The Unity of the Faith

Our passage today was from Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church (Ephesians 4:11-13), regarding the Minister’s Goal.

There are Five Functions Listed (Ephesians 4:11)

  1. Apostles – Ephesians 4:11 – divinely appointed representatives
  2. Prophets – Ephesians 4:11 – proclaimers of God’s Word
  3. Evangelists – Ephesians 4:11 – bearers of the good news
  4. Pastor and Teachers – Ephesians 4:11 – caretakers for God’s people (these are listed as one office with two functions – notice the natural bonding of these two in the text)

The Nature of these Five Functions (Ephesians 4:11)

  1. Some are gifted to deal with situations
    1. Apostles – to guide the church in ways it ought to go
    2. Prophets – to guide the church in what it ought to know
  2. Some are gifted to deal with sinners – evangelists
  3. Some are gifted to deal with the saints
    1. Pastors – tending the flock of God
    2. Teachers – teaching the flock of God

The Need for these Five Functions  (Ephesians 4:12-13)

  1. Purpose  – Ephesians 4:12 – perfecting, completing, equipping
  2. Period  – Ephesians 4:13 – until such as time in the future
    1. Attaining unity of the faith
    2. Attaining the knowledge of the Son of God
    3. Attaining maturity
    4. Attaining the measure of the statue of Christ

Outline of Ephesians 4:1-16

  1. Spiritual Unity – Ephesians 4:1-6
    1. Calling – Ephesians 4:1
    2. Conduct – Ephesians 4:2-3
    3. Confession – Ephesians 4:4-6
  2. Spiritual Diversity – Ephesians 4:7-12
    1. Variety of gifts – Ephesians 4:7-10
    2. Variety of responsibilities – Ephesians 4:11-12
  3. Spiritual Maturity – Ephesians 4:13-16
    1. Christlikeness toward maturity – Ephesians 4:13
    2. Conviction toward doctrinal stability – Ephesians 4:13-14
    3. Conversation toward truth spoken in love – Ephesians 4:15
    4. Contribution of the saints working together – Ephesians 4:16

Personal Impressions:

  1. The challenge to build up the saints – Ephesians 4:12 – developing other is a pivotal priority. What will I do to build up the next generation who will replace me?
  2. The commitment to spiritual growth – Ephesians 4:13 – defining what a fully devoted disciple of Jesus looks like. This puts the end goal in front of us at the beginning.
  3. The conviction of sound doctrine – Ephesians 4:14 – stability, confidence, and correction.
  4. The command for genuine relationships – Ephesians 4:15 – speaking truth, growing up, recognizing the head of the body is Jesus.
  5. The community of faith working together – Ephesians 4:16 – all these gifted people properly working together, causing growth in the body.

Ken Pruitt’s Observation and Challenge:

  1. Leadership Redefined – Ephesians 4:11
    1. Which office/ministry defines my heart?
    2. How is shepherding and teaching related?
    3. How am I equipping others for the work of ministry?
    4. How can I focus less on doing, and more on developing?
  2. Unity Redefined – Ephesians 4:12
    1. How can I participate in building up others?
    2. How am I equipping and preparing others for ministries in the future, not just for the immediate task at hand?
    3. Unity will occur when all of God’s people are fulfilling their personal and corporate callings.
  3. Goals Redefined – Ephesians 4:13
    1. How can we move forward in Christ?
    2. What does maturity look like?
  4. Processes Redefined – Ephesians 4:15-16 – speaking truth, growing up, fitting together, working together. This is what we will call a directional vision, putting an intentional emphasis on equipping the saints. Where do our volunteers fit in this triangle illustration? How will we invest in leaders more than investing in individual?
    1. Modify our vocabulary – be mindful of the way we describe things or label things.
      1. Make no distinction between laity and professional clergy, we are all ministers of the gospel.
      2. Train for managers more than for employees.
      3. Move toward multiplication over addition of leaders.
    2. Question our procedures – are we functioning in the best way possible? Are there things that can change? How will we best prepare and train others to carry on?
    3. Restate our purpose – these are the appointed expressions of church ministries given by Jesus himself. If culture become the rule (even for the church), how will we change culture?
    4. Embrace feedback – negotiate with others about what I can do in order to get better. Do not simply find and enlist people to fill slots, but share the vision and opportunity that is before them in this task or ministry.

The Pipeline Conference Observation: this is an interview with Todd Adkins on the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast – (find episode 133).

  1. Delegation: we have long talked about delegating leadership, not only the responsibility of the task but the authority that goes with it. Moses and Jethro are a foundational example.
  2. Dumping: what often happens is that we end up dumping the tasks that we just don’t have time to do or even want to do. It gets the task off your plate but no one is passionate about it.
  3. Development: the new standard is to develop leaders who will take your place; so who is a part of my next generation who will lead the ministry when I am gone?

About Scott Chafee

Scott serves on staff at King’s Grant Baptist Church in Virginia Beach and Kim is a Chaplain with the Sentara Hospice House.
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