Each member of the church as the body of Christ is not only meant to see they have a specific place and role within that body; but also, that they be equipped and enabled to fulfil it.
Church was never intended to be the spiritual equivalent of a spectator sport. Yet, somehow, this is how it has come to be treated, not only by many Christians; but by their pastors as well. Those who serve as ministers of Christ can easily approach their calling as though it is their job to please their people. While those who are under their care can hear them in such a way as to think it is indeed their job to do just that. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that congregations expand and shrink on the basis of perceived performance ratings.
Quite the opposite from being a spiritual theatre intended for the entertainment of the saints, church is actually a spiritual bootcamp where they are to be equipped for service and prepared for cosmic warfare. This is precisely what Paul tells the Ephesians whose churches were coming unstuck because of misperceptions over what church was meant to be and how its spiritual leaders were meant to discharge their calling as servants of the risen Lord.
Not only does Paul remind believers in this region that pastors are specific gifts of the ascended Christ – along with apostles, prophets and evangelists – for their edification; but, in conjunction with those who serve as shepherd-elders, their goal is ‘to equip the saints for the work of the ministry’ (Eph 4.12). In other words, each member of the church as the body of Christ is not only meant to see they have a specific place and role within that body; but also, that they be equipped and enabled to fulfil it.
We perhaps instinctively read this in light of the various programmes a church may run and the need to find volunteers to staff them. But the apostle has something far more radical in mind.