Ephesians 4:7 states, “…to each one of us grace has been given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” Every believer has been given this powerful gift of Christ. Not just the leaders. Paul addresses this letter to the Church and his phrase “to each one” is the Greek word hakasto which literally means ‘to each and every person.” So, each and every disciple has this powerful gift of Christ.
Let me say that a different way; the gift we have all received by the grace of God is Christ Jesus in His fullness. This fullness is best expressed and released within and from a local church functioning in unity. This fullness then represents Christ to the world as apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher. This is His fullness. This fullness being expressed within the local church also brings the believers to a new level of maturity and a new understanding of the “work of the ministry” they are to accomplish as gifted disciples.
The goal then, if you are a leader, is to release what is already within the body of Christ, rather than trying to “put something into” Christ’s followers. Let me briefly unwrap this.
Perhaps the greatest impediment to the church’s work in the world is not our inability to discover what to do but what to stop doing. So much of what happens in the church involves programs and methods designed to put something into the disciples. But, we already have the fullness of Christ and all His gifts within us. So, what’s needed instead of a “putting in” is a drawing out of what Jesus has already placed there. Dare we call this equipping?
In the Church today, our default settings must be changed if we are ever going to release a powerful movement that will change the world. What got us here will never lead us there. Unlearning is as important as learning for empowering the Church Jesus is now building. In fact, the lessons we must learn are really quite simple, but the ones we must unlearn are complex and deeply embedded in how most churches are assembled and operated. On the positive side: in the end, what we must learn boils down to two basic things: helping people realize what they already have and releasing them on an unsuspecting world. That is how the Church is meant to function.
So, we need to rethink how we are “doing church” and instead realize that we are the Church. Then we need to help our people know who they are “in Christ” – this new creature that Paul writes about in 2 Corinthians 5. This is vastly different than “Christ in you the hope of glory.” This is foundational because then each disciple will know what they are specifically called to do (as they fulfill the basic call to ‘go and make disciples’). They will know how they are to do it, where they are to do it, with whom they will be doing it, when this is to happen, and even why. Then knowing all of this we simply release them to do what God has called and gifted them to accomplish in His Name – offering them support, encouragement and prayer. This is what is known in Ephesians 4:12 as “equipping the saints of the work of service (ministry).”
Much needs to change in our thinking and in our daily walking out of our faith for the Church to reach the world with the Gospel of the Kingdom.