If you’re among the millions and millions who have watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens, then you know that almost every character in the movie is asking, in one way or another:
“Where do I fit in? Why am I here? What’s my purpose? What’s my mission in life?”
By the end of the movie, every character has found an answer and made a choice—either to fit into a plan for good or a plan for evil.
What about our calling in God’s mission? Not to the false god of the force, but to our true, gracious, Trinitarian God? What is our daily calling from Christ?
Your Mission from Christ
Many times we gain the mistaken idea that only “full-time Christian workers” have a true “calling from God.” We think that pastors and missionaries have a Christian vocation and mission, while everyone else exists to support the work of pastors and missionaries.
Nothing could be further from the truth. According to God’s Word, pastors are called to support the work of God’s people!
So, to determine every Christian’s mission from Christ, we also need to determine the role of pastors in the Body of Christ.
The 8-Word Résumé of Pastors
In Ephesians 4:11-16, Paul highlights the Bible’s most powerful, focused vision statement for the church. This passage offers God’s ministry description for pastors and for every Christian.
Most pastoral search committees would be thrilled to read a candidate’s résumé that demonstrated the ability to preach, counsel, and administrate. Most seminaries would be delighted if graduate exit interviews indicated that pastoral ministry students perceived that their seminary training equipped them for preaching, counseling, and administrating. Being equipped to do the work of the ministry seems to be everyone’s ideal goal for church leaders.
Everyone but Christ. His pastoral ministry description demands the ability to equip others to do the work of the ministry. “It was he who gave some to be … pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service…” (Ephesians 4:11-12a).
These eight words must be every church leader’s reason for existence:
“To prepare God’s people for works of service.”
Christ’s grand plan for His church is for pastors to focus on equipping every member to do the work of the ministry.
The 10-Word Résumé of the God’s People
Sadly, in far too many churches, the people of God are second-class citizens when it comes to the work of the ministry. If a “lay” person makes a hospital visit, that’s okay, but we want to know, “Where’s my pastor!” Christ’s vision is so different.
Pastors serve the people so God’s people can serve the congregation and community.
Far too many “lay” people are recruited to fill a position and to fill a need—but not to fulfill a calling. Paul’s phrase “works of service” elevates the ministry of God’s people. “Works” has a sense of divine calling and meaningful purpose. We could translate it as vocation and mission.
The Bible uses it to describe God’s creative work. God the Creator commissions us for creative, zealous, purposeful work—work that glorifies Him as we serve one another.
We often miss the vital real-life, how-to application of every-member ministry that Paul embeds in this text. Exactly what are pastors equipping people to do? Specifically how do members do the work of the ministry?
“Speaking the truth in love” we grow up in Christ (Ephesians 4:15).
These ten words must be every Christian’s reason for existence:
“Speaking gospel truth in love so everyone matures in Christ.
Christ’s grand plan for His church is for every member to minister to one another by speaking and living gospel truth in love—gospel conversations.
The normal agenda and priority of every Christian is to help one another to grow in Christ. Christ’s training strategy for growth in grace involves pastors equipping every member to embody gospel truth in love through the personal ministry of the Word—biblical counseling, one-another ministry, mentoring, discipling—gospel conversations.
What happens when leaders focus their calling on equipping God’s people to speak and live gospel truth in love with one another? Paul shows us in Ephesians 4:16. The Body in robust health grows and builds itself up in love as each part does its work. Growth in Christ is a community journey.
The Rest of the Story: Gospel Conversations—The Gospel for Everyday Life
But what does it mean to speak truth in love? What does it look like? How am I supposed to relate the gospel to the everyday life of my family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers?
Today is the first of a series of post entitled: Gospel Conversations: The Gospel for Everyday Life. I’m designing these posts to further equip you to find and fulfill your role to speak the truth in love.
In our next post we’ll start a Gospel Conversations journey where we’ll learn how to fulfill God’s calling, God’s mission, by sharing gospel truth in love. Join us for Part 2: What to Do After the Hug.
Join the Conversation
How might daily church life change if we kept Christ’s focus in mind? Pastors serve the people so God’s people can serve the congregation and community.
How might daily church life change if we kept Christ’s 8-word calling for pastors in focus? Pastors are called to support the work of God’s people.
How would your sense of calling change if you kept Christ’s 10-word mission for your life in mind? “Speaking gospel truth in love so everyone matures in Christ.