Friday, February 22, 2008

A few more thoughts on "church"

As I've previously mentioned a few times, I've been going through a process of rethinking many things for quite some time, including "church." I've found it wonderful that many of us are going through similar processes, and it's been great that we've been able to encourage one another and build one another up!

Here are some more thoughts from others about "church" that I've come across recently.

Aida has mentioned Darin Hufford, and she has a link to his MySpace on her blog. Through that link, I read some of his blog posts, including this one, entitled "The Church that Christ built." In this post he brings up some things that I have thought about from time to time, and he really brings some more substance to my thoughts and puts them together much more coherently.

Let me just quote a small part of his post that I'm referring to. This gives the gist of what he goes on to talk about, and if you want you can go read the rest. It gets much deeper than this.
I can recall studying the "5 fold ministry" while in Bible collage. At the time we were taught that those five ingredients are what make up the Church. Where Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers are functioning together; there is Church.

Rather than understand that particular verse to mean that these things will exist in the Body of Christ world wide, we have foolishly interpreted it to mean they must exist "underneath one roof".

Have you ever thought that way? I know I have, even if not exactly in the way describe above. I thought, for example, that a church had to have a pastor, elders, a "worship team," committees, and so on and so on, in order to have a true "church." The "5 fold ministry" that Darin speaks about is derived from Eph 4:11-14 (and beyond).
"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, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ..."

As Darin states, many churches feel that all five of these must be operating under one roof, or in in any one ministry. But he suggests... are not all these things operating throughout the worldwide church, rather than having to have at least one of each in any individual gathering of believers?

And I think it's the same with all kinds of gifts and works of the Holy Spirit in and through His people all around the world. For example, some people have a true, genuine focus on feeding the poor. Does each and every gathering of people need to have this same focus? Some people are gifted teachers. Can a body of believers be edified without a gifted teacher? I have been taught many times by people who are not gifted teachers!!! Does there have to be a pastor?! Does there have to be music? (See my next post).
For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free — and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many. (1 Cor 12:12-14)

Are all the "body parts" to be found in each and every local gathering of believers?


  1. Joel, I've had some of the same thoughts that you have had. I agree with Darin. I believe those so-called five-fold ministry gifts exist in the church worldwide as opposed to every group of believers. My personal opinion is that we have way too many "pastors" since we have a great Pastor who is able to shepherd his sheep without the support of so many underlings.

    Reading the Ephesians 4 scripture that you gave, I saw something I hadn’t seen before. While we, with our super star mentality, focus on the apostles, prophets evangelists and pastors and teachers, I believe the correct focus of that scripture is really the equipping and edifying of the church which leads to unity and maturity. I don’t believe Father is interested in always working through someone who has a title.

    I believe those leadership roles are for the purpose of helping the people to grow. Their function is only for a season. They shouldn’t be equipping the same people for years on end. Eventually, the people should be able to equip and edify one another and then the five-fold moves somewhere else to help for season.

    I’ve received more equipping and edification in the last few years as I’ve learned that Father will work through whomever he chooses. In my life, I’m finding that is no longer a local pastor. At this season of my life, I’m finding that this particular group of grace bloggers and the sharing we do is causing me to grow more in living this life than I ever did while under the five-fold ministry.


  2. Aida... I love what you brought out of this passage of scripture! The focus is not on the pastors, teachers, etc... but the focus is on the equipping of the saints!

    Also, "their function is only for a season." WOW! I've kind of toyed around with similar thoughts in the past, but I think you hit it on the head! Today we have "career pastors," and I wonder if some or many of them have carried their "calling" too far.

    You are right... the equipping of the saints should provide for those saints who have been equipped to also go out and be able to help equip other saints, and not simply remain seated in their same pews or plush chairs week after week. :)

  3. Great thoughts Joel and Aida. The 'five fold ministry' is something today's churches emphasize a lot. I was doomed to think that without those there can't exist any 'church'.
    Darin brings up a good perspective and like you said Aida, the emphasis really is discipling the saints not so much the titles and not necessarily existing the 5 titles under one roof. Recently I heard/read about people listening to sheeps rather than shepherds. I think there is great danger if we stop listening to the true shepherd.