- “We should leave the work of the ministry to the professionals! After all, they’ve been to seminary and been trained. We haven’t. And that’s what they get paid for, right?”
- “I have an idea of what the church should be doing. I think I’ll suggest it to the pastors and deacons so they can get to work on it.”
- “So the ministers do all the work? I want to get involved in a church where I can make a difference for the Kingdom. That doesn’t seem to be happening here—I think I’ll move on.”
- “You mean the ministers expect us to be involved in ministry? That’s not what I signed up for—I just want to go to heaven, and not go to hell. Isn’t that why Christ died? I don’t like these expectations—I think I’ll move on.”
These quotes above are examples of how people think the ‘work of the ministry’ should go in a church. Some think it’s up to the trained people, while others don’t want that but want to be a part of Kingdom work in a local church.
Ephesians 4:11-12 gives a helpful (and Spirit-inspired) insight into the purpose of the leaders in the church—to identify and equip future leaders in the church for Kingdom work. Why? What are some reasons and benefits that come from this. Below are five. It’s not a comprehensive list by any means, but a list nonetheless that will get the conversation started.
- This is a command of Christ himself. This is sufficient—but as always, when Christ commands us to do something, reasons abound. He never commands anything in a vacuum or to simply cramp our style.
- This is a reason He called you into the ministry. We are called to “make disciples”—that is, we are called to reproduce ourselves. This is part and parcel of our calling into the ministry. If you have any doubt, read 2 Timothy 2:1-2.
- This builds up the body of Christ into unity and maturity. The more people are involved in leadership, the less time they may have to complain about what’s happening. They will see what it takes to make things ‘run’ (for lack of a better term). But when we work in the same direction, captured by the same mission and vision that Christ has laid on us, a unity and maturity into the likeness of Christ takes place. We are, as Tozer said, all instruments tuned to the same tuning fork. And by virtue of that, we are tuned to each other.
- This safeguards the minister from believing he is irreplaceable. Few things serve as stumbling blocks to leaders in thinking that the ministry of a church would fail without them. This stems from a significant insecurity in the minister needing to believe he is irreplaceable. This mindset is dangerous for the church and for the leader. A leader must not consolidate ‘power,’ but give it away. That way, things do not grind to a halt when he is out of the pulpit or out of his class. The church keeps moving along because the true pastor is the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ (John 10:10; 1 Peter 5:4-5).
- This develops ownership of all of the members of the body of Christ, not just the leaders. While you will have people content to spectate, more and more people have other options to take up their time. If we as leaders do not equip and encourage and provide opportunities for people to learn and serve, we will lose them. People wish to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
Can you think of any other reasons why identifying and equipping leaders is necessary?