Teachers in house churches?

This is the final post of my "wanted ads" for five-fold ministries. Again, please note that I am not advocating these as positions within the body. Rather they are ways for people to lay down their lives for others.

Wanted: teachers

Apple and book

Job description: The successful applicant is able to communicate the truths of God’s word to others. He/she is expected to train others how to understand and apply the Word in such a way that a Kingdom lifestyle results, and to pass this on in turn to third and fourth generations of disciples. Q and A, and practical, on-the-job and just-in-time styles of teaching are preferred with accountability for what is taught expected.

Potential challenges: Older, up-front, instructional patterns of teaching no longer apply; rather non-traditional methods of teaching will be used, with an emphasis on the disciples learning to obey Jesus rather than the teacher showcasing their own teaching gifts. Again, this is not a position but a function within the body of Christ. Any authority belongs with Jesus and his Word.

Qualifications: The teacher is expected to live up to what he teaches—a higher standard is applied to his behavior. He must care deeply that those he teaches learn obedience to Christ above all.  Personal hours spent in the study of God’s Word are anticipated, along with the ability to train others and release them in turn to train still more people. He/she must be willing to challenge false teaching and to reveal truth.

Compensation: Those who are teach well can expect double honor, but this is unlikely to equate to a full-time salary. 

 

House churches need pastors

This continues my series looking at the five-fold ministries as a series of "wanted ads." Some have misinterpreted these posts, thinking I am serious about these being jobs in the church! Please note: these are funtions only. Please see my posts here and here.

Wanted: pastors

Feed sheep

Job description: Caring for others in the body of Christ, often at considerable personal inconvenience. Making sure people are spiritually well-fed and protected and maturing in their walk with Christ. Rather than take on all the needs of those he/she cares for, the applicant is expected to train others to look out for the weak and those with needs. 

Potential challenges: Previous expectations of this role are likely to be inaccurate, colored by non-Biblical models. This is not a position, but a function, modeled on Jesus, the good shepherd. This person will not be put on a pedestal, leading a "church," receiving the accolades of others. His/her primary role will not even be to prepare a weekly message. Rather, this person can expect to lay down his/her life for others.  

Qualifications: The successful applicant will be very relational, with a willingness to listen to the stories and challenges others are facing. Looks out for the weak. May need to dispense tough love at times.

Compensations: no financial compensation. The joy of serving and being an example is sufficient current reward. Future compensation includes a "crown of glory." 

 

Needed: Evangelists

Continuing my tongue-in-cheek job description for five-fold ministries:

Wanted: People with a passion to reach out to others

Job description: We have an urgent need of evangelists to meet the current shortfall. This team player has an inner compulsion to communicate the good news of Jesus to those who do not yet know the Lord in ways appropriate to the culture.  Possibility of speaking to large crowds as well as smaller gatherings. The working of healings and miracles is anticipated. Must be able to impart a passion for the King and the Kingdom. Disciple making is essential.

Potential challenges: The applicant is likely to be thrown out of some locations where he/she attempts to bring the Good News, possibly with bruises and certainly a bruised ego. He/she is then expected to “wipe the dust from his/her feet” and move on to the next location as Jesus leads. Beatings and martyrdom have occurred with this job in certain areas of the world. Must be willing to face court appearances and jail.

Qualifications: Applicant must be comfortable in worldly settings where not-yet-believers are found. Ready at all times to communicate his own story in relevant ways using culturally appropriate language, and must have the ability to train others to do the same.  Should be able to persuade others of the truth of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Familiarity with Luke 10 principles is essential. Previous commercial fishing experience will be taken into consideration. 

Compensation: Long hours, probably no pay. No personal glory, but successful applicant will have the satisfaction of knowing that others are entering the Kingdom.

Any other thoughts about evangelists?

 

 

Wanted: Prophets

Continuing my somewhat tongue-in-cheek job description (I fully recognize this is not a "job") of five-fold ministries. 

Wanted: Prophetic Leadership

Hand holding key

Job description: The applicant who fills this key position in the body of Christ is expected to be able to hear from God and communicate the intelligence gathered to the other members of the team for them to weigh.  Must be visionary and able to see the big picture. As the applicant matures within the job, he/she may speak accurately of the future. Main effectiveness will be in teaching other members of the body how to hear from God and to bring a message to others within the parameters of encouraging, comforting and strengthening.

Potential challenges: Disrespect from those from your own area. Rejection and ridicule anticipated. Like apostles, persecution is likely. Stonings and beatings probable.

Qualifications: Hours spent in Jesus' presence learning to listen to Him. Applicant will have learned how to distinguish his own thoughts and ideas from those he receives from the Holy Spirit. Must be willing to risk loss of reputation in communicating the truth of fGod's message. Must be willing to travel.

Compensation: Probably none save knowing you are a strategic part of the Kingdom team.

Anyone have other thoughts about prophets?

 

Wanted: Apostles

While waiting for a plane in Heathrow airport and pondering my next blog post, I found myself wondering what a “wanted ad” for 5-fold ministries would look like. Here’s my first take on it:

 

Wanted ad

Wanted: apostolic leadership

Job description: This Kingdom-motivated and foundation-laying person will be sent to break new ground in order to make disciples and spread the good news about Jesus. Any applicant must be prepared to work as part of a team.  Training of others and identification and empowering of new leadership will be core parts of the job. In the early stages, there may be weeks spent on the road. Experience with signs and wonders is useful. All applicants must be prepared to lay down their lives to serve those they are called to.

Potential challenges: In times past, apostles have been stoned, shipwrecked and beaten. Must be prepared to face martyrdom.

Qualifications: Training in God’s school on the backside of the desert until death to self and own ambitions or desire for limelight has been worked into the character. Ability to think strategically. Extra consideration is given to entrepreneurial experience in the workplace. 

Compensation: This is not an official position but rather a divine calling. No monetary payment guaranteed; the applicant may need to take on other work to support him/herself.  He/she is expected to work long hours with little reward apart from the joy of seeing the Kingdom advanced.  

 

Does anyone else have any thoughts? 

 

How do apostles and prophets work together?

The church is built on the foundations of the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:20). How do they work together?

Neil Cole says prophets see the destination; apostles develop the route to get there.

Prophets hear from God. They are visionaries who see what God is doing.  They often receive divine intelligence that informs the strategy and course of the church. God does nothing without revealing it to his servants, the prophets (Amos 3:7).

Compass

Apostles are pioneers. They "go where no man has gone before." They are groundbreakers, those who go out front. They are practical, strategic planners, foundation layers.

Map making

Both of these are gifts from Christ to the church (Ephesians 4:11). Gifts have no rights. They cannot say to the giver, "I don't want to go there." They are servants who willingly lay down their lives for those they are called to serve (1 Corinthians 9:19), equippers of Christ's body who help her to maturity (Ephesians 4:12-13). They are not dominant, insisting on their own way, but peoplel instinctively respond to the Holy Spirit within them.

Without these gifts, the church can be directionless and without strategy and foundation. 

 

Four questions about women apostles

After the last post on women apostles, I received a comment raising a number of questions about women in leadership. I thought it might be worthwhile to respond a little more publicly, so here goes!

I blogged extensively on the subject of women a few months back. There are around 20 posts, beginning here.

These are the questions that were posed following the last post:

  1.  Jesus chose twelve men to act as the original twelve apostles. Shouldn't he have chosen six men and six women?

In the context of Jewish life, imagine the raised eyebrows if Jesus had had female disciples! He would have had some explaining to do!

 However he did have a group of women who followed him in much the same way as the disciples did. (Matt 27:25; Mk 15:41; Lk 8:1-3; Lk 23:49), . Women played key roles, for example at the time of his burial and resurrection. He treated them as equals, not inferiors. Consider, for example, his deep theological discussions with the woman at the well, or with Martha on the subject of the resurrection.

        2.  The obvious log in my eye would be Paul's comments for women to remain silent in the                church. Should they?

You can find an explanation of the challenging Scriptures here (1 Corinthians 14) and here (1 Timothy 2). 

        3. The scripture, specifically the New Testament, is full of women interacting both on the street               and in the church. Are any of them performing the duties of an apostle?

Junia is the obvious example of an apostle since she is clearly described as such. However, Priscilla may have functioned in that role–she is usually mentioned before Aquila, and Paul described them as co-workers.

In our day, there are many women who function apostolically. Think for example, of Heidi Baker who with Rolland have seen more than 10,000 churches start in Mozambique and the surrounding countries. 

        4. Both qualifications of Elders and Deacons in the New Testament refer to men in the church.              So where are the women elders and women deacons?

 Verse 11 of 1 Tim 3 talks about the qualifications of women in a leadership context. The NLT translates this passage as "In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything." Note that the word here translated accurately "women" in other older versions is translated "wives" which is perhaps why this verse is taken to apply to the wives of elders and deacons. 

We know that Phoebe was a deacon (Romans 16:1). Personally I see no problem with this verse applying to women as elders. The description of both deacons and women begins, "likewise," or "in the same way" referring to the qualifications of elders. It depends a bit on what one means by elders and deacons. I will get to looking at this subject soon, but they are not what is typically seen in most churches today.

Female apostles?

Female symbol

I have several friends who are women who function apostolically. They run regional events; they coordinate different groups across a region; they plant churches and train others to plant churches; they strategize and extend the Kingdom. They are extremely effective in what they do, and I love to learn from them.

Some people question the validity of women functioning in such roles in the church. According to Romans 16:7, Junia was a female apostle. Over the centuries, people have tried to turn her into a man–Junias. In the contemporary literature of the day, there are more than 250 references to women named Junia. There isn't a single one to a man named Junias!

Let's encourage women to function in their gifting, including as apostles. 

 

First apostles?

First Corinthians 12: 27-28 says this: 

All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church:

   first are apostles,
   second are prophets,
   third are teachers,
   then those who do miracles,
   those who have the gift of healing,
   those who can help others,
   those who have the gift of leadership,
   those who speak in unknown languages

What many people take from this is that apostles hold the most important position in the church, the top of the hierarchy. Prophets are second most important,  teachers third etc. So to be an apostle is to be the most important person in leadership. Like this:

First, second, third

The problem with this view is that leadership in the New Testament is not positional, but functional. Another way to view it would be like building a house. First you need an architect, then someone to lay the slab, then someone to frame the house. Later would come plumbers and electricians etc. It's a question of function. The architect is essential to lay the plans for the house, and his work comes before the work of the electricians and plumbers, but without all these other functions, the house would not be built.

An apostle is one who is sent out (meaning of the Greek word apostello). He/she is the one who is usually the first person in a place or people group with the good news of the Kingdom. 

What is the purpose of 5-fold ministry?

In many churches, people get excited when one of the so called "five-fold ministries" comes to town. (The name "five-fold comes from the passage quoted below in Ephesians 4.) They hope to receive a personal prophetic word from the prophet, or see many people become Christians when an evangelist gives an altar call. They like to receive good teaching from someone with a teaching ministry. They hope to see these people showcase their gifts in an impactful way.

The only problem is that this is not the purpose of these gifts that Jesus has given to the church.

 This is what Ephesians 4:11-12 says: Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.

According to this passage, these people are gifts of Jesus to his church. The five-fold gifts of Ephesians 4 are there to equip God's people to do the work of ministry. This means they impart to others, training them in the skills that are needed to function in their particular area of gifting. They are not doing all  the work of ministry themselves.

The apostle trains others to think strategically about the Kingdom, starting churches etc.

The prophet teaches others to prophesy.

The evangelist teaches people to spread the good news of the Kindom and make disciples.

The teacher trains others in how to teach.

The pastor teaches people how to care for others.

The purpose of Ephesians 4 ministries is not that they showcase their gifts, but they train others with the skills they have been given.