Tools for Expansion and Edification of God’s Work
Worthy is the lamb.
I want to thank the Presbyter and Minister-in-charge for extending the invite to me to anchor this segment of the officers’ retreat. I above all thank God for counting me worthy to be here today and for giving me the ability talk with you. The topic we have been asked to explore relates to the expectations and deliverables in our role as “Lay Officers” of the Church
LAY OFFICERS – TOOLS FOR EXPANSION AND EDIFICATION OF GOD’S WORK
I will start off the talk with a few definitions to set the scene properly for our discussion. Lay Officers – These will include all officers of the church that are not members of the Clergy and have been appointed to one role or the other to support the clergy in the work of God either at the Conference, Diocesan, Circuit or local church levels. The role is usually tenured but sometimes ad-hoc and includes heads of church organs such as the Choir and Brigade etc.
The Bible in Heb:13 7 states –“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith” This clearly places a huge burden on us as leaders/officers of the church to show and lead by good examples. It is therefore very imperative that we follow the biblical standards in choosing our leaders/officers.
Exodus 18: 21 But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. It is only when we have appointed the right people that they can be tools in the work of God.
This nicely takes us to the next definition that we are looking at –
Anything used as a means of accomplishing a task or purpose: tools are usually “fit for purpose” so you would have specific tools for particular tasks. For example it would be a tedium to use a knife to mow a field. It is thus germane that round pegs are put in round holes in the appointment of Lay Officers for the church for them to be able to deliver on the objectives set for them. Gal 2: 7 On the contrary, they recognised that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised. We will see from this passage that we are to be used in different ways within the church to achieve the objectives.
So what do we mean by Expansion?
The action of becoming larger or more extensive: So here we are looking at the length,
width and depth or the physical size of an object growing larger. If we are to relate this to the church we will be looking increasing numbers that attend our church services (filling our pews) and reaching the unreached through church planting
Originally Edification had a strictly religious sense, in the meaning of “building up of the soul,” from the Latin term aedificationem, for “construction” or “building.” Edify is understood as to build up. In the Christian context, it means to strengthen someone or be strengthened in relationship to God What does the Bible say about edification?
Why is it so important for Lay Officers?
The dictionary definition for edification is “improvement, instruction, or enlightenment, especially when morally or spiritually uplifting.” Edification, then, is similar to spiritual growth. It is that which moves us forward in knowledge of and obedience to God.
Second Peter 1:5-8 says, “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self- control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In essence, Peter is talking about edification.
As lay officers we are expected to grow spiritually. Our knowledge of God should be ever-increasing, and our obedience to Him should be continually perfected. The Christian life is about “improvement.” Not just self-improvement or works based improvement, but newness from God. In Christ we are new creations and we are being made new (2 Corinthians 5:17; Philippians 3:12). We have been declared righteous and are becoming righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 1:6). Lay Officers are called to cooperate with God’s work in them. We should be intentional about our edification, seeking to know God and to obey Him. We are told to build one another up (1 Thessalonians 5:11; Romans 14:19). We should seek to live at peace with others (Romans 12:8). We should monitor our thoughts and set our minds on things of God (Philippians 4:8). Above all, we should seek God and submit to His work in us. Edification is for the glory of God and the good of His people.
For me therefore the interpretation of this discussion is: how can we as Lay Officers
of the church be used as tools of God to:
- grow the church in terms of numbers and
- to build up the membership/congregation spiritually
If we agree with this interpretation and my understanding of this theme then the task is clear. The core reason for our Call, Election and Nomination as Lay Officers is clear.
We have stopped being ordinary men and women, we have now been set apart as tools for the achievement of God’s purposes amongst our congregation. We are to dedicate our Energy, Time, Talent and Relevant resources in the service of God and to doing His work. It need be emphasised at this point that we should expect no reward whatsoever in this work save that God will sharpen us more to do His work. If anything the reward of eternity is the only thing we should be looking forward to if we combine our works with living a holy and righteous life.
So how can we be useful/used as tools to EXPAND the church?
To understand God’s view of Expansion and Edification we first need to understand what is the “Church” as far as He is concerned. I believe He sees the Church in a much different way than we do. The Church from God’s view I believe is a congregation of those called out of the kingdom of darkness and are born again and the main functions of the Church are to:
- Develop community – impact our immediate environment positively
- Equip the saints to do the work of the ministry – developing the congregation spiritually
- Reach out to those in the kingdom of darkness’ – evangelism And as Lay officers of the Church we must accept and be willing tools to achieve these objectives. It is a matter of changing our perspective and seeing things from God’s point of view. How do we do this?
Two things are involved:
- See what the Bible, or God’s Word, has to say, and
- Let the Holy Spirit “open the eyes of our understanding” to see the kingdom of God.
- Jesus said, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto Me.” – as lay officers how are lifting Jesus up so that men and women can be drawn unto Him? How involved are we in praise and worship and in testifying of the goodness of God in our lives?
- He also said, “We are seek first the kingdom of God”. – Again as lay officers how are we seeking the kingdom of God or are we driving the congregation away from the kingdom of God because of our behaviour? How are we involved in prayers and the study of the bible so that we can truly know God and be able to share Him with those that are in the kingdom of darkness?
- Jesus also said, “I will build My Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” – As lay officers how are we helping to build the Church of God?
- He also said, “…unless one is truly born again, he CANNOT SEE the kingdom of God. “And, “…unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he CANNOT ENTER the kingdom of God.” – As lay officers, are we truly born again? Can one truly see us and confirm that we are indeed born again in the way we talk, behave and share God’s word? Does our lives reflect Christ? In Acts 2:47 when the Church was performing its thr
In Acts 2:47 when the Church was performing its three main functions “the Lord was adding to their numbers day by day those who were being saved.” In other words, when the Church was doing what it supposed to do it grows because the Lord God is adding people to it in His designed way. The followers of Jesus are enthusiastically enjoying their “LIFE relationship” with Jesus and anything that has “LIFE” grows. Does it not? If our church is not growing, we need to see if there is life in that congregation of people and then see what we are not doing that is stopping the growth from happening.
I don’t think it gets any clearer than this:
- If we lift up Jesus
- Seek first the kingdom of God
- And do the three main functions of the Church
- Then Jesus simply adds to His Church and the Church grows
There is a big difference between what we add to our churches and what Jesus adds to His Church!
Are you a disciple of Jesus, or are you simply a lay officer?
In rounding off I will quickly look at some other aspects where, as officers the church we must excel
Administration and Management of the Church
We must develop the competencies of our officers to administer and manage the affairs of the Church on a day to day basis. We must of necessity understand what needs to be done in the church and develop processes and checklist for their achievement. Where applicable reward systems should be put in place to recognise exceptional service and commitment.
Funding of various church activities
To say that funding is required to implement most of the expansion and edification works of the Church will be stating the obvious. While we continue to encourage our clergy to grow the congregation to give, it is important that we identify and develop viable economic ventures that will complement the voluntary giving by the congregation.
As lay officers we must champion this cause and establish viable enterprises.
Leadership by example
As lay officers we must clearly lead by examples, the congregation must of necessity be inspired by us in such areas as:
- Participation in Church activities
- Giving our means and our time in the service of God
- Punctuality to Church programmes
- Appropriate dressing
- Peaceful, honest and respectful conduct
- Supporting widows and the needy etc.
In conclusion, I will one to reiterate what I have mentioned above. Lay Officers are called to cooperate with God’s work in them. We should be intentional about our edification, seeking to know God and to obey Him. We are told to build one anotherup (1 Thessalonians 5:11; Romans 14:19). We should seek to live at peace with others (Romans 12:8). We should monitor our thoughts and set our minds on things of God (Philippians 4:8). Above all, we should seek God and submit to His work in us. Edification is for the glory of God and the good of His people. Let us see ourselves as Tools determined to be employed to do exploit in God’s Vineyard. We need to rise up as divine instruments in God’s Hand to salvage our circuit.
Thank you all and God Bless you all.