Now that football season is in full-swing… I love to cheer on my team: The NY Giants! Too bad that they have started out with zero wins and three losses.
Maybe football isn’t your game… or the Giants aren’t your team… but one thing we all know about the sports we love and the teams we cheer for: a good team is one that fills ALL of their positions with gifted and talented players.
Back to my Giants for a moment. They have a GREAT defense! They have an experienced and gifted quarterback! They have receivers that can catch! They have runners that can run! The problem is that they have a terrible offensive line. Basically, this means that the quarterback can’t throw, the runners can’t run, and the catchers can’t catch because the offensive line can’t block the other team’s defense… and they keep shutting down the team’s ability to score. Ugh.
Enough about the Giants.
Church is like a team too. We need gifted and talented and experienced people in all the positions of the church. Paul puts it this way:
The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:11-16)
We may be accustomed to thinking about the church team being mostly made up of pastors and teachers… but the reality is that the church desperately needs good players to be apostles, prophets, and evangelists as well. For the church to accomplish its mission to bring the Good News of Jesus, extend and expand the Kingdom of God, and serve the needs of others with justice and mercy… we NEED to fill all of our team positions well.
Maybe you want to get involved in the church. Maybe you want to be on the team. But, maybe you’ve never felt like your particular gifts and talents were needed. The church is more than just pastoring and teaching. Maybe you are called to be an apostle, a prophet, or an evangelist. The words are ancient and maybe carry some baggage in our modern-day understanding. So, let me put a 21st century spin on all the people Paul mentions in this passage:
The Apostle (The Entrepreneur): Is the church-planter, the new ministry developer, the ‘big-picture’ pioneer that seizes new opportunities to extend the Gospel in the world beyond the current existing church to the not-yet-Christian.
The Prophet (The Problem Solver): Is the one who listens and speaks God’s will and word to the people. This is the ‘church conscience’ making sure that the Gospel is not compromised in the works of the church, even when the solution is necessary and uncomfortable. This is the ‘proclaimer’ of God’s promises of hope in the midst of trials to the church and the not-yet-Christian alike.
The Evangelist (The Friend-Maker): Is the one who communicates the Gospel to the not-yet-Christian and reminds the church of our shared ‘God-story’. Through an authentic calling to build relationships with others and a keen sense of knowing when and how to reach them, the evangelist inspires people with the Gospel message.
The Pastor (The Nurturer): Is the ‘people-person’ who helps the people to develop healthy, Gospel-centered lives and relationships. The pastor is a worship leader, spiritual counselor, faith coach, and encourager to the church. The pastoral role promotes stability and organizes sustainable, secure growth in ministry.
The Teacher (The Informer): Is the person who brings knowledge and understanding of the Gospel to the church. The teacher articulates the history, truths, ideals, principles, purposes and goals of the church. The teacher ‘passes-on’ theology, tradition, perspective, and mind-set.
May you join the church team an use your gifts and experience to help us win.