In the early Church everyone was a minister of the gospel and everyone was equipped to advance the kingdom of heaven by God’s grace and for God’s glory. There were no spectators – only team members. The New Testament only makes sense within the context of the early Church. So many of the exhortations we have in the New Testament only make sense when the Church looks like and functions like the Church Jesus birthed and the Spirit empowered to change the whole world.
God’s intention was that every single disciple would become a spirit-filled, spirit-led, fully equipped minister of the gospel, exercising their specific gifts as God intended. There were no spectators – only team members. There was no ‘clergy’ and ‘laity’ – only disciples operating within their calling and gifting. Yes, there were leaders and overseers, but they were never elevated above those whom they led. They led alongside them. There were no separated, elevated coaches, only player-coaches.
No doubt you have heard the old saying, ‘Those who can – do and those who can’t – teach.’ It is a derogatory dig at those in leadership who have separated themselves from the ‘real people’ on the ground and in the front line of the battle. Well in the New Testament Church, that was never the case because those who taught were also those in the front line of ministry, side by side with the ones they were called to nurture, teach and equip. Every disciple of Jesus Christ was expected to grow up into Christ and be equipped with everything they needed to do God’s will. Some of those gifts were leadership gifts, but there were many, many more gifts bestowed upon the people and all of them were needed to work in concert with each other.
The further we drift from the New Testament model, the more impotent, irrelevant and ineffective the Church becomes. Right now there are millions of Christians around the world praying for revival and for the kingdom of God to rise up and overcome the kingdom of this world. But when asked how that is going to happen, most believers say they don’t really know and that such things are in God’s hands. What utter balderdash! God has made it abundantly (and embarrassingly) clear that He has chosen us, His people, to achieve His will and fulfill the mission of Christ. In fact, you can go all the way back to 2 Chronicles 7:14 and read where God said,
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
In our context today, God is effectively saying,
“If my people, whom I have called and empowered to fulfil My mission on earth, will recognise their calling, accept their gifting, and receive the equipping I give them along the way, then they will see revival, then they will see the wonder, the beauty, the power and the effectiveness of the Body of Christ as My Church transforms the world in which they live.”
There are no spectators in the Church Jesus promised to build – only team members. If you want a powerful picture of what the Church in action looks like and sounds like, then I have short video for you to watch. What I first saw this video a few years ago, it was amazing in itself – but something deeper was happening in me that day. I heard what I believed was the voice of God’s Spirit saying, “That is the Church I am building and when everyone fulfils their calling and exercises their gifts together as one harmonious orchestra, the impact will be even greater than what you just saw and more overwhelming that what you are feeling now.”
There are many analogies of the Church: a family, an army, a hospital, a body. Another powerful picture of the Church in action is that of an orchestra and that is the image of the Church I want you to focus on now as you to watch this video and don’t just enjoy what you see and hear – look and listen for the prophetic declaration of God as He shows us the power, the beauty and the impact of a fully alive, fully engaged, fully united and fully equipped Church. To view the video, turn your sound up high and click the image below: