home > Pastor’s Desk > 2021 > February > BODY BUILDING

BODY BUILDING

It’s only in the last few years that we have felt the Lord lead us to adopt a theme for the year. The year before last our them for the year was redemption. Last year, before many of us went into lockdown in our homes, we had felt the Lord put on our hearts the theme, welcome home. This year, we have felt the Lord lead us to focus on the theme, grow. The word ‘grow’ conjures up different emotions in me. There was a time, quite early in my pastoral ministry at Legana, when it was recommended to me that I engage a ministry coach. It was my desire to do all I could to see our small church grow. The ministry coach agreed that numerical growth should be my focus and share how he had helped other churches our size experience dramatic growth. It just so happened that at this time I was in the throes of my doctoral studies which were challenging and stretching me personally. Despite the coach’s insistence that I focus on the numerical growth of our church, we had not grown to the extent that the ministry coach had intimated that we should have. After a year or so of this professional ministry coaching which had involved some rather cold, analytical, surveys including developing a strategic plan and being subject to a dubious thing called a DISC analysis, the ministry coach said that there was nothing more he could offer me.

This reinforced in me that for some church leaders ‘growth’ only comes in one form – numerical. and often overlooks that the kind of growth that God calls us to comes in more than one variety. In fact, according to the passage that we are basing our understanding of growth theme on, there seems to be at least five varieties of growth encouraged in the Scriptures, and only one of them is achieved by evangelism.

And He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ
Ephesians 4:11-12

 

HOW PASTORS ARE TO GROW BELIEVERS

God has given certain ones to be shepherds (or, ‘pastors’) of God’s people, ‘the body of Christ’, the local church. These called ones are to do the things that Jesus described of a true shepherd in John 10 — to care, protect, feed, lead, train and encourage.

But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”
John 10:2-5

Pastors (shepherds) are called to grow those God charges them to shepherd. This Christian growth is described as the same kind of growth that a newborn child experiences as they are nourished and nurtured.

Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation — if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
First Peter 2:2-3

The first kind of growth described in Ephesians 4:13 presupposes physical growth, but also links this growth to maturing which involves growing in the second way — emotionally.

Until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
Ephesians 4:13

To grow emotionally involves being able to empathise (understand what someone else is going through), and sympathise (identify with and relate to how someone else is feeling in the midst of their circumstances).

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Romans 12:15

Being healthy emotionally involves the ability to laugh when things are humorous, cry when things are sad, get angry when something is unjust, forgive when others hurt you, appreciate and admire beauty, wonder at the marvels in creation, gladly serve another without the prospect of receiving anything in return, and applaud the achievements of those given the limelight of honour. Pastors are called to model emotional health and help those they shepherd to grow emotionally. But there are also other forms of growth that pastors are called to lead others into.

So that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ.
Ephesians 4:14-15

Thirdly, every believer is expected to grow spiritually. Pastors are responsible to help followers of Jesus to grow in their knowledge of Christ (theology) through a deeper understanding and application of God’s Word. A mature believer grows in the knowledge and application of God’s Word partly by being grounded in sound doctrine so that they can detect the falsehood of every wind of doctrine. This involves knowing what Scripture actually says and how to interpret it within context. Perhaps the primary job of a pastor is to teach, explain, apply, and model the Scriptures. It is by studying the Scriptures that the believer comes to behold Christ and in beholding Christ they are transformed into His likeness. This is the essence of spiritual growth.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Second Corinthians 3:18

There remains two further forms of growth described in Ephesians 4. 

from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Ephesians 4:16

Fourthly, there are certain aspects to being part of a local church which require growth that can only come from training. Pastors are responsible to both model and implement ongoing skill growth. This is referred to as equipping in Ephesians 4:16. This is why pastors and church leaders are responsible to train believers to better serve others and use their gifts more effectively.

and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.
Second Timothy 2:2

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace
First Peter 4:10

for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
First Timothy 4:8

 

HOW WE ARE TO GROW TOGETHER

Discipleship (“growth”) involves growing in the four ways mentioned above. As each believer grows as a result of the shepherding of their local church leadership, that church grows stronger and healthier. This is the essence of body building and it equally applies to the body of Christ. Each believer is then growing through the nurturing that occurs within the gathering of the whole church each Sunday where the whole church family gathers together to worship, to celebrate holy communion, to be reminded that the body of Christ in which the Lord has placed them involves others, and to receive the preached Word of God. 

And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Acts 2:46-47

And each believer grows when they gather in their small group because the church also gathers in small groups through the week whereby connections with others are made stronger, prayers are more personal, the Scriptures are studied and questioned leading to practical application. Both gatherings are important for the believer’s growth for these different reasons. As we read through the Apostle Paul’s exhortation for churches in Romans 12, we notice that the first half applies to the larger corporate (all together) gathering of a church, and the last half has greater application within the small group gatherings of a church.

But there is a another growth that also happens as each member grows and serves each other with the gifts, talents, and energy that God has given them and it is referred to in both our key passage of Ephesians 4, and the Acts 2 passage cited above — numerical growth.

Numerical growth happens in three ways:

(i) those believers whom God calls to be a part of our church (this is called transfer growth);

(ii) those who born to parents who are part of our church (this is called biological growth); and,

(iii) those who are won to Christ and discipled as part of our church (this is called evangelism/new convert growth). 

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE ROLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

I have just spent the past five Sundays introduce the doctrine and role of the Holy Spirit. I think that we have good reasons to believe that the Holy Spirit is cares about all five varieties of growth. In fact, as we yield to Christ through the Holy Spirit we too begin to share in the heart of Christ through the Holy Spirit to see and experience growth.

¶ Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.
First Thessalonians 3:11-13

If the Lord delights to grant us all three types of numerical growth, it will come with some very predictable challenges. I know this, because I am the father of four children. With the arrival of each of our children, there was upheaval, insecurities experienced by the older child/ren, intentional reassurance required from the parents, extra attention given to the new-born, physical adjustments to the home to make room for the new arrival, and new responsibilities for each family member to contribute to the running of the family. The same challenges face a church that also experiences numerical growth. It is my hope that as we walk together with the Holy Spirit in our surrender to Christ, that we will grow and that each of us will be involved in Christ’s body building.  

Your pastor,

Andrew

Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

3 Comments

  1. Gordie

    Great theme. I started reading and thinking there are more forms of growth than just numerical and then of course you nailed it!

    Reply
  2. John Sands

    Great! Got lost in the numbering system for a while but caught on . Thank you again. I tried to be iconoclastic but failed yet again.

    Reply
  3. Karen Dickson

    Thanks Andrew, I’m in Ephesians at present so nice to have some extra insights in my learning 😊

    Reply

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HEARING THE WILL OF GOD

Christianity is a dynamic (always changing) journey with the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit within us who works within us to desire to do and pursue the will of God (Phil. 2:13). It is the illumination of the Spirit that takes God’s Word as we read, study, and meditate on it, and makes it seem fresh and alive to us. And it is the Word of God, which He, the Holy Spirit, inspired men to write so that we could clearly discern the will of God for our lives. You don’t need a word from God to know what God’s will for your life is. You don’t need to attend a “Learn To Hear The Voice of God” seminar, or to read a book on the topic. Instead, you just need to dialogue with God in prayer through pouring out your heart to Him with your requests, petitions, confessions, and thanksgiving; and then, prayerfully read His Word as the light of the Holy Spirit illuminates it to your soul.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Second Corinthians 4:6 

Perhaps if more believers were led by the Spirit like this, less Christian marriages would end, less churches would be split, and less Christians would walk away from Christ and His Church after becoming frustrated by the false belief that since these presumptuous Christians have apparently mis-heard God so wildly, the reason must be that God doesn’t actually exist. This is one of the most pressing issues that needs to be confronted today — especially among those of us who identify as Spirit-filled Pentecostals.

LOOKING BEYOND THE MOMENT

home > Pastor's Desk > 2021 > June > LOOKING BEYOND THE MOMENTLOOKING BEYOND THE MOMENT For anyone who is a fan of aviation, the movie Sully (2016) is one you will have probably enjoyed watching. The storyline is biographical drama based on the 2009...

THE BENEFITS OF A DAILY DOSE OF VITAMIN R

The Greatest Exponent of what vitamin R can achieve within a person was the One who introduced vitamin R in small doses to His twelve followers. There initial dose came from simply complying with the request to, “Follow Me.” This they did for some three years or so. After watching Him intently, they then got a larger dose when they were told to, “Go…and proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” And as every example of those who have ever received a near maximum dose of vitamin R bears witness, just before they received their ultimate dose vitamin R they felt two universally common sensations: inadequacy and inability. Yet, as everyone who has received such high doses of vitamin R from the One who gives the ultimate enabling strength found in vitamin R, somehow they were supernaturally enabled to do the very thing they felt both inadequate and unable to do!

A PICTURE IS PAINTED BY A THOUSAND WORDS

The most difficult challenge you’ll ever have to deal with throughout your life is others. They’ll make you angry, get you frustrated, and hurt you. At the root of these challenges will be miscommunication with others and communication breakdowns. Your ability to understand how language and communication really works could save you from much of this heartache. But the most unrealised — and by far the potentially greatest source of — heartache may eternally shock untold numbers of poor souls when they realise too late that they did not respond to God’s communications.

THE BUSY FOOLS ARGUMENT WITH THE BUSY WISE

What makes our busyness wise busyness? It’s when our busyness is doing what Christ wants for the reasons that He wants it done. It’s when we are busy without neglecting the priorities of spiritual disciplines and our obligations to those we are responsible to and for. This is why, when Christ calls someone to take on a greater responsibility in His Kingdom it is almost certain that they are already busy. I am not at all suggesting that a Christ-follower needs to be frenetic in their busyness for Christ, or that they should never sabbath (two points I have tried to make clear in this Pastor’s Desk by contrasting the busy wise with the busy foolish). But I am hoping that those who have been following and serving Christ for some seasons will recognise the doors of opportunity that Christ will enable them to walk through wisely. And as they do, and we do together, may we begin to see glimpse of the Great Commission being fulfilled in our valley-city.

IN LIGHT OF ETERNITY

“That I may know Him!” Fancy that! The apostle who was struck from his horse by the radiant glory of Christ while on the Persecutor’s Road to Damascus; the apostle whom the resurrected Christ appeared to in a vision and spoke directly to him (Acts 18:9-10); the apostle whom Christ used to raise people from the dead and to heal many people miraculously; and, the apostle who testifies that he was caught up to heaven and saw things too wonderful to reveal — this apostle gets toward the end of his life and states that he doesn’t yet know Christ the way he should! This apostle, the apostle Paul, toward the end of his life begins to see his life and his troubles in the light of eternity. And I am thus assured that in this light many of the problems that we face today will fade from our gaze and vanish as we fix our eyes on the Source of eternity’s Light.

EXCUSE ME

The essence of an excuse is the word, no. If we get invited to a party that we don’t to go to and we make a polite excuse to decline the offer, in essence we are saying “No, I will not come to your party.” This is the gist of the parable that Christ told in Luke 14 about His Father who sent His Son as His Servant to personally invite those who had already received an invitation to come to a great banquet. (It’s interesting how Jesus describes His Father’s heaven as a great banquet.) By saying “No” to the great banquet invitation those who were declining this invitation were saying that they had a better offer. What offer could be better than dining with the Source of Life, Joy, Peace, and Power, as His special guest in His luxurious mansion? What happens next in this parable also says a lot about how God feels when people make excuses to decline His offer to dine.

BELONGING

I’m not sure about you, but one of my great wrestles in becoming more Christlike is that sinful tendency to see my time, my resources, my life as belonging to me. I like to control it. I like to own it. I like to decide what happens and when.

God, in His great grace and wisdom, seems to work in our lives reminding us how little we truly control and that it all truly does belong to Him. So often these reminders come in the way of hardship and loss with the call to surrender ownership and control.

If our Heavenly Father was a despotic God, a cruel, tyrannical God who acted arbitrarily and selfishly for His own ends, knowing we belonged to Him would cause us to tremble and live in fear and apprehension.

But praise Him that this is not our God!

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies your with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 103:2-5

ROOFS AND DRAGONS – THE VALUE OF PLANNING

ROOFS AND  DRAGONS – THE VALUE OF PLANNING
John F. Kennedy once said, “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.”  J.R.R. Tolkien said, “It does not do to leave a live a dragon out of your calculations, if you live near one.” Having a plan is generally a strategy that will help us to get things done, or respond correctly when things go wrong. A plan may help us to find a solution and a way through an adverse situation that we are experiencing. A plan also helps us to know what resources we might need for dealing with situations that we can foresee.

When it comes to thinking about the importance of planning, a statement that is worth considering is one that I like to get my Maritime Passage Planning students to contemplate:

‘The best thing about failing to plan, is that disaster comes as a complete surprise that is not preceded by hours or days of stress and worry associated with the planning process.’

SOMETHING FOR SLUGGARDS TO CONSIDER

There are those who look busy but are not very productive. There are those who are busy but are highly productive. Often these people have learned that busy needs to be managed so that their time is focused on maintaining their important relationships, taking regular sabbaths, prioritising the important over the urgent, and cooperating with others. These busy people have learned to recognise God’s open doors and have confidence that the Apostle Paul had that it is God who gives them supernatural energy to toil, struggle and work to get things done when no-one else thought it could be.