Bob Moffit’s Ephesians 4:12 sledgehammer

Reading Bob Moffit’s uber-fabulous If Jesus Were Mayor and came across a paragraph so juicy and so relevant to what we’re talking about in this blog that I would have stood up and cheered had my wife not been asleep when I read it:

Paul wrote of five ministry classifications for church leaders–apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. He wrote, though, of only one overarching job description for them all: ‘to prepare God’s people for works of service.‘ Whatever a church leader’s ministry gift or calling is, it must result in God’s people being equipped for good works. The implication of this passage is both clear and challenging: If the work of church leaders does not result in equipping the members to serve, they have not fulfilled the task they were assigned.

Through the magic of search and replace coupled with shameless plagiarism and a gratuitious and self-serving edit or two, we can produce something darn near like a one paragraph manifesto of what we’ve been blabbering on in this blog about for several days now:

Paul wrote of five ministry classifications for Christian leaders, and one can safely assume that nonprofit ministry leadership falls somewhere in this bunch–apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. He wrote, though, of only one overarching job description for them all: ‘to prepare God’s people for works of service.‘ Whatever a nonprofit ministry leader’s ministry gift or calling is, it must result in donors (what we call champions) being equipped for good works. The implication of this passage is both clear and challenging: If the work of nonprofit leaders does not result in equipping donors/champions to serve, they have not fulfilled the task they were assigned.

Preparing God’s people for works of service has to mean something more than building a donor file and prayer partners who support you, just like it has to mean more for a pastor than encouraging worship attendance, prayer, and getting folks to give generously to the offering.

This doesn’t mean that every donor/champion grows so much in the cause that s/he replaces the executive director any more than that every church member grows so much that they replace the pastor. It does mean, however, that there should be a continuum from donor/champion through executive director just the same way as there should be a continuum from church congregant through pastor.

Traditional development structures are just not set to deliver that, no matter how well-intentioned the practitioner. Ephesians 4:12 is a sledgehammer that busts up traditional development, friendraising, personal support development–you name it. Because Ephesians 4:12 says that the way we evaluate our development efforts is to ask:

How well are you preparing God’s people for the works of service He prepared for them beforehand?

About Pastor Foley

The Reverend Dr. Eric Foley is CEO and Co-Founder, with his wife Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, supporting the work of persecuted Christians in North Korea and around the world and spreading their discipleship practices worldwide. He is the former International Ambassador for the International Christian Association, the global fellowship of Voice of the Martyrs sister ministries. Pastor Foley is a much sought after speaker, analyst, and project consultant on the North Korean underground church, North Korean defectors, and underground church discipleship. He and Dr. Foley oversee a far-flung staff across Asia that is working to help North Koreans and Christians everywhere grow to fullness in Christ. He earned the Doctor of Management at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland, Ohio.
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6 Responses to Bob Moffit’s Ephesians 4:12 sledgehammer

  1. Crusher says:

    It seems the cut-and-paste potentially twists the meaning of this passage. Isn’t Ephesians specifically referring to the ministry of good works as preaching of the Gospel rather than doing ministry activities? If we take the whole passage and book of Ephesians, it would appear Paul is specifically speaking of the preaching of the Gospel as the ministry of good works and not the “good works” of ministry that we think of as feeding the poor, helping the homeless, etc.

    Taken with Acts 6 (and the rest of Paul’s writings), it seems that the good works of ministry are not equal to the work of preaching the Gospel, and clearly secondary to the purpose of preaching the Gospel. The implication of this passage being that if ministries are not equipping people to preach the Gospel, then they have not fulfilled the task that they were assigned, even if they equip people to do really good ministry (which of course, we should do, but only as a way to preach the Gospel if we are applying Ephesians to our development).

    So the sledgehammer of Ephesians 4:12 as it applies to development is whether we are preparing people to preach Christ crucified for our sins and risen on the third day as foretold by the prophets.

  2. EFoley says:

    I’d have to disagree with you there, Crusher, though I appreciate your post and your love for proclamation. Moffit responds better to your comment than I would, so let me plagiarize him again from If Jesus Were Mayor: “Proclamation” and “demonstration” are both needed to communicate the Gospel in its fullness. “Proclamation”–preaching or teaching–is essential. Yet the message is hindered unless there is also “demonstration”. “Demonstration” is practical expression of the Gospel of God’s love. It “demonstrates” the reality of God and validates the message….The Apostle Paul wrote: For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepaerd in advance for us to do.

    And so ends Moffit’s quote. I think it would actually twist the passage and the letter to the Ephesians to suggest that preaching the Gospel marks the length and breadth of the good works God has ordained for the church to do. We tread on dangerous ground when we separate the preaching of the Gospel from caring for the poor and the homeless. We end up with faith without works and works without faith.

  3. Crusher says:

    E,

    I agree that we can’t have either faith without works or works without faith. I just wanted to emphasize the works without faith piece, as I see the current state of the church to be based in lots of works, but what is the number from the UnChristian Barna study – only 2-3% of professed born again Christians have a biblical world view. There is a clear lack of teaching the Gospel in churches despite the quantity of works that these churches accomplish.

    So I said “potentially” with the cut-and-paste as I didn’t disagree, but wanted to emphasize that the Proclamation piece must be present if we are going to actually prepare Christians for works of ministry. I’ll clarify my position in affirming that this does not negate the necessity of demonstration, only that the demonstration has meaning in the context of the Gospel, not absent or in lieu of.

  4. Pingback: The Partnership-Beats-Pity reading list for Development Professionals « Transformational Giving

  5. Brian the beaten sheep says:

    I don’t believe in personal evangelism at all, and I refuse to do it. I used to witness constantly, but now that I know the true meaning of Ephesians 4:12 as set forth in the KJV, it becomes clear that paid Christians do the work of the ministry, and I no longer need to witness. There are two kinds of Christians in this world: those who give, and those who go. You can’t both give and go because you would serving as a soldier at your own expense, in violation of 1 Cor. 9:7. Deuteronomy 25:4 now governs everything that I do. If it doesn’t put bread on my table, IT’S NOT HAPPENING.
    So go ahead, get out that bloody flagrum you like to bring down upon the backs of the working poor every Sunday and mercilessly beat the sheep and see what you get: Empty pews and scattered sheep. You clergy whip the sheep and rob the poor (literally taking bread out of the mouths of children) ,when really you should be out preaching the gospel to the lost for the money we pay you. Every shepherd is required to be out looking for lost sheep (Ezekiel 34). Any clergyman who fails to go and preach to the lost HAS STOLEN THE WORKING MAN’S MONEY.

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