EMPOWER Up Close
Have you ever felt that much of the burden of God’s church rested upon your shoulders? If so, it’s time to understand the Biblical principle of empowerment.
“The work of God in this earth can never be finished until the men and women comprising our church membership rally to the work and unite their effort with those of ministers and church officers” (Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 9, p. 116).
A dedicated pastor may carry the church for a while but this is an unacceptable and unsustainable model. The members and pastor must work together as a team if the church is going to succeed. Every believer is a disciple-making disciple and God desires that we reach our full potential together. It’s crucial that the congregation be empowered and encouraged to get involved in the focused ministries of the church. Otherwise, we end up with churches where an overwhelming amount of responsibility rests heavily on the pastor or a few church members.
This principle of empowerment is highlighted in Acts chapter six when the church deals with its first internal problem. When “there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution” (Acts 6:1), what did the apostles do? After concluding that “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables” (Acts 6:2), they entrusted the congregation to deal with it and delegated responsibility to them.
Because the apostles needed to focus on preaching and teaching, they empowered the disciples to work in new areas of ministry. Note that only qualified individuals were empowered by the apostles. The congregation was told, “Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business” (Acts 6:3). Church leadership must be prayerfully chosen. Empowering the wrong person can be as equally disastrous as not empowering anyone at all.
The church developed its organizational structure according to its needs as disciples were made deacons and empowered with new responsibilities. This decision “pleased the whole multitude” (Acts 6:5) and “the word of God spread, and the number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem” (Acts 6:7).
Shortly after deacons were empowered, something amazing happened. Stephen, a deacon, was empowered by the Holy Spirit with the gift of prophecy to “seal up the vision” of Daniel 9 (Daniel 9:24; Acts 7:55, 56). Then the deacon Philip received the gift of evangelism (Acts 8:4, 5; 21:8). Don’t miss this point. As the church empowered its disciples, God empowered them with special gifts to accelerate church growth.
Of the disciples, sister White wrote, “Forgetting that strength to resist evil is best gained by aggressive service, they began to think that they had no work so important as that of shielding the church in Jerusalem from the attacks of the enemy” (Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 105). To focus all their attention there would have been a grave mistake and supremely detrimental to the gospel commission. We must not be satisfied with local success alone. Our mission field is the world and empowerment comes in the context of “aggressive service” to the Lord. Believers who have been nurtured to become disciples and then empowered within the church are given gifts by God to do an even greater work in reaching the world outside the local church.
The principles of Reflect, Empower, and Nurture focus on the internal growth and development of the church. This is called momentum growth and it precedes the strategic growth of Evangelize and Witness.
To better understand the principle of Empower, we will:
- Study what leadership means in a local church and why it matters.
- Understand the Biblical role of spiritual gifts in leadership.
- Discover the true goal of Christ-centered leadership.
- Learn how to develop a culture of leadership in the church.