What Are We Preparing Christians To Become? Or Are We Preparing At All?
What does today’s Church prepare those who come through their doors, into their fellowship and family to be? For some churches, the ultimate is to have someone get the “calling” to go into “full time ministry” (alias professional ministry). For other churches it is leadership training. Still others hope that everyone who comes through their doors will become energetic participants who are in tact with what programs the church is offering. Unfortunately most church become enablers, where leadership is doing most of the work and those coming expect them to do it for them.
I have personally felt the pressure of being labeled a good candidate for professional ministry since my teens and have been approached to make that decision in my life. In my career interest survey given in high school, College Minister ranked #1 among my career choices. Why have I not chosen ministry or being a campus chaplain as a career move? Because of prayer where I got a red flags and a distinctive “no” at an invitation for a calling to professional ministry. Seeking the Lord’s will for my life, I knew that I was to be a teacher of the “word,” and for 40 years I have taught 8th grade grammar, spelling, reading, writing and literature. Upon retirement, I still feel led to be a “teacher” of the Word, but not necessarily professionally, thus this blog.
I have been through leadership training in the Church of the Brethren, the Mennonite Church, and even United Methodist Church, as well as in Church Planting, and have helped in the birthing of an inner city church, and two home group churches, yet in the current church that I have attended I have had very few leadership opportunities over the last 14 years, but have had a lot of training.
I have responded to invitations to be involved or engaged in various church programs. I even had the opportunity to head the youth branch of the only major evangelistic Crusade to ever be held in the city where I reside. I have helped out with Bible Schools, Sunday Schools, prophetic conferences, etc. I have responded to requests of need to help supplement a church program.
When involved with birthing new churches, or maintaining small group churches, or developing church plants, a vibrancy of spiritual life has help propel me into leadership because of meeting overwhelming “needs” when there is only one pastor and no staff in ministry. Unfortunately, with the growth churches, and the expanding of staff, the “need” for my services has not been as great, thus a season of inactivity. It is so easy to allow the pastor and his staff to supply spiritual food through sermons or teachings rather than individual disciplined Bible Study, having them pray for you or tap into prayer chains instead of individual intercessory prayer or personal quiet times of listening for the voice of the Holy Spirit to speak to me personally, or to visit the sick, do prison ministry, open my home for hospitality or ministry, etc. because of my busy schedule. It is so easy to go to large churches to “blend in”, not being asked to do anything but having all their “ministries” available for “my needs”.
So what is the Church suppose to be doing? Ephesians 4 claims it is to “equip, prepare, train the saints, those who believer in Jesus Christ, to do the work of service.” The saints, the everyday believers, are not just to be “hearers of the Word, but doers.” They are to become the Rhema Word, living out of the Logos, Biblical Word. They are to be equipped, trained, and prepared to win the lost (evangelism), to nurture, care, and comfort (pastoral/shepherding), to discipline their lives through reading, studying, and allowing the Holy Spirit to teach them the Logos, the written Word (teacher), to profess and carry out the Living Word, the Rhema Word in their daily lives (prophetically), and to “see over” what the Lord is doing with his body, the Church, corporately. They cannot be a Lone Rangers. Then once trained, they need to be RELEASED to DO IT, the work of service!
Is your pastor the in-resident evangelist, pastor, teacher, hearer of the voice of God, and over seer of the local church? If he leaves, gets sick, or dies, who is to replace him, another professional? Or has he trained others under his leadership to do the “work of service” as an evangelist, shepherd, teacher, prophet, or apostle? Does everyone in leadership have to have a college, seminary, Bible College, or online Biblical degree? Or have they “earned” the title of evangelist, shepherd, teacher, prophet, or apostle because the are “doing” the “works of service”? They are doing it. The doing earns the adjective in front of them, not the “degree” or the “title of office”.
So I close by asking the question again, “What are we preparing our Christian brothers and sisters to be: professional ministers, trained church leaders, energetic, active participants, or enablers?” How can the church begin to “equip” the every day believer in Christ so they become “active, equal participants submitting to one another while serving one another” to develop others into the spiritual likeness, called maturity, in Jesus and brining unity to the Body of Christ?