I find that we are often our own worst enemy when it comes to fulfilling our ministry calling. Church leaders end up forgetting the reason we got into the business of God's Kingdom and God's people. The "stuff" of ministry begins to steal our attention and affections, slowly, like the frog in the kettle.
The 3 secrets to "e4" simplicity are really not secrets. They are in plain view, yet hidden from most of us. Let me shine a light on them and encourage you to take courage.
What is "e4"? The "e4" principle is found in Ephesians chapter 4, where we are taught in verse 12 that Jesus himself have given church leaders a clear and single mission of ....to "equip his people for works of service".... So, let the "e" remind you of Ephesians and the call to Equip. To equip, not to entertain or coddle, but to equip.
Equip means to: "furnish or provide with" the ability and/or tools in order to fulfill a given assignment or purpose. The 3 secrets are found in the call to equip, so let me point them out. Again, they are in plain light, but sorely missing from most of our sermons.
Secret One: His People
Secret Two: Works
Secret Three: Service
I have found that God's Word does a great job at explaining itself. When contemplating the true impact and importance of this call to ministry leaders, we find books, blogs, podcasts, sermons and more, all spending page after page trying to explain the call to equip.
Let me suggest the true meaning of the "e4" calling is found in the actual verses. Verse 12 of Ephesians 4 tells us all we need to know.
The secret to unlocking the secrets is this one understanding, that God himself saw fit to oversimplify the primary role of those ministry leaders mentioned in Ephesians 4:11. The apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, who are the primary gifts at work in the local church leadership, have many roles to play, but none more specific to the essence of church leadership as an equip-per. There are so many things asking for our time and attention, but none are more worthy than our role to equip. To equip implies several things.
It implies a level of engagement with people, attention to the needs of people, a growing need for leaders around us. This growth minded approach demands we equip the saints to carry out the ministry instead of trying to do it all ourselves. Why is this so difficult? Why is there a leadership famine in most of our churches and cities? Why are leaders leaving the church by 1500 a month? I believe it is because we misjudge the simple call to equip.
These 3 Secrets will rekindle your fire for the call of God to equip the people/saints/members/disciples for works of service.
Secret One: His People
This truth is likely the single most important paradigm of Christian Ministry. Jesus is the head of the church. Jesus gives the five fold ministry as a gift to the church. Jesus alone redeems the church. Jesus alone reserves the right to know what Father God wants to say and do with His Church. We often bear the weight of ministry as if the people belong to us, and they don't, they just don't. The call of God belongs to us, but the Church belongs to HIM, and Him Alone. The pressure of the future of the Church upon Jesus. We are only stewards of the role he assigns us to and the station in life he calls us to. We have delegated authority and responsibility, not sovereign authority and responsibility. Jesus himself is sovereign, always has been, always will be. So, let's focus on being the faithful steward and let Jesus be the Lord. This will free us to focus on the equipping role, instead of master CEO of the Church organization, the fundraiser, the master teacher or the growth expert.
Prayer: Maybe we should pray a prayer of release to Father God today. In prayer, give the sovereign burden for the success of the Church back to the true head of the Church, Jesus Christ, and embrace our delegated responsibility to train & equip
Secret Two: His Works
For so long we have debated about being saved by works. I absolutely do not believe scripture supports a salvation by works. However, the scripture completely supports equipping for works. We are, indeed, saved by grace through faith, faith in Christ alone. We are saved by grace, through faith - TO WORKS. Church leaders who take equipping seriously will know that we equip the followers of Christ to be and to do, not just to be. To reach others with the grace of God, means to fulfill the mission of God, through the works of God. The "doing" of the Kingdom of God never happens in the Church, in the streets, in our cities, until the people of God get out and up, to go and do the good works he has prepared for us. The parable of the talents teaches us the principle of stewardship and we must take this call to train & equip God's people to good works as our own mission.
Prayer: Pray that God would burn a new fire in your heart for equipping the Church to do the works of God. Unless God's people are trained by God's leaders, Christ will not be known across the earth. Pray for God's fresh anointing to call people to His Work.
Secret Three: His Service
When we take the role of Church leader, we respond to the call to equip His People, for His Work. This work, not be confused with many other kinds of work, are clearly and simply, works of "service". This is the one place we seem to go terrible wrong as Church leaders. We assimilate members, we recruit volunteers and we inspire givers. We rarely focus on the simple and single task of training servants. If we focus on the training of His people, to do....and begin our list of expectations to do....to serving people, then we win, 100% of the time. If we build the organization, but don't train people for works of service, we train them to build our organization only. Serving others requires selfless living, sharing of time and energy, unity of vision and a teachable spirit. This is exactly what Jesus demonstrated and called His disciples to, as recorded in John 13, to serve on another. If we seek to change our cities, we must create city changers. City changers will be those who serve one another, as unto Christ and who develop a family and friend group who naturally work hard serving one another. Serving changes the atmosphere and culture to match that of heaven and this is a true secret to "e4" simplicity.
Prayer: I suggest a fresh prayer of surrender to a lifestyle of service in God's Kingdom and to serve by training God's people to work hard at serving. Pray for the Church to have the heart of a servant and to love serving more than being served, for Jesus Himself did not even come to be served, but to serve the one who sent Him. Pray for supernatural power to be released as our Churches serve others,
face to face, hand in hand.