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Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Edifier du Jour-Ephesians 4:11-16(NASB)
11: And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12: for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13: until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 14: As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15: but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16: from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
I get nervous when some in the spirit-filled crowd start obsessing over the "five-fold ministry" of verse 11, for you have a lot of self-styled apostles and prophets running around with an unhealthy dose of ego, but the ministries are there nonetheless. We all need teachers to give us good, solid biblical instruction. We often undervalue the people who lead Sunday school classes and Bible studies who lay down what solid doctrine is and how it applies to our day-to-day lives. It's not a good sign when a church downplays such outlets as to be seeker-friendly, for the seekers, once caught, have a rather thin soup of Sunday sermons to grow on. Some sort of weekly small group session, be it a Sunday school class or a weeknight small/cell/home group, is needed for good spiritual development and maintenance. We all need good pastors, both for the exhortation of a well-crafted and Spirit-led sermon and for the day-to-day guidance and personal ministry. A pastor's more than just a sermon-giver, for he's the guy who'll comfort the family of the deceased, council the emotionally wounded and help look after the sick. Some people are teachers but not pastors, who have the knowledge of the Word but not the "bedside manner," but that's why there are multiple ministries. Evangelists are a needed part of the mix. While everyone's called to spread the Gospel to the best of their abilities, some people have a special gift for delivering the Gospel to people who need to know Jesus. It's a politically incorrect calling, for it assumes that people are heading to the smoking section of eternity if they don't know Jesus, but one that is vital. Prophets are needed as well, the people how give direction to a church, modern-day sons of Issachar who understand the times and know what to do next. Many times, prophets aren't user-friendly, and may not be good pastors or evangelists, but are one of those spiritual body parts nonetheless. Not every prophet will have grand words of knowledge of hidden illness or secret sin in the church body, but may have advice that the pastor needs to hear and factor in as the church moves forward. I'm less clear how a modern-day apostle would function in this mix. In the first-century, they seemed to be pastor's pastors, overseeing the growth of the Church as opposed to overseeing a church. It seemed to be different than modern-day bishops or state coordinators or whatever a denomination calls their regional chiefs. What seems to be helpful is to have a respected small-p pastor in an area be able to guide other pastors and make sure that they are on the right page spiritually. Without oversight, churches can become heterodox in a hurry. While some churches may not have all five of the ministries in their polity, the functions should be there if they are to thrive spiritually.

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