EQUIP: Week 8 - Our Work As The Church
“The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…” (Ephesians 4:11-12)
Week 8: Day 1 – I am Equipped to Be the Church
“Equip the saints for the work of ministry.” – Paul [i]
Today is day one of the eighth and final week of our Equip experience. Up to this point, we’ve explored all six of our God-given purposes as the Church:
- Proclaiming the Gospel that Saves
- Cultivating the Community of God
- Maintaining A Life of Worship
- Preserving the Truth that Frees
- Furthering the Flourishing of Society
- Demonstrating the Kingdom of God
We have engaged with a great deal of content, spent a good amount of time in self-reflection and have had beautiful and challenging conversations in community. Not only have we learned a lot, but we’ve been equipped with the knowledge and tools we need to go to work.
After seven full weeks of intentional engagement, it is easy for us to forget what we’ve just experienced. What have we really been equipped with?
Let’s hold onto this question as we begin our daily rhythm.
As we seek to uphold the truth, we follow our daily PRAY(er) rhythm by, ‘P’: PAUSING to be still. ‘R’: REFLECTING on Scripture or learnings. ‘A’: ASKING God to help us and others on the journey and ‘Y’: YIELDING to God’s transformative work in our life, no matter the cost. [ii]
P. R. A. Y.
As I enter prayer now, I pause to be still; to breathe slowly; to recenter my scattered senses upon the presence of God.
Jesus, my Lord and Savior, my teacher and friend, as I reflect back on all that you’ve taught me over these past seven weeks, I ask you would once again open my eyes to your kingdom vision and motivate me to participate in the work you’ve equipped me for. All for your glory and for the building up of your Church.
Read & Reflect
Baked into the very structure of this experience is a cadence, a tempo, a life-giving rhythm that we can practice for the rest of our lives. Can we name it? If we need a hint, it starts with P and ends with RAY. That’s right! Our daily PRAY(er) rhythm is intentional and meant to equip us for the life long journey of following Jesus. Whatever day it is, where ever we find ourselves, and with whomever we are with, we can always Pause to be still, Reflect, Ask and Yield to God’s transformative work in our lives.
We’ve also been equipped with a tried and tested method for memorizing Scripture. When we break it down into bite sized pieces and add a bit of repetition, all of a sudden the Word of God begins to be baked into us. What may have started out as intimidating has transformed into “I got this.” But what we “got” is more than a system to memorize, but we have the very Word of God written on our hearts. Let’s keep this practice going!
Let’s see…what else have we been equipped with? Oh yes. Spiritual practices. We’ve learned the value of remembering our story and God’s activity in our life. We’ve learned the why and how of witness as well as our own personal “God Story” that we now can share. As the weeks went on we discovered the practices of Spiritual Friendship, Gratitude, Confession, and Lectio Divina as core habits to encourage us with our work as the church. And wait, there’s more!
Sprinkled throughout the weeks we learned how to read the Bible, were given some structure with how to pray, we practiced Sabbath on a weekly basis, and we gathered together as the church to listen, learn, encourage and pray with one another. We’ve been given a plethora of Scripture passages to further explore as well as outside resources to engage and dive deeper. Not to mention the awesome videos and treasure trove of biblical gold found through the ministry of The Bible Project.
And still, with all these resources, practices, and practical support we still have so much to explore. Our life with Christ is a journey of a lifetime in getting to know the God who has been longing for us to experience the love, healing, peace, hope, strength, and power that only God can provide. We will never have ‘arrived’ nor will we exhaust all the beautiful and amazing ways the Holy Spirit longs to equip us for the work God wants to do in and through us.
Lastly, just because we’ve gone through this equipping experience one time, doesn’t mean we’ve mastered it. We could recall all the information, have faithfully engaged in every practice, and shared our lives openly and courageously with our group and still learn something new and beneficial a second time around. This Equip Experience is meant to be a lasting resource for us to revisit time and time again.
Journal and/or self-reflect:
- What ways have I personally been equipped through this experience?
- What practices have really resonated with me?
- What do I want to explore further as I continue to grow in my relational maturity with Jesus?
Perhaps the greatest gold we discovered through this experience (besides greater intimacy with Christ and one another) are the six nuggets regarding our work as the church. Remember, we are the Church. The Church isn’t an hour on Sunday, it isn’t a physical location or a building. The Church is a people. We, you and I, are the Church. And God has great plans for us as the Church. We get to be the Church, the Church at work.
Over the next couple of days we will be exploring and reflecting on how our six purposes as the Church interact with one another. Like was said from the very beginning, each of these six priorities are essential, inseparable and equally important. As we lean in and engage further over this last week, let’s consider how each of these six speak to one another, inform the other, and together weave a beautiful tapestry that can only be threaded by the hand of God.
As I return to the invitation to follow Jesus every day, and everywhere, with everyone, beautiful God, I am reminded of your choosing me to work for your priorities and purposes. I am grateful for all the ways you have equipped me to do this work and I look forward to joining you as we participate in this together.
May your kingdom come and your will be done in me and through me here on earth. All for your glory and so that others might come to experience life with you. Amen.
Over this next week, we will memorize Ephesians 4:11-12 together. This passage will help frame the ongoing conversation throughout the week. To begin our practice, let’s write the following verses verbatim in a journal, notecard, on a post-it note, or make a note in your smart device:
“The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…”
Spiritual Practice | Spiritual Practices for Everyone
All of us are unique as people, whether physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. In as many unique combinations of characteristics there are in each of us as individuals, there are equally as many distinct ways in which we could approach, engage, and relate with God. Although we have explored a variety of such spiritual practices over the past number of weeks, there are so many more we can explore!
This week’s spiritual practice is an exercise aimed to help guide us into future spiritual practices that will resonate most deeply with who we are and how we are wired. The hope is that we will discover new and beautiful ways in which we can further engage with God based uniquely upon who we are as individuals.
Consider the statements below. SELECT ONE that best describes you. Then, TRY THE SPIRITUAL PRACTICE that is associated with that particular statement. Enjoy!
- “I am most aware of God’s presence when I become aware of God’s tangible activity in the world and I find that my faith comes most alive when it is not confined by boundaries because there are endless ways in which it can be known and understood.”
- Spiritual Practice: Prayer Walk/Run
- “I am most aware of God when I engage in internal self-reflection and I prefer to connect with people who are from my own church community.”
- “I am most aware of God’s presence at a deep, internal level within myself and my faith is most strongly experienced when I’m learning from other perspectives and traditions.”
- Spiritual Practice: Centering Prayer
- “I most sense God at work by observing outward signs of God’s tangible activity in the world and I find that my faith is most meaningful to me because it stands on a firm foundation of facts and certainty.”
- Spiritual Practice: Verbal Intercessory Prayer
2021 Rev. Mike Morgan