Monday, February 6, 2012
I want to thank all who are following my posts on my blog site. It’s an honor to be able to share with others who are on Christ’s mission together.
I have good news to pass on - this will be my final blog on this site! I will now post my blog on Confluence, our Newfrontiers USA blog. (confluenceblog.com)
Click this link to see my newest blog post “More Leaders, More Volunteers” on Confluence. I know you’ll receive great insights and equipping encouragement from the many contributors with Confluence. If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to visit and subscribe to Confluence. May you continue to follow Christ and see His kingdom increase in your city and beyond!
Thursday, January 5, 2012
What’s the goal and purpose of church leadership?
To be clear from the beginning, church leadership is not for the purpose of having a nice Sunday morning entertainment package for your local church. Leaders are called to equip you to be effective ministers. Leadership is to prepare you for battle and on how to live and give. Eph. 4:12 reveals that the goal of leadership is to build up the church! In Ephesians 4, Paul reveals the church needs so much work done on it. This fact keeps us from discouragement as we realize how imperfect the church really is. The church is a place where it’s OK to not be OK, as long as we don’t remain that way. This means we start by receiving God’s grace and becoming believers. Leaders equip the saints so that every one is a minister, fixing what’s broken and supplying what’s lacking. As believers, reaching out and giving in the way God has graced us, we avail ourselves to the leaders who equip us for ministry.
What does this goal mean for church leaders?
Leaders are to strengthen the whole church body, not just certain parts. It’s not just strengthening individuals but the whole church. As Americans we are devoted to personal individual fulfillment and satisfaction. Devoting ourselves to building the whole church is difficult to grasp in an individualistic culture. The aim found in Eph. 4 is unity of faith and knowledge. There is one faith and one truth.
What are we to look like as a community?
The answer is to look like Jesus… “to a mature person, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13-14). The aim is for the Church to take on a personality like Jesus, a strength like Jesus and a love like Jesus.
What should a mature church know?
We are to be solid in knowing the Bible so we aren’t influenced by every weird belief (v.14). Rather, we are to “grow up in all aspects into Him (Christ)” (v.15). The aim of church ministry with our grace gifts is to become a church that is unified in faith and knowledge, growing more and more into a body that looks and acts like Jesus. Church leaders are to call you to this glorious work, to stir you to pray for it, to equip you to give yourselves to it!
What is the conclusion for the question: Why Church? To provide an opportunity for every grace-gifted believer to be equipped to effectively minister to Jesus’ Church until we look like Jesus and therefore impact our world.
Friday, December 9, 2011
As we consider Ephesians 4:11-12 and the leadership gifts listed there, it is important to realize their purpose. Paul reveals these leaders are to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (v 12). Leadership exists for local churches to mature.
What do they do?
Being an evangelist is a gifting that is highly valuable but often misunderstood today. Many today view an evangelist as someone who preaches guilt and condemnation, with some nuance of a ‘fire and brimstone’ message. Or they’re viewed as television preachers who constantly manipulate viewers for money.
In reality, the New Testament evangelist reveals they mainly equip others in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with others. They themselves are especially gifted in reaching people as they spread the good news to those who have yet to believe in Jesus. (All Christians are to share Christ with others but the evangelist is especially gifted.) Evangelists may also open up new areas with evangelistic breakthrough.
The pastor-teacher is the gift more people have experience with in our culture today. However, the New Testament expression of this leadership can often be missed in contemporary practice. The common view today is where the pastor is a “one man” show, whose “job description” is to “marry and bury” church members and be sure to visit all who are sick. These are good practices that need to occur, and all believers are called to take care of one another. However, in scripture we find the pastor-teacher is called to lead people in the church and ensure that members are well taught. These leaders want to ensure believers are trained to teach and disciple others. They lead the church into green pastures but the sheep are able to feed themselves as well. Pastor/teacher leadership can discern wrong doctrine and watch for dangerous cultural trends that would lead people astray.
What are the results of these ministries today?
The evangelist affects a church by helping believers reach people with the good news. There are a variety of ways for this to occur, such as through personal relationships, an Alpha course, special meetings or events that non-Christians find welcoming, etc. But the good news being shared in the life of a local church is what the gifted evangelist lives for.
A pastor/teacher impacts a church by equipping them to be biblically grounded, loving and mature in beliefs and lifestyle. This gifting wants to develop disciples who are well-versed self-feeders in God’s word. They not only care for people but also help people serve and care for one another. They also communicate apostolic vision and values into the local church.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Ephesians 4:11-12 lists God’s key leadership gifts that are designed to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (v12). It’s important for local churches to receive this leadership if they want to mature and fulfill their role in the Great Commission.
The word apostle simply means “sent on a mission”. For those called apostles it means a power and authority has been conferred upon them.
• Apostles look beyond the local church to nations and are gifted to start new things.
• They have authority to do specific things to start churches.
• They provide wisdom to strengthen churches. They are master church builders laying good foundations of doctrine and mission for local churches.
• They serve as pastors to local church pastors and leaders.
Prophets are sensitive to what God is saying and to God’s purposes. All may prophesy but a prophet’s words carry greater weight.
• They bring “now” words from God for the church.
• They inspire the church with vision and direction.
• They see through issues and bring godly perspectives.
• They stir up the gift of prophecy in the local church.
• They encourage, bring comfort and exhort the church.
• Through their revelation and words they equip the church to be salt and light.
What effect do these gifts have on the church? An apostle shapes the local church to be more missional - to be mission-thinking and act with a global view. He hates the “holy huddle” of Christians just gathering with one another. With good apostolic foundations, a church will be doctrinally sound, Spirit-led and able to impact others in their community and beyond.
A prophet influences a church to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and to be actively seeking to hear God. He provides clear vision & direction for the church. Churches become more obedient to prophetic words, and more people are released to prophesy.
For more on the gift of an apostle in today’s church, see David Devenish’s new book 'Fathering Leaders, Motivating Mission'. See Sam Poe’s blog for more on the prophetic.
Monday, November 14, 2011
God’s idea for His church can be seen in Ephesians 4:11-12, where we discover He gives leadership gifts to His people. Since God is the one “in charge”, He informs leaders what they are to do to benefit His church. This is different than the biblical truth that every Christian is a gifted member of the body of Christ. Here Jesus has gifted or given a divine donation to His church by calling and releasing gifted men to lead the church into maturity and effective ministry.
What are church leaders (apostles, prophets, evangelist and pastors/teachers) supposed to do? Christ has given the job description: they are to “equip the saints” - that is, believers. (All believers are “saints” in the New Testament; they are set apart for God.) The word “equipping” means fixing something that’s broken or supplying something that is lacking. Paul mentions this when he tells the church in Thessalonica that he and his leaders “desire to supply, or equip, what is lacking in your faith” (1 Thess. 3:10).
Jesus gives varied grace gifts to each believer in the church so they can minister. He also gives leaders to the church whose job is to repair what’s broken and supply what’s lacking in believers. Jesus descended from heaven to become flesh, die for our sin on the cross and rise from the grave for the forgiveness of our sin (Eph. 4:10). He then ascended to God’s right hand where He gives gifts of leadership to you.
Apply this to your situation. Jesus looked at your city, saw you and determined that you were in desperate need of His grace. He loved you and determined to reveal Himself to you and He radically changed your life. Now realize that we may be personally saved but we are never individually saved. He saves us into community. So the Lord determined to have a church in your city and He sent leaders to your church who are called to equip, fix what was broken, and supply what is needed in you.
Your church leaders are Jesus’ “divine donation” to you. Jesus gifts each Christian and yet we are not so perfect that we are not in need of fixing and being supplied by God’s donated leadership gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors/teachers. No one can say “I am gifted and don’t need these leadership gifts of apostolic authority, prophetic encouragement, evangelistic training or pastoral care and teaching.” All of us are indeed gifted with a measure of grace but all of us are in some measure lacking. We need fixing and supplying. Jesus has donated leadership to supply you in your growth and maturity as you follow Jesus. This is the ingenious design of God! Ephesians 4 reveals that the church needs you (verse 7) but the leadership gifts also prove that you vitally need the church (verse 10).
Monday, October 31, 2011
Ephesians 4 is God’s reply to the question “Why Church?” In Ephesians 4:7-10 we discover that every person who is a believer is also a gifted minister. The focus is on grace, as God gives every believer grace in a measure suited to His good purposes both for each Christian and for His church. This means as a follower of Christ, you are uniquely graced with Christ’s gift. You are not an “accident” in life or in the body of Christ.
What is grace? Grace means that God, in an act of self-motivated pure love toward you, has generated His favor on your behalf. This is God’s own sovereign act of giving and generosity. What effect did this grace have? This grace released you from the guilt and shame of sin and empowers you to live in a righteous way. This way of life would have been impossible without His gift of grace.
Paul says this amazing grace not only saves us, but also enables us to serve God’s purpose and His Church according to His will. Jesus also gives to each of us spiritual gifts for the effective ministry of the Church. We are not given these grace gifts because we deserve it, but according the measure that Christ decided to give us (verse 7).
Romans 12:6 states “we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us.” Jesus knows what your local church needs so he has bestowed upon you gifts for the benefit of everyone in your church. Every member is a minister who is ordained by the grace of God given to him or her. Our generous Father wants His gifted people to live in freedom from sin, and to express His love to a wounded world.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
If you were asked the following questions, what would your answers be?
- What is the purpose of the church?
- What is the job of the church leader?
- Should the church exist to meet your needs?
- What style of music should the church have?
- What kinds of events and programs should the church have?
- What kind of church would make you happy?
We live in an individualistic, consumer-based culture where the customer is always right, and it’s all about you. A tragic issue arises when people view the church through consumerist eyes. People view “church” as a place you attend on Sunday that meets your needs and has good buildings; a place where the programs, music and preaching is centered on you. Basically, the church is there to help you have a happy life.
In reality, the ministries and priorities of the church aren’t intended to revolve around you or me. The church is called to revolve around God, His mission, and the people who need a Savior.
This means that as a church we believe that we exist to glorify God. Jesus never intended for His church to be a spiritual country club where membership has its privileges. This “country club” brand of Christianity is common in western culture, but this brand of Christianity would never have produced the advancement of God’s cause as seen in the book of Acts. These early believers glorified God by having an impact on their world. Their presence caused some to rejoice and caused others became violent against them.
Why isn’t the church in the USA having a greater impact? The real question is, why have we made church what we want instead what God needs us to be?
Consider a poem from a 9 year old entitled “If I Were In Charge of the World”
If I were in charge of the world, I’d cancel oatmeal, Monday mornings and allergy shots. If I were in charge of the world, there would be brighter night-lights, healthier hamsters, and basketball goals five feet high. If I were in charge of the world you wouldn’t have lonely, you wouldn’t have to clean, you wouldn’t have bedtime and you wouldn’t have ‘don’t punch your sister.’ In fact, you wouldn’t have sisters at all! If I were in charge of the world, a chocolate sundae with whipped cream and nuts would be a vegetable, a person who sometimes forgot to brush and sometimes forgot to flush would still be allowed to be in charge of the world.
If I were in charge of the world, one of the things I would change would be people’s idea about church.
- I would want people to see the church as God intended rather than as a consumer.
- I would want them to understand God’s design and determination for His people.
- I would want people to understand that every Christian is a minister.
The bottom line for us is that we understand that we join God rather than God joins us.