Recently I held in my arms a new born baby boy. He was just 5 or 6 days old when I had this opportunity to hold him. Watching a new born baby grow and learn through the various stages of life is a beautiful experience. The whole birth, growth and development process is a wonderful expression of the incredible creativity of our awesome God. It is God’s design for babies to grow and mature.
It is also God’s design and desire for the body of Christ, the church, to grow and mature. Toward this purpose God has given special offices and gifts designed to help in this growth and maturing process. We read in the 2nd chapter of Ephesians these words from the apostle Paul, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ” (v.11-12 NASB). The word “equipping” means to make someone completely adequate or sufficient for something. The something in this case is training people for the “work of the ministry”. The function of the pastor/teacher in ministry is not to do all the work themselves but to train and equip people for serving. The word equipping is a word that would be used to describe the outfitting of a ship with the tools necessary for a successful journey.
If a pastor or teacher is doing more and more of the work of the ministry they are not doing what God’s priority is for them. Sometimes this is the result of the pastor feeling the need to do everything but other times it is the result of people being unwilling or unavailable for training. Being equipped for the work of ministry doesn’t necessarily mean learning more information or something new but rather applying what we have already learned to real life situations. The body of Christ will only grow up to maturity when all members are exercising their gifts in accordance with God’s will. Remember the office of pastor/teacher is an office given by God to the church; it’s an office given to help people to develop their gifts for God’s glory and the maturity of the church.