The Church Jesus Is Building – Part Ten

Last time as we spoke of replanting the church we briefly talked about the need to involve an apostle as they are essential and foundational to the effective and successful replanting of a local congregation. 

Paul the apostle wrote, “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.”   (1 Corinthians 12:28)

With an apostle as the lead in the replant (or a new church plant) you are working biblically and beginning to pour a new foundation for the replant or repairing the old foundation if it is still  viable and functional. 

In the church replant I am involved in (In the United States) as soon as the replant began we rewrote the constitution so as to remove the non-biblical governing structure as well as other elements and approved the new apostolic structure. With this major change and a number of other important but more minor changes we are working to repair the old foundation upon which we can then replant.

In a major Canadian city where, as an apostle, I am planting a new work for the Lord we are slowly considering what the foundation should look like as we build relationally and see new people come to the Lord. We are not in a hurry to pour the foundation. We are simply relating to young university and college students working to find the “lay of the land” and sort through who we are and who God wants us to be. Then we can begin to determine the foundation. But it will be apostolic.

In neither of these two cases is there a functioning pastor. Please note, the term “pastor” does not appear in 1 Corinthians 12:28. In the early Church the lead in the team was never a pastor. In fact, in each of the many churches represented in and written to in the New Testament, none of them were lead by a solo ‘pastor.’ They were all led by apostles, James in Jerusalem, Timothy in Ephesus, Apollos in Corinth, and on the list could go. Paul clearly states, “First apostles…” and then the apostle builds the teams that he needs. The first team are usually other fivefold ministers from outside the local assembly. This way, right from the start, the church can have the fullness of the ministry of Christ (more on that in a minute). And, as people are brought into the Kingdom, the apostle can raise up a local leadership team of “elders.”

The outside, trans-local team consists of five different ministries. When Jesus was ministering in Galilee before His death and resurrection He fulfilled five different ministries. He was the apostle of our faith; He was a prophet without honour in His own hometown; He was an evangelist as he shared the Gospel with people like the woman at the well in Sycar; He was the Great Shepherd of the sheep; and He went about teaching everywhere He went. Upon His ascension into Heaven He gave these five ministries to a number of different people. 

Ephesians 4:10-12 “He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 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…”

So, to have the fullness of the ministry of Christ in a local church plant or replant we need to bring these five ascension ministries into the local church to minister to the church from within their calling and anointing. If we have a solo leader we do not and cannot have the fullness of Christ’s ministry.

The word “pastor” appears here in Ephesians 4:11 and no where else in the New Testament. And, this reference is to a fivefold ministry team member who is a pastor. It is not referencing a local pastor as God’s plan for His Church never included a local pastor. The word “pastor” simply does not appear in 1 Corinthians 12:28 or anywhere else except here in reference to the fivefold ministry.

When a church is planted or replanted with an apostle as the leader – the church will be apostolic. The people will be taught to win the lost and “… go into all the world and make disciples.” The pastoral care for these new believers will be done by the believers themselves. The fivefold pastor will come in and teach the new believers how to love, care, accept, forgive, and love one another. There are 59 “one another” verses in the New Testament and no one person can fulfill all 59 for each and every member of the church. However, as Paul comments in 1 Corinthians 12, the body can minister to the body. So, the fivefold pastor comes in and teaches the people how to be pastoral and they then care for one another.

Meanwhile the main emphasis of the local replant is not “pastoral care” because they are not led by a pastor. The main emphasis is apostolic- the sheep are cared for and ‘pastored’ by each other (with a local elder in oversight) so that they are healthy and strong as they “go into all the world.” They will be the “sent ones” or an apostolic people as God designed the Church to be and not a ‘pastoral people’ who simply sit, receive and maintain what already exists.