Discipleship is for The Entire Church BY MATT FRANCISCO for Radical
Jesus’s command to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19) wasn’t given to the paid “professional Christians” among us; instead, Jesus’s design and desire for his church is that all of us would use our gifts to grow up together towards maturity in Christ (Ephesians 4:13), as disciples who make disciples.
Paul repeatedly uses the metaphor of the church as a body to highlight the unity believers have been given in Christ and that we must strive to maintain. The unity and commitment that Jesus desires for his people to have for one another can be hard for us to grasp in our hyper-individualistic culture, but “the Christian life cannot be an individual affair. The church is necessarily plural. To say you ‘love Jesus but not the church’ is to say you prefer a decapitated head. That’s creepy and doesn’t work biblically (see Ephesians 5:23).”
Anyone who is “in Christ” is united inseparably not only to Jesus himself, but just as equally to every member of Christ’s body. We have been redeemed and arranged by God (1 Corinthians 12:18) to be as interdependent as the limbs of a body (Romans 12:5), with every single member of the body positively indispensable (1 Corinthians 12:22) to the mission of growing up together towards maturity in Christ, as disciples who make disciples.
Yes, pastors and ministry leaders have been assigned a particular calling within the church body, but they are not thereby “more important.” It is impossible to be more or less indispensable—either you are indispensable or you aren’t—and God’s Word tells us that we all are indispensable to the building up of the church and the carrying out of its mission.
Discipleship is for the Entire Church
Jesus is at work now building his kingdom by praying for his people, by pouring out every spiritual blessing upon them, and by giving the church “the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11–13).
Did you catch that? One of the main purposes Jesus gives leaders to his church is so that they might equip the saints for the work of ministry (v. 12). This means, as J.T. English has written, that “Ephesians 4 is not calling teachers, ministers, and pastors who feel called to do the work of ministry for the church but with the church. … Ministry is not something the church staff does; it is something the whole church does.”