Do you feel uncomfortable that you will probably not save China by next week Tuesday? Fear not, you are not alone. Somehow it became the congregation’s job to save the world without giving up our day jobs. How did this happen? Has anyone questioned this reasoning? Is it even biblical?
Ephesians 4 all.
The reasons for this thinking are complex. The origins are relatively simple. It’s how Ephesians 4:12 is read. Believe it or not, there is more than one way to read this scripture.
Here they are, decide for yourself.
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”
1) Many pulpits read Ephesians 4:12 like this:
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 only equips. The work of ministry and edifying the body is for the saints.
Sober minds tend to read it thus:
2) The gifts of the five-fold ministry are there:
• for equipping the saints
• for the work of ministry
• for the edifying the body of Christ.
This premise assumes the five-fold is there to equip saints, edify the body of Christ and do the work of the ministry.
Both arguments have merit. However, the theme of Ephesians 4 is not job stratification; it’s mostly about team work. Every team has attack and defence, each according to their skills. However, current thinking places the cheer leaders in the game; no wonder church growth is sluggish.
Let’s test current thinking.
• Who does the work of an engineer, the engineer or the post-man?
• If ministry is limited to equipping only, Billy Graham and Reinhart Bonnke are failures. They should not evangelize but equip the saints to evangelize (seriously?)
• ‘Work’ in Greek is ‘Ergon’; which means employments or occupation. What is your occupation, Prophet or truck driver?
• In scripture ‘a workman deserves his wages’, why then is the five-fold paid not to do the work of the ministry, while the saints are not paid to do the work of ministry?
• Which Eph. 4:12 model works? The one where one guy and his team achieve exponential Church growth? Think Paul, Wesley, Graham; or the model where the congregation is trying to do the same?
The most obvious solution is normally the right one.
Shepherds shepherd not sheep.
The book of Acts shows small teams of Apostles going out there and rocking the world. Wherever they went, they caused both revival and riot (best church service ever!)
This ‘model’ worked so well that by AD 300-400 the Roman Empire became a Christian state. It’s difficult to argue with results like that.
No wonder the enemy targets the office of Apostle and Evangelist.
The congregation must be whatever God wants it to be, individually and corporately. It cannot say “not my job” like many in the pulpit are saying.
It takes the resources of a team to achieve an Apostolic outreach. Imagine if the Church raised up thousands of Evangelists and Apostles and sent them out like Jesus did in AD 30-33, or like the Church did in AD 34+.
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.
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 and Evangelists? We do not want to replace them but support them, just like they did it back the beginning?”