Mobilizing the Laity
“Moses said to the Lord … ‘I am not able to carry all this people alone; the burden is too heavy for me.’” (Num. 11:11–14).- Numbers 11:1–30
For the past one and one-half weeks we have been examining several different aspects of church leadership. We began our study by looking at the power God gave to His church for the purposes of ministry and how ministry is to be carried out. We then looked at the different offices that God has established in the church: apostles, bishops/elders, deacons, and teachers.
Today we shall conclude our study by discussing the primary task given to ministers of the Gospel. Regrettably, many in our day have a false assumption about church leaders. Some think that ministry is to be carried out exclusively by paid staff members at the church. As we shall see, however, this is not to be the case.
Ephesians 4:11–14 is one of the primary passages in which we see the true function of ordained officers described. In this passage we read of the many offices that God has established for the church body. In this passage, we see that these officers are given in order to “equip the saints for the work of ministry” (v. 12).
Ministry is to be carried out by the entire church, by both the laity and those who are ordained. In fact, in one sense we can say that the laity are to be the primary agents of ministry. There are only a few who are specially gifted and ordained by God with the ability to equip other believers. These other believers, these lay people, are the ones who help to carry God’s Word to the world at large whether through missions, ministries of mercy, Christian education, or any of the other means that God may use to build His kingdom.
Our Lord has given us the grand task of making disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:18–20). But we cannot do it alone. No one servant of the Lord can do all that is necessary to lead, equip, and send out His people. That is one reason God has given us the church. He ordained a community to work together to build the kingdom.
We see this illustrated in today’s passage. Overwhelmed by the burdens of ministry, Moses cries out to the Lord (Num. 11:14). God responds by telling Moses to appoint Spirit-annointed elders to help him deal with the people (vv. 16–30). This foreshadows our own day, the day in which the Spirit has been poured out on all of God’s people for the purpose of ministry and service to God.
One of the many burdens that church leaders face is the difficulty of recruiting volunteers in the church. Sometimes it can be like pulling teeth to get people to sign up to do the work of ministry. Take some time to look at your church, and see where the needs for ministry are. Then, go volunteer where you can use your gifts in ministry.
Passages for Further Study
1 Cor. 12