What keeps me awake at night is wondering if all of my pastoral efforts are actually producing disciples. Are we just keeping people busy with programs and gatherings, or are people being gradually (and imperfectly) formed into Christlikeness? I felt Paul’s exasperation lately over his beloved church when he wrote,
11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
Am I doing all the work of ministry myself, or am I faithfully equipping God’s people to do the work as I’m instructed? I’m working on it and have made progress this past year.
Are people growing in spiritual, emotional and relational maturity under my leadership? Is Jesus Christ himself the standard to which we are trying to measure up? Are we beginning to think, act and love more like Jesus a little be more each year? I’ll ponder that through the wee hours of the night while you sleep soundly.
14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.
This is it! This is the passage God wants me to inhabit and minister out of for the next season. My greatest burden right now (and for the past year) is to help Christians learn to think more “Christianly” and “Kingdomly” about the noisy, loud and morally confused world we’re living in.
I’ve watched Christians being “tossed and blown about” by all the political waves of insanity and incivility, not sure where to anchor themselves. I’m watching churches and denominations being led astray by new winds of teachings and perspectives on, say, God’s design for human sexuality and biblical marriage. The arguments of many well-meaning folks are “so clever they sound like the truth” but, I fear that instead of learning to “speak the truth in love” on such difficult issues we’re speaking only love and losing our grip on the truth.
16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
I want to measure spiritual maturity at MainStreet not by worship attendance, or how many people are serving various roles, or how much money we give to great causes, etc. These are all important but at the end of the day we are to measure the church’s health by how well we love one another — a church that is “healthy and growing and full of love.”
But there’s more…next time.