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.