A church full of people full of the Word is a strong church.

Spoon-feeding toddler Christians on a Sunday morning won’t cut it; we need to grow our people so that they will feed themselves on the Word, love the Word and be hungry for the Word.

Today I want us to to dig into the Word to find out what our role is to be as pastors and teachers.

What is the Bible and how we use it correctly?

The Purpose of a Pastor

Let’s first look at the purpose of the 5 fold ministry gifts according to Ephesians 4:11-12:

And He Himself (Jesus) 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.

The purpose of the 5 fold ministry gifts is not to do the work of the ministry – it’s to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry!

That’s a big difference!

How do you know an evangelist?

He equips the people of the church to evangelise.

Equipping is more than leading.

Equipping is more than motivating.

Equipping is more than caring.

Equipping is more than teaching.

Equipping is more than maturing.

Equipping is more than modelling.

Equipping is more than busyness.

Equipping is more than delegating.

Equipping is more than positioning.

Equipping is more than enabling.

Equipping is simply skill development.

The five fold ministry is Jesus’ gift to the church to skill develop the church.

The prophets, pastors and teachers, evangelists and apostles are to serve the church. This should change the way you pastor, build your church systems and plan your church services.

As a pastor, preacher and teacher your role is to give the people in your church skills that they can actually apply. God is more practical than we think.

In order to have a strong church, we need to give people the tools to get into the Word, to get excited about the Word, teaching them how to read and study it for themselves and to apply it to their everyday life situations.

Recommended reading:

Right Focus = Right Doctrine

I think a lot of time Christians waste a lot of time attacking each other for irrelevant stuff. We major in the minors and minor in the majors.

When the church becomes inward focused instead of outward focused it gets very strange.

Will you talk to the lost about the manifestation of Spirit, whether it’s pre-tribulation, post-tribulation and so on? No! (I least I hope not)

Getting out of our four walls makes the majors the majors again. 

How many times in book of Acts did they have an upper room experience?

Once.

How long after this did they stay there?

Not long.

Once the Holy Spirit came, they couldn’t wait to get out.

In Acts 2 Peter preached the first sermon; look at the doctrine:

1)      Jesus lived

2)      Jesus died – (you killed him)

3)      Jesus rose again

4)      Jesus is coming again

In Acts 3 Peter preaches again – he’s got the same sermon outline: ‘Jesus lived, Jesus died (by the way you killed Him!) and Jesus rose again

In Acts 4 Peter preaches once more and reminds them again that they killed Jesus and Peter and John get arrested.

Now don’t skip over this and miss what happens on the 3rd day of the church – 3,000 people joined the church, then just 24 hours prior, another 5,000 new believers were added = 8,000 brand new believers and the pastor and associate pastor are in prison!

Not great!

What would you do if you were the third man? Start a petition? Call a prayer meeting and cry out ‘Oh God! Help us! Save Peter and John!’?

Would you grab Peter and John warning them never to do anything like that again because everyone was worried sick and tell them to tone down all that ‘you killed Him’ stuff.

Is this was the church did? NO!

Look at how they responded:

This is their prayer in Acts 4:24-31 in a nutshell: God you’re completely in control, you prophesied that people would rise up against us and God give us fearless boldness.

They prayed for more boldness when most of us would pray for protection!

The church would not have gotten past the first century if they had prayed for protection instead of boldness.

Protection is inward focused.

Boldness is outward focused.

They were afraid, that’s why they were praying for boldness. Talk about the fight to keep the outward focus!

What doctrine does it take to plant a church? Jesus lived, died, rose again and is coming back.

If you get outside focused you will self-correct doctrine quicker than looking inward. Send them out to preach just Jesus and Him crucified.

You see, it’s not about getting the right doctrine, but getting the right focus.

They prayed for boldness and the answer was the Holy Spirit. All were filled.

Please don’t get caught up in all the weird doctrines; if you want the full on power of the Holy Spirit then you have to work hard to get the focus of your church OUT.

Get your church to the place where they pray in the face of opposition: “God give us greater boldness!

The Purpose of God’s Word

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Tim 3:16

If we want our churches to grow then expect and be ready for messy people to join you who have addictions, struggles with sin and messed up lives.

You know as well as I do, when someone get’s saved they are perfected and made free.

Although this is true according to God’s law – our minds need to be renewed.

Hebrews 10:14 states it well: “For by one offering Jesus has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

So when people come into your church and get saved, get them to stay.

We need a grace culture in our churches; when they mess up we just hug them, and tell them to just stay…

Just stay because eventually the truth will get inside them and they will be free.

We tell them “You’re loved, just stay.

Church is messy and I prefer it that way; I want cigarette butts on the doorstep, I want alcohol finding it’s way into my church, I want homosexual couples in our church, I want couples who are living together to be in our church.

Why? Because that means God is adding people to your church where the Word can start to transform their thinking and free them.

What we say is that you’re not welcome here until you get the truth; Jesus said the opposite; remain and the truth will come.

“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.” John 8:31

Of course I have a standard for my leaders, but for everyone else: stay. They stay and I teach them, equip them and disciple them.

Proverbs 14:4 says where there are no oxen the stable is clean. Where there are no people the church is clean.

The Word Helps Me to Overcome Sin.

Have you ever been in temptation and prayed?

Yes everyone prayers when they’re in temptation, I’ve yet to counsel someone who hasn’t.

They pray and it doesn’t work – why? Did they pray the wrong prayer?

No, they’re just using the wrong tool They’re using a drill instead of a hammer. To overcome temptation you need to use the Word.

We need to teach our people the Word of God is our offensive weapon.

In Matthew 4 we see Jesus being tempted in the desert, He didn’t cry out and say “God give me strength!!

No, He quoted the Word.

It is the truth that sets us free, the renewing of our mind to His Word that equips us to overcome sin. You see, every temptation is tempting if we believe the lie behind it.

Here are some examples of how to use God’s Word as an offensive weapon:

If you struggle with your thought life, the lie that feeds that is I can’t help what I think about. See Col 3:2-4

If you struggle with lust then memorise James 1: 15-16

If you struggle with honesty/telling lies, the lie behind is I’ll look better if I lie. Col 3:9-10

If you struggle with unforgiveness (It’s impossible to forgive and they don’t deserve it) Eph 4:32-5:2

If you struggle with pride (you think you’re special) then quote Jeremiah 9:23-24

If you struggle with fear and change (I can’t change, I’ve always been this way) Rom 12:1-2

If you struggle with anger and revenge (they deserve it therefore I have a right to be angry) James 1:19-20

If you struggle with speech (I can’t help what I say) Ephesians 4:29

If you struggle with selfishness (my deal is more important that your deal) Phil 2:3-4

If you struggle with materialism (if only i had that I’d be happy) Pro 30:8-9

If you struggle with stewardship/work (it’s only money, just a job) Col 3:23-24

If you struggle with authority (If I don’t agree with a rule I don’t have to keep it) Rom 13:1-2

If you struggle with relationships (they don’t influence me, I can handle it) Pro 13:20

If you battle with inadequacy Eph 2:8-9

If you struggle with worry Phil 4:6-9

If you struggle with guilt and condemnation (I’m no good and not worthy) Romans 8:1-2

What is the excuse you tell yourself? Behind that excuse is the lie that fuels the sin.

What did I just do? I skill developed you to use the Word.

We need to teach our people how to properly use the Word, preach ‘How To’ sermons, teaching them to learn that scripture, memorise it, meditate on it and apply it when you need to apply it.

Do this and you’ll have people passionate about God’s Word, excited at the effect it’s having in their lives and this will be contagious.

When family members and coworkers start to see the transformation they’ll want to find out what it’s all about.

Teach the Word, teach your people to handle the Sword of the Bible with skill and accuracy and you’ll have strong people, a strong church and a strong and infectious Word-based culture.

Are your sermons always relevant and applicable to everyday life situations?

(See: How To (Dramatically) Improve Your Preaching for more on offering life application in your sermons.

What do you think to equipping others to do the work of the ministry instead of thinking you have to do everything yourself?

If you want your church to grow, are you ready for messy people to come in? Does your church have a grace culture? Are you in learning and applying God’s Word daily in your own life?

Please feel free to leave your comments and feedback below.