You ask, “Is there a correlation between church members being involved in ministry and making disciples?”    The answer is an emphatic “Yes!”   How so?

Ephesians 4:8 is a quote from Psalm 68 with a Pauline twist:  God gave gifts to men.   This isn’t surprising because our God is always giving us something:  it may be rain, air breathe, and food to eat.   He has given us His very best gift in Jesus and His written will, the Bible and when we obey Him, we receive His Spirit indwelling, and the church (the family and fellowship in which we grow and develop) and a several other wonderful things, too.

We know that God has given a mission and His church is to fulfill that mission; that mission is making followers (disciples) of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19).   The church is the means by which a lost and dying world comes to a knowledge of the wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:9-11).   The church is also the means by which disciples are developed and matured in Christ (Ephesians 4:11-16).

HOWEVER, my Lord never ever leaves us unprepared to do His work.   The Lord also gives non-miraculous team/grace gifts to (1) make the church strong, (2) to unite the church and (3) make every Christian a minister or servant.   These gifts are listed in Romans 12 and Ephesians 4 and one is mentioned in 1 Peter 4:10-11.    The only controversial gift is apostle (Ephesians 4:11) and many feel we no longer have apostles and I would agree.   Apostles were usually witnesses to the resurrected Christ and confirmed their teaching with miracles and signs. However, Barnabas was also called an apostle (Acts 14:14). We have folks that go to foreign lands to preach the gospel that are very similar; we call these missionaries or evangelists.  They are like the original twelve in one aspect; they are “sent out from.” The word apostle means one who has been sent out from….

Without arguing over the details, we find that the Lord equips, empowers and enables His children to fulfill the mission He has given them by these gifts.  If you do a thorough study of these gifts (in Romans 12 and Ephesians 4 and I Peter 4:10-11), you will discover that they are not the same as the “miraculous” ones in 1 Corinthians 12 (which confirmed the preaching and teaching of the apostles and church members at Corinth). More importantly, they are designed, I believe, to make and strengthen disciples.  You can take any of the ten gifts in question (evangelism, shepherding, teaching, giving, prophesy, serving, showing compassion, hospitality, exhortation, and leadership) and in a matter of a few minutes you can easily imagine how each of these actually contributes in a serious manner to the mission of the church.   My experience is very limited, yet I personally believe that many churches are struggling in the area of numerical and spiritual growth because they have not discovered, developed and deployed these gifts among the members in their congregations.   

Back to the original question:  is there a correlation between members being involved in ministry and making disciples?    Yes, or there should be.

Some may react by saying, “I’ve never seen this before.   This appears to be only a theory.”   It may be something new to many of us but I assure you it is not a theory; it is a teaching from the Word of God.

God has always given His people mission and purpose AND He has always equipped, empowered and enabled them to fulfill His assignments.

Many congregations wrestle with growth issues.    So do individual members.  To promote spiritual and numerical growth, let’s depend upon and exercise the gifts that the Lord has given us.

May I suggest 3 other gifts that God has given every child of His?

A personality, that when led by the Spirit of God will bear fruit that makes a person winsome and full of confidence and ready to tell others about Jesus Christ.  When we display love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control, the truth and the church are more attractive to a lost and dying world.   These fruit also provide an amazing atmosphere in which to grow spiritually and cause unity and growth in the church.

Passions.   Every person has passions:  some good and some evil.  I’m talking about good passions.    Some have a passion to help the lost, the poor, the incarcerated, the lonely, the old, etc.   Some have a passion to teach, to serve, to greet, to give, etc.  If we all work together, our passions can drive us to reach everyone that has a need and to share the gospel with them.   When every member of a local church is busy fulfilling their passions, the work of the church has more excitement and there isn’t time for any division in the local church.

Life skills and life experiences.     Many have blue collar and white-collar skills.  Some have professional skills and others have craft skills.  But all of us have some skill that is either a natural skill or a skill that comes as a result of training and experience.   We can use these skills to reach the lost and disciple the saved.   And then we each have life experiences that have taught us some invaluable lessons and have made us more dependent upon the Lord.   Our life experiences when used properly can assist us in reaching others with the gospel who have had other similar or the same experiences.    Some of the helpful life experiences include loss, incarceration, addiction recovered from, financial setbacks, cancer recovered from, raising children, marriage, joblessness, homelessness, raising special needs children, adoption, failure, etc.   The world is full of people who need Christians who have had similar experiences and have become victorious through the Lord Jesus Christ.  These Christians can help others who don’t know Christ to come to know Him and obey Him.

Simply put, we need to use our gifts and all of the ministries in the Lord’s church to reach the lost and mature the saved.    It’s a matter of thinking the way the Lord would have us think.   This is a large part of true discipleship.

If I can assist in some way, please let me know.   If you start using your ministries in the manners just discussed, please let me know the fruits of your labor so I can share them with others.

Travis Irwin

423 920 3060