11 He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. 12 His purpose was to equip God’s people for the work of serving and building up the body of Christ 13 until we all reach the unity of faith and knowledge of God’s Son. God’s goal is for us to become mature adults—to be fully grown, measured by the standard of the fullness of Christ.
There are many ways to talk about the mission of the church. But today’s scripture defines it in perhaps the simplest way imaginable: the church’s role is to help people GROW UP.
Part of the Work of the Spirit is to gift the church with leaders who will help us grow. In the list of gifts for ministry, we learn that the Church has traditionally recognized several steps in the process of growth. Apostles and evangelists bring the truth of the gospel to those who have never heard it before. Prophets speak to both the culture and the institution, calling power to account and reminding the church to live up to the good news we proclaim. Pastors play critical roles in walking beside us through difficult times and helping each of us to uncover our own gifts. And teachers instruct us in the faith and its implications for daily life. All of these things are necessary if we are to GROW UP.
Clearly, the early church recognized that people are often better at one part of the process than another. Some folks are good at reaching people, some are good at teaching people, some are good at walking beside people, others help to hold people accountable.
Though in the current age, we often collapse these gifts into one office – which we Protestants usually call ‘pastor’ – the reality is that it takes many kinds of individuals to help a Church connect with the most people and enable them to reach their greatest potential.
Could it be that we’ve stunted the growth of the Church by expecting one person to be equally gifted in all these areas? If we want people to grow up, the church needs folks who will embrace their gifts in order to live out their calling in Christ. So don’t deny your gifts – share them!
by Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
If we believe that God is good and loves the Church, it seems logical to assume that God is STILL blessing people with the gifts we see listed in the passage. Do you see yourself in the list of Ephesians 4:11? If so, how can you use your gift to serve Christ’s Church?
Prayer: Holy Spirit, we thank you for your gifts to us: our unique abilities, history, and blessings that allow us to serve. Help us today to embrace our gifts that we might grow up into the fullness of Christ. Amen.