In the book Gospel DNA: 21 Values for Growing Churches, Richard Coekin spends the entire book expositing Acts 20:17-38, where Paul spends time training and reminding the Ephesian elders of their calling. His UK roots come out as he gives an analogy of a comparing our church to a soccer stadium (thank you, Bro. Coekin, for saying soccer).
If we compare church to a soccer stadium, many people think of church like a crowd of spectators (the congregation) gathering to be entertained by incredibly expensive professional footballers (the clergy) playing the game (doing their clerical ministry). But Paul says that Bible-teachers are given by Christ “to equip his people,” that is, it is the ministry of all Christ’s people that builds up churches in number, unity, and maturity.
To continue the soccer analogy, the teams of players (those who serve) are not just the clergy but all the believers. They are led by their captains (“Elders” leading by their teaching and example) and trained by their player-coaches (the preachers and small-group leaders) with the coaching manual (Scripture). They play the game (loving God, loving each other and loving their community) and nurture the youth academy (teaching Scripture to children) against the opposition (sin, the world and the devil). The watching crowds are unbelieving friends, family, work colleagues and local community. Our “ministry teams” should therefore include all the believers in our congregations. (Unbelievers in church can be included in practical service, but not in teaching or singing what they don’t believe; and it’s unwise to give unbelievers a ministry that may give them the impression that they are saved, which will cause them to drift away when their imitation faith doesn’t work.”pp. 22-23
This serves as an excellent illustration for the purpose of leadership in the church and the need to train other leaders. I’m really enjoying this resource!
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