The Greek word oikodomeo means to increase the potential of someone or something. We are busy increasing the potential of one another to fully carry out their service to God and to one another. This is seen in our loyalty to the Christian ethic and our love for one another and the world. This potential, realized is seen in our knowledge and sanctification in Christ, our love for the body and our outreach to the lost. We stand for truth with passion. We rescue one another spiritually and materially, and enjoy rich fellowship with one another in Christ. We confront the world with the miracle of the gospel of Christ. How do pastors produce these kind of Christians? Well, they don’t do it by focusing on programs and brief sermons that really don’t get at the heart of those issues that are keeping us from becoming the equipped saints God has called us to be. It takes a deliberate plan on the part of the pastor to produce Christians like this! These are Christians who meet regularly with one another outside the two services we have each week. They share and pray and fellowship. They call you when you go missing for a service or two. They come after you. They confront you when you sin! They don’t let you slide in the name of “love.” They are always talking about Jesus and Scripture and the battle we find ourselves in. They are never satisfied with the status quo. They care about you and their behavior leaves no room for doubt that that is the case. But how do pastors produce Christians like this?
Secondly, a church like this takes a lot more work than its counterpart. The need for a discipleship program is essential if you want a church like this. Someone needs to put that in place and manage it. It needs focus and lots of attention, serious attention. Nothing is more important to the health of a church than a sound discipleship program. Show me a church without a discipleship program and I will show you a spiritually unhealthy church every time. It never fails. There is an extremely high correlation between the spiritual health of a church and the quality of its discipleship program.
Paul says that the pastor has been given to the church for a specific purpose. However, more than that, the pastor has been given to the church for a certain period of time. The Greek word mechris is a conjunction that serves as a marker of continuance, up to a period of time. What is that time period then? The time period until we all attain to the entoteta tes pisteos and tes epignoseos tou huiou tou theou. Until we all reach the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God. There are three things that measure how the pastor is doing in respect to his job of equipping: the unity of the church in the faith; the extend of the church’s knowledge in Christ; the spiritual maturity of the congregation. These are the things the pastor should be monitoring on a regular basis. But is that the attitude of the modern pastor? Does he busy himself with the spiritual maturity of the congregation collectively as well as individually? Conversely, does he take the view that their spiritual growth is really up to them? Has he convinced himself that all he has to do is preach a 30-40 minute sermon and his work is finished?
As a result of this work of the pastor, there is a state that the Christian community should reach. One, we should not be tossed about by every wind of doctrine and trickery of men that comes along. There should be stability of doctrine and praxis. Yet we see younger men coming along and attempted to undo everything that has been accomplished in the name of a postmodern arrogance. I call them young blind fools who are so simple in their thinking skills that they consider our current state intellectual and even spiritual progress. Second, we should be speaking the truth in love. The most important thing in our lives should be a burning passionate love for the truth. We should love God’s truth more than anyone or anything else. The Christian community should be a solid rock of age-old tradition soundly speaking God’s truth, demonstrating God’s love, without shrinking back from the tasks before her. She should be a group of closely-knit God fearing, truth honoring, gospel preaching individuals holding one another accountable, singing songs and hymns, and lifting one another up in the grace of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. The most talked about program in the church should be the discipleship program.