I’ve been part of some great teams in my life: sports teams, volunteer groups, church staffs, churches, more. On great teams, the team members each know what their role is and they do a great job of fulfilling their role.
For a church to function in the way that God intends, each person must know their role and fulfill it to the best of their God-empowered ability.
11 And He [God] personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, 13 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.
14 Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. 15 But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head — Christ. 16 From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part. (Ephesians 4:11-16)
Here’s the big idea that I see in Ephesians 4:11-16 — God trains us all so that we will work together to become Christlike in every way and expand His kingdom.
1. God trains all believers. (vv11-12)
- Apostles – those who are “sent out” from here to there, such as missionaries, church planters and others
- Prophets – not those who foretell the future, but rather those who clearly discern and boldly declare the truth, in line with the teaching of the Bible
- Evangelists – those with an intense desire to share the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ with everyone everywhere
- Pastors & teachers – those who are called to lead the church in loving people, caring for them, showing compassion, and teaching people how to follow Christ
- Saints – not a special select group of “holy” people, but rather all of those who have put their saving faith in Jesus Christ, those who have been “sanctified” (literally, “set apart”) to live for Christ, all believers in Jesus
2. God tells us what to do: (vv11-12)
- The apostles, the ones sent out with a mission, remind us that we are all to be willing to go to new places as God leads us, whether that be across the street or around the world, or somewhere in between.
- The prophets remind us that we are to declare truth everywhere we go. We declare truth in line with the Bible, declaring its absolutes even in the midst of an ever-changing culture, remembering always to speak the truth in love.
- The evangelists inspire us and equip us to share the good news of Jesus with everyone we meet, everywhere we go, as the Lord opens the door for conversations.
- The pastors and teachers show us how to love people, care for them & teach them to follow Christ.
- All of the saints are to serve in the ways that God empowers, equips and leads them. For instance, when we see in a need that our neighbor has, we should not expect someone else to minister to them. As much as we are able, we should serve and help them. The ministry may be listening to them, encouraging them, making a meal for them, sharing the gospel with them, or a host of other things. Let’s all serve the Lord.
3. God tells us how to measure success: (vv12-16)
- Total involvement. The Bibles says, “all” (v13), “the saints” (v12), “by the proper working of each individual part” (v16). God expects us all to serve Him, not just a select few.
- Unity. Verses 13 and 16 remind us of how important it is that we stand united in our faith, focused on Christ, and how strong we are when we stand united with each doing their part.
- Spiritual maturity. We are to grow in our knowledge of the Scriptures, and grow in obedience to God. Over time, we should learn more and more to walk like Jesus, as verses 13 and 14 describe. (More on that HERE)
- Growth. A church will see spiritual and numerical growth as each individual fulfills the role that God has called them to do. Read verses 15-16 again. The growth may come slowly or quickly, but the growth will definitely come over time.
So, what’s you role? Are you walking in obedience to what God has called you to do? What’s your next step of obedience? Take that step.