An Apostolic Understanding – Part Twenty-three

We are looking at the pastoral model of the Church that man had built. This in contrast to the apostolic-prophetic model that was God’s original intention and plan.

In the pastoral model of the church that most are familiar with, the pastor runs the church. He is the leader. He performs the ministry of the church. He visits the sick and prays for them. He counsels people with marriage problems. He consoles the grieving, and preaches the Sunday sermon.

The pastor knows “the mysteries of God.” If you want to know something about God, you ask the pastor. It is their job to know those things. The pastor has the ‘inside track’ to God. If you need prayer, call your pastor and he will pray for you. He is the “person of God” and God will answer his prayers.

The pastor carries out the rituals of the church. He serves communion and performs baptisms, weddings, and funerals. At fellowship suppers, it is his job to bless the food. He evangelizes, he has a ministry of deliverance, and counsels. He does it all. It is his job. This is what he is paid to do, minister on behalf of the people.

In the church we have known, the pastor is the highest office. When we visit a church, the first thing we want to know is, “Who is the pastor?” This tells us who is in charge, who does the ministry, and who we look to for our needs to be met. In many places the pastor is the one who is known and is treated with almost super-star respect. Like Hollywood has its stars so we, the church, have stars … and if I named a few well known authors who also pastor you would recognize their names. Often people go to those churches just to be with the ‘big name.’

One of my recent team members on an overseas trip was thrilled that upon his return he was heading to another state in the United States to visit a certain church. I asked him why he was spending the time and money to do so. The immediate answer was to see (read experience and admire) the pastor who is well known among those in their 20’s and 30’s. He is a very charismatic leader and a great preacher. So, they go to hear and experience his ministry – not see and hear and experience God. This is the status of many pastors and churches today. They are, in many cases, personality cults.

The pastoral model is good, I suspect, in many ways. But a pastoral model was never God’s plan. The pastoral church is an old wineskin that cannot hold God’s new wine. And, it never was and still is not God’s plan. To experience resurrection power, the Church must become a new wineskin! That why God has been calling His Church to change. For the last 40 years, God has been speaking about apostles, about fivefold ministry, and about equipping the saints for ministry. When I was born again 40 years ago this was the first message that the Lord gave me (Ephesians 4:11-15).

But very few leaders and even fewer churches have received the message and changed. There are only a handful of churches in most nations that have embraced the fivefold ministry and that are operating as apostolic-prophetic churches helping the Kingdom to spread to every nation.

The question then is, “Why hasn’t the Church shifted?” It is because it is hard to fit the Bible’s teaching on the Church into the present, traditional structure.

In the pastoral church one generic ‘pastor; is paid to do the work of ministry. It’s his job description. It is expected of him. In the apostolic church, the fivefold ministers equip every believer to minister.

If you begin with a traditional church structure and start talking about equipping the saints to minister, the result is confusion. It does not fit. You cannot pour the ‘new’ into the ‘old.’ New wine needs new wineskins.

Current day pastors (the non-biblical paid position of a local pastor) who try to train their people to minister are sometimes accused of shirking their responsibilities. After all, they are paid to do the ministry – not equip the people to minister but to just do the ministry on their behalf.

To get a new, biblical church, we need a new understanding so that we can receive and embrace a new wineskin. The pastoral church and the apostolic church are like two different operating systems. Like a PC and an Apple computer. Trying to get a pastoral church to operate in fivefold ministry is like trying to run Apple software in a Windows PC. They are not compatible!

So, next time we will look at the two ‘operating systems’ and see how they are vastly different.