An Apostolic Understanding – Part Thirty-two

Let’s talk for a few days about the apostolic ministry that God is raising up around the world and in every nation…

Around the world God is making major changes in the ChurchThe way we view the Church
The way the Church functions
The work that the Church is involved in
The way that this work is carried out

These changes will not always be welcomed by everyone nor will everyone accept them as something God is doing. The changes, if embraced, will take the Church from being very pastoral and inwardly focused to being apostolic and prophetic and thus outward focused…Focused on winning the lost and not simply on caring for and ministering to the saved

These foundational changes in the way we see the Church and think about the work of the Church (ministry) will move us from maintenance to true ministry

From a Church viewpoint to a Kingdom viewpoint

We are in a season when the Holy Spirit is bringing changes that are of seismic proportions that will bring the Church back into line with the biblical model of the Church as seen throughout the New Testament …We will see the Church that Jesus is building as contrasted to the Church that man has built

Matthew 16:18 “…I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”

This apostolic model of the Church is founded upon a solid biblical base…

1 Corinthians 12:28 “And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.”

This is how God planned churches to be planted – and how they are to function. Starting the work with an apostle and with an apostle as the key leader. An apostle is the one who first comes into an area to plant the Gospel of the Kingdom. Apostles don’t plant church – they plant the Gospel like seeds in good soil. That apostle or other apostles will water the seed. God brings the increase

1 Corinthians 3:6 “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.”

This church then carries the DNA of an apostle and is a living organism. Jesus’ DNA as He is “…the apostle and high priest” Hebrews 3:1. And the DNA of the founding ‘minister’ who is an apostle. This church becomes apostolic in nature and in its life together

We have seen…pastors come in to an area and plant a church…These churches then carries the DNA of a pastor and functions pastorally. Usually very inwardly focused and members take care of each other. Not focused outwardly on the lost and expanding the Kingdom. A pastoral church can adapt and change and become an apostolic church. A pastoral church can grab hold of the current move of the Holy Spirit and enter into the fullness that God has planned for it. However, it must be done intentionally – does not just happen. It means major changes in all aspects of the life of that local church. It will release dynamic “life” within the congregation as the members fulfill God’s call on His Church.

We become the Church – no longer go to church. No longer come to an assembly to be taught – come to be equipped for ministry. Not interested in information for information’s sake. Now wanting to see transformation – life change.

After all, Jesus said: John 6:63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”

The changes are massive and dramatic – but exciting and dynamic

Matthew 19:26b “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

So, 1 Corinthians 12:28 “…first apostles…”

This is where Jesus started

Acts 1:2 “Jesus ascended into Heaven after giving instructions to the apostles he had chosen…”There were many other believers / disciples following Jesus at this time – but He chose to give instructions to His apostles … “first apostles…”

When Jesus wanted to start a Church, He began with apostles. These first apostles established the first church.

Acts 2:42 “They were devoting themselves to the apostles teaching”

Acts 2:43 “Miraculous signs were done by the apostles”

Acts 4:2 “The apostles were teaching the people”

Acts 4:33 “The apostles were continuing to testify”

More next time…

An Apostolic Understanding – Part Thirty-one

The Church – the true apostolic church being built by Jesus – is the Body of Christ, Romans 12:4-5 compares the operation of an apostolic church to a complex physical body. “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”

Paul points out that a physical body has many organs, many members. They are all different, but they need to work together. Your lungs and your brain are not in competition. Your eyes and your ears do not argue about which is most important. Every part is important, and their common goal is the health of the body.

The Body of Christ has many members also. There are apostles, prophets, teachers, shepherds, healers, encouragers, administrators, and many others. Each member has a different God-given purpose, and when each member fulfills its function, the whole body operates in great power.

That was God’s plan for His Church. And it was revolutionary. God’s plan was to bring together a diverse group of people, place His Spirit in each of them, give them each a unique set of gifts, then knit them together to function as a single living organism.

Their purpose was to be the Body of Christ on earth, doing the same works Jesus did when He was walking around in His physical body. John 14:12 states, ““Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.”

You and I were created to be part of that Body. When God designed you, He gave you a unique personality and a unique set of abilities. When He saved you and you were baptized in the Holy Spirit, He gave you a unique set of spiritual gifts. No one else can do what you can do in the way that you do it.

Like the organs of the human body, we are all different, but essential. The problem with the traditional church is that only a few parts are allowed to operate. The “pastor” is a mouth that speaks. The members are allowed to be hands that serve. The missionaries (another non-biblical role, position, and word) are feet that go. But most people just attend.

Believers were created and saved (and Baptized in the Holy Spirit) to do more than attend church. But in the pastoral model this is what the majority of the body parts do – they sit and don’t function. Thus we have a really sick and non-functioning body.

But, you were created to do more than attend church. Some are created to heal the sick. But, most have never prayed for a sick person in their life time. They have no idea how to even begin. But it is their call and destiny, and they will never be fulfilled or satisfied until they do it. When they finally go out and lay their hands on the sick and see them healed, it will be the most exciting thing that they have ever done.

Some are created to lead worship. Some are to care for others and even encourage others. Some are gifted to perform miracles. Others will have the ministry of casting out demons, or deliverance. Everyone is called to prophesy but some will see this as a major gift and ministry and their role in the Body of Christ.

It does not matter where you work, how much money you make, or what you can buy. If you are not trained, equipped, and released to do what you were created and called to do, you will never find fulfilment in life.

This is the pastoral church model.

However, in the apostolic model of the church, where Christians are equipped to do the works of Jesus, they experience a level of meaning and purpose they have never known before. The result is that the Church truly begins to function as the Body of Christ. It is no longer a congregation of untrained laymen (another non-biblical term). It becomes the army of God doing the works of King Jesus in the earth…literally the Body of Christ alive, healthy, and functioning well.

The apostle’s call and giftings is to create an atmosphere where all of this can happen. And where apostles are welcomed and their gifting allowed to function in its fulness, the fivefold ministry is established, believers are equipped and the Church moves forward with incredible power to fulfill its destiny.

We are living in exciting time. God is re-formed His Church. He is in the midst of the greatest building project in history, and we are His building material. We are living stones, being joined together in Jesus forming God’s temple in the earth. God is building a sanctuary where His presence will be experienced and a people who will walk in His power will be released as ambassadors and ministers of reconciliation. God is restoring the apostolic church.

 

Jesus, The Revolutionary

Jesus Christ is NOT ONLY…

The Saviour The Messiah The Prophet The Priest The Apostle The Healer The King

He is also the Revolutionary
He was not a rebel…or even rebellious The difference:

“a rebel attempts to change the past; a revolutionary attempts to change the future”

Jesus was and still is a revolutionary … wanting to change the future / your’s, mine, the world’s

YET, few Christians think of Him as a revolutionary Fewer yet know Him as a revolutionary

If you read the Bible without your religious and traditional glasses If you read the Bible with the Holy Spirit helping you to see clearly You will discover Jesus, the revolutionary

The revolutionary teacher
Radical prophet
Annoying and even irritating preacher (provocative)
Controversial in His lifestyle
Iconoclast – a person who attacks established beliefs and institutions Implacable opponent of the religious establishment (relentless, unstoppable)

Remember:

“a rebel attempts to change the past; a revolutionary attempts to change the future”

Jesus was never harsh or critical with His own people He is full of mercy and kindness

Read more

An Apostolic Understanding – Part Thirty

Then word ‘apostle’ refers to a very specific calling from God. “Apostle” is not a title you give to someone to honour them. It is a job description for a specific call and role assigned to specific people called to that position. “Apostle” is not a title you give to honour or recognize them. It is a call given by Jesus on a person’s life. That person is a gift from Jesus to the Church universal (Ephesians 4:11).

However, the apostle does have a specific place or places that they are called to minister. And, they must be careful to remain within that geographical region. The calling of an apostle does carry a high level of authority.

In some areas of the Church they are called ambassadors. However, this is biblically incorrect as all born again believers are ambassadors for the Kingdom and for Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:20).

The word apostle simply means “the sent one.” And, when the apostle is functioning in an area and in a local church then the people become apostolic – they are sent out into their community and neighbourhoods to share Jesus with others. The Church then can obey “go into the all the world and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). This is known as the Great Commission or the marching orders and mandate on the Church.

Because we have the non-biblical role of ‘local pastor’ leading almost all churches then we have become ‘pastoral’ and not ‘apostolic’. We are minding the sheep and praying for each other and making sure everyone within the church is loved and cared for. God never designed a pastoral church led by a local pastor- He has always wanted an apostolic church lead by apostles with people being sent out (apostolic) to plant the seeds of the Gospel of the Kingdom.

Apostles because of their call have the authority to say things like:
“This goes there”
“This is out of order”
“Here is your next step”
“You are going to be in a mess if you don’t deal with this”
“This person is not an elder – they are really a deacon”
“This person has no leadership call upon their life and so should not be on the team”
“There are some major cracks in your church’s spiritual foundation that need repair”

Incredibly, when churches pay attention to what an apostle says, they grow and prosper. Otherwise, they simply slowly die until they close and disappear without anyone even noticing. The apostle knows how to set things in order – God’s order for that local church and region. And, when things are placed in order they work as they were meant to work within the fellowship and assembly of the local church. When a church submits itself to an apostle’s gift (done relationally and not hierarchically – see below), it begins to prosper and grow in incredible ways.

But, some Christians don’t like the idea of apostolic authority. The mention of apostolic authority fills them with fear and mistrust. Some have been wounded by authority figures in the past and don’t want to submit to any authority. Others are simply rebellious. Some don’t have a biblical understanding of authority. Some desire to be ‘lone rangers.’

Some believers mistakenly picture apostolic authority as a hierarchy. But apostolic authority is not a hierarchy. When you talk about apostolic authority, some people demand an organizational chart in order to see where they are in the hierarchy so that they can pin down ‘who gets to control whom,’ and where they stand in the pecking order. But that is not God’s picture of apostolic authority.

How did we get such a negative view of spiritual authority? In the 4th century, Emperor Constantine restructured the church after the pattern of Imperial Rome. It was a system based on control. His church buildings were ornate basilicas, patterned after the imperial throne room.

Constantine gave church leaders thrones to sit on. There was a throne at the front of every basilica. Church offices became positions of political power and a hierarchy was established; the bigger your church the bigger your throne. Ambition was encouraged. Each step gained more power and influence until you made it to the top. When you got to the top, you were the Pope, the ruler of the religious empire – the Holy Roman Empire.

The Protestant Reformation really did not change much in this regard. A typical Protestant church still looks a lot like a throne room. The leaders often have chairs on the platform that look like thrones. And there’s a constant power struggle. Everyone still wants a bigger church, more authority and power, and thus they want to be “Pope”.

This is not how the church is suppose to operate. In Mark 10 Jesus said, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42b-45)

So, those who are called into the fivefold ministry – including the apostle – is there to serve the local and regional churches and not rule over them. They do this relationally and not through some organizational flow chart. The apostles were servants of the Church who laid down their lives for that Church.

In Acts 20:19-24 Paul described his apostleship as “serving the Lord with tears and trials … teaching publicly and from house to house … not considering my life important, that I may complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me!”

In 2 Timothy 4:6 he says, “My life is being poured out like drink offering!”

This is true spiritual authority. The authority of an apostle is not confirmed by their title or place on a flow chart, but by the fact that they serve and pour out their lives for God’s people.

For a good look at a related topic – “Spiritual Covering” – look for “SPIRITUAL COVERING” BIBLE DOCTRINE OR ROMAN/PAGAN DOGMA?” By Steve Hill.

We have it posted on our web site at www.ralphhoweministries.com/ xxxxxx

An Apostolic Understanding – Part Twenty-nine

So, what do apostles do in the Church that Jesus is building and in the wider Kingdom expansion of preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom where it has never been heard before? Good question.

The gift of “apostle” is a gift to the Church with a very specific set of functions that only apostles can perform. The main function of the apostle is to establish the church. This means the role of apostle is to create an administration within which other gifts can grow and develop. Apostles are key elements of God’s order for His Church, but God’s order and leadership (administration) is not that which we have been accustomed to.

Where apostles are functioning, you will see fivefold ministry come into its rightful place in the local church and in the region or district. You will see all five of the ministries within the team called out, and developed – young apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers.And, the saints, the true disciples of Jesus, will be discipled, trained, and equipped and the Kingdom of God will move forward establishing new churches in spiritually dark places and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom where it has never been heard before.

The discipling is where believers learn all the basics to become mature, re-producing Christians. This includes such things as how to hear the voice of God, reading and studying the Bible, receiving revelation from the heart of God, tithing, worship, fellowship, evangelism, prayer, and how to fellowship with the Holy Spirit.

The training would be teaching the believers the ten basic doctrines of the Christian faith so that they are no longer blown about and deceived by every wind of doctrine. These ten doctrines are basic to the faith and foundational to a Christian lifestyle and they also answer the ten top questions being asked by people today…

1> Can we trust the Bible? – Doctrine of Scripture
2> Does God really exist? – Doctrine of God
3> Whose world is it anyways? – Doctrine of Creation
4> What is God like? – Doctrine of the Trinity
5> Is my future fixed and predetermined (fate)? – Doctrine of Predestination
6> Why do human beings suffer? – Doctrine of Evil
7> What’s so different about Jesus? – Doctrine of Christ
8> Why was the cross necessary? – Doctrine of Salvation
9> Why do I need the Holy Spirit? – Doctrine of Supernatural Power
10> Where is the world heading? – Doctrine of Eschatology (of the end times)

The equipping includes teaching the believers how to flow in the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit. This includes teaching and hands-on practical training in the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:4-11) and how to become involved in the work that the Holy Spirit is already doing in expanding the Kingdom, building the Church, and planting the Gospel so new churches can be raised up.

There is a fourth element that we will see as fivefold ministry teams take their rightful place. The younger generation of fivefold ministers and other leaders within the Church will be mentored by older, more mature mothers and fathers in the faith. Mentoring is teaching those who are called to the fivefold ministry and those called to be leaders how to integrate ministry and life. This is a one-on-one teaching, training, and imparting spiritual insights that happens when the person being mentored travels with the fivefold ministers so that they see ministry and life in action by locally and trans-locally as well as overseas..

We need to be warned, however, that some churches carry the name “apostolic” but are not. And, they often give their pastor the title of ‘apostle’ but still function totally as an old wineskin. You see, most churches today are pastoral in nature. They were started by someone who was pastoral, called themselves a pastor, and thus led the church. These people are not the “pastor” of the fivefold ministry type but simply people who are caring and compassion and touch lives for Jesus. They may hold the position of ‘elder’ or they may not. They nurture and love the sheep, but they cannot establish fivefold ministry. It is not their gift. And, as talked about in earlier blogs in this series, often those with the role of pastor are really part of the fivefold ministry but not the ‘pastor’ in that fivefold lineup because this fivefold pastor is trans-local and not the solo leader of a local church. So, they should not use the title pastor. To help ease the confusion we refer to the fivefold ‘pastor’ as shepherd (APEST).

When someone felt called to the ministry – because the only ministry their branch of the church recognized on the local level is that of ‘pastor’ they assume that was the call on their life. So, they stepped in to a non-biblical role and became the leader of a local church.

My point, however, is the local ‘pastor’ and even the fivefold “pastor / shepherd” cannot establish the fivefold ministry.
Prophets also cannot establish fivefold ministry.
Teachers can teach about fivefold ministry but cannot establish the fivefold ministry.
Evangelists cannot establish fivefold ministry either.
It takes a gift from God to the Church – the gift of apostle – to establish fivefold ministry in the Church and region where the church is functioning.

That is the unique role and function of those called to be apostles.

 

 

An Apostolic Understanding – Part Twenty-eight

The pastoral model of the church is what we know and have been a part of. It is the old wineskin. And, the apostolic model of the church is the biblical model and, of course, the new wineskin. This model is based on many scriptures but three of the main ones are:

1 Corinthians 12:28 “And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.”

Ephesians 2:20 “(the Church) built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone”

Ephesians 4:11-12 “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”

God’s plan for the Church that Jesus is building calls for the fivefold ministry of apostle, prophet, evangelist, shepherd, and teacher. These are the five ministries Jesus fulfilled when He was ministering in Israel before the birth of the Church. And, for the Church today to have the fullness of His ministry we need all five roles functioning in the Church today. The question then is, “How do we get there?” The answer – follow God’s plan as set out in the New Testament.

God’s Church started with the apostles. Today, they are still to be the way churches are started and they are key leaders in the Church and the Kingdom. This is where Jesus originally started and still does so today. Acts 1:2 states, “Jesus ascended into heaven after giving instructions to the apostles He had chosen.” When Jesus wanted to start a Church, He began with apostles. The book of Acts is the story of the first apostles establishing the first churches.

Acts 2:42 “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

Acts 2:43 “And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.”

Acts 4:2b “they (the apostles) were teaching the people and proclaiming…”

Acts 4:33 “And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.”

It is important to note that apostles in the New Testament were not limited to the twelve. The original twelve apostles formed the prototype of this gift, but as the Church expanded, more apostles were added.

The New Testament identifies a number of additional apostles. In Acts 1:26 Matthias is designated as an apostle to replace Judas. In Acts 14:14 Paul and Barnabas are both identified as apostles. Other New Testament apostles include Apollos (1 Corinthians 4:6,9), Andronicus and Junia (Romans 16:7), James, the half-brother of Jesus (Galatians 1:19), Silvanus and Timothy (1 Thessalonians 1:1 and 2:6), and Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25). Apostles could be male or female and always functioned within the fulness of the fivefold ministry team.

The means the gift of apostle was not intended to die out with the passing of the original twelve. God was continually adding new apostles. If you understand the function of the apostle, you will see that apostles are always needed if the Church is to operate and function as God intended.

 

SHIFTING THE PRIORITIES OF CHURCH LEADERS

 Jesus defined “success” in three key words

1> Faithfulness

Matthew 25:21 “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’”

Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

2> Fruitfulness

John 15:8 “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples”

3> Finishing well

Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…”

2 Timothy 4:6-7 “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God,
which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

If these are the three things Jesus is looking for to determine our success as leaders in the Church that He is building

Then our PRIORITIES should reflect them

And, these three signs of success in the Church and in our ministry are all directly related to relationships that we form and develop.

Yes, we have placed so much emphasis on tasks – in fact, an overemphasis – often at the expense of relationships

I believe it is our relationships that ultimately reveal our success or lack of success in the eyes of our Heavenly Father if not in the eyes of the Church world

Christian LEADERS fell obligated to fill a vast number of roles – a tremendous variety of roles in the Church and thus in their ministry

Diagram of the ministry of Jesus as it related to His priorities, His relationships, and His impact At the top of the chart are the roles that He fulfilled

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An Apostolic Understanding – Part Twenty-seven

So, where did the pastoral model of the Church come from? If it is not a New Testament model and the early church was not modeled this way, then when and where did this non-biblical model of the Church originate? Well, it originated with the changes that came into the early church when the emperor of the Roman Empire, Constantine, supposedly became a believer. Constantine wanted a church that he could control and it is hard to control the fivefold ministry.
So, he designed the church after what he knew – the structure of the Roman Empire and one of the dominate pagan religions of his day.

Constantine had another model for a religious organization. A model contrary to the organic model left us by Jesus, the Founder and Foundation of the Church. It came from the pagan religion of Mithras. In Mithraism every temple was led by one man, a priest. They called him “father.” The high priest was called the “father of fathers,” Pater Patrum, or the “Papa” (read Pope). The high priest of Mithras wore a ring and a red hat called a “miter.” His symbols were the shepherd’s crook and the key, and he ruled from his temple on the Vatican Hill in Rome.

So, under Constantine’s patronage, the church underwent a change in administration and structure. By the Middle Ages, the church no longer had apostles, prophets, teachers, shepherds, or evangelists. Medieval churches were led by a priest they called “father.” The High Priest was called the “Papa” or the “Pope.” He wore a ring and a red hat called a “miter.” His symbols were the shepherd’s crook and the key and he ruled from his place on the Vatican Hill in Rome. Mithraism was the foundation for the medieval church.

Now, this is not a knock against the Roman Catholic Church. This pagan heritage is common to all of us. All of our churches today share this ungodly foundation and heritage. Some parts of the church have come further than others, even moving beyond this incorrect foundation. But the whole church still needs to be restored.

When the reformation came and the born again message was once again known and understood, the reformers knew that many things in the church were not biblical. They rejected prayers to the saints and many of the other pagan trappings. They also rejected the idea of churches being led by a priest. They knew that the New Testament taught that every believer is a priest, and that Jesus is our High Priest.

The problem was that they really didn’t understand how the Church was suppose to operate. There were no apostles, Master Builders and architects of the Church. So, to solve the problem they looked in the Bible and found the word “pastor.” In an attempt to be more biblical, they changed the leader’s title from “priest” to “pastor.” But the basic structure of the local church and the regional church was not changed. It was still an old administration or an old and non-biblical wineskin. It was hierarchal and not relational. It was still an organization and not a living organism.

The pastoral model of the Church originated in the pagan religion Mithraism. Mithraism was a “Mystery Religion.” In a mystery religion only the priest was allowed to know the sacred truths and perform the rituals. The common people were suppose to worship in ignorance.

This is why the church has a hard time transitioning from pastoral to fivefold ministry. We still have the old mentality. We are still an old wineskin. The pastoral model was never God’s plan, and thus it cannot accomplish God’s purpose for His people, the Church today.

So how do we get fivefold ministry today and build on a proper biblical foundation? The first step is to get rid of the old wineskin mentality. When we walk into a church wondering, “Who is the pastor here?” We are walking in an old wineskin way of thinking. And yes, we still do that today. And, even worse, we travel to hear the current “super star” pastors who have build=t a large following, have a huge church, and write the books most Christians are reading. We go because of the leader, the pastor, the priest … old ways die hard.

In the Early Church when you walked into a church, that was not what you asked! The focus was Jesus and not the leader.

When you go to a new church, your first question should be “Is God’s presence here?” And, you should be wanting to experience His power which happens when the nine supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit are moving during the assembly. Is there body ministry with members ministering to each other? Is there substance and not just foam and fluff? Is Jesus the center focus of everything that is taking place? You should take note of who the apostle to that work (the local church) is. Who is the prophet? Who is filling the role of fivefold teacher? Are they networked with a fivefold trans-local team and a regional church? These are new wineskin questions.

God wants to bring us into a new way of thinking and a new understanding of His Church, the Church that His Son, Jesus, is currently building.

The King of the universe, the ascended Lord Jesus Christ, gave us the fullness of His ministry in the fivefold ministry team. This is foundational to the new organic administration of the Church. A different king, a pagan Roman Emperor, changed that administration and we lost what God had given to us. The good news is that God is restoring what we have lost.

 

 

An Apostolic Understanding – Part Twenty-six

We are talking about trying to transform a pastoral model of the church into an apostolic model. This is definitely a difficult task and not to entered into by the faint of heart. The two models are so vastly different in their foundations, perspective, and operations that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to move a group of people, the local church, from one model to the other. I speak from experience having, after 17 years of working with a local congregation, simply failed to see the transformation take place.

So, the current model of the local church is based on a pastoral model with the key, main leader being the senior pastor or lead pastor. We have built the church on the backs of these men and women when it was never God’s plan nor design to do so. As we saw earlier, Paul sets out for us the order of working within a local church and seeing new churches raised up.

1 Corinthians 12:28 “And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.”

Because we have built upon the backs of pastors – a non-biblical model – we see that the statistics regarding the life and ministry of pastors is distressing. Studies in North America show:

80% of pastors and 84% of their spouses regularly struggle with depression
80% feel they are unqualified for their position; they don’t believe they have the ability and training necessary to do what their job requires
70% say they regularly consider leaving the ministry
50% say that they would leave the ministry if they had another option to support their family
1500 pastors actually leave the ministry every month due to burnout, moral failure, or contention in the church
70% of pastors do not have anyone they would consider to be a friend. Almost no pastors have a close friend
75% say that they live under constant stress. The insurance cost for mental breakdown for clergy is 4% higher than for any secular industry
77% of pastor do not feel that they have a good marriage
50% of pastors’ marriages will end in divorce
The majority of pastors’ wives say that the single most destructive event that has occurred in their marriage was the day that they entered the ministry

Think about it now. The traditional pastoral model of the church is destroying pastors. In a pastoral church, pastors are given a set of demands that no one can fulfill. God never intended one person to do it all. God never gifted one person to do it all. The old wineskin places demands on the pastor that no human being can satisfy!

It is no wonder that the Church is in a mess if this is the condition of most leaders. The pastoral church is an old, non-biblical, wineskin that does not work.

So, we need to change and build biblically. This means that we need a new understanding of the role of “pastor.” The biblical pastor is a fivefold ministry role as seen by the only time in the New Testament that the word is mentioned. Ephesians 4:11 states, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers…” Here the “pastor” is a trans-local minister who is part of a team of trans-local leaders. They move from church to church in a region working as a team in the various churches. They can show up alone or as a team depending on the need of the local assembly. The pastor comes to a local church to teach and train the people to “do the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:12) and equip them so that they work effectively. Then the body can minister to the body (see 1 Corinthians 12) and every person ministers and all needs are met. Biblically, there are no solo pastors as they always work within the fivefold ministry team. And, the local church or assembly is not led by a local pastor. Totally unheard of in the New Testament and an invention of men in the late 300’s.

So, what do we do with the current crop of pastors? They will need to step down as the local church builds on a biblical foundation. Some will need to find alternate employment and continue to minister to those they are in relationship with at work or in the community. Every member of the body of Christ is a minister. So, they continue to minister but as a disciple and not from an official position of ‘pastor’ and not paid by the local assembly.

And, we should note, that most “pastors” are not pastors. Some are apostles. Some are prophets, evangelists, teachers …. The problem is that the old wineskin had only one main position of ministry – the local church pastor or priest. So, when someone answered the call on their life to go into the ministry – the only ministry they knew and were aware of was the pastorate. In fact, in most cases, the only ministry position recognized by the organized church was pastor or priest. So, many of those serving today as pastors are misplaced and need to discover their real calling and giftings and simply leave the pastorate and pastoral ministry and fulfill the real call upon their lives. The old wineskin forced everyone into the same mold and made them all do the same thing. This is now, hopefully, coming to an end.

So, one last thought … this is why most pastors are miserable. Their weekly schedule is full of things they are not gifted to do, and it always takes longer to do what they are not gifted to do. This means they rarely have the time to do what they are called to do. Pastors need to be free to be who they are. A church needs to figure out what their pastor’s gift and calling really is, and let their pastor exercise that gift to equip the Body of Christ. Then God will raise up the people – the priesthood of all believers – and equip them to do the pastoral ministry as a result of being empowered and released to do body ministry … member ministering to member as it was in the beginning and is suppose to be now.

 

An Apostolic Understanding – Part Twenty-five

So, we have been looking at the old wineskin and the new wineskin. The old is where one paid professional does the majority of the ministry. The new is where every believer is trained and equipped to minister. There is a shift going on in the Church that Jesus is building. A shift that I have been preaching and teaching about since I was first born again 40 years ago. It is a shift back to biblical basics and to the format of church life that was God’s original plan and design for His people and their assembly.

Many churches today reject the fivefold ministry. They do not believe in current day apostles and prophets. Yet, they believe in the ministry of evangelist, pastor and teacher. One should question how you can take the second half of the verse as still valid and important today and ignore even reject the first half of the verse (Ephesians 4:11). There are other churches that theologically and academically embrace the full fivefold ministry, yet still operate in the old wineskin – pastoral – model.

What makes it so difficult for churches and denominations to change? Why does it seem next to impossible to shift a church from the pastoral model to the apostolic model? The problem is that you can’t make a wineskin without killing a cow – even a sacred cow. And, there are many of those that stand in the way of the Church that Jesus is building – and seeing the established church shift and change into the correct and biblical model. The change from pastoral to apostolic.

The Church today has one specific and big sacred cow that keeps is from making the shift to the new wineskin. That sacred cow is an assumption held by most every Christian in all of the nations where I minister. That assumption is that the paid, professional, pastor is the primary office of the church. Let’s kill that sacred cow. After all, the church that the apostles experienced did not look like what we see today.

Today there are two main elements in the Church structure. The pastor and the congregation. The apostles never imagined a church made up of a pastor and a congregation. We – not Jesus – have built a church on the back of the pastor. And yet, this word appears only once in the New Testament and that is in Ephesians 4:11. And, in this verse, it is not referencing a local pastor as they did not exist in the New Testament days. It is referring to a fivefold pastor whose task was to travel trans-locally like the other fivefold ministers and specifically to train God’s people in how to care for (do the pastoral ministry) one another. After all, there are 59 ‘one another’ verses in the New Testament and it was never meant that a single paid professional pastor do all of them. The original plan was for the body to minister to the body (see 1 Corinthians 12:12-31).

So, the total teaching in the Bible on the ministry of the “pastor” is “there are some” as seen in Ephesians 4:11.

No church in the New Testament is described as having a pastor. Paul wrote many letters to the churches that were growing in places where he first went and preached the Gospel, planting seeds. In those letters he greets the elders and the deacons and the saints who met in homes. But he never greets or even mentions the pastor of any of those churches. The “pastor” of Ephesians 4 is a fivefold translocation pastor and not a resident, ordained, paid professional who is the solo leader of a local assembly.

When Paul ranks the Church’s ministries in 1 Corinthians 12, he says “First apostles, second prophets, third teachers…” He does not even include pastors in the list! Pastor was not the predominant office of the New Testament Church. In the New Testament, apostles are mentioned 87 times. Prophets are mentioned 157 times. Teachers are mentioned 121 times. Evangelists are mentioned 3 times, and pastors are mentioned once.

So, think about how we have built the church in almost every nation – the exception being biblically established house churches. Most churches today don’t believe apostles even exist today. They also don’t believe in prophets. They will let teachers teach a children’s class or teen class – and yet these are not fivefold teachers. They will let someone who calls themselves an evangelist come once a year to preach for a week of evangelistic messages heard mostly by those already saved. Then they take the office of the pastor – mentioned only once in the Bible – and make it the primary office of the church, responsible to do all of the work of ministry!

And then we wonder why the Church is in a mess. And, why it is almost powerless and ineffective in influencing and impacting the culture and local society. All five roles of the fivefold ministry team are equally important. And the pastor was never intended to be the primary office nor a local, resident office.