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.