Creating a Learning Network for Kingdom Builders!
Unless you are playing a game of chance.... generally speaking, winning requires skills, specific skills.
Here is an exercise you can try at home. Ask most any believer, 'what skills are needed to extend the Kingdom." You will seldom, IF EVER, get anything that looks like a comprehensive list. You'll get farther asking for a list of what skills are needed to win at baseball.
So - here we are, the people of God and the average person cannot tell you what specific skills are needed to extend the Kingdom. It is true that most of us can list some things... but we do not have a clear picture in our head like we do... for example baseball. Why?
There is a GREAT list in Ephesians. These are the 'secret sauce' for winning. Missing any ONE of these skills and an effort to extend the Kingdom will fail to reach its potential.
Let's do a quick rundown of these 5.
Apostle. Planter- We are right now talking about doing NEW things. If we are going to do new things or old things in new ways... this skill is a 'must have. It is for starting new works or reforming existing efforts. Those who are 'planters' who function as equippers, equips and trains ALL to either start new works, participating in new works or reforming existing works. What do you know? This most important skill is often TOSSED OUT as something that is not relevant to today's church. Is it any wonder we have difficulty getting to first base?
While we are not all apostles, we ALL need to learn to plant or SUPPORT the planting of others, even it if is dropping a dollar into the hands of someone starting a new ministry to care for others. Face it, ministries grow OLD, they are 'wineskins' that age. We need to take this into account and continually be reforming existing efforts or planting and supporting new efforts that will address the needs of people around us.
Prophet, Perceiver- If we are going to play the game and win, we need to SEE what is going on around us. The preceiver sees and understands what God has done and is doing. To some extent, the perceiver understands what God intends to do; one key reason for this is in order to see our role in participating in what God is doing. The perceiver is stirred to separate truth from error and defend truth. As an equipper, the perceiver stirs each person to perceive what God intends to do in their lives. As an equipper, the perceiver helps each person to learn to separate truth from error and defend the truth and listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Again, this most important skill is often dismissed as something 'not for today.' What? If we cannot understand the skills that are vital, we cannot win at the game. We will never turn the world upside down.
While we are not all prophets, we ALL need to perceive truth. We need understand what God is doing and intends to do in the world around us. We need to understand what our place is in God's plans; we need to be stirred to ASK God to lead us and then pay attention to how he leads. We need to be equipped to defend the truth and discern right from wrong.
Evangelist, Proclaimer- With our culture that is tolerant of anything except confronting people with truth, this skill ranks at the bottom of the barrel of desirable attributes.
The evangelist proclaims the “good news” of the reign of Christ, that the Kingdom is at hand and among us, and that salvation is available because Jesus has suffered, died, and has risen from the grave and now reigns. They proclaim the truth of the Kingdom: God's mercy and His judgement, letting people know about God's promises and his judgement. As an equipper, the proclaimer helps people learn how to proclaim Christ and His Kingdom.
This skill is, as we said, counter to modern culture. While people will sometimes tolerate hearing about God's goodness, it is considered a faux pas to tell anyone anything about judgement. But, if we don't tell about grace and justice, we aren't giving people the whole truth.
While we are not all evangelists, we ALL need to proclaim the Good News, the Gospel, by our witness, our public testimony, our example. We need to proclaim the things of the Kingdom: God's promises and his warnings, grace and justice. We need to calling people to take on their roles and responsibilities as citizens of the Kingdom.
We won't always be the most popular to do this. But, that was the OBJECTION to the early believers... 'wherever they go, they turn the world upside down.' So, winning has a cost; a loss is forever.
Pastor, Guide- "Pastor" comes from a real world concept, shepherd, as in one who takes care of sheep. The pastor protects and looks out for for those in the circle of their care. The pastor ensures that the sheep have all they need to be healthy, to grow, and to reproduce and guides them in the way they should go. As an Equipper, teaches people to care for others and help them grow.
While we are not all pastors, we ALL need to guide each others, We ALL need to care for, protect and learn from one another. This skill is the ESSENCE of doing efforts that successfully impact people for Christ. It is learning how to love others 'out loud' in tangible, repeatable ways. Let's not forget, we are talking about using this skill when we 'go'. Jesus said the multitudes were like sheep without a shepherd. They STILL are. It's our job to be equipped in this skill and go out and do the work.
Teacher, Imparter- The teacher imparts truths to others using language, process and context. The imparter helps enable people to use these truths in their lives. A sign of maturity for both men and women is that they teach what is good; equippers prepare people to do this.
Is this happening? Maybe not so much. And are we winning? Maybe not so much.
While we are not all teachers, we ALL need to teach one another and impart truth by direct teaching, training, and by the example we set-the conversation and conduct of our life together (LIKE produces LIKE), especially during the times when we are 'out there'.
“Entrust these things to people who will teach others as well”.
Next chapter: Fundamental of the Game