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.