How has the local church you are a part of grown this year? What about last year? How do other churches from your locality grow? Today I have discussed with a servant of the Gospel, who said that their church had decreased from 500 to 300 members in the past two years. The reasons of decreasing the members’ number are different and they vary apparently, but in fact they are the same. In this article I will present the secrets of the Christian church as they are written on the pages of the Holy Scriptures. The biblical text that presents to us these secrets (and they are not secrets, because everyone can find them out, whenever he wants) are found in the Epistle of Paul to Ephesians and it is written in this way:
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. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:11–16)(NASB)
1. Be dedicated to our Lord Jesus Christ.
He wants the growth of the Church, that is His Bride and Body. 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”, because He is deeply interested in the growth of the church. This desire of the growth of the church in quality and number must be the desire of each Christian, especially of the leaders’.
2. The calling of the leaders of the church is the equipping of the saints.
In today’s conversation, the servant that told me about the situation of the church that decreases, told me that the priest of that church had a personal business, that developed and grew up very well and that he dedicated the most time to his business. How sad is this thing… Jesus gave to this priest and to all like him the holy calling “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ”. The word translated “equipping” in this text is “katarstismos” and it means to equip someone from the initial level and to teach a job, a craft or any other thing until perfection. So, the priests have the duty to teach the Christians from their churches how to serve God and how to build the church up. Here all their efforts must be directed, and for the equipping of the saints they must teach them the Word of God. Here is an example from the life of the first church, that shows us how greatly the apostles were concerned with the equipping of the saints for the work of service.
Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word. (Acts 6:1–4)(NASB)
It is true that, as the church grows, there are many situations and needs that solicit more and more the priests’ implication, but in regards to this we have to follow up the example set by the apostles and delegate these responsabilities to Christians of good reputation, full of the Spirit and wisdom, and we, those who are called to equip the saints for the work of the service, to exercise our teaching, as apostle Paul says in his Epistle to Romans:
If service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching (Romans 12:7)(NASB)
3. Every Christian must want to be equipped for the work of the service.
The church is built up by service of the Christians that can build it up, and only those who have been equipped by their spiritual leaders can do this. That’s why, every Christian must be aware of the importance of the process of discipleship. The first name the Christians had had, before they were called “Christians” was “disciples”. And a disciple is the one that learns always, who dedicates himself and who wants to be taught. The way the Christians will be able to serve at the process of building up the body of Christ is directly proportional to the way they grow in the knowledge of the Son of God. As we grow up in the knowledge of the Savior, 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.
4. Christians that don’t dedicate themselves to discipleship become the victims of heresies and of destruction.
This can be the priests’ fault, but also the Christians’. I say this sorrowfully, that there are a lot of priests that don’t teach people the Word of God and don’t equip them for the work of service. And I also know many priests that preach the Word of God continually and always advise Christians to become disciples, to dedicate themselves to studying the Scriptures and to the work of service to the building up of the Church of Christ. And even in thier churches, those who answer to this calling are fewer than those who are pleased only to come to church on Sundays to listen to the divine service. What kind of Christian are you? Are you a disciple? And if you are a priest, how do you equip the saints for the work of service? If we do not do this and if the saints don’t dedicate to disipleship, the Bible tells us that they will remain “children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming”. That’s why people go away from the church. Because they become victims of different winds of doctrines.
5. The Church is unite and grows up when every Christian contributes to this.
Have you heard some Christians that say that there is no love, unity in their church, or some other similar blames. And they are right partially. But, I have also observed that those who are spiritually immature complain about this mostly and they don’t want do dedicate to the process of discipleship and don’t serve others, but they only wait for others to serve them. The cited biblical text says that the whole body (the church) is being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies” and in this way they receive their growth “according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love”
Dear Christian, today take the decision to become a true disciple, to dedicate yourself to learning the Holy Scriptures and to serving God for the building up of the body of Christ, that is the church. If you are a priest, take a holy decision and dedicate your life again to the purpose that you have been called to by Jesus Christ – to equip the saints for the work of service, for the building up of the body of Christ.
Translated by Djugostran Felicia