The Church Does The Work Of Ministry Through You, Not Around You

The Church Does The Work Of Ministry Through You, Not Around You

What we’re pursuing at TCBC is costly. We are calling one another to something that requires more than what many will deem to be ‘normal.’ It may feel like a higher standard, but in the light of Scripture, it is just discipleship. Let me try to explain why. 

Discipleship is costly. It is death to self (Luke 14:25-33). It has been almost 100 years since Bonhoeffer penned his now famous commentary: 

The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with his death—we give over our lives to death. Thus it begins; the cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow him, or it may be a death like Luther’s, who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world. But it is the same death every time—death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at his call. (The Cost of Discipleship)

The cost of following Jesus has not changed. However, the strategies of the western church have softened the cost in an effort to be more appealing and palatable. Putting it graciously, this prevailing strategy has not aged well. The evidence is now on the table, presented clearly for all who care to see. Not only did this strategy not work, it put many in harm’s way. Actions that were declared to be missional have shown in the end to be shallow, unwise, and unfaithful. All? Of course not, but so much so that we struggle to see the saturating influence on our understanding of discipleship.

Over the last century, churches began to shift their approach to ministry. Church leaders began to staff and program to work around the church’s immaturity (deficiencies) to accomplish the work of ministry. Leaders found it easier and more affirming to reduce ministry to tasks, especially those that softened the cost, rather than call the saints to grow up and build up. 

As we’ve seen in Ephesians 4 however, this is not what pastors and leaders are called to do. They are set apart to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry – to build up one another to the stature of the fullness of Christ.    

Notice, this is a life-long pursuit of growing into the stature of the fullness of Christ. The temptation was great to work around the church’s deficiencies, rather than build them up. We were deceived by our own well-meant pride and ambition. We wanted to reap tomorrow’s harvest today, especially vocational pastors who rarely stay at one church longer than 5 years. 

It was initially easier, exciting, and engaging, but in the end, it was shallow and left the church immature and in danger of being tossed to and fro. It reduced the “work of ministry” to an add-on, a side project when convenient. It prioritized immediate affirmation. It shifted the aim from transformational growth to presence.

This clearly doesn’t align with what we read in our New Testament, and it doesn’t even pass the eye test. Through 25 years in pastoral ministry I have witnessed so many who were carried away. Despite being in local churches for decades, they still walked as immature children being tossed to and fro. Fearing people might walk away, we’ve left one another to be carried away.  

It should not be so. The church should be eager to build one another up, speaking truth in love, growing, not passive and sluggish. 

At TCBC, your elders and I are prayerfully resolved, with great conviction to equip you for the work of building one another up, regardless of the earthly cost or how long it takes. And let’s not be naive. What we’re doing is harder. Transformational growth is more intrusive. It will be a more difficult road. It will take longer. It may even feel like a higher standard, but the work of building up the body of Christ, discipling one another to grow up into Christlikeness, is clearly given to each of us. You are TCBC’s strategy for discipleship, because you are Christ’s ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:14-20). The ministry is your ministry. The work is your work– the greatest portion of which isn’t confined by TCBC’s programs, but saturates our lives on mission together.

You are called according to His purpose. Walk according to His calling! 

Ephesians 4:12–15 [12] to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, [13] until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, [14] so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. [15] Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 

Daniel Broyles

Elder / Lead Pastor

Daniel Broyles has served as Lead Pastor and Elder at Tri-Cities Baptist Church since 2012. He is married to his wife Amy and they have a daughter named Lena.