Thursday, May 8, 2008

Which Ship Are You On?

The recent analogy came to me that many times the people in our churches look like this picture: individuals independently sailing along, maybe sailing in the same direction. But sailing independently none-the-less.

But I wonder if the better picture of what Christ wants His church to look like is this one: individuals in the church on the same ship, each functioning with their specific giftings and responsibilities, so that Jesus' ship can be directed to His desired port of call.

This seems consistent with Philippians 2:1,2: If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.

Paul was saying that maybe the church is a very encouraging, loving church, full of the fellowship of the Spirit, and affection and compassion. But there is more. We can do all that but miss the next part: being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Is the church today full of people independently serving their gifts, rather than serving Christ's church with their gifts?

I recently saw a book whose last chapter was entitled: "Your Pastor is not a Five-Fold Pastor". There is no way the pastor can do it all. Additionally, the church leadership is NOT called to do the work of the ministry. If the pastor and the elders were to do it all, then the rest of the body would be passengers, and the boat would look like this:

A cruise ship! That is not Jesus' design for His church. Ephesians 4:11,12 says that Jesus gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, "for the equipping of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ." It is every member of the church who is called to the work of the ministry, for the whole body's sake.

Sometimes we use our gifts the way WE want, rather than for the edifying of Christ's body. He gave the gift, and He has the right to define how we use the gifts He's given. Sometimes we set our own parameters based on our preferences, feelings, or attitudes. But this hinders Christ and His work in His church.

In order for the church to meet the purpose Jesus has for it, individuals must surrender their right to their own vessel, and climb aboard His. And then they must use their gifts and abilities primarily for the service of Christ's vessel.

Which ship are you on?


Anonymous said...

Your article was just as clear as your teaching was.
Don't let my post teaching questions lead you to think otherwise.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what ship I'm on.I go to a church that is very big on short term over seas missions. I give financially to a long term overseas mission. There is alot of competativeness at my church, people trying to outdo one another with the good deeds they do, and also alot of elitism follows this. I have felt very belittled by my church as I am not a high profile do gooder. I do know that it is really only Gods' opinion of me that matters, but I am very often discouraged by others who don't think what I do is enough. So, what ship am I on? I had been trying to find some articles on the net about the expectations churches place on their congregation members, so that I can learn from others who have been through the same thing.

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