The power of many.

Football team

The church has everything it needs to function in the fullness of God’s design. Each one of us has gifts and energy given to us by God, each different from the other, but when we work together in collaboration, with shared vision and purpose, we can achieve great things for God.

Ephesians 4 talks about a few of the gifts God has given us to build up his church. Some people have the gift of apostleship – the inspirational, forward thinking that the church desperately needs to bring about innovation and change for the future. Some are prophets, tuned into God’s message and truth for a particular context and time, able to speak to God’s community to challenge and correct them. Others are evangelists, effective communicators of God’s Word who connect with those outside the church and speak their language. Then there are those with a pastoral/shepherd gift, who protect and nurture God’s people, developing community and discipleship. And some are teachers, who are gifted at understanding and explaining God’s Word and truth to the church.

These gifts can only surface when empowered to do so. Every one of us has a part to play in God’s church. Each of us has a place in his family. Many of us have natural abilities in leadership, teaching, caring, inspiring, nurturing, listening and many other gifts which can benefit God’s people. When church becomes a place of empowerment, where each person is given a voice and a value, we can discover our gifts, share them with each other and build up the church as God designed us to.

I have a friend who has a dream for feeding the poor and homeless in my city. She comes from an Italian family who love their food (and who doesn’t love Italian food?!). Since she was young, she has never liked to see food going to waste. One Christmas, she was so sad to see good food uneaten that she rang a homeless shelter and organised to contribute a lovely Christmas dinner to some of the residents. She was only 14 years old. She believes it would be a wonderful thing to collect leftover food from bakeries and restaurants at the end of each day to distribute to people in need, food which is often thrown away and benefits nobody. However, she is too busy to do such a large project by herself.

My friend attends a church of thousands. Her dream could easily become a reality if just a few of these people heard it and were inspired to work together. If she was given a voice, and a value, and empowered to collaborate with God’s people, they would find a way to achieve this goal together.

God’s church has a mission to impact the world. It’s not up to pastors. It’s not up to the chosen few. It’s supposed to be the whole church, working together, inspiring and encouraging and equipping one another to live life the way God intended us to. God’s mission isn’t going to be fulfilled by the burden of one, but by the power of many.

6 thoughts on “The power of many.

  1. Kathleen,

    This is so important, but I still don’t think we (Christians in general) understand how important it is. If you keep reading in Ephesians 4, we find that Paul says it takes all of us working together under the headship of Christ that causes the church to be built up. (Ephesians 4:16) But, for the most part, we’re comfortable allowing others to “minister” as our representatives or we’re comfortable doing the work on behalf of others. The church doesn’t work that way… and, according to Paul, we definitely don’t grow in unity, faith, maturity, and love that way.

    -Alan

    • Alan,

      That’s my favourite verse in Ephesians 4! “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work”. I’ve heard so many sermons on Eph 4, without reference to this verse. Don’t they notice the irony? As. Each. Part. Does. Its. Work. It’s an active, participatory, inclusive, empowering clause – completely at odds with the way it is so often done.

      I love God’s church. I just find myself rolling my eyes at how counterproductive the “systems” can be. I’m glad I’m not the only one who notices.

      – Kathleen

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  3. Kathleen. I think this story you relay sums up and exemplifies the simplicity of the gospel, confirming Jesus’ claim that the simple will enter the kingdom before the wise and knowledgeable.
    ‘One Christmas, she was so sad to see good food uneaten that she rang a homeless shelter and organised to contribute a lovely Christmas dinner to some of the residents. She was only 14 years old. She believes it would be a wonderful thing to collect leftover food from bakeries and restaurants at the end of each day to distribute to people in need, food which is often thrown away and benefits nobody. However, she is too busy to do such a large project by herself.’
    Her loving care is so un-leaderly, un-theological and un-programatic that it defies the logic of churchianity and its hierarchy, but oh so like Jesus.
    One of your best posts yet.
    Thanks, made my day.
    blessings
    Greg

    • Thanks Greg. I love seeing God’s people being “un-leaderly, un-theological and un-programatic”, as you put it, and in the process they become true leaders, practicing good theology.

      Blessings,

      – Kathleen

  4. I completely agree with Greg above about the “un-leaderly, un-theological, and un-programmatic.” Because of that I would prefer to change the first sentence of the last paragraph to say, “God’s mission has a church to impact the world.” I think one of the reasons the church today is in the state we find it (not a good state), is because we believe that WE have a mission to do FOR God. This is wrong. God has had a Mission from Genesis to Jesus to bring humanity back to himself. Our part is to discern what God is up to and humbly join Him in his mission.

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