If Christian believers are to minister in Christ's
name, they have to be able to do so. St Paul,
writing to the young church in Ephesus, expressed it this
(Quotation 1 è)
This letter is believed to be more of a round-robin
to a number of churches - this is normative teaching
meant for all the church then ... and now?
Jesus Christ has given the church all that it needs to
grow, and a clear vision of all the saints
equipped for ministry. (‘Saint’ is simply an
alternative word for ‘disciple’, meaning one who is
being sanctified - made holy - by the Holy Spirit.
If you have difficulty with this word, look at 1 Cor 1:2
and Romans 1:7, as well as the introductory verses to a
number of Paul's other letters.)
Quotation 1: The gifts he [Jesus] gave were that some would be
apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors
and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of
ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of
us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of
the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full
stature of Christ.
We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and
blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people's
trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming.
But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every
way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the
whole body, joined and knitted together by every ligament
with which it is equipped, as each part is working
properly, promotes the body's growth in building itself up
in love. (Ephesians 4:11-16)
What is necessary to equip the saints for the work of
ministry? It is interesting that the church seems to
have paid so little attention to this matter, at least so
far as we at are aware. The 1983 Tiller report A
Strategy for the Church's Ministry 6 makes
the following observations:
(Quotation 2 è)
Follow this link to check out the draft for a lifelong discipleship curriculum.
Follow this link to
find out how you can grow with others through eLearning.
An agreed curriculum
In every place something is needed
which will be adequate to prepare all God’s people
for the work of Christian service (Eph
4:12, GNB; alternative translation = of ministry).
For this purpose it would be possible to suggest a
nationally recognized general training scheme...
… whereas its most important contribution
would be to encourage a developing lay consciousness that
all baptised Christians already have a ministry in their
daily environment which can be strengthened through
...For these reasons it is better to
think in terms of general training continuing to be
provided through local courses, some parish-based, some
deanery-based, and some diocesan-based according to the
availability of resources. There would, however, be great benefits if it
proved possible to devise some agreed curriculum to which
all such general training might relate … (paras
Zooming forward to 1999, the publication Christian
Education and Training for the 21st Century 7,
we note that:
(Quotation 3 è)
This Church of England picture is, to a greater or lesser
extent, imaged in other mainstream churches. At the
same time there are models of discipleship / ministry
training being explored both by independent organisations
like Workshop and by some of the new churches.
Quotation 3: There is no systematic pattern of adult education in
the Church, no ‘national curriculum’. What is
GOOD about this is the energy, imagination and freedom to
develop local or diocesan schemes of high quality which
are exactly tailored to the needs of the local context.
... But there is a PRICE TO PAY. Provision is patchy
and standards vary. It is not possible to say that
all or even most congregations see education and growth in
the faith as an essential part of their calling. Few
parishes have an education budget. Or even a policy
... or a vision? Training may simply be seen as an
optional extra for those who like that kind of thing.