The Role of Church Members

By Dr. Justus Samuel

In the first place, each believer must recognize that he/she is also in the ministry, speaking in general terms. Those who serve and minister the word are doing a piece of service to achieve this very end. In Ephesians 4: 12 - 13, we are introduced into this purpose, even when there is the apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic and pastoral-teaching ministry, viewing the churches’ ministry as a whole.
This ministry is for equipping the saints, for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ, to enable them to reach spiritual maturity and conformity to the likeness of the Master. This is a misunderstood verse. In the first place, we believe that we avail of the ministry of the apostles and prophets – not that these gifts are literally present today, but we avail of the written Word in the New Testament where we have such ministry.

The ministry of the servants of God is not designed to sharpen their gifts, but to make each brother and sister realize his/her role as a witness for Christ. The local church is in the ministry rather than the preacher. He must encourage the process through a ministry of encouragement. It is not a question of encouraging every Tom, Dick and Harry to be up every meeting (they will not do if they are mature.)

Natural development
Proverbs 18:16 tells us, “A man’s gift makes room for him.” This means a gradual development, not a monstrosity, an unnatural development. You should always be cautious of a stripling, of recent years (a recent convert in terms of 1Tim. 3:6.) We sometimes observe a young man with the ‘gift of the gab’ seen addressing a major conference comprising believers of maturity. Such a thing is bound to harm the performer more than the listener.

No, there must be the natural growth – infancy, childhood, adolescence, youth and manhood. You cannot shortcut the process. In the spiritual world there are no prodigies. It has been said of poet Coleridge that the tragedy of his life was he never was a child! Let’s not encourage would be prodigies but by all means encourage the youth as they gradually and steadily grow up. The kingdom of God never faces emergencies. The Lord has His plan well prepared.

The Role of the Servant
The perfect servant is first adumbrated by Isaiah in chapter 40 and then gradually developed beginning from chapter 42. In chapter 42:1 we are asked to ‘behold’ His servant. "Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights!” Concerning His tenderness it is recorded, “A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench.” (v. 3)

This passage is applied to our Saviour in Matthew 12:18, 20. In v. 20c we read, “TILL HE SENDS FORTH JUSTICE TO VICTORY.” His coming into the world would mean a crisis, but He would not stop until that crisis issues in victory.

Tender Care
Such is the Lord’s dealings with His own. Oh! the tender care of the shepherd, especially when it comes to the weary and with young. (Isa 40:11) So must be tender care of the shepherd servant represented by those who have the care of the flock. The staff in the hand of the shepherd is not to smite the sheep with, but to protect them from the marauding wolves. The shepherd has his gentle staff by which he leads and guides the sheep.

The servant has no rights; he is there to serve His people. If properly taught in the word, the believers will regard their leaders and take an interest also in their mundane needs. It is all a matter of outlook on his part.

Both the assembly and the servant – shepherd must imbibe the right outlook and attitude. Then the conflict ethos will cease, His way will prevail in the assembly.



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