I like to have fun with my own denomination and the churches affiliated with it. I often joke that where there are two Baptists gathered in His name, there are at least three opinions.
But the lack of unity in many churches is a serious manner. Church splits, congregational infighting, and church divisiveness are more common than we often like to admit. Not too long ago, I heard my co-worker at LifeWay, Eric Geiger, make a presentation on church unity. Actually, he largely dealt with training and equipping the saints to do the work of ministry in his presentation, but he beautifully tied that issue with church unity.
Training Results in Unity
Eric simply demonstrated the obvious truths from Scripture. Unfortunately, I don't always see the obvious, so his presentation was both enlightening and encouraging to me. His thesis was straightforward: If pastors equip or train others to do ministry, there will be unity in the church. How do we know this reality? It's clearly stated in Scripture:
"And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God's Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ's fullness" (Ephesians 4: 11-13, HCSB).
For the sake of brevity, let's deal only with the role of pastors/teachers. Note these truths from the text:
- Christ (He) personally gave this role. It was important to Him, so it has to be important to us.
- The role of pastors is not so much to do ministry, as it is to train or equip others to do ministry.
- If pastors fulfill this role, the body of Christ is built up.
- As the body of Christ is built up, the believers become unified in the faith.
The passage is clear. As pastors are more involved in training others to do ministry, there will be greater unity in the church.
As we began to research this issue in local congregations today, we uncovered some sobering statistics. Almost all pastors we surveyed affirmed their critical role in training others to do ministry. But almost three fourths of these pastors had no plans to do so. For most pastors, the reasons behind this gap were simple: they either didn't know how to take the next steps, or they didn't feel like they had the time to do so.
At LifeWay, we began to make this issue a major priority. We saw a great opportunity to provide almost unlimited training in this digital age that could not be done in earlier years. So we created something that will be convenient for the church leaders and those being equipped at an affordable cost for all churches. In May of this year, we will launch Ministry Grid, an incredible tool for developing leaders in your church. We are excited to work alongside church pastors, staff, and lay leaders in this way, and I will share with you more about this resource later.
Let me hear from you. How is your church equipping and training others to do ministry? What are some stories you can share to help other churches? What are some lessons we can learn from you?
The text is clear. As pastors/teachers do more equipping and training, the church will become more unified. It's just that important.