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Lesson 2: Every Member Ministry *

Introduction: Last week we considered the difference between witnessing (the personal story we have to tell) and evangelism (our explanation of the gospel). We discussed the idea of "nudge" evangelism - that we should pay attention to every situation and every word we say so that we nudge people towards the gospel and not away from it. It is hard to get our own story wrong, but some of us are not too sure about how to explain the gospel - or even our proper role in the explanation. Since we could get it wrong, should we leave the "tricky stuff" to the experts - the people we pay to do ministry? Let's dive into our Bible and find out!

  1. Every Member Evangelism?

    1. Read Ephesians 4:1-2. What call is made to every one of us? (To be humble, patient, gentle and loving. To live a life worthy of being called a Christian.)

      1. Is this witnessing?

    2. Read Ephesians 4:3-6. Is ministry something that we do on our own? (No. Unity is a priority.)

    3. Read Ephesians 4:7-8. What role is there, if any, for the individual? (The individual is an important part of the whole. It is the individual, not the whole, who is given "gifts." These gifts ("grace") have "been given as Christ apportioned it.")

      1. I generally think of "grace" as God's gift of salvation to me. Could you have different levels of that? (No. It is hard to imagine that God gives 50% salvation to some. In this context grace must mean other kinds of gifts from God.)

      2. What does that suggest to us about the gospel work? (We are not identical parts of the whole. Instead, we are individuals, with individual gifts. The extent and type of gift vary. But, we are still working as a whole.)

    4. Read Ephesians 4:11-13. Are all evangelists? (Clearly, not.)

      1. Is the title of this study wrong? If only some are given the gift of evangelism, then only some of us are called to evangelize, right? (If the title were "Every Member Evangelism," we would have a problem. But, the title is "Every Member Ministry." That simply means that everyone has a role in ministry.)

      2. Look again at the specific gifts which are listed in these verses. What relationship do these gifts have to the gospel? (Each is geared towards advancing the gospel.)

      3. What is the goal of all of these gifts? (To promote unity in faith, to promote knowledge of Jesus, to create mature Christians and teach people to attain "the fullness of Christ.")

    5. Read 1 Corinthians 12:7-11. How is this list of gifts different than the list we just studied? (The prior list was of jobs. This list is of abilities.)

      1. What is common to the two lists? (These jobs and abilities come from God in a measure determined by God. They are for the good of the entire body of believers.)

    6. What are we to conclude, then, about our personal obligation with regard to ministry? (We need to determine what abilities and gifts God has given us, and then accept the appointment to the appropriate job.)

    7. The list of jobs seems pretty high level to me. The list of abilities seems impressive to me. What if we do not have those gifts and abilities? (Read 1 Corinthians 12:11-13. Verse 11 says "each one" gets a gift. We all have a role, a ministry, of one type or another.)

  2. How Do We Know Our Job?

    1. Read 1 Corinthians 12:14-21. I see three types of extremes in the church. Some members say they have no particular role or job because they have no particular ability. Some members want to fill the role of "higher" level jobs, but are not qualified. When they are denied these roles, they become insulted and angry and quit the church. Some members hold high positions and do not rightly value the work of others. What is the solution to these extremes? (Everyone has at least one gift. Everyone is lacking some other gift(s). We need to focus on our gifts, and value those who have other gifts - gifts we might not have.)

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 12:27-31. Is it appropriate for a "foot" to want to become an "eye?" (We are told that we should "eagerly desire the greater gifts." There is nothing wrong with ambition to do great things for God. But, until we are given that gift, those in foot and hand positions should be excellent feet and hands, rather than complaining about not being eyes and noses. The important part is to distinguish between an ambition to advance the Kingdom of God and ambition to advance yourself.)

  3. How Evangelism Works

    1. Read John 4:35. When is the time for us to engage in evangelism? (Now. We need to open our eyes to our nudge evangelism opportunities.)

      1. If your eyes have been closed, how do you open them? (Just being alert is one way. But, the more important way is to ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes.)

    2. Read John 4:36-38. What strikes you as being unusual about this job? (We have completely different roles in evangelism. Few do the entire work. The most exciting work is "harvesting" for eternal life.)

    3. Let's try to put all of this together. We learned that not everyone is an "evangelist" ( Ephesians 4:11). We learned that we all have different gifts and abilities (1 Corinthians 12:7-10). We learned that even evangelists have different roles in evangelism. Does that mean that some of us are released from duty when it comes to evangelism?

      1. Let's go back to our last lesson. What is the difference between witnessing and evangelism? (Witnessing is telling our personal story. Evangelism is explaining the gospel story.)

      2. Who is most talented, has the best gift, for telling your story? (You! We are all called to duty to tell those we know and meet about what God has meant to us in our life. We can tell stories about God's blessings and guidance. We can witness about our mistakes in turning from God.)

      3. Should you call in an expert to explain the gospel story? (If you are the "ham man" we discussed last week, then you should call in those with the gift of evangelism. But, everyone should know (or learn) the basic gospel story: that the God of the Universe came down from heaven, humbled Himself to become a human, lived a perfect life in our place, voluntarily died on the cross for our sins, and was raised from the dead to return to heaven. Jesus offers us the opportunity to confess our sins, accept His perfect life in the place of our imperfect life, accept Jesus' death in our place, and live in the promise of a resurrection to eternal life!)

    4. When I was a kid, my Dad did some fairly serious gardening with my "help." From this I know that farming involves all sorts of different jobs. Have you ever visited a church that is in poor repair? Have you ever visited a church that was dirty? Have you ever visited a church that had uncomfortable seats and terrible interior decorating? Do you think that those who work to make the church building clean, in good repair, and comfortable to the bottom and the eyes are evangelists? (Absolutely! If you say, "I like being here," then you are more likely to say, "I want to stay and focus on the message.")

      1. What other kinds of "evangelism" jobs can we find in the church which are not what we traditionally consider to be evangelism? (What about greeters! A friendly, warm greeting makes you glad you came.)

      2. Just as we should be looking at every word and every opportunity for nudge evangelism, should we also look at every aspect of our church and our church program? (Sometimes we don't take the program seriously. How many times is the program the result of last-minute planning, or filled with "last minute" volunteers, or people who seem to have been recruited for the job thirty seconds before they spoke? None of this gives a favorable nudge.)

    5. Friend, there is nothing wrong with saying "I'll leave evangelism to the gifted evangelist." But, you are the gifted one when it comes to your witness. All sorts of work and gifts go into evangelism. You cannot leave your gift and your job to someone else. Will you determine today to focus on your gift(s), and strive for excellence to advance the Kingdom of God?

  4. Next week: Spiritual Gifts for Evangelism and Witnessing.
* Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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