It seems we have created a professional class of Christian whom we call “pastor” or some other title, pay them as professionals, and expect them to do the ministry. After all, they are trained and educated just for this. Yes and no!
Yes, they are usually well educated and have a degree or two or three. However, no, because most of what they learned in Bible School and/or seminary is of little value when ministering in a local church. Most times the education leaders receive is more academic and less practical. Seldom are they taught to run board meetings, resolve conflict, work with various types of personalities … things they just might need and use on a daily or weekly basis once in the ministry. Nothing against the academics but really this does not qualify a person to be a pastor or leader. God’s call and God’s grace equips a person to be a leader in God’s Church.
The foundational problem other than this is that we are asking leaders and ministers to do something God never intended them to do. That is, minister to the people. The true work of the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher is not to do the ministry but to “equip the saints to do this ministry” (Ephesians 4:11-12). The work of the fivefold ministry team is to equip the Body of Christ, the Church, to minister to itself and to bring itself up to maturity.
Listen to God’s Word:
Ephesians 4:11-15 “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.”
If we get this wrong and try to put the work and ministry of the Body onto the equippers, we will never see the Body of Christ grow to the “measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
The Phillips translation of Ephesians 4:16 says, “The whole body, as a harmonious structure knit together by the joints with which it is provided, grows by the proper functioning of individual parts, and so builds itself up in love.”
The Living Bible states, “The whole body is fitted together perfectly, and each part in its own special way helps the other parts, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”
For centuries, Church leaders have been trying to do the work that only the body can do, and the body has not been functioning to bring itself up to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. The effectual working of every part of the body is the only way that it can be done, but the body must be equipped by the leaders that God has placed in the Church for that purpose. Otherwise it cannot minister in health and from wholeness to itself.
The apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher are valid leadership, sent by the Lord as gifts for His Church for a very specific purpose – to equip the church to build itself up. It is just as bad for the Body not to allow the leaders to function as it is for the leaders not to allow the Body to function. The Body of Christ will only come into strength if every part is properly functioning, and that includes pastors, teachers and all leaders.
So, I believe that it is time that we do it biblically.