An Apostolic Understanding – Part Twenty-four

As we saw earlier, the pastoral and the apostolic church are like two different operating systems. Trying to get a pastoral church to operate in fivefold ministry is like trying to run Apple software on a Windows PC. They are not compatible! Let’s continue this thought and look at the contrast in these two operating systems.

1> The goal of ministry

The goal of the pastoral model of the Church is to meet needs. A church with a pastor as the main leader wants to make sure that those who attend are cared for and comforted when needed. This is a pastor’s heart and what motivates him or her in ministry. Now, it is a good thing to meet needs if and when the Lord directs you to. Everyone, at one time or another, will need a loving person to confide in and a sympathetic shoulder to cry on. But, this does not need to be the paid professional pastor. And, God has more for His Church to accomplish in His Name other than to comfort the afflicted and feed the sheep. Remember, Jesus gave us “another Comforter” who is the Holy Spirit. It is His task to counsel and comfort the followers of Jesus as we fellowship with Him (2 Corinthians 13:14).

The apostolic church on the other hand, is vision oriented. And, that vision is to see every believer equipped and empowered to help with the expansion of the Kingdom through *planting churches and seeing people saved. An apostolic church wants to see every disciple of Jesus learn what their calling is and then become trained to step into and fulfil that calling. An apostolic leadership team wants to see every person enter into the fullness of their destiny in Christ.

* Really we don’t plant churches. We plant the seeds of the Gospel (1 Peter 1:23) and as the seeds take root in people’s hearts then they come to a saving knowledge of the Lord. Then the Lord brings these new disciples together and raises up a church. As Paul states, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:6).

To say that we “plant churches” is just not true, although used by most Christian organizations. As well, there is no such ministry role as “church planter.” Again, a non- biblical understanding of how the Church is planted and grows. 1 Corinthians 12:28 states, “First apostles, then prophets…” and does not mention ‘church planters.’

2> The role of church members

The pastoral church assumes the church members are laymen. The term ‘laymen’ means amateur.* Thus the clergy – the pastor – is the expert and the people are the amateurs. Ministry thus belongs to the professional and the amateurs pay the professional pastor to do the work of the ministry. It is okay for the laymen to do some of the low level ministry. And, if the layman ministers really well, he is often then encouraged to go to Bible School and seminary and become an ‘official’ pastor.

*The term ‘layman’ does not appear in the Bible. It sets up a false “class system” within the local church which simply never existed in the New Testament church. And, this division between professional and amateur was never God’s intention nor the plan of Jesus for the Church that He is building. The Church is the priesthood of all believers (1 Peter 2:9) and no one is set aside as THE priest or pastor. Does a local church have leaders? Of course. But, even there the people leading do not need to be ordained** and set apart as the experts.

** Being ‘ordained’ is again a man made concept that sets people apart as the professional and expert. In the New Testament people were simply born again, baptized in water, baptized in the Holy Spirit, and moved in the gifts of the Spirit. Anointed but not ‘ordained.’ Ordination was simply a means of setting up a hierarchy which allowed others to control.

The apostolic church views all Christians as ministers. Every believer and disciple is called to do the works of Jesus (John 14:12) Every believer needs to be trained and equipped to minister. If the members of the church are not ministering effectively, then the leadership team is failing.

3> The role of the leader

In the pastoral church, the leader is the pastor. The role of the pastor is to care for the saints and to oversee the overall ministry of the local assembly. He does not want to equip the saints to minister. He wants the saints to come to him for ministry. Their role then is to come and be ministered to and to financially support the work of the pastor. The result of this non-biblical format is that the people become dependent on the pastor. Many Christians have been taught to depend on their pastor for their spiritual life.

In the apostolic church the leaders* went to equip the saints to minister. The mark of a truly successful apostolic church leadership team is that they raise up a church full of disciples of Jesus who know God’s ways and do God’s work. In a new wineskin church, the leaders worse nightmare is to have followers who are dependent on them. Their greatest joy is to have followers who minister more effectively than they do.

* In the apostolic model there is never a solo leader such as a senior pastor. Leadership is always a team affair. There is always a plurality of leadership. The basics of this team would be the fivefold ministry of Ephesians 4:11 – apostle, prophet, evangelist, shepherd and teacher (APEST).