conquering warrior who gives gifts to his people, for the church to be mature and fulfilled. This is our spiritual framework for the church, to be mature rather than childlike.
“. . . for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body” (Ephesians 4:12)
- What is God’s purpose in giving gifts to his people?
- Why is it important that each part “do its part” for the body?
- Who has a story about your experience with spiritual gifts discovery?
- From a gifts inventory you have taken, name your top 2-3 gifts. How do they fit? Has this knowledge of your gifts ever caused you to step out in faith toward a new ministry?
The EQUIPPING of the saints – gifts are first, the gift of leadership, then this giftedness directs us toward service and influence, for the church to behave as God intends it to be. The word equip can mean mending and restoring, but also laying a foundation, and also to be trained and prepared for service. Along with the term is the idea of completion and fullness.
- In what ways has the church trained you for ministry?
- What training do you feel is still needed in the church? In your life? In your ministry?
The smartphone illustration: “Dad, you’re not using enough of your phone, it can do so much more than you’re using it for.” God has designed us for so much more. Operating at the highest level to accomplish what he has intended. Who mentored you earlier in life? They were investing in you, building your foundation, preparing you for service. The saints is the subject, you who are born again. Research: churches that grow the most are those who expected the most of its membership. At time we see it is getting done, so we fold our arms and sit back. We are not trying to get a quota, but get more involved.
- What are the expectations of church membership at King’s Grant?
- Why are expectations notoriously low in modern American culture?
- Would raising expectations for membership result in more people running out the back door?
- Why is the 20-80 rule true? (20% of the people do 80% of the ministry)
- How does the word “saint” describe you? How has the word “saint” been hijacked in our society? Why do we prefer the phrase, “sinner saved by grace?”
The WORKS of Service – Chuck Swindoll, many churches approach ministry by hiring some to do the heavy lifting, the real work. This is being disobedient to Ephesians 4. We must move from member to minister. The professionals have one job, to equip saints for the work of service.
- Our church resides in an area of up-and-outs rather than down-and-outs. When something needs to be done, we are used to hiring someone to get the job done. How can we motivate our white-collar professionals to roll up their blue-collar sleeves?
- How does a person discover what ministry in which to be involved?
- Why are some ministries done with a certain ease and effectiveness while others are not enjoyable to fruitful?
- What skill or ability would you like to master for the kingdom’s sake?
- What is the most effective way to help people move from member (M1) to minister (M2)?
How? Seek to meet needs, discover spiritual gift, unleashed them to use that gift. Then, understand the calling to serve, it is for Christ and his kingdom. Thirdly, understand the idea of service and ministry, in general or in a specific area. Doors will open and expand his kingdom. We are freed to minister as God sees fit. William Booth, his loss of sight was irreversible, “I served God and his people with my eyes, now I must discover how to serve God and others without my eyes.”
- When it comes to ministry, why do we often see our limitations rather than the opportunities?
- Name a rime when you were involved in ministry way over your head and God came through to provide a meaningful and effective time of service.
The BUILDING up of the Church – this is the favorite part. Spurgeon, “this is the question of first importance, to utilize myself for the benefit of the rest of the members of the church, not for myself, but to be most profitable for others in the church.” When we realize we are equipped, and live that way, the body will be built up. We can look mature by the way we behave, and the opposite is true. When reminded of our identity, and our behavior will change. People who love Jesus do the opposite of what you just did.
- How have you seen this truth in action? “We look mature or immature by the way we behave.”
- How do you understand your identity in Christ?
- Who are you bringing with you, discipling toward maturity?
- What is your responsibility in building up the church?
- In what ways do people self-sideline themselves by their own admission that they are not equipped? How does God’s Word refute our tendency to sit on the sidelines rather than get in the game?
The Goal: – “…until we all reach UNITY in the FAITH and in the KNOWLEDGE of God’s Son, GROWING into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.” (Ephesians 4:13)
Faith indicates all the foundational teachings of your faith. Sometimes we drift from one another because of different convictions and opinions. Incidentals cannot wreck our unity. Opinions cannot divide us. Ken mentioned these concentric circles – truth, convictions, opinions. Keep Christ and his mission at the center. Marry the mission but only date the methods.
- What is God’s prescription for unity in the church?
- Why do we tend to avoid change?
- What is wrong with a desire to make it better each week?
- How have personal preferences caused division is a local church? Who has a story?
- What quality would you like to develop in your character?
There are gaps to be filled, step into the gap. You are designed to create, do, overcome, work, accomplish something for Christ. You are demonstrating the power of God for the glory of God.
Experiential knowledge. Finally growing, measured by Christ’s fullness. Where am I right now? There is a specific way we are called to be the body of Christ.
Ken ended with same great questions:
- Am I allowing unimportant or unnecessary things to separate me from other believers?
- Am I truly moved by obligation, or the fact I am in the church only because of what Christ has done for me?
- What do you feel is something at which you are good?
- Are you willing to be used by God in the way he has designed you?