11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love (Ephesians 4.11-16, ESV).
Memory Verse – Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ – Ephesians 4.15
Now that we see the basic need for being part of a small group, let us look at our responsibilities and some outcomes from being part of a small group. First, let us point out not everyone will have the same responsibilities and the way certain responsibilities are carried out might look different in different groups. Therefore, we must find what works in our group and use that as long as we are not deviating from what God’s Word says.
Second, outcomes general speaking is not in our control, they are in the hands of God and other people. As Paul stated to the church at Corinth, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So, then, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (I Corinthians 3.6-7, CSB). It is not about what we each do, but the end result, and that is up to God, we are just called to serve. However, the person receiving our service must also receive, and if they do not there is nothing, we can do about that either.
We must understand these two things because many times we feel like failures because our service is unsuccessful or unfruitful, but the truth is did we do what God asked us to? If we can say, “Yes” then we are not failures but, obedient servants of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul said these positions within the church are there to ‘equip the saints’ to make them ready to serve. This can be done in the corporate setting, but there are a lot of distractions within the corporate setting. How many times has the pastor said something and we have wanted to ask a question about it? This is where small groups come in.
Again, to be clear we are not saying the corporate setting is bad, nor should we never go. On the contrary we must come together in corporate worship and worship our Lord and Savior together (Hebrews 10.23-25). But inside of a small group we can ask questions, drill down on scripture, and have a more intimate conversation about what the Bible has to say as well as how it applies to our particular settings.
Therefore, we are to ‘equip the saints for the ministry’ this is an individual mandate. A one on one or small group kind of thing. Getting each one of the saints ready to do their part in the ministry of Christ. Notice, Paul did not say, ‘some of’, or ‘part of’, but ‘the saints’ thereby, implying ‘all of the saints of Jesus Christ.’
Next, we find our responsibility is to ‘build up the body of Christ,’ and this might seem very much like ‘equip the saints’ however, equip means to give them tools to do the job or task. Whereas, ‘building-up’ means to encourage, or to strengthen, place upon the right foundation and construct accordingly.
We must make sure we are building-up the body of Christ with the correct tools. Using the Word of God, but also giving the truth of the scripture and forming the foundations for which they can stand firm upon in the future. If we only give them nuggets, and nothing else then when they leave the group or church what will they have to fall back on in times of distress or trouble?
Peter warned about false teachers writing, “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute” (II Peter 2.1-2, NIV). Paul to the Galatians in his only letter where he did not give a thanksgiving to the church exhorted them saying, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are confusing you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1.6-7, NRSV).
Knowing the truth, studying the truth together in a corporate setting and in a small group is good for our soul, heart and mind. Not to mention it allows us to stimulate conversation, creativity and thoughts about scripture which we might have never generated had we not been part of the small group in the first place. We need to build each other up, build up the body of Christ if not for these reasons, then for five reasons Paul gives us here in Ephesians.
Yep, there are at least five reasons why we must build up the body of Christ, not just for our well-being, but for the church as a whole. The most effective way we can do this is through small groups. Many of us might be asking how can a small group of people change the dynamic of a church and the answer to that question is pretty obvious.
If we look around the world, we can see how small groups of all kinds of people have changed all kinds of things, so, why should it be any different within the church. Now we are not talking about starting a riot, or coup, but we can affect real healthy change through small groups.
Let’s leave today’s study with this thought; Thom Rainer conducted a study for a book he was writing entitled High Expectations, where they interview hundreds of church members who had joined their churches five years earlier. According to his research they found “those church members who became involved in some type of group in the churches were five times more likely to be active in the church five years later compared to the worship-only attenders.
Oh Lord my God, I thank You for this new year. Lord help me to see my place and responsibilities with my small group. Use me to help build-up Your body into a healthy, fit, example for our community. Not for our glory Lord but for Yours. Lord use our small groups to expand Your kingdom; helping me to boldly serve You each and every day sharing Your gospel. Give me confidence and a fearless heart to be a leader so others will hear and know who You are. This I pray in Jesus Christ’s Name, Amen.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Eph 4:11–16). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
 Christian Standard Bible. (2020). (1 Co 3:6–7). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
 The New International Version. (2011). (2 Pe 2:1–2). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ga 1:6–7). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
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