A Functioning Body Part 2

If you have been a Christian for any length of time you have likely heard the bible referred to as a manual for life, which it is. At the same time within the larger manual, we have instructions on how to do church, how to properly function as a body. In my last post I referenced Ephesians, Colossians and 1 Corinthians 12-14 as they are key passages in terms of how the church, His body, should function. I am continuing with these passages. In going deeper, we begin with Paul’s explanation of the role of leadership in Ephesians.

11 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. Ephesians 4:11–16 (NKJV)

This passage begins by laying out the leaderships offices Jesus appointed in the church He is building. At present many believe we only have evangelists, pastors and teachers and that apostles and prophets have ceased in the church. There is no scriptural warrant for this, yet that aside, the important part is not the labels as the terms are job descriptions, not titles. The primary point is that the leadership Jesus has appointed, a plurality of gifts, is set in place to equip the rest of the body to function effectively.

Now we will break the equipping process down a bit. Paul said ministry leaders were given to equip others. I think this responsibility is described in Proverbs.

5 Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, But a man of understanding will draw it out. Proverbs 20:5 (NKJV)

5 The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out. Proverbs 20:5 (ESV)

The role of leaders in the church is to reach down into the well inside the spirit of others and draw out the gifts Jesus placed within them and release them into their callings (we all have one). If someone is called to teach then they need to equip them to teach. If someone is called to give, they need to equip them to give. If someone is called to an intercessory ministry or the gift of helps then leaders need to discern those gifts and create an environment for them to flourish. The fruit of such an approach is a healthy functioning body. At present in the vast majority of congregations the congregants function primarily as an audience. We may participate in the singing prior to the sermon but our church services are mainly designed for audiences not participants. I believe this needs to change.

We see further in Paul’s teaching that when people are being equipped to minister this strengthens and builds up the corporate body and brings us into unity and maturity in our common faith. This growth includes a lot of ‘iron sharpening iron’ (Proverbs 27:17).

The primary calling of church leadership isn’t to do and be everything. It is to equip the body to be with Jesus and do things for one another and bring in and disciple the lost. Decades ago the Spirit impressed upon my heart a verse that I have ever since seen as Paul’s apostolic heart cry. The centre of everything he was about.

My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ be formed in you. Galatians 4:19 NKJV

 A major way this is accomplished is by all of the body being raised up and released into their gifts and callings. Let’s pray for all of us to step into our gifts and callings to see Jesus body functioning as per His design!

More to come.

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I have been walking with Jesus since 1985. I am currently retired from my career in the helping professions but still focused on ministering to others. I completed a Doctorate of Philosophy in Apologetics in September 2020.

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