Doing Church, Part 1 – Ephesians 4:11-12
Maybe you’ve been asked this question before: What do you do at your church?
That question is usually intended as a simple question to produce a simple answer. “We emphasize community service.” “We focus on families.” “We’re all about evangelism.” “We want people to feel good about themselves.”
This question is really loaded with significance, but biblically the answer is still simple.
The question is loaded because it reveals what we think church is all about. Is what we do in the church all about us? Or a specific group of people in the church? Or who we want to belong to the church?
But the biblical answer to the question is simple: To do church is to help one another be more and more like Jesus.
Ephesians 4:11-16 clearly teaches us this biblical answer.
Over the next several posts we are going to explore this passage and what it teaches us about “doing church.”
11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,
12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;
13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;
15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,
16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
“Doing Church” Revolves around the Teaching of God’s Word (vv. 11-12)
The first part of this passage tells us of how Jesus Himself promotes the right direction of ministry in the church.
In the lead up to verse 11, Paul says that Jesus’ ministry on earth ended in victory with His death, resurrection, and ascension. This victory is especially evident in the gifts that He’s given to people. And verse 11 lists out particular gifts that Jesus has given. Paul writes in verse 11, “He gave, on the one hand, apostles, and on the other prophets, also evangelists, also shepherds and teachers” (likely teaching shepherds).
In verse 12 Paul says these gifts are given for these purposes or to accomplish this goal: equipping the saints. Equipping the saints has the sense of preparing those who belong to Jesus to accomplish certain tasks.
What are those tasks? Paul tells us: the work of “service” (better translated as “ministry”) and the building up of the body of Christ. Jesus gives these gifts so that all believers would do the work of ministry, which is further identified as edification or building up the church.
What does this tell us?
This tells us that the individuals who are the gifts Jesus gives to the church have as their primary task teaching believers so that they in turn would be prepared to do upbuilding ministry. In other words, practical life in the church revolves around the teaching of God’s word to God’s people.
Therefore, if we ever wonder how we can pray for your elders at Girard Bible Church, these two verses tell us to pray that they would faithfully equip and prepare us for the building work we have to do.
And if we ever wonder how we can serve GBC (or whatever local body you belong to), these two verses tell us that our overall task is doing ministry, which is building up other believers.
In the coming posts we’ll explore what building up other believers is looks like.