Why We Need Every Member

Why We Need Every Member

Awhile ago, I got in a somewhat ‘lively’ discussion about what our vision is as a church. When I explained that we were seeking to be a truly Spirit-led church, they took it like I was condemning a lot of other good and well-meaning congregations who would say that they, too, are Spirit-led churches.  When I explained that most churches are led by a pastor, while the role of pastor is only one of the Biblical leadership roles in the Body, and that we were looking for a fuller representation of leadership in the Body of Christ, they finally understood that I was not slamming the churches around us.

When we look at 1 Corinthians 12:27-28, a key verse where Paul speaks about the Body of Christ, we find some interesting things:

“Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.”

There are different functions in Christ’s Body but pastor is not on this list.  The role of pastor is only found in Ephesians 4:11-13:

“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”

The callings of apostle and prophet and evangelist and pastor and teacher are hard-fought by the enemy because they strengthen and equip the Body of Christ. The enemy fights against those gifted and called to prophetic and apostolic ministry to deprive the Body of these important gifts.

Rick Warren said, “In twenty years of ministry, one thing has become apparent: God often places his greatest gifts in his weakest vessels.”  People who hear the voice of God can also often hear the voice of the enemy.  People who God has gifted to plant churches, can be undone by fears.  Similarly, those who have a gift of encouragement in the Body can fall prey to discouragement, so much so that they lose the desire to risk ever impacting anyone’s life.

We were not meant to be alone.  The weaker parts of the Body need the strength of others in the Body.  In the Kingdom, weaker does not mean worse. Weaker does not mean less-valued, it just admits the existence of a vulnerability.  And since every person has some level of weakness, God has made His Body so that the strength of one member covers, shores up, and brings healing to the weakness of another.

It is human nature to only value people who have no apparent flaws; those who are strong, attractive, capable, and wealthy. But God places equal value on us all. How do we know this? God has a different value system:

“And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.” Luke 16:15

The next time we place more value on the rich, the strong, the beautiful, the talented or the wealthy, we should consider: Are we measuring this person by God’s standards or by man’s?

Another place we learn something about how God has made the Kingdom of God to work is in the Chapter from 1st Corinthians 12 mentioned earlier:

“…those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it.
But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.”

The weaker parts of the Body are necessary. We bestow more abundant honor on those members which we deem less honorable. God has composed His Body with the desire that the members have the same care for one another; and if you suffer, we all suffer with you – just as when the human body gets the flu, our whole body feels it; or when your arm gets broken, the whole body compensates for it.

So, in desiring to be a fuller expression of the Body of Christ, led by the Spirit of God, we need to establish: what is a truly Spirit-led church?  It is a fellowship that has Christ as its Vision and Leader.  How that looks in a practical way is that, as we gather, we love and value and respect each and every member of Christ’s Body enough to believe that God can minister through them.  Ministry can be entrusted to non-professionals, provided that these non-professionals are 1) in love with Jesus, 2) aren’t impressed with their own gifting, 3) love His people and wouldn’t do anything to hurt them, lord it over them, or manipulate them for their own pleasure or goals.

We each have something to offer the Body. That is the point of 1st Corinthians 14.26:

“When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.”

If you examine this verse, though pastors and elders are undoubtedly there in leadership, they are not singled out as singularly significant.  The implication is that God’s people are coming to worship and build each other up under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.  You don’t see chaos or bossiness – you see edification.  And people who lead simply function as conductors and facilitators.  Using the metaphor of a choir or an orchestra, a pastor, like a conductor is necessary, but his is not the only voice we hear.  The voices we mostly hear are the choir, those who are called to “Proclaim the Excellencies of the Lord.”  But the conductor’s voice IS heard when the music goes south.  So it is with pastoral leadership.  God has designated the leadership role in His Body to correct error, promote love, and protect the Lord’s flock.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2: 9-10

Your voice is needed in the Choir,to sing your part so that His Body on earth can grow as strong, as loving, as beautiful, and as effective as it should be.

His Body grows more completely when His people seek Him together, believing that His Spirit can speak through any of His children.  And as His people come together to encourage and be encouraged; to strengthen and be strengthened; to edify and be edified; to worship in Spirit and in truth, encouraging worship in others, together with the Heavenly Host, we worship and glorify Father, Son, and Spirit, the only One worthy of our love and devotion.

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