Have you shared your story with others and told them how they may become a Christian? Hopefully, you are seeing your unchurched family and friends coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Last week we learned that being connected to a local church is not an optional aspect of spiritual growth but an essential aspect. But what does it mean to be connected to a local church? Does it mean that you attend a church service? Does it mean that your name is on the membership role of a local church? Today, we shall discuss that being connected to a local church means that you are a Mature Ministering Member.
No Christian should be content with being spiritually immature. Christians who are spiritually immature are easily spotted if you know what to look for: greedy, selfish, easily irritated, easily provoked, etc. Any Christian who displays these characteristics, must be diligent to “put to death what is earthly in you” (Col 3:5) and to “put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Col 3:12).
Fullness of Christ. Every Christian must be diligent to reach “mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:13b). This measure is not reached “until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God” (Eph 4:13a). In other words, we must strive towards spiritual maturity. This spiritual maturity means that we begin to think more like Christ, speak more like Christ, and act more like Christ and this is designed to happen in the context of a local church.
No longer Children. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:11 of becoming spiritually mature: “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” In Ephesians 4:14 Paul says that we must strive towards spiritual maturity “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” A spiritually immature person will hear something that sounds good and be tempted to gravitate towards it. This person needs to be connected to a local church so that they may be able to discern what is right and wrong according to God’s Word.
Building Up in Love. A mature Christian is intentional about loving God and loving others. In Ephesians 4:16, Paul writes, “when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” A spiritually immature person loves himself/herself more than others and seeks to use others for their own benefit. For example, a spiritually mature person will use their possessions in order to help others, but a spiritually immature person will use people in order to get more possessions.
No Christian should be content with being spiritually unused. If God has created you, designed you, gifted you, and saved you; would it make sense for Him to not use you as an instrument in His hands? Of course not. Yet too many Christians refuse to daily turn over their life to God so that He will use them for His glory. Christians must be ministering.
Every Member Ministering. In Ephesians 4:11-12, Paul writes that God has given “the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” This is important because too often we believe that ministry is only done by the pastor and the deacons. Some churches view the pastor as a hired gun who does most (if not all) the ministry of the church. But the Bible tells us that the pastor of a local church is one of many ministers in the local church. According to the verse we read, all Christians (the saints) are the ones who do the work of ministry. This means that every member is a minister in a local church.
Equipped Ministers. We also learn in Ephesians 4:11-12 that God has assigned certain roles (pastor, evangelist, etc.) for the purpose of equipping the members of the church for ministry. This means that your pastor’s primary responsibility in this church is not to do the work of ministry but to equip you to do the work of ministry. I equip you by teaching, training, and modeling ministry; but ultimately it is you who minister. This is intentional because God knows that every member equipped to minister is far more effective than one.
No Christian should be content with being spiritually alone. In Ephesians 4:11-16, God has intentionally designed the local church to be the primary place to be equipped for ministry. It is in this environment that relationships are formed and deepened, forgiveness is requested and granted, love is given and received, and spiritual infants become spiritual parents.
Head is Christ. The local church is important because God says it is important. In Ephesians 4:15, we learn that “we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ.” Christ’s body in this world is the church (1 Cor 12:27) and it is the local church that is the hands and feet of Christ in a particular area. First Baptist Scott City is a local church that is Christ’s body in Scott City, MO and submits to Christ (the head of the body).
Held Together by Christ. The local church not only submits to it’s head (Christ) but is joined and held together by Christ. Being connected to a local church is more than being on a membership role or attending a worship service, but being an active member in Christ’s body as you are committed to His mission “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).