Let’s Do It Biblically

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.

God’s Call To Simplicity

The Church has become “big business” and lost her original simplicity and focus. The Church is no longer a simple gathering of believers and disciples of Jesus Christ for mutual edification and worship. Now it is often a major production by a few seriously overeducated individuals who do the ministry while God’s people, the priesthood of all believers, listen and hopefully absorb something. They are spectators and do not participate in the ministry as they are biblically called to do.

A mentor of mine once said, “Ralph, it is easy to have a circus or a crowd. It is hard to build the Church.” The circus sees a constant flow of guest speakers, ‘anointed’ men of God, and those who have grown a large church and are thus considered a “success.” A success in men’s eyes, at least. The crowd is simply a gathering of loose stones that have not been constructed into the house of God or a community where the Holy Spirit can work. An assembly that has been assembled. Not a community, not even an assembly – just everyone there for what they can receive regardless of who else may be in attendance.

In both cases relationships and accountability are almost non-existent. This is not the Church that Jesus is building. It is something that man has built and, in many places, as the church becomes larger and larger it is simply big business.

Even the leaders who are often well educated have moved away from the biblical basis for leadership of any kind in the Church. In Paul’s letters – 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus – we see that all of the qualifications for leadership have to do with a man’s walk with Jesus. Not education. Not anointing (whatever that is and however you might judge it). Not charisma. Not a smooth talker or motivating speaker. The qualifications for leadership are simply character qualities of a true man of God who is walking close to Jesus on a daily basis. They are simply the qualities of a spiritual man; a man fully consecrated to Jesus Christ. And, they are to be ordinary men who work like ordinary people – not a separate class of people called “clergy” who must keep the circus or crowd happy because their reputation as well as their salary depends on it.

We have moved away from the simplify of the early Church and complicated what was birthed when Jesus died and rose again from the grave – the Church.

I believe that we have entered a season when the Holy Spirit is calling us to recognize the new breed of men and women that He is bringing into leadership. These are dedicated and transparent leaders, ordinary men and women, who have a deep and personal relationship with Jesus. They may not be good at many things that are now considered essential in the Church for leadership. But, they know Jesus personally and intimately. They hear His voice and do what it is they hear Him speak. They fulfill the biblical qualifications for a dedicated and sincere man of God.

If we will simplify our concept of Church and return to the biblical model as set out in the New Testament – no longer being enamoured by the circus or the crowd – we will automatically simplify our requirements for leadership. And, we will, once again, see the life of God flowing in our assemblies touching and transforming lives on a daily basis. Leaders will arise from within and be trained in the church where they serve and will eventually lead. No need for a seminary or even a bible school where they have to leave the local church to attend.

However, many leaders have invested a lot in what they have built or inherited from others who planted and watered. They are often not willing to let go and let God. After all, this is their income and livelihood. They realize that to change the “wineskin” so that it can receive and contain the “new wine” may mean losing people, income, and status as a “success” in the Church world. Change is never easy and this is especially true in the Church. and for Church leaders. So, those who now lead need to decide if they really want to follow Jesus into what is now dawning upon the Church world – simplicity.

Jesus Himself said that those who have tasted of the old wine will not want the new wine. If this is the case in this current move to simplify the way we “do church” then Jesus will raise up new leaders and new churches to fulfill the Great Commission sending labourers into the harvest field for the fields are ripe and ready. Leaders who are deeply in love with Jesus and sold out to Him and His Church regardless of the cost. He will simply pass by the current leaders and let them continue to “play church” as they see it.

I pray that this new generation of leaders will rise up, grab hold of “life” that is then like to the non-believers (see: John 1:4 and Matthew 5:14) and plant biblically based, simple churches that will change the world one life at a time.

A New Thing (Vision – Part Two)

The Bible states, “Where there is no prophetic vision the people are discouraged…” Proverbs 29:18

“…the people cast off restraint”

“…the people do what is right in their own eyes”

Because we are normal people and tend to be a bit self-centred and a tiny bit ego-centric we think that this God-thing is all about us…

In line with the concept of a vision then, we think:

Vision of who we are and what God has called us to do

Vision of the local church we are a vital part of

         Vision of the worldwide Church (sometimes)

Vision of the Kingdom (not very often)

Vision of God (seldom) Read more

The Dysfunctional Church – Part Seventeen (end)

The five dysfunctions of being unfathered, uncorrected, unfruitful, unhealed, and untaught can be remedied by reinstating the fivefold ministry of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher (Ephesians 4:11). When that is done, new life and biblical balance will be experienced in the Church. There will be increased faith and a tremendous heart for the lost. Holiness will be the norm and God’s life will simply explode in the lives of those who are following Jesus. They will no longer seek comfort, security, and safety but rather will look for a challenge and a serious purpose worth investing their lives in.

God is raising up a new standard for His Church worldwide. He is raising up the fivefold ministry who will focus on these basic and important five needs of the Church. Their priorities will be right, and their code of conduct will be blameless. They will work as a team and we will see the fullness of the ministry of Christ appear once again in the Church. And, we will see many come into the Kingdom because the Church will no longer be a sub-culture but an actual counterculture as it has always meant to be.

The Dysfunctional Church – Part Sixteen

The fifth problem we have begun to look at is that the Church is Scripturally untaught. The cure to the fifth problem is the ministry of the fivefold teacher (Ephesians 4:11-12). The ministry of the teacher is often connected directly to the ministry of the pastor. In fact, in some versions of the Bible these two callings are actually joined by referring to the calling as “pastor-teacher.” This is understandable but nonetheless wrong.

Pastors do need to teach. But then, so do apostles, prophets, and evangelists. They need to teach on the local church level as they train and equip the saints for the work of the ministry. And they need to teach the next generation of their respective callings. So, really the joining of pastor and teacher together making them one means we then have a fourfold ministry. This is not accurate as the five ministry gifts given by Jesus to the Church are the five separate ministries that Jesus fulfilled while ministering publicly for three years.

We need to see the ministry of the fivefold teacher as a separate ministry from the other four and not connected directly as part of the pastoral model and role. Although a separate calling and ministry role it is connected to the other four ascension gift ministries as the fivefold ministry works as team of five and never as solo ministers. To not recognize the validity of the ministry and calling of the fivefold teacher will mean losing a whole generation to Bible illiteracy.

Although our “latest series” of teachings may sound relevant, if it does not use the Bible as its outline, something vital is missing. The Church should be a hub of biblical knowledge where constant training and application of the Scriptures are paramount. How else will believers be transformed into Christ’s image and be able to declare to the lost the validity and power of the Gospel of the Kingdom?

The problem: Too many Christians are enamoured with the latest big prophetic revelation, but they can’t balance their chequebooks, discipline their children, hold on to a healthy marriage, or work with healthy dating relationships guided by biblical standards. It is time to reintroduce the ministry of the fivefold teacher … so that we ingrain the example stories of the Old Testament, the simple mandates of the Gospels, and the local church standards of the Epistles in our local churches. There is no substitute.

If we don’t do this them we will continue to be no different than the nonbelievers in our thoughts, speech, finances, relationships and marriages. The unsaved have not had any teachings and are “destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6). The same is often true of those who say they are believers.

Believers should examine themselves and check to see if they are spending daily time in the Word, teaching it to their children, and giving it supremacy in their lives. All of Christian life should begin and end with a keeping of the biblical foundation.

The Bible states, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17 NKJV). Christians deprived of real knowledge of the Bible are doomed to fear, unbelief, and hopelessness. Ignorance of the Scriptures will leave them anemic, dysfunctional, and defeated. We must take active steps, therefore, to see the ministry of the fivefold teacher reintroduced to the local church. Then we will see a renewed or even new hunger for the Word. Of course, we need to then pass this renewed love for the Scriptures on to a new generation of Bible-loving believers, diligently teachings them and training them in biblical knowledge.



The Dysfunctional Church – Part Fifteen

Well, we are on to the fifth problem we can see in the Church worldwide today. The Church is basically untaught when it comes to the Scriptures. There is a lot of teaching – some of it good and biblical, a lot of it opinion and not biblical. Most is simply fluff without any substance. Statistics show that true disciples of Jesus today are actually biblically illiterate. Thus we need the fivefold ministry of the teacher (Ephesians 4:11-12).

Paul writes to Timothy and states, “From childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom the leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the person of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:15-17)

The fifth dysfunctional of the Church is that it is untaught and really does not know the Scriptures. Thought there are many resources available, the average believer still remains ignorant of an intermediate knowledge of the Bible. They have a surface understanding of the Bible but no real grasp of its truths and thus do not receive it as “spirit and life”.

They cannot discern truth from error and thus end up believing much that is taught by international Christian ministries that is simply not really biblical. Many churches have simply become a mile wide and an inch deep when it comes to biblical knowledge. Sadly, the Scriptures are moving more and more to the bottom of the shelf in our priorities. The result, most Christians do not know even the most basic Bible stories and elementary doctrines of the Christian faith.

It seems that in many areas of the world many of us, unfortunately, have ‘progressed’ past a reliance on the Scriptures and have substituted motivational relevance for Bible knowledge. Teachers teach it, and believers eagerly lap it up. We look for those who will ‘tickle our ears.’

We do need to preach relevant messages because the attention deficit of this generation usually prevents them from even reading, let alone studying or intently learning, the Scriptures. However, the goal of our creative approaches to preaching should be to aid in understanding and applying the Scriptures, not in becoming self-help and motivational gurus. What is wrong with a teacher using all of his or her powers of persuasion and clarity to help people understand, apply, and transmit the Scriptures to others? Nothing – and it is time to bring it back!

If believers constantly gorge on spiritual junk food of little spiritual value, they soon lose their hunger for the eternal, life-changing Word of God. So, the responsibility is shared: teachers must teach the pure, unadulterated Word, and believers must relish that which is wholesome and readily accept it, even if it does not seem as trendy or exciting as the latest spiritual fad.

We need the powerful ministry of the fivefold teacher – who not only teaches the Word of God but teaches others how to study and accurately teach the Word – raising up a generation of teachers and also equipping the next generation of fivefold teachers.



The Dysfunctional Church – Part Fourteen

Last time we saw that Jesus offers His Church healing through the ministry of the fivefold pastor. In this regard everything we need for healing the unhealed Church is found by looking to the Cross of Good Friday. Everything we need for a church to be whole and healthy can be found there. The revelation and impartation of this will come through the ministry of the trans-local, fivefold pastor. We saw that the Church can experience peace, healing, forgiveness…

Today, let’s look at the cure: healing through the ministry of the fivefold pastor. The healing and deliverance of believers is truly the work of the pastor, the fourth listing of the fivefold ministry callings. A fivefold pastor sees the members of the local church as gifted, talented leaders and ministers, whose potential must be released. David said, “Heal my soul” (Psalm 41:4) and this is the main ministry of the fivefold pastor – to equip the saints to truly be the priesthood of all believers – as they learn to minister to each other and bring healing to individual souls. He obviously understood the pastoral process because he took 400 men who were in debt, in distress, and in discontent (1 Samuel 22;2) and from them formed the mightiest warriors in history.

In the same way, the people in our churches must have individual attention and healing. This cannot all be accomplished by a ‘paid leader’ that we call a local pastor. This is the task of all the members of the body ministering to one another (1 Corinthians 12). And, the ministry of the true, biblical role of “pastor” is to train, equip, and mobilize the members to do the pastoral work needed in the local churches (Ephesians 4:11-12). This is the only “pastor” role in the early Church and mentioned in the Bible. The paid professional doing the pastoral ministry and bringing healing to the members is simply a convenient invention of man.

Several comments:

The members need to be healed and whole themselves before they can begin to minister member-to-member. They may have come out of “Egypt” and are saved and truly born again but now they need a time to get Egypt out of them. They need to enter into their promised land of stable marriages, healthy homes, and healed emotions. This should happen for them during their initial discipling process immediately after being born again.

The members need to be taught how to be care givers and thus fulfill all of the “one another” verses that are in the New Testament. So, the local church will need to bring in the trans-local, fivefold pastor to teach people how to care, how to listen, how to pray for others, and how to release healing and other benefits of the Cross of Christ.

We need the people to look beyond their own social class consisting of the people they are most comfortable with – those similar to themselves. The people of God need to be taught not to distance themselves from those who are too different, too odd, too disturbing to our genteel sensibilities. Jesus looked at the underworld and refused to minister to just the overworld of acceptability. He ministered to and healed the tax collectors, the outcasts, the poor, the demonized – turning them into empowered believers, leaders, ambassadors of the Kingdom and fivefold ministers of the Gospel of the Kingdom.

Then every member will truly be a minister winning others to the Kingdom. Making disciples is the one and only task of the Church and the ministry of the fivefold pastor equipping the saints for the pastoral ministry allows these new converts to be individually discipled into wholeness and health. Mature believers literally become “pastors to the one.”

This is the way the Church was designed to function as it leads to serious multiplication and not just an occasional addition.



The Dysfunctional Church – Part Thirteen

We are looking at the benefits of the cross of Christ which are established and made known in local churches through the fivefold ministry of the pastor. A trans-local role of ministry that equips the saints to do the work of the ministry … in this case the pastoral care of the sheep. The fivefold pastor teaches, trains, and equips the people of God to be the priesthood of all believers (1 Peter 2:9) and minister member to member as Paul states in 1 Corinthians 12.

We saw last time that by the cross of Christ we are ministered to pastorally in that we receive: 1> peace, 2> Healing, and 3: Forgiveness. Let’s continue…

4> Victory (His feet)… Colossians continues, “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians 2:15). After a Roman military triumph, the victor always placed his foot on the neck the prostate fallen general, much as Joshua did to the five kings at Makkedah (Joshua 10:16). Christians should look at every difficult circumstance from the perspective of the victory of the cross and resurrection. By His death on the cross, Jesus put our weaknesses, fear, circumstances, and defeat under His feet (Ephesians 1:22).

5> Blessing (His head)… The thorn is first mentioned in Genesis 3:18 as part of the curse that came upon Adam. Christ was crowed with thorns, symbolizing His taking the pain, suffering, and poverty that entered the world after Adam and Eve’s sin. The crown of thorns Jesus wore represents the crushing of the spirit of poverty, debt, and lack. Because of that we can know that “our God will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). Our needs not our wants … so that we can fulfill His plan and His purpose for our individual lives and be a part of the fulfillment of The Great Commission.

6> Inner Healing (His side)… The piercing of Christ’s side represents the breaking of the heart. Inner wounds and heartbreak of all of our life experiences and circumstances are healed and can be healed as we release bitterness and experience forgiveness and His healing touch.

People today are not experiencing these 6 major benefits of Christ’s death on the cross and His resurrection from the grave. They have not received these benefits and so are not ministering these pastoral freedoms to others. They simply live as less than “new creatures in Christ” and leave al the pastoral  ministry to the paid professional – the local church pastor (a non-biblical role designed by man to meet his needs in the flesh).

Next time … we will look at the solution to this lack of proper pastoral care in the Church today – the role of the fivefold ministry of pastor.

The Dysfunctional Church – Part Twelve

We are looking at the dysfunctional Church and the need to reestablish the fivefold ministry of the pastor so that God’s people can be healed and the true pastoral ministry established. This would be seen in the members of the Body of Christ ministering to one another and no longer paying a professional to do the ministry for them.

The cross was the secret to healing and life transformation in the early church. It was even the secret to healing, on occasion, in the Old testament among God’s people Israel. In the wilderness, Israel’s murmuring and complaining allowed a plague of demonic snakes into the camp. Only a revelation of the cross in the wilderness neutralized that poison (Numbers 21:8). In the same way, the poison from our past and even our present lives can be supernaturally removed by a glimpse of the events of the cross. Only through the cross of Christ can we actually become “new creatures in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

What does it do to the hearts of believes when they get a revelation of the cross? It is no less life-saving than it was for Israel in the wilderness. By studying the wounds of Christ, believers can receive faith for deliverance in every area of their life. Let’s look at some of the things that believers need to know are theirs because of what Christ suffered in His body. This is the foundational teaching of the fivefold ministry role of pastor in the Church.

1> Peace (His brow)… Christ began to take the cup of anxiety, tribulation, and pressure in Gethsemane. He chose the will of God and paid the highest price. The blood came to the surface of His skin and ruptured capillaries, a phenomenon resulting from extreme mental pressure. Jesus took our cares, worries, and anxieties upon Himself and give us peace.

2> Healing (His back)… Isaiah prophesied that there would be healing in the cross for those who believed (Isaiah 53:5). And Peter prophesied, “By His wounds you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24). Healing was and is accomplished through the cross. One of the duties of the Roman lictor was to scourge criminals. Using a whip with razor-sharp tentacles embedded with lead and bone. The lictor systematically shredded the victim’s back as he inflicted the brutal scourging. As the beating occurred, the tortuous tentacles of the whip flew wildly across the victim’s back and wrapped around to his front, often horribly disfiguring him. No wonder Isaiah the prophet said, “His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness” (Isaiah 52:14 NIV). Jesus bore our pain and our agony on the cross so we could be healed in every dimension of our lives.

3> Forgiveness (His hands)… Colossians 2:14 states that He, “having cancelled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees again us, which was hostile to us… has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” A certificate of debt (IOU), in Jesus’ day, was a hand-written promissory note. The ancient method of debt cancellation involved driving a nail through the note and posting it on the purchased property when the debt was paid.

Every sin in our past is a legal IOU in our own handwriting. When Christ was crucified, our list of spiritual IOU’s was nailed between His hands on the cross. The debt, the promissory note, the arrest warrant, are all marked “cancelled” when you receive Jesus’ forgiveness earned for us by the shedding of His blood on the cross. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22).

Three more pastoral benefits of the cross next time…


The Dysfunctional Church – Part Eleven

We are looking at needed changes for the Church which, in many cases today, is dysfunctional and no longer touching people with God’s love. People are not coming into the Kingdom and seeing their lives transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. So, God is working in His Church, the Church that Jesus is building, to restore it to health and wholeness.

We have looked, so far, at: Mentoring for the unfathered church (the ministry of the fivefold apostle). Standards for the uncorrected church (the ministry of the fivefold prophet). Multiplication for the unfruitful church (the ministry of the fivefold evangelist). Let’s start now to look at healing for the unhealed church (the ministry of the fivefold pastor).

This is the fivefold pastor… as biblically the local church never had a paid, full-time pastor leading it. What we call today “pastoral ministry” was accomplished by the believers ministering to and caring for ‘one another’. In fact, there is a lengthy list of ‘one another’ commandments in the New Testament and they are to be fulfilled by believers relating to and ministering to one another. You know, “love one another;” “bear one another’s burdens;” “encourage one another;” and on and on the list goes. Pastoral ministry takes place within and through the relational life of the local church. It is the body members ministering to the body as Paul explains so well in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 12.

The role of oversight of the pastoral ministry – making sure everyone is cared for and that the church is spiritually healthy- is place in the hands of local elders. The training of the saints so that they are able to accomplish this caring ministry is the ministry of the fivefold pastor who travels from church to church as do the other ministries within the fivefold equippers. The role of the fivefold “pastor” is to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry.” (Ephesians 4:11-12) The fivefold pastor does not do the pastoral ministry but rather equips the saints so that they are able to minister to one another effectively in both the natural and supernatural realm.

This dysfunction was seen in many places both in the Old and New Testaments. Jeremiah the prophet states: “They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ but there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6:14)

I appreciate this version of the same verse: “My people are broken – shattered! – and they put on Band-aids, Saying, ‘It’s not so bad. You’ll be just fine.’ But things are not ‘just fine.'” (The Message Version)

Or this version: “They tried to heal my people’s serious injuries as if they were small wounds. They said, ‘It’s all right, it’s all right.’ But really, it is not alright.” (New Century Version)

This is the fourth dysfunction of the Church around the world. It is wounded and unhealed. An unhealed Church has deep inner wounds that only the cross can heal. As the message of the cross moves further and further from the centre of attention, we polarize around personalities as they did in the Corinthian church in Paul’s day (1 Corinthians, chapter 1). The cross, however, is the central message of the Church because it destroys pride, frees from bondage, releases blessing, and brings people together. There is power in the message of the cross that brings healing and changes lives.

In many churches today, the cross is considered excess baggage, the holdover message from the last century that does not relate to the iPhone generation. We hide it, disguise it, and move past it. We motivate, entertain, and impress as our key members continue to divorce, look at pornography, and raise rebellious, wild children who no longer respect their parents nor life itself, in some cases. That is what happens when we forget the cross and its powerful message and deny its power – the power of the Gospel to change lives – to those who so desperately need it.

The reestablishment of the real ‘pastor’ and pastoral ministry by understanding, accepting, and making changes to enable us to move with the fivefold ministry of pastor will enable and release the Holy Spirit to heal the unhealed church.