MInTheGap has put up a new poll: What is the biggest challenge for the church today? The available answers are broken into two categories, Internal and External issues. The first offered answer is: “Internal: Spiritual Life and Relationship with God”, the second: “Internal:Keeping People in the Church” the third and fourth fall under the External category, third: “External: Reaching the Lost” and fourth: “External: Growing the church”. I found the question to be riveting.
Let me say, I voted for the first one. Here is why: if the first one is being met, then the second and third and fourth will be too.
“But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men….And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;”Eph 4:7,8,11
“for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ That we [henceforth] be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, [and] cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” (Eph. 4:12-16)
We are gathered together in the Body of Christ, in which He has set apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (v.11), the people gifted in these ways are leadership, and they have a purpose: to perfect the saints. Why? “for the work of the ministry” what is that? The work of the ministry is the Great Commandment, and “for the edifying of the Body of Christ”, in other words for the teaching and growing (spiritual maturity) and encouraging of the church, that “we may grow up into Him in all things”.
And if we grow up into Him, we will come to “the unity of the faith” which would keep the people in the church (second answer), who were truly the Body. Let me make it clear that being IN church, doesn’t make you part of the Body of Christ, you must have salvation to be made a part of His body. I find this verse particularly interesting in lieu of the recent comments in MInTheGap’s post on denominations. If we are mature and grow up fully into Him, we will not have denominations, because we will have unity of faith and not be “blown about by every wind of doctrine”.
What is the biggest challenge for the church today?* Internal: Spiritual Life and Relationship with God
71% of all votes
* Internal: Keeping People in the church
14% of all votes
* External: Reaching the Lost
14% of all votes
* External: Growing the Church
0% of all votesTotal Votes: 7
Started: March 19, 2007
So if we first address the personal relationship that we have with Christ, the body will be edified, and will grow up into maturity, able to fulfill the evangelical work of reaching the lost (answer three). Look in verse 16, “maketh increase of the body unto edifying of itself in love.” The body, which is grown up in the Lord, is equipped to reach the lost, or to “increase the body” (answer four!) Yes, I found three and four to be basically the same answer, through reaching the lost unto salvation, the church grows “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47b).
And there you have it folks. If we first concentrate on growing up into Him, and growing the Body (the church) up into Him, then we will solve the three other challenges. We will be unified, and keep people in the church, we will be equipped to spread the gospel and will see the lost be saved, we will be able to see the Lord grow the church through our effective work in evangelism.