Friday, December 9, 2011

Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher

As we consider Ephesians 4:11-12 and the leadership gifts listed there, it is important to realize their purpose. Paul reveals these leaders are to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (v 12). Leadership exists for local churches to mature.

What do they do?

Being an evangelist is a gifting that is highly valuable but often misunderstood today. Many today view an evangelist as someone who preaches guilt and condemnation, with some nuance of a ‘fire and brimstone’ message. Or they’re viewed as television preachers who constantly manipulate viewers for money.

In reality, the New Testament evangelist reveals they mainly equip others in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with others. They themselves are especially gifted in reaching people as they spread the good news to those who have yet to believe in Jesus. (All Christians are to share Christ with others but the evangelist is especially gifted.) Evangelists may also open up new areas with evangelistic breakthrough.

The pastor-teacher is the gift more people have experience with in our culture today. However, the New Testament expression of this leadership can often be missed in contemporary practice. The common view today is where the pastor is a “one man” show, whose “job description” is to “marry and bury” church members and be sure to visit all who are sick. These are good practices that need to occur, and all believers are called to take care of one another. However, in scripture we find the pastor-teacher is called to lead people in the church and ensure that members are well taught. These leaders want to ensure believers are trained to teach and disciple others. They lead the church into green pastures but the sheep are able to feed themselves as well. Pastor/teacher leadership can discern wrong doctrine and watch for dangerous cultural trends that would lead people astray.

What are the results of these ministries today?

The evangelist affects a church by helping believers reach people with the good news. There are a variety of ways for this to occur, such as through personal relationships, an Alpha course, special meetings or events that non-Christians find welcoming, etc. But the good news being shared in the life of a local church is what the gifted evangelist lives for.

A pastor/teacher impacts a church by equipping them to be biblically grounded, loving and mature in beliefs and lifestyle. This gifting wants to develop disciples who are well-versed self-feeders in God’s word. They not only care for people but also help people serve and care for one another. They also communicate apostolic vision and values into the local church.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Apostles and Prophets

Ephesians 4:11-12 lists God’s key leadership gifts that are designed to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (v12). It’s important for local churches to receive this leadership if they want to mature and fulfill their role in the Great Commission.

The word apostle simply means “sent on a mission”. For those called apostles it means a power and authority has been conferred upon them.

Apostles look beyond the local church to nations and are gifted to start new things.
They have authority to do specific things to start churches.
They provide wisdom to strengthen churches. They are master church builders laying good foundations of doctrine and mission for local churches.
They serve as pastors to local church pastors and leaders.

Prophets are sensitive to what God is saying and to God’s purposes. All may prophesy but a prophet’s words carry greater weight.

They bring “now” words from God for the church.
They inspire the church with vision and direction.
They see through issues and bring godly perspectives.
They stir up the gift of prophecy in the local church.
They encourage, bring comfort and exhort the church.
Through their revelation and words they equip the church to be salt and light.

What effect do these gifts have on the church? An apostle shapes the local church to be more missional - to be mission-thinking and act with a global view. He hates the “holy huddle” of Christians just gathering with one another. With good apostolic foundations, a church will be doctrinally sound, Spirit-led and able to impact others in their community and beyond.

A prophet influences a church to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and to be actively seeking to hear God. He provides clear vision & direction for the church. Churches become more obedient to prophetic words, and more people are released to prophesy.

For more on the gift of an apostle in today’s church, see David Devenish’s new book 'Fathering Leaders, Motivating Mission'. See Sam Poe’s blog for more on the prophetic.