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About this series
Yes! You Really CAN Change
What to do When You're Spiritually Stuck
Is a "changed life" really possible? If we're honest, most of us would say no. Maybe you've tried numerous programs that promise big changes, but in reality, they deliver very little results. You long for transformation, but don't know where to begin. There's good news for you! Life change is possible! God created you to grow, to change, to experience intimacy and adventure. In this series, from Ephesians 4, you will learn how true life change can happen to you. You'll be able to identify the barriers that have held you back from receiving God's best and you'll also learn how to break out of a destructive lifestyle so you can become the person you've always longed to be. This fresh approach to spiritual transformation is designed to move you from the frustration of failure to the freedom you have in Christ.More from this series
As we start our time in God’s Word, I’d like you to do something a bit unusual. I want you to really lean back, I want you to feel free, even, if you want, to shut your eyes. I’m going to give you three imaginary pictures. And they are very important. If you can let your mind – whatever helps you begin to picture this in your mind.
Imagine driving home, after an exhausting and stressful day, only to get an SOS voicemail from a not-so-close friend, and immediately experiencing a shift of focus off yourself – your stress, and what you’ve got to do – and you find yourself filled with compassion and energy to meet this person, and help them. You fix a quick supper. You get back in the car. You meet him at a coffee shop – two and a half hours of counseling. You pull in your driveway at 11:35, physically, completely beat, but with an energy, and a peace, and a sense that you were a part of the Living God changing a person’s life forever as you put your head on the pillow.
Scene number two: Can you imagine hearing of the promotion or a financial windfall in the life of your ex-husband, your ex-wife, the child who betrayed you, your ex-boss who fired you unfairly, the business partner who ripped you off, financially? And as you hear of this good thing that happened to that person who betrayed or hurt you, before you have time to think, the first thought that comes to your mind is joy and gratitude to God for blessing their life, because over a season of time, you have so thoroughly forgiven them, but like Jesus said, you actually love your enemies.
Scene number three – you may have to lean back a little bit deeper. This will take a deeper imagination. Imagine hearing the honest conversation of your children and your closest friends, as they have gathered at your house after your funeral. They can’t see you, but you can see them, and you can hear them. And they’ve gone through little lines, and grabbed little food that we always have after people die. And they’re talking about you.
And your own kids, and the people that really know you, talk about your loyalty, your integrity, your love, that you were, in fact, one of the greatest Christians that they ever met, that someday they want to be like you.
And little stories – not those exaggerated kinds that people say at funerals, but the kind when it’s unedited, and no one’s around, the little stories of moments with you, many of which you totally forgot, or are unaware of, where your life, your love, your integrity marked their life forever. You were actually the kind of person that we all long to become. Can you imagine that?
What each of these three scenarios have in common is, they are a picture of the miracle of life change. And what they also have in common is, you can’t fake them. Those aren’t stories of behavior modification, cleaning up a few external behaviors through a lot of hard work and discipline. These are supernatural works of the Spirit of God, through the Word of God, the community of God’s people, where the actual life of Christ, over time, with many ups and many downs, created in you a life that we all long for.
We’re going to talk, in this series, about how that can become a reality, if you will, and let’s talk about how that can actually happen to ordinary, regular people like you and me. If you have your Bible, open to Ephesians chapter 4. And as you scan Ephesians chapter 4, you will remember that the series started with chapters 1, 2, and 3 talking about, “This is what God has done for you in Christ. You have been adopted. You have an inheritance. His Spirit lives within you. You have and possess eternal life.”
And then, verse 1 said, you’re to live out this new calling. Your belief and your behavior tell the same story. And far from a new list of activities, it says it happens in deep, others-centered, sacrificial relationships, where, by His power, you’re humble, and patient, and you bear with the idiosyncrasies, and you make every effort, and you move into people’s lives with a power that you don’t possess, to love them, to maintain the unity of the body in the bond of peace.
Then, in our next session, we talked about, well, where do you get that kind of power? And we learned that Christ gave gifts to men, and to women, in the Church. And where did they come from? “What does it mean that ‘He ascended,’ except that He descended into the lower parts of the earth?” And we learned that everything that is true of you, is true of Christ. And when He resurrected He gave gifts to men, to declare that sin, and death, and Satan had been defeated.
And now, as we open the text, we’re in chapter 4, verse 11. And he describes some of those gifts. And now, he’s going to give you the design. He’s going to give you the picture of that spiritual cocoon, if you will, where the community of the Spirit of God, and the Word of God, with this new supernatural community, produces that kind of radical life change.
We pick it up in verse 11: “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers.” And so, He gives gifted people to the Church. And then, the very next word is important; you might underline it: for. That’s the reason; that’s the purpose. Why does He give gifted people to the Church? “For the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.”
And put a little line through the word saints, because that doesn’t mean someone’s in stained glass. That’s just a biblical word for a Christian, a believer, someone who the Spirit of God lives in.
And then, put a little box around, if you would, work of service, and write, next to it, “minister.” We get our word for a minister. So, God gives gifted leaders to the Church. They equip – and put a circle around the word equip; it’s very important. It was a picture of, if there was a compound fracture, a doctor resets it, so it works again. It’s the picture of fishermen whose nets are broken, and they repair them, so the nets do what they were supposed to do.
Leaders are given to restore and equip all of us people for the ministry, or work of service, and when we operate together, doing what Christ wants us to, then notice what occurs, and what the ultimate goal is: “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.”
If you would, put a line under knowledge. This isn’t an intellectual knowledge. In Greek, there are two or three different words for knowledge. One is an intellectual, Two plus two is four. Another is a relational knowledge. This has to do with knowing someone, not knowing about them.
And then, he even put a little prefix. This is a super-powered, intimate knowledge of God. Leaders are given to equip God’s people to do the actual ministry, until all of us, corporately, come together, and have an intimate knowledge of God, until we’re – what? Mature.
That’s our word teleios – telescope. It’s when you fulfill the design that God longs for you. In essence, the goal is to become like Jesus – the measure, the stature, the fullness of Christ.
And then, he gives a little test. Well, how do you know if you’re making progress? What would be the evidence of a person that this really occurs, as the supernatural community of the Church works together? Verse 14, “As a result” – in other words, the impact is – “we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by every wind of doctrine, by trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming.”
In other words, you’re no longer manipulated by false teachers. You’re no longer wandering, or led astray by people who tell you one thing, but it doesn’t line up with Scripture. And so, there’s a doctrinal stability; there are people that are mature that know the Word of God.
But it moves from that, to a relational dynamic. “But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up into all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.” And so, there’s a level of relationship in the body of Christ, where you just don’t speak truth, and you’re just not nice and loving, but there’s this authenticity of caring, where you even share the hard things. You help people grow.
Then, it talks about participation, “…from whom the whole body” – speaking of the Church – “being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part that causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”
Did you notice those key little words? Fitted and joint. The word fitted was – in construction, you’ll see people that they make a cut here, and they make a cut here, and they align them? That’s this word. And joint has to do with two things that actually touch.
He’s saying that something happens when every single member of the body of Christ is walking in obedience to Him, by faith, and understands their role.
There’s a coming together – a loving, and a support, and a connection. And notice those phrases where each and every – every, single person matters. And as we function in that way, this thing happens. This amazing thing happens. You experience God’s love through other people, and you get loved by other people, and God uses you to love other people.
And then, what did Jesus say? Jesus said, “The whole world will know that the Father sent the Son,” not by the sizes of your church, not by how intellectual you are, not by the success of your people, not by how cool, or hot, or wonderful your music is. He says the world is going to know the reality of a God who created the world, and sent the second Person of the Triune God, His Son, to die in people’s places, and give them new life, and want to be with Him forever, will be how we love one another.
What you have in verses 11 through 16 is, if you will, God’s design, God’s actual design for how those who call themselves “followers of Christ” relate to one another in such a way that the life that we long for, and the life He destines us for, actually becomes a reality. There are three principles and a proof that flow out of this passage.
Principle number one tells us what leaders are to do. Leaders are gifted to equip God’s people for service. It’s what leaders do. And I don’t mean just “vocational leaders,” like pastors, but all the leaders of the church, the leaders of a small group.
A leader’s job: Gifted leadership is designed to equip God’s people for service. When there are hurts, compound fractures – whether they’re physical, or emotional, or spiritual – leaders help restore those things. Where people’s lives are broken, leaders help mend those things. As one commentator said, this word equip has the idea of something being restored to its original usefulness. Leaders equip people, help them, restore them.
And then, he gives four examples of leaders in the Early Church. And you’ll notice, he literally gives the foundation. He says, first, there are apostles. The word apostle literally means “one who is sent with a commission.”
Jesus had many disciples, but He chose twelve apostles. The qualifications for being an apostle were, you had to be actually with the risen Christ, from His baptism on through the rest of His ministry.
Now, there is the office of apostle – you have these twelve. And then, you have the function of apostle. These are people that aren’t original apostles, because there is no one living today that actually – right? – was back when Jesus was resurrected. But they have this function of starting new things, the idea of missionaries, people who start ministries. There’s a function of apostleship.
And then, after He had the apostles, well, there are the prophets. And the Early Church, they didn’t have a New Testament. And so, they got revelation from God. Prophecy, primarily, is the forthtelling of God’s truth.
We tend to think of it as foretelling, or telling the future. But the foundation, when there wasn’t a New Testament, was, they got revelation from God, they gave it from the Church. And then, those with prophetic gifts today, we teach God’s Word in a culturally relevant way, to say, this is the truth of God for today, from His Word.
There is no chapter 23 of Revelation. So, there’s not new truth coming from God. He reveals the truth He’s given us.
And then, after the apostles are sent, and the truth is laid out, then you have evangelists. These are people gifted with an extraordinary gift, and a winsomeness, that lead lost people into an understanding of a saving knowledge of Christ. And when you’re around them, they motivate the rest of us to do the work of an evangelist, to really care about people outside of Christ.
And then, once they’re sent, and once there’s truth, and once people come to Christ, then pastor/teachers. The word pastor literally just means “a shepherd.” It’s someone who comes alongside someone and says, “I want to help you through the valleys, and the ups and the downs, and the struggles, and I want to teach you the truth, so that you’ll understand: this is how God wants your marriage to work. This is what God says, in terms of living a single life. This is how His instruction about your finances, or your dreams, or ambition. Here’s how you deal with these kinds of temptations.”
And the goal of apostles, and prophets, and evangelists, and pastors and teachers is to equip God’s people for the work of service, so that, literally, we become the body of Christ.
Jesus, when He was on the earth, would walk around, and if someone needed a cup of cold water, with His hands, He would give them a cup of cold water. Or if they needed food, He would break some bread, and pray over it, and give them food. But today, Jesus’ body is us. But what you’ve got to understand is, the role of leaders is to equip.
By and large, the design of God has been shanghaied by the enemy, and by our own dysfunctional way that we look at relationships. In the average church in America, and around the world, the average size is about seventy-five to a hundred people. Over ninety percent of all the churches in the world are under a hundred people – most of them under about eighty. Because if you turn the model of God upside down, and do it completely wrong, that’s about how many people one person, if you work like crazy, can shepherd.
And so, many of us have grown up in a world where the idea is, the pastor is the spiritual person, and we’re the regular people. And our job is to come and listen to him, and then, if we have someone in the hospital, we say, “Pastor, go visit them in the hospital, because they’re in need.” Or maybe we have someone who needs to hear about Christ. We say, “Well, Pastor, why don’t you come over and share the Gospel with one of my friends.” And so, they do everything.
And can you imagine if someone came from the Amazon, and they never had seen the design of a car? And maybe their parents were doing Bible translation, and they came to a city, and the name of this city would be called “Backwards City.” And they wanted to learn how to drive a car.
And if they got in the car, and everyone who drove a car did it like this: They put it in, and it went like, “Eeee, uuhhhh, rrrrrr.” And they would actually either turn their head like this, but they always drove the car backwards. And people couldn’t go very fast, about twenty miles an hour. But if that’s all you ever saw – and you would always wonder, Why do the people who drive cars – why do their necks hurt so much? And why do the cars make such funny sounds?
Now, engineers will tell you, the car was designed with a big windshield, an engine, and gears – one, two, three, and four – to go forward. But if that’s all you ever saw, you would learn to drive a car a like that, and think it’s normal.
That’s how most pastors have grown up: I’m supposed to do it all. And most churches believe, “You’re supposed to do it all, and we will come and watch you do this. And when you get really, really tired, we’ll give you a little pat on the back and say, ‘Good boy, keep going. And we know that there are too many things going on, but if we’re in the hospital, Pastor, you have to be there. Or if there’s a need, you have to be there.’”
And what happens is that the leader isn’t equipping. It destroys the pastor, and all those gifts in the church don’t get used, and people don’t grow, and their lives don’t change. I will tell you – this is a known fact: the people who go to football games, and simply watch people on the field, do not get tired, and they don’t get in shape, and they never score. No matter how loud they cheer, they never score. And that’s a picture of the Church.
My first two or three years as a pastor, that’s all I knew; that’s what I did. I worked eighty, eighty-five hours a week. I grew this magnificent church from thirty-five to almost a hundred people, and just about landed in the hospital.
My wife typed the bulletin. We did the mimeograph. My kids helped me cut the grass. I cleaned the toilets. I did all the counseling. I did all the preaching. I actually even helped lead the music, which was scary.
And then, this passage became a reality, and we flipped everything around in that church, and we helped everyone discover what God made them to do. And we moved the pastoral care from a person to a system of small groups, the way Jesus did. And they started loving one another. And then, that little town of about three thousand people – pretty soon, we had about five hundred people. And pretty soon we were connecting with the black church in town, and the Hispanic kids. And ministries were being launched by people, because I finally got, my job was to help.
Leaders equip. They drive the car forward. They help people like you – all of us regular people – to discover how God’s made us, grow to maturity, use our gifts, so that – notice the second principle. The second principle is, every member is a minister. Remember that little phrase I said, “work of service”? That’s our word for minister. Every member is a minister.
When someone would ask me, “Well, how many ministers do you have at the church that you get to pastor?” you know what my answer is? “Well, we have between three thousand to thirty-five hundred that come on the weekends, and I know about a third of them, or forty percent of them, are out doing something, and for lots of good, legitimate reasons are off a Sunday, or weekend, here or there. And some of them, for not so legitimate reasons, are off a Sunday here and there. And so, I would say we have about three thousand ministers.”
Now, some of them pose, like secret agents, as stay-at-home moms, or software engineers, or CEOs, or plumbers, or construction workers. And other people are on college campuses, posing as students. But actually, underneath of it, underneath the robe of their clothes, it says, “Full-time minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
That’s who you are! So, you minister! You are the hope of your neighborhood, the hope your family, the hope of where you work. You are a full-time minister of the gospel. A leader’s job is to help equip you personally, spiritually, relationally, so that you can be an effective minister in your home, and at your school, and at your work, in your neighborhood.
And I remember this story – I always liked the old westerns. We still watch them. My wife has an amazing ability – I wish I had this. I can’t sleep during the day, but she takes these fifteen-minute naps, and wakes up, refreshed. And I started doing some reading on it. It’s supposed to be really good for you. I can take a two-hour nap, I think, or nothing. And so, I don’t do anything.
But it’s really funny, on the weekends, it’s time for her fifteen-minute nap. And she likes to nap to Bonanza; Gunsmoke. These old things, because she falls asleep quickly.
And so, I’m sitting there, thinking, What are we going to do when her fifteen minutes are up? And I always love the part in the old, westerns where, “The bank’s been robbed! What are we going to do?” “Ohhh! What are we going to do? What are we going to do?” Boom, ba-boom, boom, ba-boom!
And then, the marshal comes up, “Arright, fellers, we’re going to form a posse.” And then, what’s he do? “Arright. Marshal Dillon, I’m gonna deputize all you people. Fred, you’re now deputy. Bob, you’re a deputy.” Right? They deputize them.
And then, what do they do? They all get on their horses, and they have their guns. They now have the power to go do exactly what the sheriff does.
Can I tell you? When you came to Christ, God gave gifted leaders to equip you. You’re deputized. You can counsel. You can lead people to Christ. You can share your faith. You can open your home. You have a unique DNA, in terms of relationships, spiritual gifts, backgrounds, opportunities, and, often, your deepest hurts. Often, the things that you have been through, that you feel like, Oh…, will be the very things that will help the people in this valley understand who Christ is. And I want you to know, you’ve been deputized.
I remember a really interesting experience – because we talk about life change, and sometimes, when we talk about authentic community, if you’re not careful, you can get authentic community to mean, I’m in a great small group. I’m privately reading the Bible. We share deeply. It’s a great time together. We are having these wonderful relationships. And I guess this is authentic community. No, no, no, no. That’s part of authentic community.
See, authentic community isn’t just about what you get, or deep relationships, or accountability. Authentic community has to do with being fitted in the right spot, so that those kinds of relationships are on mission to fulfill what Jesus said, when He said, “Go therefore and make disciples.” And if you’re not involved in, not just receiving, and loving, and caring, and the Word, but serving out of the supernatural deposit of gift, your life doesn’t change, and you don’t experience His power.
I had a weird experience with this. I didn’t grow up as a Christian, and I came to Christ, and then I coached. And when I coached, I did Bible studies with my players. And then, after Theresa and I got married, we both were in a college ministry.
She was working, and I was coaching and working. And then, like, on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, I would meet with a group of guys, and she met one evening with a group of gals that she was discipling. And then, once a week, we’d have all these people over. And our lives were filled with caring, and loving, and discipling. And it was very fulfilling.
In fact, that’s why I actually thought, I think God wants me, Chip, regular, ordinary person, to actually be a pastor. And I thought, You’ve got to be kidding, God. Certainly, you have to be smarter than me, and a lot more holy than me. And God said, “No, actually, you’ll do.” So, I said, “Okay.”
And so, we go to seminary and in West Virginia, a huge church is two hundred people. There are only a million people in the whole state. A mega, mega church is, like, three hundred people. And we were in a church of about two hundred people.
And, well, we get to Dallas, and it was like, Oh my lands. And people invited us, so we ended up at this church of about twenty-five hundred people, and the pastor was awesome. And they had all these seminary professors teaching Sunday school classes.
I went to a Sunday school class on the Psalms, and the editor of the NIV Bible, when it was being developed – he taught the class. And then, you’ve got this guy who wrote seven books.
And so, it was like going to a conference every weekend: You go to a class over here, and amazing things for your kids. And so, it was like, Wow. Wow – week one, week two, week three, week four, week five, week six, week seven. And I’m getting all this stuff at seminary, and we’re trying to figure out life.
And I’ll never forget, I had an interesting experience – because, great, great, great teaching. And I can still remember getting right to the door of where you went in this big church, and I turned to my wife, and I said, “Do you feel like going to church today?” And, please, don’t make too heavy an application on this. She said, “No.” I said, “Me neither. You want to go to Wendy’s?” She goes, “Sure.” Sorry. So, we did.
And so, they’re doing this great stuff with our kids, so we go to Wendy’s. And we get in Wendy’s, and I said, “Honey, something’s wrong. I have never been in a church with such good teaching. I have never been in a church with such great programs. But, man, I just feel blah.” I think that was the word I used. And she said, “I feel exactly the same way.” I said, “Well what could be wrong? We’re here, preparing for the ministry, and…” And she said, “Well, why did we come?” And we began to talk about what a normal week was like in West Virginia.
And you know what I realized? I realized that all I was doing was eating, spiritually, but there was no exercise. The grace of God wasn’t flowing through me to help other people. And so, I was in a small group, and I was getting all this great teaching.
Becoming the person you long to become cannot happen by being simply a spectator, and a receiver of great spiritual food, in a great spiritual environment. It’s by that which “every joint supplies according to the proper working of each individual part.”
And I remember writing on a napkin. I said, “Okay, we’ve got to fix this.” So, I’m working full-time; I’m going to school full-time. I don’t have any time. But I’m thinking, If my spiritual life is – I’m doing a dive. There’s no power. There’s no energy. There’s no life.
And so, I got an appointment with the pastor, and we sat down at this booth in this little restaurant. And on a 3x5 card, I had my name, my phone number, what I thought my spiritual gifts were, ministry experience I’ve had in college ministries. And then, I pretended I had to go to the bathroom – “Excuse me, I need to go to the bathroom. I’ll be right back.” And I handed him the card. And on the back of it said, “You tell me any place in this church you need help. I’m in.”
And so, I went to the bathroom – two and a half minutes, maybe he needs three. I want to make sure he reads the card well. And I came back, and we sat down, and Don says, “Well, hey, it seems like you’ve had some ministry experience.” I said, “You can check me out however you want. I’ve got to get back in the game.” We ended up doing the high school ministry. Six or eight months later, we ended up doing the college ministry. And life. Leaders are gifted to equip. Every member is a minister. And if you aren’t ministering…
You know those little things where I said, can you imagine what it would be like to forgive someone so deeply that your first reaction would be, you rejoice? That’s supernatural. That doesn’t happen by reading your Bible alone, and trying really hard to change some habits.
See, there is a design. There is a spiritual cocoon. There is a Master Creator. And He says, the way it works is, when leaders equip, and every member is a minister, then amazing things happen. And in verse 13, it’s that ministries are developed to help every believer to live every day, in every way, just as Jesus would live, if He were living out His life in their physical body.
All I want you to know is that I now have the ability to say – this is a new one. I can say, in even more words, what Pa ul was saying in verse 13. And he uses a lot of words. Notice what he says. He talks about, until you become “a mature man, to the fullness of the stature to the body of Christ.”
And what I want you to know is that in God’s design, when leaders equip, instead of do all the ministry and rob people of it – when every member realizes, You know something? Okay, I’m in school. Or, I’m a stay-at-home mom. Or, I’m working in this company, but I am His representative! I am the living Christ inside of me. The hope for this whole department may be me. I may be the only Christian. How I live, how I talk, how I love, when and how I communicate, is the hope of the world. I’m a minister! I don’t a have a little collar, but I’m a minister!
And then, what happens is, when this occurs, ministries – in other words, outreaches to people – are developed, so that every single believer lives every day, in every way.
So, it’s not like it starts at work, but it’s at home, or it’s with your roommate. It’s in your neighborhood. It’s realizing – just step outside your door, or your apartment, and look around and realize, Nine out of ten of most all the people in this part of the country, where I live, do not have a personal relationship with God. And there is great need, and there’s a God who loves them.
And then, after they die – because I spent yesterday with a guy that doctors said had about six or nine months to live. And when you look in the eyes of very powerful people, with all kinds of backgrounds, and they know they have six or nine months to live, they act very differently.
He said, “When it’s theory – you know you die, but it gets real different when it’s up close.” And he was seated across his bed, and I asked him – I was amazed at how bold I was – “So, what are they telling you?” “Less than a year.” “What are you most afraid of?” Whoo.
You know why I was so bold? He’s going to die! He’s going to die! And right now, all indications are that he is going to die apart from Christ.
I said, “I don’t know all about your past life, and how many regrets you might have, but you don’t want to have eternal regrets. I want you to know there is a Jesus, there’s a God who cares, and He’s prepared a place for you, if you will receive His gift.”
And he looked at me – and you know what hit me this morning? Everyone I meet’s going to die. Is this true, or not? You know your neighbors? I’ve got news for you! Flash! They’re going to die! You know your co-workers? They’re going to die! You know your family? They’re going to die.
You know what makes you bold? When you get it, and we stop worrying so much about how people think of us, and we start realizing, I have a supernatural endowment and power inside of me. The living God lives inside of me, and He cares about them. And the only issue is me getting over me.
But the only way I get over me is when I get equipped by leaders. And the only way I learn to minister is when I take baby steps, and start doing it. And when you start doing it, guess what? You fail a lot. Okay.
You know, when I see Jesus with the disciples, you know what I notice? They fail a lot. You find for me, in the gospels, where He yells at them for failing. I can’t find it! The only time He gets upset is, “Where is your faith? You’ve got to be kidding Me! You’re not even trying? Oh you of little faith.”
So, leaders equip us, we are all the ministers, and then ministries are birthed. This is how the Church works. Church isn’t coming, and listening, and spectating, saying, The music was okay. The guy kept me awake most of the time. Now I’m going to go out and try and be a nice person. That’s not it! It’s you getting equipped. It’s you being a full-time minister. It’s you watching ministries grow and develop, according to your hearts and your passions, and you begin to serve.
And as you do, the grace of God comes inside of you, and He uses you, and you have this amazing experience, where people’s eternities, and families, and marriages, and kids are completely transformed because of an ordinary piece of clay, like you, in whom the living Spirit of God lives.
And He gifts you, and trains you, and you take baby steps of faith, and you fail, and you struggle, and have ups and downs. But, in the midst of all your weakness and hurt, the power of God is displayed. See, that’s what happened in the early Church. They didn’t even have technology. And they multiplied.
In fact, a young man, I was meeting with a young pastor, doing a little mentoring. He planted a church. And so, they grew to about three hundred people, and he said, “You know, now this group is feeling like it’s a younger church, and a lot of college age.” And he said, “I’m watching – now the church is focused on, ‘Hey, we really like this, and we’re kind of different, and it’s working for us.’” He said, “My biggest challenge now is to help us remember, we planted this church to reach another generation.”
He said, “Here’s my goal for this year: We have three hundred people. My goal is that every single person will lead just one person to Christ. We’re going to train them, we’re going to help them, we’re going to love them, but just every person – three hundred people – this time next year, we’re going to pray, and dream, and ask God that these three hundred people would lead another three hundred people to Christ.”
And I said, “Wow, that’s a great goal,” and, “How are you going to go about that?” And he laid it out for me. And sometimes, when you’re mentoring, or you’re supposed to be helping people, you realize, when you’re done, I think this is helping me way more than him.
Leaders are the equippers. Ministries will grow and develop – special ministries to special age groups, and special needs, and special backgrounds – out of your hurts, and your pains, and your gifts, and your passions.
And then, what you’ll see is, this is what happens: You’ll find that there will be doctrinal stability. You’ll find people – because they’re in the Word, you know what? They can spot a false teacher. “As a result we are no longer children” – right? – “tossed here and there by every wind of doctrine.”
As a result, what you find is, people have authentic relationships. You do ministry with people and you fail, and you struggle, and you pray together – pretty soon, you’re tight. Not just in a small group, but you’re tight. And they’re loved. And there’s full participation. “It’s by that which every joint supplies” – we need you!
Here’s the deal: This isn’t, like – I hear some people, “Oh, I don’t need to go to church, because there’s nature, and I’ve got a Bible, and there’s God, and I don’t need the church.” Okay, granted. We need you! Okay?
It’s like the tight end saying, “I don’t need you. I can toss the ball to myself.” And I’ve got news for you. There are certain patterns and plays we can’t run without a tight end, and we need both guards, and we need a quarterback, and we need a coach, and we need a manager. We need everybody! The Church can’t be the Church – full participation.
And when that happens, that’s when those imaginary things that I described – they’re not imaginary. They’re not imaginary.
Are you ready? I know this will come as a shock: You’re going to die. And there are going to be people at your house, or near your house, eating those munchie little sandwiches, and they’re going to talk about you. And I don’t know about you, but I want them to say, by the grace of God, “You know what? He was one of the most loving people I ever met. Oh man, I mean, had his idiosyncrasies” – and they laugh about those – “but full of integrity. Christ-like. Cared about people. Generous. Loving. Authentic.”
That’s not going to happen by trying hard, and coming and sitting in this building, to be a good person. That’s going to happen when you understand who you are in Christ, when you understand the power is in Christ’s resurrection, for you and with you, to walk in newness of life, and when you allow leaders to equip you, and when you minister. And ministries are birthed along your gifts and passions and you know the Word, and you speak the truth in love, and you are connected, and God produces it.