The “nominal” church (remember we are the true church, the Bride of Christ not a denomination or organization) today has done a poor job at best in helping the people get to God.  Paul in Ephesians shared this truth to the Church at Ephesus to establish a base line of thinking and to lay a foundation in them that would enable them to rightly understand the functioning and the power of this mystical body.  Paul writes, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ13  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:”  (Ephesians 4:11-13)  Notice the giving of “apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers” was not for the edifying of the church, but for “the body of Christ.”  There is a huge difference.  And the job of the “apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers” was for “the perfecting of the saints” to enable and empower (through teaching and personal example) the people to be able to reach God not be entertained. Again not the perfecting of the church.  The goal was for us to come “unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:” God’s idea was for us to be conformed into the stature and character of Jesus Christ not build some organization. We my friend are the church, “we are the workmanship of God . . . ” (Ephesians 2:10)  Sadly, we (the apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists, and some, pastors, and teachers) have taught the people how to sing, dance, do skits and dramas, pray (to a certain degree), give money to the church, do good works (feeding and clothing the poor), even traveling the world in missions under the banner of the “great commission,” but have miserably failed to teach the people how to reach God for themselves.  And why?  Well if the people can reach God for themselves there is no need for a pastor to call when they need something from God.  There will be no need for a pastor to pray over them or even intercede on their behalf in their time of crisis or time of need.  Now there are times when we must come for prayer, but this is often a stop gap method and should never be the norm in our daily Christian walk. At times the LORD will direct us to someone who does have a call on their life in spiritual gifts, but that is a very very small portion of the Body of Christ. Most Spiritual gifts I would say 90% of the Spiritual gifts are for the administration  (see 1 Corinthians 12:28) of the day to day running and operation of a local body of Believers.  Somehow (I am sure due to our self-important thinking) we all have gotten it backwards thinking we all have Spiritual gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12:7-10 for the Body of Christ.  This is an old trick to keep people involved and coming to church like giving people certain jobs just to keep them at the church.  I have seen this for years. Now the LORD will use us, but very few are called by God to be “apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers,” but the rest are called to be pew sitters and the better pew sitters we are the better God can be to the Body of Christ.      

         Back in the late 70s there was a notable shift in the delivery of the Gospel message from evangelism to teaching.  Everyone was suddenly teachers and scholars.  It was like when we had our church in Germany many of the African pastors living in Africa were just that pastors or lay leaders, but somewhere over the Mediterranean Sea they became apostles, prophets, and bishops.  Magically they were transformed in the Spirit so they could have a bigger title (how the church is influenced by titles) and name to fleece the flock more completely. The title Jesus gave Himself knowing He was the Son of God was the “Son of man.” Is the servant greater than the Master? How we like to have Dr. and letters added behind  our name.  Funny how we can help plant a church and now we are called bishop or “Bish” by our close friends. Do we really think adding titles to our names is going to help us get people to know God? The goal is not to add to our selves, but to help people come to know God. When we started our church in Germany after every service I would “open up the altar” (not sure what that really means) for those who wanted prayer, well Sunday after Sunday the same people would come forward asking for the same things week after week.  After a while of this and getting phone calls in the middle of the night I saw I was teaching the people to bypass God and come to me or come to me to get to God.  Either way both are 100% wrong.  God must be first in our lives and first on our lips when we reach out.  This what Jesus taught the disciples in Luke in what we call the LORD’s prayer. “And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciplesAnd he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. 4And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.”  (Luke 11:1-4) I always found it odd that John the Baptist could teach His disciples to pray before Jesus could teach his disciples.  Jesus taught the disciples to pray “abba Father” or direct address to the Father.  Now the disciples thought this to be strange because they as good Jews have been taught to pray “avia Father” or around through to the Father.  Every Christmas season many folks sing a song called “Avia Maria” which means salvation through Maria. Jesus was teaching His disciples prayer it is not around through to the Father, but direct address to the Father. This too is what we need to teach our folks to pray (which is translated many ways: comforter, asking, beseeching, but most translated direct address)  directly to the Father and do not go through anyone that means your pastor, teacher, mentor, friend, whomever. I saw in reality my job was to work myself out of a job. The more I could do to get our folks to do for themselves the better off they were in God and the more time I had for my time with the LORD and my family.  How liberating this was.  So that is what I did.  I took my hands off the reins and let the folks do what God had called them to do.  It was wonderful. I would come to service at 10:45 (unless I wanted to go to Sunday School) and take my place in the audience and when I was called by Joseph (our assistant pastor) to minister the word or talk about something we are doing.  If not I did not need to be seen or get involved.  Everyone knew who and what I was, no need to tell everyone. Anyway how else are the leaders of Christliche Gemeinde Stuttgart (our church) going to learn how to be better leaders?  How else are they going to learn how to succeed or fail?                   

         My Bible Teacher Charles Haun said he was not a teacher (only the Holy Spirit can teach us), but a dispenser.  I have thought about that over these many years and you know he is right.  We can teach no one anything.  All we can do is dispense to other to one another what God has put in us. That should be our goal.  To dispense God out from our lives helping others reach God is some way.  As we look forward to 2017 and beyond we better be able to get to God on our own if not we will never make it and then what will we do?