Years ago, I published a study of Paul's letters to the Thessalonians. Imagine this scene: Your church is only a couple of months old and yet the apostle Paul can say that it has become a model congregation. In fact, as I noted yesterday, the gospel had echoed forth like a thunderclap from Thessalonica to all of Greece, both in the North (Macedonia) and in the South (Achaia). Becoming a Christian means just that -- that you simply can't keep quiet about the change that has happened in your life. Don't we see this in 1 Thess. 1:8-10? This passage is perhaps the most complete account of conversion in the New Testament. There are 3 steps:
1. The Thessalonians had "turned" to God from idols (God substitutes).
2. They had begun a life of service to God, exchanging one form of slavery (to idols) for another (to God).
3. They had begun to look expectantly for the return of Christ, who would accomplish the final step in their salvation.
Thus we see that from the very beginning of Paul's ministry in Europe his converts understood that they had been called to the service of God. They had been called into "full-time Christian service," if you will. We might even call this "every-member ministry." And it is all the more significant when you consider that the church at Thessalonica was still in its infancy.
For the life of me, I can't fathom why more churches today don't take this teaching more seriously. For it is God's will that every local church should be filled with faithful "ministers" from all walks of life. Indeed, as Paul makes clear elsewhere (Eph. 4:11-12), the responsibility of elders is not to monopolize but to multiply ministries.
In this wonderful interview with Lloyd Ogilvie, we hear this great pastor say the following:
The Bible is very clear that anyone who believes in Christ is called into the ministry. So the church ought to be an equipping center for the ministry of the laity. It's what happened beyond the church. You know, I remember Dick Halverson, whom I mentioned earlier. He said you can't send people into the world to do the work of ministry. They're already there. And what a great insight that was.... God has deployed the laity to do the ministry. I remember, I always refused to call myself a "minister." I believe that every Christian in my congregation was a minister. So sometimes I put on the front of the bulletin: 4 pastors and 6,000 ministers.
Friend, read that again.
I have yet to see the following on a church marquee. Maybe yours will be the first.
First Baptist Church _____________
Senior Pastor: Jesus Christ
Ministers: Every Member
Assistants to the Ministers: The names of your pastorsThis is what conversion looks like. Becoming a Christian is an acceptance of the fact that God has called you into full-time Christian service. And slowly you begin to notice that he is working on you from the inside out to give you a new purpose, new values, and a new pattern for life as a lifelong servant of Jesus Christ.