Encouraging Words for Ministry

I have used 99 piece puzzles in many different training events.  The key to these puzzles after one determines a “puzzle working style” is how to use the picture on the puzzle box. This picture becomes the guide for actually putting the puzzle together. The picture for equipping the church is found in Ephesians 4 and 1 Corinthians 1:4-9. These two passages provide the essential idea that there is a place of ministry for every saint and the congregation is not complete until every saint has their place

A congregation of believers is a lot like a multiple-piece puzzle. Each member with his or her gifts comprises the overall puzzle.  In many puzzles/congregations, many pieces turn up missing.  When this happens, of course it is difficult to complete the puzzle and sometimes even the puzzle is discarded.

When Paul wrote the Corinthians early in his first letter to them, he encouraged them by saying they had everything they needed to do the work of that church (1 Corinthians 1:4-9).   It is not a stretch to say that every church/congregation is equipped with all it needs to do the work God has called it to—most like a puzzle with all its pieces!

It is the work of the ministers, as Paul described in Ephesians 4, to equip the saints for the work of the church.  The word equip suggests several ideas—mend a sail, set a broken bone, remove distractions, provide resources for completion of a task. In this passage the equipping work is to enable the saints to understand and grasp his or her role of service within the congregation.  When this is accomplished, the congregation is built up and completely able to move forward—and in the parlance of our original analogy, the puzzle is completed.

The intriguing part of working a puzzle is the edges and shapes of each piece.  There is no “one size fits all”; this provides a lot of angst sometimes in ministry simply because, as leaders, the tendency is to throw one method on everyone, thinking the job is completed.  As Ephesians 4 is investigated, several different ministry types are suggested—ways of doing ministry and all needed separately.  Leadership that focuses on multiple ways of identifying gifts, abilities, personality traits, and passions are sometimes stretched, but more often than not this stretching produces the wonderful missing pieces which make the puzzle complete.

When my grandkids work some of my teaching puzzles, they are always asking if all the pieces are present.  I tell them I am not sure.  They are two ways you can be sure that every piece of ministry readiness is available for your church—get people equipped for their God—given responsibility and, second, encourage these equipped saints to fit—they have the piece of the puzzle sometimes to complete the puzzle.  There is nothing quite so wonderful as a brother or sister finding their place of service in God’s Kingdom.

The picture of the puzzle on the box is a great clue in working a puzzle—as leaders our obedience to the Holy Spirit and diligence in doing our work completes the puzzle —an equipped congregation!

Reposted from Tim J. Holcomb with permission.