Who covers a simple/organic church?

Here's the idea: everyone needs covering–a kind of spiritual protection against the storms of life. If someone moves out from under covering, (as in leaving a particular church, or more specifically a particular leader), they somehow become vulnerable to demonic attack and are likely to end up with all kinds of problems. House churches are especially vulnerable because they don't have any kind of covering–no one who has spiritual authority over them. Their leaders don't answer to anyone.

The idea of covering is totally non-Scriptural! The only reference to covering of this kind is the story of Ruth and Boaz where Ruth asks Boaz to extend the borders of his garment over her. It's very far-fetched to apply this to church leadership.

As Frank Viola says, I think in Reimagining Church, it is extraordinary that when Paul writes to the people in Corinth addressing a serious moral problem in the church, he does not ask the leadership of the church to deal with it. One would have expected him to ask the elders to handle the situation. Instead, he addresses the whole body and anticipates they will deal with the problem. 

Jesus is the authority to whom the church answers! 

(For those interested to explore further, I came across this article by Jon Zens looking at the topic of authority by examining exousia, the Greek word for authority)  


The A-team: A question

For years I have been pondering a question. Should we be looking to form five-fold ministry teams?

I hear this subject talked about quite a bit. It seems fairly obvious. A team consisting of an apostle, a prophet, an evangelist, a pastor and a teacher would provide a well-rounded team to help lead a network of simple/organic churches.  The only problem is that in decades of experience with much travel around the world, I have only come across one that I consider functions effectively. That is the CMA team with Neil Cole and friends–and they are extremely effective.

In the past, (ie, not in the present simple/organic church movement) I have seen many try it, but it usually ends up with a dominant apostle, with a group around him that don't really function in the other ways described. On the other hand, I know several groups where, for example, apostles and prophets work well together, or a group of primarily prophetic or primarily apostolic people form a team. I also see this in the Scriptures where, for example, Agabus traveled with a group of prophets (Acts 11:27). or in Antioch, a group of prophets and teachers came together (Acts 13:1-2)

What is your experience? Have you seen a five-fold team that functions well? What do you think?



Why should simple/organic churches network together?

Five gifts

According to Ephesians 4, Christ has given gifts to the church. These gifts are people whom the Holy Spirit uses in specific ways. They are the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. They work together to help the body to mature fully and in every aspect of body life. They do this by equipping everyone in the body to do the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:12-13). .

One of the reasons it is important for simple/organic churches to network together ties up with five-fold ministry. However, a network of churches is more likely to have all these gifts which Christ has given to the body to help it mature.

Within a network, therefore, if one of the churches recognizes that it is becoming inward looking, they could invite someone with an evangelistic gift to come and help them. If they are lacking in care for different people within their group, a pastor could help them to do this more effectively.

Christ has fully equipped the body to demonstrate his life to the world.


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?