Illustration #2) Personal Purpose
Equipped to Serve (Ephesians 4:11-12)
We need to make visits with people in our church strategic. Each appointment, whether with a newcomer or church member, can be turned into a special opportunity to grow. Our goal for visiting the Christian is to take them one step further along the path of growth in Christ. (See page #1 of this article).
This particular illustration rotates around the purpose God has made each person. As we help an individual see God's purpose for them in serving others, they then in turn become more eager to be equipped or trained by others.
While 1 John 2:12-14 (previous page) emphasizes the growing nature of the Christian life, Ephesians 4:11-12 focuses on how this equipping and training should take place. The first passage (1 John 2) counters the drifting state of the Christian by showing them the direction of the current of growth; the second (Ephesians 4) counters the ‘only feed me’ attitude that has been embedded into the minds of most Christians.
We again start by taking a close-up look at the passage. In this case we suggest starting with Ephesians 4:11-12. Have them look it up in their Bible. Ask them to tell you why God has given them the ‘apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers’ and that the answer is in verse 12.
They hopefully will at least spot one of the reasons. There are actually three reasons. You can volunteer the answers depending on the maturity of the Christian. Although we have shown these verses in different English translations below for your convenience, use their Bible and keep it as simple as possible. There are three answers outlined in color below.
The Lord equips the saints so that they too can serve. But there is another resulting purpose. The Lord wants to build up the body of Christ. As you talk with the one you are visiting, sketch out these purposes in order. Outline the verse and circle the words ‘equipping’ and ’service.‘ Or one can draw a more complete diagram as seen below, but focus on the equipping and service.
God is intentional by His gifting of the church with leaders. In verse 11 God tells us that He gifts leaders so that three things occur. He first equips the saints (i.e. the Christians) so that they can join in serving others so that others are built up. The pastor is not to do all the work
The most important teaching to bring about is that God is trying to better equip His people so that we can more effectively serve others. Without our participation, someone will go in need.
In other words, the Christian life is not about theological arguments, though they sometimes perhaps are needed. God has churches, pastors and teachers so that all His people can serve others. Without training, we are inadequately equipped to serve others. We often use words like train, teach, preach, disciple and mentor. They all are part of the equipping process. At other times we are equipped but don’t serve. Service also has substitute words such as helping, caring for, teaching, supporting, praying, discipling and leading.
Remember that this scriptural presentation is to lead to a growing desire to be equipped and to serve. They can see the purpose in the scripture. It will resonate within them. But we need to now show how our own church is doing that.
We need to be honest. Sometimes our church is just beginning to do this. It might be doing it on only one level. Whatever the case be, we can share how God is blessing where we are properly equipping and serving.
In the end, we can find more about their lives by asking them if and how God has equipped them in any way. We can follow that up by asking how they have served in the past and whether they had enough training for that ministry. The conversation can continue on nicely.
Each visit should close with a time of prayer. We can warmly welcome them to join us to get to know us more. Meanwhile you can invite them to some specific meeting if you think it is appropriate. Your visiting them, after all, is just one means you are serving so that another is better equipped.
These and similar scriptural passages hold keys to the vision of the church. We are serving the Lord of the church. We need to pay attention to how we should grow and serve. As we open up God’s Word, they will naturally want to know how we implement these truths. Most churches do not do this, and they will want to see a church faithfully functioning. Of course, we can acknowledge that we are not a perfect church, but we are trying to be. We are growing into a body built up in love.
We are not positive that God wants these new visitors as members in our church, but we have shared with them some powerful scriptures to help them grow wherever God would lead them. Moreover we have given them some powerful reasons why they should get involved in our church!
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Biblical Foundations for Freedom
 The NASB uses the word ‘for’ to show purpose in Ephesians 4:12. The NIV uses the word “to” and “so that” to show purpose. The NIV is a bit more vague. You might need to ask them, “What does God prepare by the apostles, etc.?”