It has been said that if you want a job to be done right then do it yourself. This may sound good on the surface but this philosophy of ministry is detrimental to the overall health, balance and impact of a local church. This is a great temptation, especially for leaders who are wired with a “hands-on” approach to ministry.
When church leaders bottleneck the congregation by failing to trust and equip qualified saints to do ministry, they create frustration and limit the potential of the congregational impact the community. However, as was the case in Acts chapter 6 when the Apostles made a decision to share their ministry, whenever the leadership of a local church decentralizes ministry the result is always expansion.
The assignment of the five-fold ministry is to govern the church and to equip the saints so they can do the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11). The primary work of the ministry of the saints is to fulfill The Great Commission given to us by the founder of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ. This mission has been given to the entire New Testament priesthood of believers. All believers are commanded to go, teach, baptize and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19 NKJV).
It’s staggering to consider the possibilities of every born-again believer within our congregations dutifully executing their privilege and responsibility of fulfilling The Great Commission. This behavior appears to be normal and expected of the saints in the first century church. This would explain why the governing leaders and saints of God together were able to “turn the world upside down” (Acts 17:6), “fill all Jerusalem with their doctrine” (Acts 5:28), go everywhere “preaching” the Word (Acts 8:4), all Asia hearing the Word (Acts 19:10), baptize thousands (Acts 2:41; Acts 4:4), multitudes added to the Lord (Acts 5:14 – we assume this number was far more than five thousand). Acts 21:20 records that there were “many thousands of Jews” that believed. Was all this exponential growth accomplished by the five-fold ministry doing all the going, teaching, baptizing and making disciples? You decide.
Was Jesus just dreaming and creating unreachable expectations when He gave us the vision to make disciples of all nations? One credible researcher (Rev. Talmadge French – Our God Is One) estimates the number of Oneness believers currently in the world to be around 32 million. Theoretically, if every one of these born-again Pentecostals would make one disciple per year, and then all of their disciples make a disciple every year, mathematically it is possible to disciple the world’s population within eight years. So when Jesus said, “Go make disciples of all nations,” He wasn’t just dreaming.
All local pastors must decide if they want a 1st century model congregation or a much later model. Jesus commissioned every believer to go make disciples. This is what 1st century believers did, all of them. Unfortunately, some local congregations have decided to do something else to reach the lost. The time has come for all pastors to lead by equipping, releasing and placing an expectation upon every member of their congregation to do the work of the ministry. In the book of Acts, this means to make disciples who turn around and make more disciples. We will not have 1st century growth results until we have 1st century behavior in leaders and in those they lead.
Written by Rev. Stanley Gleason, Senior Pastor of The Life Church