You’ve heard it said: “Use the church to build people, not people to build the church.”
Of course, building people and building a church are not mutually exclusive. Both require partnering with Christ, the Master Builder, as He builds His church and His people.
In fact, it is as we build people that they develop the spiritual maturity to also serve as co-laborers with Christ, building His church. Developing this maturity is the job of spiritual leaders in the local church:
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:—Ephesians 4:11–12
But how? How specifically can we intentionally invest in people? In what ways do we need to build?
1. Build the Spiritual Health of God’s People
Next to the burden of reaching more people with the gospel, the greatest burden on my heart is to see our church family grow in grace. Without spiritual health, there will be no lasting spiritual fruit.
The most intentional ways we labor to build spiritual health is in prayer and through preaching. Sound basic? It is. In fact, it’s foundational.
Beyond praying for special health needs, job opportunities, or immediate crises, I pray for the spiritual health and growth our church family. The greatest joy of my life is to see Christians maturing in godliness and Christlikeness.
As a pastor, I also preach with a heart for the spiritual health of God’s people. I don’t just want people to change their behavior as a result of preaching (although that should come), but I want them to allow God to convict and change their hearts.
At Lancaster Baptist Church, we put an emphasis on the preaching ministry with three preaching services a week. And as a pastor, I have to work to guard my study time to give diligent preparation to the preaching of God’s Word.
Laboring in the Word and in prayer is, in fact, labor. But there is no shortcut to prayer and preaching in building Christlikeness in the church.
My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,—Galatians 4:19
2. Build a Biblical Vision within God’s People
God has given me a strong vision for the future at Lancaster Baptist Church. But that vision can’t stop with me. I must intentionally build it in the hearts of others.
I want our church family to hunger to see more of what God can do. I want them to desire to reach more people with the gospel. I want them to be unwilling to rest content with the status quo.
This requires intentional times of casting vision. It involves sharing with others what God has laid on my heart. This is done through special services such as Vision Night at the beginning of a year, a soulwinning launch Sunday, and Ministry Involvement Night. It is also done through regular preaching services and one-on-one mentoring.
Where there is no vision, the people perish….—Proverbs 29:18
3. Build Christian Fellowship among God’s People
Fellowship is one of the most direct ways of building unity within a church family as well as encouraging the relationships that bring about growth.
One of the primary places for Christian fellowship (as well as spiritual accountability) is the adult Bible classes of a church. This is why I am passionate about every member of our church family being plugged into an adult Bible fellowship.
The need for fellowship is also one of the key reasons our Sunday evening service begins at 5:00—to allow time for hospitality and family fellowships in homes after church.
Finally, fellowship is built through serving together. Do you want to encourage a new Christian’s faith? Invite him to serve with you! Whether that be an invitation to go soulwinning together, to serve in a church ministry, or to make a visit to a shut in, simply asking him to serve with you, allows for godly fellowship and building.
And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.—Acts 2:42
4. Build a Dynamic Faith in God’s People
This point traces back to spiritual health, for a healthy Christian is a faith-filled Christian.
But it moves beyond heart health to action. For working faith will always work—it will express itself in action.
Dynamic faith keeps you from slipping into a continual comfort zone. It compels you forward to invest yourself in the work of the Lord. It leads you to witness to another person. To give to support another missionary. To take time to prepare another lesson. It is the kind of faith spiritual leaders want to nurture in those they serve.
Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;—1 Thessalonians 1:3
As a spiritual leader, are you intentionally building God’s people? Are you investing in new Christians? Mentoring growing leaders? Developing biblical vision? Challenging those you lead to demonstrate a dynamic faith?
All of this is needful to your role of “perfecting the saints” and “edifying the body of Christ.” But none of it happens by accident. Even as a building doesn’t build itself, so mature Christians require intentional investment.
If you are committed to building God’s people, you will love the 2015 Spiritual Leadership Conference and its theme, “I Will Build.” Based on the words of Jesus in Matthew 16:18—“I Will build My church”—this conference will give you practical equipping to co-labor with Christ in the greatest building project the world has ever seen—the New Testament local church.
For more information, including dates, speakers, session titles, and videos, visit slconference.com.