An Apostolic Understanding – Part Twenty-two

As we have been discovering – God is preparing to pour out new wine, a fresh move of His Spirit. And, in preparation for this new move He is preparing His Church, the wineskin, to contain the new wine – the move of the Spirit.

God wants His new wineskin established. Where the wineskin Is completed, we will then experience the fullness of Jesus and His ministry – remembering that he ministered in all five major ministry roles … apostle, prophet, evangelist, shepherd and teacher (APEST). The fullness of Jesus is the new wine. If we prepare the new wineskin in response to His moving on our lives, then He will certainly pour in His new wine.

Our problem is that most of us have settled for a church that operates in a non-biblical manner. Thus it is the old wineskin. Oh, we think we are doing it “by the book” but we read the book with religious and traditional glasses and so miss the truth about the life of the early Church. Most of the Church today is the old wineskin – a man-made design of the church that functions in a non-biblical manner. A design built upon the ministry of a solo pastor who is in control as the leader of the people.

First there is a congregation made up of “laymen.” The dictionary definition of the word ‘laymen’ is, “Those without knowledge or training.” Layman is not a biblical word. God never intended for the Church to be a group of people without knowledge or training. He intended for His people, the saints, to be taught, trained, and equipped for life and ministry.

I very recently had a lengthy coffee with a new leader of an influential Christian camp. He manages and overseas the operation of this camp that functions year round. He used the word “laymen” in our conversation. I gently corrected him mentioning that this is not a biblical term and runs contrary to everything the camp he is now managing has been built upon over the last 40 years. The camp has been, before his leadership, equipping the saints for the work of the ministry,” training them so they would not be “laymen” but well informed and trained workers in the harvest field. It was a heated and tense part of our conversation as he totally disagreed with me. He has a top-down, pastoral understanding of the Church.

Most churches today are made up of laymen. Their knowledge of God is limited to a few Bible stories and some proof-texts. Laymen are expected to attend church, give money, read their bibles and live good moral lives. They are not taught to heal, prophesy, win the lost, or minister in any way.

Then you have the “pastor” or leader. The position of “pastor” in most churches today has very little in common with the biblical office of the fivefold pastor. In the fivefold ministry of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor (shepherd) and teacher we have a team of ministers who work trans-locally. We think of apostles, prophets and evangelists as travelling from church to church. But, as soon as the word ‘pastor’ is heard we immediately think locally. That is because this is all we have seen in the church in the last few centuries.

However, the “pastor” is fivefold and they travel just like the others in the team. Their role is to move from church to church teaching the people, the saints of God, how to minister to one another and others who do not know Jesus. They teach people how to ‘do pastoral care.’ This way the body members minister to each other and don’t need to look to the ‘pastor’ for ministry or help. Paul talks of this in 1 Corinthians 12 where he discusses body ministry with each member connected and ministering to those they relate to. And, in the New Testament there are 59 “one another” verses … where we are commanded to minister to each other and not sit back and let the hired ‘professional’ pastor do our ministry for us.

The job of the modern-day pastor does not involve working with other fivefold ministers to equip people to minister. They are “the minister.” Whatever ministry is done, to is their job to do it. They are paid by the laypeople to do it. He takes care of the laymen. The laymen are seen as “the flock” made up of helpless sheep. The pastor’s job is to feed, comfort, and protect them.

This is the church nearly every one of us has known. It is difficult for most believers to imagine church operating any other way. We assume it is the norm. And it has been the norm for the last 1500 years. But, it is not biblical. Absolutely not biblical.