Checking the Vitals
“You then, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus; and what you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well.” (II Timothy 2:2, RSV)
The last place I thought I would have trouble sleeping would be the hospital. After all, rest is usually a major part of recovery, especially from major surgery. After visiting my dear friend Mike Ripplinger last week, I was reminded how often hospital personnel would come to check your vital signs. I remembered when I spent eight (8) days in the hospital for an emergency thoracotomy that nurses would come all night long and wake me up to see if I was in any pain and to check my vitals.
Churches should be as diligent as most nursing staffs when it comes to checking their vitals. For any church as well as individual believers, in order to fulfill its nature and achieve its purpose, churches must be committed to the tasks of ensuring that their members are:
- Growing in personal Christlikeness
- Contributing to the building up of the body of Christ
- Functioning as God’s servants in the world
Equipping the saints to perform the work of ministry is an on-going dynamic and purpose-oriented concept and commitment. Believers must be enabled to achieve God’s purposes. However many churches fail to keep a finger on the pulse of their overall mission and vision which allow the church to become mere rest or comfort stops on the “journey toward heaven.”
One of the first steps in becoming or remaining on target to a true biblical mission or vision is examining the vitals of the preaching ministry of the church. Preaching must:
- Deliberately strengthen believers in the faith
- Grow believers toward biblical ideals/values
- Prepare believers toward participation in ministry/service
The job then of the leadership is to prepare God’s people for the work of service so that the body is built up. Leadership must prepare believers for a “job.” Leadership must render believers functional. It should go without saying, although I will say it to head off any objections or negative comments – as leadership strives through the preaching/teaching ministry to render believers functional utmost dependence upon the Holy Spirit is an absolute must.
As a result, the meeting place or the facilities where the local body gathers must become like an “armory” where Christian “soldiers” assemble for:
- Development of strategies
- Reception of instruction
Then the equipped/instructed worshipping believer scatters back into the community to transmit what he/she has been learned. The Apostle Paul was taught by the Lord, Paul then taught Timothy; Timothy was to teach others, who would then teach others.
Individual churches must have policies in place that facilitates the carrying out of its purpose, its mission statement. The structure must ensure that the equipping ministry is dynamic and active. Individual churches must keep their “fingers on the pulse.” They must check their vitals.