“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ”
The Church was designed by God, purchased with the blood of Christ, birthed by the work of the Holy Spirit, and plays a very important role in the life of the growing Christian. It is no wonder the devil spends so much energy trying to keep us from church. Many have had their feelings hurt by the way they were treated at church. For some the church put expectations upon them, making them feel as though they were only valuable because of their talents or treasures. Others have felt neglected. They have gone to church for a period of time, and when things became difficult, they felt as though they were abandoned. All of us have had the weekly struggles that make it difficult to even attend. When Sunday morning comes along, the kids wake up sick, we get in an argument with our spouse, or we are simply worn out from a long work week. The list of oppositions to simply getting in the door of our church is longer than my fingers can type. I think it is critical to remember, the reason there is so much opposition to regular attendance is because of the valuable role the church plays in your life and Christian growth.
“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers”
When writing to Timothy, Paul stated, the church was the “pillar and foundation of the truth.” In other words, the primary purpose of the church is to hold up the truth of the Word of God. Peter was exhorted by Jesus to feed the sheep. In Acts, we read the Apostles gave themselves continually to the Word of God. While church provides a place for corporate worship and to establish godly relationships, the primary role of the church is to teach you the Word of God. In order for that to happen, God has given to the church the gifted men listed here. Their role was to dish out the Word of God to the people.
“For the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ”
The reason the Word of God plays such a crucial role in the church, is because of the effect it has when taught. Paul states, these gifted teachers were given to the church so believers would be edified and equipped. The word ‘edify’ means to build up. It was a word which had its place in the construction world. After a foundation was laid, a building was constructed or built up. The Word of God has the ability to do that for the believer. As we are daily beat down by the obstacles we face in the world, the church was designed, by God, as a place for us to go hear the Word and be built up again. When we neglect gathering at our local church, we miss out on being edified with the Word.
Paul also says the Word of God has the ability to equip for ministry. Ministry is a big word which speaks of the things done for the furtherance of the Kingdom of God. It would include sharing Christ with unbelievers, helping to disciple Christians, young and old, and training the next generation of Christian leaders. It refers to things that are intrinsically spiritual, like preaching the Gospel or teaching the Bible, but would also be concerned with setting up chairs, cleaning windows, running sound or picking someone up for church. It was never the intention of God that the work of the ministry be done by the professionals. Instead, He desires that we all recognize we have been called to the ministry, and attending church where we are taught the Word of God, is what equips us for the task.
It is important that we recognize the value of gathering regularly with our local church. The New Testament speaks of the people gathering at least every week on the Lord’s day. I understand, we all face opposition to attending regularly, but I also recognize the opposition comes from the devil, who wants to keep us from being equipped and edified. Before I end, allow me one more thought. Live streaming the services to your living room is a great blessing. To be able to listen to the Bible studies when we are sick, injured or away from our church is a great benefit, but it does not replace the need for regular attendance. It is hard to do the work of the ministry, if you are not physically in attendance. Enjoy the luxury, but don’t neglect showing up and getting involved.