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            Niccolo Paganini is one of the most pronounced violinists and composers of his time. When he died in 1840, he willed his beautiful violin to the city of Genoa with one caveat, it must never be played. Grievously, when these wood instruments are unused, they begin to weaken, deteriorate, and decompose. Although his violin is still on display it is unplayable and is only useful in appearance.[1] Likewise, “A Christian’s unwillingness to serve may soon destroy his capacity for usefulness.”[2] Discipleship ministry comprises of delegating like Christ. Ephesians 4:1-16, urges Christians to respond to the calling (vs1-4), follow the example of the one true God  with one salvation (vs5-10), and live in the practical ministry of equipping the saints (vs11-16).

The Calling

            The calling of ministry is not an urging for the select few, but a calling for the Christian church in its entirety to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (Eph. 4:1b).[3] This calling upon the church is not for limited few who are paid in ministry, but rather is delegated to the whole church serving as a part of the body of Christ. “For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (1 Cor. 12:12, 27)[4]

            The church is the living body of Christ that isn’t divided but is rather to be united in the one hope of salvation.[5] Within our bodies each part down to the tiniest of cells and organisms have a part to play in making the body function as its intended purpose. However, when the church is viewed merely as a consumer means of satisfying a personal check box of spirituality the calling for the Christian is missed. Paul shows the call for Christians within the church is to minister together “with all humility, and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:2-3).[6] This calling for ministry is not just for the pastors, but for all Christians delegated within the church. Jesus demonstrates this model of ministry in His calling of discipleship is not just one of converts, but rather He states this purpose is “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt. 28:20).[7]

The Example: One God One Salvation

            When was the last time you heard of a herd of sheep taking down a pack of wolves? A sheep cannot overcome a wolf in a fight. The only way the sheep can find victory is by relying upon its shepherd. In Ephesians 4:5-10 Paul establishes the groundwork for those in ministry is based upon the reliance of the one true God and upon the grace He offers: the gift of salvation. When ministry is done without relying upon this example of the Great Shepherd it leaves the Christian in a dangerous place of ministering for themselves rather than for the Lord.

            The Church is meant to be a one-man show, not based upon the pastor or those serving in ministry, but rather focused on THE ONE MAN. . . Christ with the salvation that He alone supplies. The pastor is not meant to fulfill everyone’s needs, but rather equip the body delegating them to rely upon God’s purpose to become like Christ in practical ministry, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone, when he is fully trained, will be like his teacher” (Lk. 6:40).[8] Jesus’s model of discipleship is based of this centrality of salvation resulting in the equipping of the saints delegating them to become ministers of His grace sharing the Gospel.

“Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever & ever. Amen” (Heb. 13:20-21).[9]

Ministry combines personal and communal callings by disciples fulfilling God’s will together. Through Ephesians 4:5-10 the will of God is demonstrated chiefly through Christ creating a way of salvation for humanity. The Gospel lays the foundation to live in the will of God through faith. God then equips the Christian to serve Him and live in His gift of salvation.

Equipping the Saints

A soldier without equipment cannot be nearly as effective as one prepared with the gear required. Paul likens this sentiment in Ephesians 6 describing the equipping of the saint through his illustration of the armor of God inspired from the armor of God seen in Isaiah 59. The purpose for Christians within the church is not conformity to consumerism but rather equipping and training for godliness with Scripture working within the life of the believer.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).[10] This equipping for good works is not a means of a work-based salvation, but rather a transformative salvation that results in lives being changed by the Scripture and God working within them.

Jesus sets the tone of discipleship through His example of love and service to those whom He was discipling not fulfilling their needs of consumption spirituality, but rather training them to live in the practicalities of ministry equipping them with His words which are the very words of God. This equipping of the saints is a role within all ministry, who should be doing ministry, and the model Christians should follow in.

            Paul lists multiple roles within ministry, “And He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds, and teachers” (Eph. 4:11).[11] The divide between those serving and ministry and the average churchgoer has allowed for a dismissal of serving in ministry as a response to saying “That is not my calling” when God’s purpose for the Christian is for all to respond to His call of ministry following in His steps: disciples making disciples.

The Christian is to become like Christ, and Christ lived in ministry to the church and was committed to this ministry to the point of His death. If Christ was committed to the church, we should be too. For all Christians have received the gift of salvation from God. Therefore, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace” (1 Pt. 4:10).[12] This model of the church is so that the church becomes more like Christ practically being equipped to serve the needs of one another as Christ Himself has served the church. This equipping of the saints is practical training in prayer, devotion, Scripture, and nearness to God.


Our purpose as believers and disciples of Christ is to reach the lost through building up one another in encouragement and drawing closer to God together in practical ways. This leads us not to leave the ministry only to those employed by the church, but to reach out to others ourselves fulfilling the Great Commission. We do this through how we worship, live in practical outreach, serve, share the Gospel, train each other through the Scriptures, pray, study of the Word, and join in fellowship. This mindset of being an equipper changes the perspective on ministry by knowing that God is not just working within the individual but also within those whom you can serve. This calling is to trust God to work within His people by His people. Will you join God in what He is doing today?



Laney, J. Carl. Marching Orders: The Final Discipleship Instructions of Jesus, John 13-17. Victor Books, 1983.

[1] J. Carl Laney, Marching Orders: The Final Discipleship Instructions of Jesus, John 13-17 (Victor Books, 1983), 34.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ephesians 4:1 (ESV).

[4] 1 Corinthians 12:12, 27.

[5] Ephesians 4:4.

[6] Ephesians 4:2-3.

[7] Matthew 28:20.

[8] Luke 6:40.

[9] Hebrews 13:20-21.

[10] 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

[11] Ephesians 4:11.

[12] 1 Peter 4:10.