Do you feel guilty that you will probably not save China by next week Tuesday? Forget China, what about your family and every soul at work? If this describes you, you are not alone. 68% of the human race is not Christian. Somehow it became the congregations job to save this 68% (not to mention our neighbors), and without giving up our day jobs. This thinking is just plain weird. It does not work, it is imbalanced and it does not follow proven biblical patterns. Its time to lose bad ideas and get back to what works.
Weird science – Trans genetic manipulation and the conversion of sheep into shepherds.
Next time someone says – “Sheep produce sheep, not Shepherds”. Put your finger down your throat and throw that rubbish right back up. It is a manipulative cheap shot. It is used by Church elders who are either themselves deluded or too chicken to grow up and be what they are. Here is the answer in context – ‘Shepherds do the work of shepherds, not sheep’.
Many preach Ephesians 4:11-12 in a way that suggests it is the congregations job to do the work of the ministry. This is very flawed thinking. The main theme of Ephesians 4 concerns various gifts in the Church working together as a team, not abdicating the work of ministry onto an unqualified congregation.
Why did this happen? Why is the ministry the only profession that says: “my job should be done by someone else?” Writers write, builders build, evangelists should evangelize, not teach evangelism to engineers who have little inclination or skill to evangelize.
So how did this sad reasoning infiltrate the Church?
I’m sure there are more, here are my theories. (note: I do not subscribe to the ‘demon behind every bush’ weirdiology).
Evangelists and Apostles pro-actively reach out and take territory from the enemy. This logically makes them priority targets. Pastors, Teachers and to some extent Prophets on the other hand tend to stay at home posing less of a threat. God ordained Evangelists and Apostles are built to go out there, save the lost and build Christian communities. This is observable and historically recorded fact.
Yes God can use anyone, however, some people are just better at certain things than others, they have a gift. We are all equal in God’s eyes but we are not all the same.
To neutralize these amazing gifts and block Church growth, the enemy has played with the wording of Ephesians 4 and convinced us to send plumbers to do the mechanics job. Here is how he did it:
Scenario 1: How to respond to Viking invaders: black ops and other such interesting stuff.
Visualize two villages living near each other. Each has their own land and buildings. Each understands the boundaries. Peace prevails as long as one does not disturb the other. However, visualize what happens when some enthusiastic individuals decide to take territory from the other village.
Besides much huffing and puffing, local heroes are sent to deal with the offending invaders (preferably with napalm).
To reduce the chances of future such events, a black ops department is established. Their mission, should they choose to accept it, is to infiltrate the next-door village and neutralize any will to implement future invasions. Methods abound; here are two.
- Convince key people that the status quo is queen. ‘If its not broken don’t fix it’. ‘If we stay within our boundaries, no one bothers us and we stay comfortable and safe’.
- Its ‘logical’ that anyone with military skill should stay at home and teach military skills, after all, everyone should share the burden.
By taking them out of the field, these philosophies neutralize those with the skill to take territory and build kingdoms. They encourage fear of change, they result in complacency. Complacency just couldn’t be bothered with the idea of expansion and growth. The status quo must be worshiped and preserved at all cost.
In order for this flawed thinking to take root, black ops agents need something to prove they are right. What better way to do this than create a problem that proves their point.
Scenario 2: How to cause fear and confusion in the ranks of the average Viking invader : panic at the pulpit.
Back in the 80s’ and 90s’ many great men of God fell. Reasons are numerous, causes were mostly due to the usual three P ‘s, i.e. Pennies, Pride and Petticoats. Regardless, the result was Panic at the Pulpit, (sounds like a good name for a rock band).
The reality was that some Pastors became celebrities and their churches fan clubs. The congregations became lazy and piggy-backed the Pastor’s relationship with God instead of developing their own.
Instead of correcting this however, some pulpits blamed the congregation for burning-out and exhausting the Pastor. Please note, exhausted people tend not to commit fraud and adultery, they commit fraud and adultery when they are tempted. Tired people take a break and delegate.
Mission accomplished. Certain pulpits felt threatened by their own ministry and resentment towards passive congregations (which they themselves created). They “knee jerked” and used scripture to abdicate their God given roles onto the congregation.
A big chunk of the Church ceased to believe that Evangelism and Apostolic outreach were effective and relevant. It became everyone’s job to save the world by being nice people. Somehow Islam, Secularism and Hinduism (and our neighbors) will find Jesus through the home Church being pleasant. The Church therefore stayed at home and entertained itself, and because outreach became everyone’s job, it became no-ones job.
Ephesians 4 all.
Eph. 4:11-12 “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,” The pulpit panic resulted in the following reading of Ephesians 4:12 –
- The five fold ministry is there to equip the saints (for what?) for the work of ministry and to edify the body of Christ.
This premise assumes that the five fold is there purely for equipping purposes. The work of ministry and edifying the body is the work of the saints. Note: adding your own concept or words to God’s words is leading and deceiving.
Sober minds tend to read it this way – God gave the Church the gifts of the five fold ministry:
- for equipping the saints
- for the work of ministry
- for the edifying the body of Christ.
This premise tells us that the five fold ministry is there to equip saints, edify the body of Christ and do the work of the ministry (some to pastor some to evangelize etc.).
Common sense is not so common.
I suggest you Google this argument. Research both sides of the story. To justify their arguments, some delve deep into context and Greek translation, fascinating stuff and very convincing.
However, being pragmatic, I tend to agree with those that get results. Read the book of Acts. Here you will find Apostles and Evangelists called out and appointed to these callings. They put together small teams, go out there and proceed to rock the world. Wherever they went, they caused both revival and riot (best church service ever!).
A little more reading shows various Churches sending people and resources to the Apostles as they needed them. We see the Church working together as a team. At home the saints conducted their affairs according to the teachings of Christ (The Kingdom), while the outreach teams extended The Kingdom’s footprint. This ‘model’ worked so well that by AD 312-324 Constantin declared the Roman Empire a Christian state. It is difficult to argue with results like that.
Compared to the early Church, the current Church has almost limitless resources. The reason we are not reaching the globe is because we have a serious role clarity problem.
With raised eyebrows the ministry is looking at the congregation to go and save India. My question is; when does that happen, during my tea break?
Lets drop acid – what do you say?
Occam’s razor says; ‘among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected’. Hypothesis one – the saints are there for the work of the ministry; hypothesis two – the ministry is there for the work of the ministry. Which argument makes most sense? Acid test the reasoning:
- Who does the work of an engineer, the engineer or the post man? Who does the work of an Apostle? The Apostle or the maths teacher? Who would you like to counsel your teenage daughter – Biker Bob or Pastor Peter? (no disrespect intended).
- According to the Eph 4 furor, ministry is limited to equipping the saints. By this reasoning Billy Graham and Reinhart Bonnke are complete failures. They should not work as Evangelists, but should be equipping the saints for evangelism (seriously?).
- If scripture says a workman deserves his wages, why are those in the ministry paid not to do the work of the ministry, while the saints are not paid to do the work of the ministry?
- Paul did the work of an Apostle (Apostle means ‘sent’), he encouraged Timothy to do the work of an evangelist. The word for ‘work’ in this scripture is the Greek word ‘ergon’ – which means employments or occupation. Ergon is the same word for work in Eph. 4:12. What is your occupation, Prophet or truck driver?
- Which Eph 4:12 model gets the results? The one where one guy and his team achieve exponential Church growth? Think Paul and Barnabas, think Wesley, think Luther, or the model where the congregation is expected to do the same? Is the Church achieving exponential growth?
The most obvious solution is normally the right one.
The point is this: If you are a truck driver, do it as unto the Lord and build God’s kingdom by doing what He tells you to do. Feel compassion but not guilt for the lost in Iraq. Leave that to those that are called to it. Support them if God asks you to, after all, someone must pay and pray.
Bob the Builder – we can fix it.
When the whole church understands that its role is to “make disciples of all nations;” “according to the effective working by which every part does its share”, we stop passing the work of ministry back and forth like a hot potato while the enemy watches with amusement.
It takes the resources of a team to get someone onto an Evangelical platform or an Apostolic outreach. We are all part of that team. Instead of brow beating the congregation for not doing the work of Evangelists and Apostles, let them support those that are built to do it. Imagine the effect if the Church decided to identify and raise up thousands of Evangelists and Apostles and send them out like Jesus did in AD 30-33, or like the Church did in AD 34+.
The congregation is still to be whatever God wants it to be, individually and corporately. We cannot say “not my job” like many in the pulpit are saying.
Each must do his/her share. Its time Christians stopped feeling guilty for not saving China by next week Tuesday. Its time Christians asked, “where are the real Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers. Where are they so we can get behind them and build God’s Kingdom like a team?”