STUDY | Spend the week studying Ephesians 4:12-13. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.
DETERMINE | Many questions have been included in this guide. Read through this lesson to determine which questions will work best to encourage, push, and grow your group.
PRAY | As you prepare, pray for the preaching of God’s Word this coming weekend. Pray also for your time in this week’s study and your group’s openness to God’s Word.
LANDING POINT | God’s ultimate purpose in your life is for you to equip and serve others.
Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion
- Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
- No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
- No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
- Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group.
As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.
Mel and Amy were faithfully attended church every Sunday morning, but rarely found other ways to get involved in church life. Recently, Mel’s job caused them to relocate, which meant changing churches. They found a church they liked and had been going there for nearly three months when their pastor invited them to dinner.
Over pizza, the pastor asked Mel and his wife a strange question. “Mel and Amy, what kind of napkin are you?” “What do you mean, pastor?” Mel responded, perplexed. “Are you the kind of napkin under your chin or the kind that’s draped over that server’s arm? One you use for eating, the other for serving. We’re looking for believers who come through our doors ready to serve, not just be served.” Mel thought for a moment. Then Amy spoke up, “Well, pastor, I suppose we’d like to be the napkin used for serving. Could you help us get plugged in somewhere?”
As Mel’s pastor illustrated, church isn’t a place for us to come and consume. It’s a place to come and serve. This week, your group will discuss what it means to use your gifts to equip and serve others. When we use our gifts for others, we build up the Body of Christ and help others connect truth to life. This is God’s ultimate purpose for us.
Q: What’s the difference between someone who comes to church to be served as opposed to someone who comes to serve?
Q: How would church be different if everyone came ready to serve?
Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.
ROLL UP YOUR SLEEVES
Paul has just explained how Christ gives all believers spiritual gifts. These various gifts have a purpose, which Paul describes in v.12. That purpose is to equip believers for ministry and build up the Body of Christ. Leaders are gifted to equip others to use their gifts for ministry. The work of ministry isn’t just for church staff. God calls all believers to roll up their sleeves and get to work. When everyone uses their gifts in this way, it builds up the Body of Christ.
READ: Ephesians 4:12-13. What stands out to you in this passage?
Q: Explain the following statement in your own words: “The work of ministry isn’t just for church staff.”
Paul gives three goals for building up the Body of Christ. First, Paul wanted believers to experience unity in two areas: faith and knowledge. Whatever differences there might be in our backgrounds or life stages, our faith in Christ unites us as one. Our knowledge of who He is and what He has done shows us how we should live and relate to one another. Second, building up leads to maturity in the Body of Christ. Believers help each other grow in their faith. All believers have a responsibility to make sure that those within the Body of Christ grow up spiritually.1 Third, building up leads to full Christlikeness. Spiritual transformation means that we become more and more like Jesus.
Q: What are common causes for disunity in the church?
Q: Think of someone you consider mature in their faith. What are they like?
Select 2-3 question from this section to answer.
Paul calls leaders to equip the “saints.” All believers are called saints, which is translated as “holy ones.”2 Regardless of your past, position, or personality, you have been made holy by God. When you understand that saint is your core identity, it changes the way you live. God has made it possible for you to experience powerful life change on this earth.
Q: What’s one creative thing you can do this week to remember that God calls you a saint?
A saint equips others for the work of ministry. This is the call of every believer, not just those on the church payroll. The Bible says that when someone comes to faith, they are like a spiritual infant. Infants need almost constant care and guidance. Like the parent of a small child, equippers walk alongside growing disciples and guide them to maturity with love, encouragement and rebuke when necessary.
Q: What happens when we fail to care for the needs of spiritual infants in our church?
Q: In what ways are you currently equipping others?
What exactly is the “work of ministry” Paul refers to in v.12? It can mean variety of things, reflecting the beautiful diversity in the Body of Christ. Each of us has unique gifts for the work God has called us to. Maybe God is calling you to lead a small group, or perhaps He has placed the needs of the poor on your heart and wants you to start a project to serve them. Maybe you have a passion for student ministry and want to disciple teenagers. If you aren’t sure where to serve, ask others what gifts they see in you.
Q: Where might God be calling you to serve in your life?
God shapes us into His image as we use our gifts and equip others to do the same. Jesus’ life is our example of a true servant, who equipped others for the work of ministry. The Father sent Jesus to serve, not be served. And God wants us to follow in Christ’s footsteps. As we live out Jesus’ example of servanthood, the Holy Spirit shapes us to be more and more like him.
While God shapes us, He calls us to shape others. He wants us to help others connect truth to life, and we do that by modeling what a life-changing relationship with Jesus looks like. This shines a light on the path for others to follow, and helps people discover, walk in, and fulfill their purpose in life.
READ: Read John 14:26. What does the Holy Spirit do for us? How does He shape us?
Q: How does your group shape one another? What could you do differently or better?
Spend time praising God for how He gifts and equips each believer for His work. Ask God to reveal areas where you can roll up your sleeves and get to work. Pray that your motivation would be to build up the Body of Christ.
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
Read Ephesians 2:10. Reflect on how this passage relates to spiritual gifts and how they should be used.
Ask the group to share any stories or lessons learned where they see God at work in their life.
saints as witnesses
A saint is one who claims Jesus is Lord. Repeatedly in the New Testament letters, believers are referred to as “saints.” The term is used most frequently in Revelation, where its meaning is expanded to include those who are a “faithful and true witnesses for Jesus.”3 To be a witness is to let your life and words say something about who Jesus is and what He does.
More on Unity
Throughout the Bible, there is the call for believers to be united. See John 17:23; Rom. 6:5; 12:6,16; Eph. 1:10; 2:14; Phil. 2:1; Col. 3:13-14; 1 Pet. 3:8; 1 John 4:12.
Fullness as the Goal
In his commentary, Tremper Longman III explains, “measuring up to Christ is the Church’s ideal and target—the goal of knowing him. Maturity as a church derives only through its integral relationship to Christ as it comes to know him more and more.”4 Christ’s life is the standard, and all believers should strive to live like him in every way.
1. William W. Klein, “Ephesians,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition), ed. Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland, vol. 12 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006), 120.
2. William Vermillion, “Saints,” ed. Chad Brand et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 1432.
4. William W. Klein, “Ephesians,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition), ed. Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland, vol. 12 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006), 120.