SUNDAY, JUNE 3, 2012.
HOW TO ENLIST, EQUIP SAINTS FOR EFFECTIVE MINISTRY
HOW can a person be enlisted as a saint? How do we equip saints for effective ministry?
Ordinarily, to enlist entails getting recruits or people for a job or a course or for the army. This means that certain criteria are expected of those who would be recruited.
In the New Testament, the apostles were sure of those they recruited and had certain criteria for them: ‘those to be chosen must be full of the Holy Spirit, they must be full of wisdom; they must have a good reputation…’ (Acts 6v3) The choice was not based on quota but on qualities that would enable people to be relevant to the Christian community. Not just people but saints (militant and triumphant). We are concerned with the militants – living saints, who have accepted Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Saviour, and are washed in the blood of the lamb and sanctified.
Today, to qualify for enlistment, one must be a believer who has surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all things. Jesus came, died and paid the supreme price on the cross of Calvary. You are no longer your own; you totally belong to Him and respond to Him.
It means that it is not enough to be: a churchgoer; baptised; confirmed; a PCC member; a Synod delegate; a priest; an elder; holder of one important post or the other in the church; a great financier of the church; its programmes and pastors, etc.
YOU MUST HAVE A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST TO BE ENLISTED. Therefore, ‘Marvel not that I say unto thee, YE MUST BE BORN AGAIN.’ John 3v7.
It is saddening, but a headache of church ministries is that many who offer themselves for the work are not truly born again. Of course, it has been suggested that some came into the ministry as a result of unemployment, to fill in the slot for their community, for personal gain, etc. Or else how does one explain having plenty hands and yet the job suffers.
Questions we must continue to ask those who claim to have a call for the ministry include:
Do you know Jesus Christ as Lord and personal Saviour? And what is your testimony?
There appears to be a missing link in the ministry both for lay and ordained workers in conduct (what we do), character (what we are), spirituality and attitude to God’s work.
How therefore do we equip saints for effective ministry? Let it be stated that it is the responsibility of the Church in every age to equip God’s people to do His work and build up the Church— the body of Christ. What does it mean to equip? It means: to supply with necessities such as tools or provisions; to furnish with qualities necessary for performance; and to dress up.
From the above, it is imperative that those that are meant to be equipped as saints are supplied, furnished and dressed with qualities necessary for performance as children of God in this perverse world.
But how do you measure the effectiveness of one’s ministry? Is it the number of people in worship, or amount in the offering plate, or the number of baptisms each year, etc?
The Oxford Dictionary defines effective as being “successful in producing a desired or intended result.” This definition suggests that to be effective, a ministry must know what sets out to accomplish and have measures in place to indicate performance.
To ensure that God’s people are properly equipped for the work of ministry, the listed should be taken seriously: in-depth study of the Word of God (Josh. 1:8; II Tim. 2:15; Matt. 4:4, 7); follow up sessions (c.f St. Paul in his 1st, 2nd and 3rd missionary outings to different church congregations. Consider new generation churches in the use of this approach; sound teaching (Acts 2:42(a)); total dependence on the Holy Spirit of God; periodic training both for the ordained and the lay; living a life of prayer (c.f. Eph. 6:12; I Thes. 5:17); grooming young ones for continuity sake (Prov. 22:6); social concern/welfare of members (Matt. 9:35 ff. Acts 2:45); ensuring that those who hold positions/offices in the Church have genuine testimonies of salvation.
Remember: God will not use ‘drift wood’ for sacrifice. Certainly, he will use men and women prepared by Him. Those who have been washed and redeemed in the blood of the lamb are to be used in the harvest fields. It behooves the Church to ensure that those enlisted by God for the work of the ministry are thoroughly equipped. We should not fold our arms on the realisation of this objective.
The time to act is now.VEN. ERNEST ONUOHA Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.