“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
In this blog I would like to emphasize the need for matching those who accept Christ to the right ministries and mentors. As I look at the way churches nurture and equip the saints for leadership and ministry today, I think many times we are missing the mark. We are creating all kinds of things for people to do for God. Then we are continually calling out for more volunteers to do them. Is this the call of God or a structure of religion seeking to fill their coffers with good works that have nothing to do with getting to heaven? Someone once said that if Christ came back today, 95% of the things the church does would continue on like nothing had happened.
In gaining insight into Ephesians 2:10 we know that in the beginning God created humankind in his own image. The relationship that was there was broken by disobedience on the part of humanity. Separation resulted. Reconciliation to God happens when a person is brought back into fellowship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. We become Christ’s workmanship. Those who are a part of this special group of people called the priesthood of saints are now embracing God’s plan for their life. That plan includes a predetermined program of works that God wants to do through the saints. The institutional church’s responsibility is not to fill pews and collect money but to join you in your search to connect with that plan so that God can work his work through you.
This happens best through matching people, not with the need of the institution, but with the need of the individual to find where God has chosen them to serve as a part of the body of believers in Christ. It is God, not the church, who has prepared in advance the works he wants to do through us. Matching begins with interviewing and connecting people to the right ministries and the proper mentors. Matching people with the area of ministry that best suits their talents and gifts is the first step. The second step is matching the candidate with a person who can mentor and assist them as the Holy Spirit guides them through their ministry service orientation.
In the health care system every day there is an ongoing process for matching blood types, organ donors, and many other areas that go far beyond my knowledge in order to serve the needs of millions of people. All this is done to keep the body alive and productive in its contribution to the world. Every breath that gives life to that body and every motivational strength that comes from that body is generated by the human spirit. God provides that breath and endows that spirit. Without the breath and spirit the body is dead and has absolutely no value.
The church is the institutional agency ordained by God to take on the task of nurturing the spiritual needs of humanity. We must give more attention to this process of matching people with the works Christ has for them in the body. The church needs to take great care in matching people with ministry needs. We often fall short of giving the effort and attention to equipping people. The church is frequently off message in its programs today, thinking that filling pews and raising money and monuments are the things that make a successful church. The church is not solely about the art of great sermon making, but the art of nurturing and equipping the saints for the work of the ministry. When the saints are equipped, evangelism is a natural result. People in love with Jesus who are taught how to frame their faith radiate the presence of God and communicate it to others.
When hearts are changed by the power of the gospel, lives are changed and the world becomes a different world because of it.
The human spirit that lives within the body of a person is much more valuable than the body that contains it. We give little attention to nurturing the human spirit and reminding people that without God, who gives us the very breath of life, we would all return to dust. The church is not a divinely ordained babysitting service, but a divinely commissioned equipping service for a body of people who Christ has given life and drawn to himself through His redemptive work on the cross.
When was the last time you interviewed for a job? I guess in today’s job market millions of people are sending out resumes looking for just the right position so that they might earn a livelihood. The people who come to Christ and sign on to serve Him are seeking the right place that God has for them to work. We as a church miss these opportunities for guidance.
Interviewing each new person who wants to become a member takes time. My book More Than Volunteers gives healthy insights for addressing this subject and will guide the leadership of the church in what they should do.
The goal of the interview is to find out where people are in their thinking and spiritual journey. As a result, the interviewer is able to determine the best guidance to lead the communicant in finding the right ministry.
When the interview is finished the exploration period begins with people praying and observing ministries that they feel God might open up for their involvement. They will be assigned mentors who will guide them in their discovery period. They will pray with them and connect them with the depth of understanding they need to lead them to the right decision. In my next blog on this ongoing subject of how to build an engaged church body, I will talk about mentoring.
This week Rome just canonized two new saints. If you know Christ you are a saint and in Christ people will know you are a Christian by your love. As you serve, you will become more assured each day as you see your life become fruitful through your faithfulness to His will and purpose.