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How the Church works

Why do we need each other? 

Let’s think about a well-oiled machine, perhaps a sports car. It will have a top-of-the-range engine, high quality tyres and controls that would respond to the lightest touch. All these elements need to be working together at the highest efficiency, along with the added consumables, such as the petrol, oil and assorted fluids. Then there’s the institutional Church. More like a well-ailing machine, despite the biblical ideal:

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;  if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. (Romans 12:4-8)

How excited Paul must have been when he wrote these words, thinking about how spirit-filled Christians would identify the gifts bestowed on them and others and finding ways to work together, as if parts of a single body. He knew that this needed to happen in order to fulfil the main task that God has given to His Church.

And what is this task? Concentrating on the expected function of the Church, rather than the people that inhabit it, the task was made clear by Jesus when he appeared to the disciples after the resurrection.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

In terms of master plans, this one is central, all others are either subservient or irrelevant, especially the ‘plans of man’. We are provided with this free gift of a New Life in Jesus individually to worship our Creator and corporately to together fulfil the Great Commission, to make disciples of all nations. This is a corporate effort as we all need each other in this function. We need those gifted in evangelism to preach and teach the word to those who haven’t yet heard it or who have resisted it or who have ‘heard another gospel’. But evangelists are not the only ones who have been selected to fulfil the function of the Great Commission. Let’s return to our metaphor of a racing car and view it from another angle.

The racing driver is the one who receives the glory, earns the major salary and gets lauded (or pilloried) in the media. But this is no solo effort, as he couldn’t do it without the support staff. Just think what happens at a pit stop during a race; the wheels are changed and the car is refuelled. This whole process is over in seven seconds and is done by a well-drilled crew of support staff. Any malfunction by just one member of the team can cause the race to be lost.

Our evangelist needs prayer cover by the intercessor or prayer warrior. He needs those gifted in administration and resourcing to make sure he is in the right place at the right time with all he needs for the task. He needs wise heads to keep him accountable, teachers to build up his faith, encouragers to keep him motivated and counsellors to deal with any problems that may come his way. Further down the line you can also see the importance of those gifted in healing, discernment, giving, caring, prophecy. All working within their God-given gifts, all working together towards a single goal …

And this is why we need to be a well-oiled machine. And this is why we need to think of measures to repair a machine that is not always quite firing on all cylinders.

This is an extract from the book, Hebraic Church, available for £10 at http://www.sppublishing.com/hebraic-church-101-p.asp

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