Justin Hiebert

Catalyzing Change

Full maturity

Posted on 04 Mar 2014 in Uncategorized | 1 comment

In Ephesians chapter 4, Paul writes about unity in faith and the capacity (and requirement) for all people to work and serve so that the church may reach full unity. He writes, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

This means that there is a quick (one step) church assessment tool that can be used to find the missionality of your local church: Is your church fully mature?

If the answer is ‘no’ (and my assumption is that this is true for all of us), then the result of this survey is that someone isn’t doing their job.

If you’re church isn’t fully mature, someone isn’t using their gift to equip the people.

Cristian, Claudio y Christian

(Photo credit: Huasonic)

So what does this mean for Missional Christianity? 

A few things.

  1. More time needs to be spent on identifying these gifts for the people. In this passage, Paul identifies five gifts that bring the church into full maturity: Apostles (The Pioneers. They like to go new places, try new things, and get bored if in one spot too long), Prophets (The Justice seekers. They have a heart for the poor and marginalized and echo God’s cry to treat them with equality), Evangelists (The narrators. They enjoy telling the story of God, their story in that, and relating it to others story through faith), Pastors (The Shepherds. They care for members of the flock, visiting, encouraging, and uplifting members of the community in prayer), and Teachers (The Word-dwellers. They have a heart to incorporate Scripture in their life, and in the life of the community and to help people apply it to their lives).
  2. People need to be taught (shown) how to use their gifts. The fundamental problem is that many people don’t know their gifts. The follow-up is that those who do, often don’t know how to apply and use them. One of the great misfortunes of the current church structure is that we’ve left the majority of the work to ‘the professionals’ and largely paralyzed the work of the people. It’s not enough to show the people that they have gifts (Step 1), they need to be shown what it’s like to use them faithfully.
  3. The Clergy/Laity divide needs to be reworked. In order to do the above, the idea of a clergy and laity divide needs to be abolished. There is no class, structure, or division within the body of Christ, but we are all members together (Paul hammers this point home frequently). While there may still be times that it is advantageous to commission or pay someone for a certain task, that does not elevate them to a higher class or different realm of Christianity. All people need to know their gifts, be taught how to use their gifts, and then be valued and cared for enough to invest them in others.
  4. Leadership and structure need to be rethought. And if you accomplish the first three things on this list, you’re likely going to realize that leadership structure and purpose need to change. It’s helpful, when discussing decisions that need to be made, to create a smaller group of people to study, pray, vision, and plan before bringing it the full community for further discernment and implementation. When creating these groups, make sure that there is at least one person of every gifts included in that community. Their passion and heart will make sure that the issue can be explored together fully and questions that would have gone unasked or unnoticed will be brought up. Apostles ask different questions than Pastors, and Evangelist’s passion is different than Prophets. If all gifts are represented, the ministry can be more effective.
  5. Ownership needs to lie in the community. Once the small group discernment process is complete, the larger community needs to finish discerning together and then own any ministry or plan. Once a plan is in process, continue to make sure that all gifts are represented in any group or ministry organization that comes out of the time of discernment.

Following these five steps equips the church fully to be effective in mission and discipleship both within the church and in the neighborhood. It calls forward all people as valuable members of the community and creates an atmosphere of positive change and momentum within the local body.


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Justin Hiebert

Leadership Catalyst - Entrepreneur - Coach at JSHiebert Leadership Coaching
I am a Business and Life Coach in both non-profit and for profit settings. I coach leaders, executives, and pastors in areas of vision, clarity, and values. In relationship coaching I focus on healthy and sustainable relationships, and in leadership development roles I catalyze change for individuals and groups to thrive. I also consult churches and organizations on how to train new leaders and create a healthy culture. In addition to that, I am an Anabaptist pastor in the Denver metro area. I specialize on topics that include: missional theology, discipleship, culture and the church in today’s society. I am married to my wonderful wife Elise and we have three kids. I grew up and now work in the United States Mennonite Brethren Church (USMB) and love the people and history of the Mennonite Brethren faith. I am a graduate of Tabor College with a dual degree in Youth Ministry and Christian Leadership, a graduate of Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary with a Masters of Divinity, and a Doctoral Student and Bethel Seminary. I also teach college classes in areas of Bible, Communication, and Business.

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