Equipping The Saints
There can be no doubt at all that the key to sustainable church growth is equipping the membership in evangelism principles. This key is the one particular thing that guarantees sustained growth, no matter the conditions in which it operates. When this key is discovered and then properly used, nothing can hinder the growth of the Church. Jesus, after all, said, “Upon this rock, I will build my church.”
Sometimes, however, the realization of the need to be constantly and thoroughly equipping the saints for the work of true ministry is lost on the sea of church programs and religious business. If, for example, we discover that equipping is not being carried out on an efficient basis, what are we really doing instead? We can sing, worship, pray, lead services, and give in the various offerings of the church assembly, but if the saints are not carrying out their mandate to go and evangelize because we are not equipping them for service in the Kingdom, it’s all for nearly nothing!
Paul said it clearly in Ephesians 4:11-12, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” In other words, God provides the kind of senior leadership that is necessary in any particular context, with a view to the full outfitting of the church membership for the roles that they will play in His revival. What we have often referred to as “the ministry” is nothing more than the old concept of the “clergy” in comparison to the “laity.” Neither of these is scriptural, however. Yes, it is true that there are the offices of pastor, apostle, etc., but it is also true that these leaders will serve in the capacity of equipping church members for their personal ministries, wherein lies the key to great church growth for which we seek! It is not at all true, however, that those occupying such offices are the only ones “in ministry.” The work of the real ministry is the work of the general church membership as they reach out and win souls into the Kingdom of God.
Let us take a serious look at the mathematics of church growth for an instant. If only one-fourth of church members were active in personal ministry and would add one soul to the church each year (not an unrealistic expectation at all) the church would double in only three years! If half of the saints were doing this, we would see the church (whether locally, regionally, or nationally) grow to nearly seven and a half times its present size after only 5 years. To double in six years only requires the participation of one out of every eight of the members. Looking at the other side of this reality is a sad question: if we are not seeing this kind of church growth now, what are we really doing? Perhaps a better question would be, “What are we failing to do?” The answer is a simple one: we are failing to equip the saints for the work of the ministry!
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