Summary: This second part of the short 2 part series, looks at the state of the Church in every town and city, and how this current situation works against genuine New Testament order and results in pastoral ministry.
God’s Order and Assignment for Pastors
Eric J. Hanson
In my previous message, I taught about the nature of the equipping gift of pastor.
• First of all we learned that the word pastor means shepherd.
• I brought out the important fact that in God’s plan, there will be many believers whom He has equipped with a genuine shepherd’s heart. It seems that about one in 15 believers is wired that way by God, to take genuine shepherding oversight within a small group, a church class, a youth ministry, etc. These people are indeed pastors; ground level pastors.
• There is another level of pastors, which level is the elders of the church. These men have pastoral responsibility over the whole local church. There seem to be about one of these for each 12 or so ground level pastors, or typically about one genuine New Testament elder/pastor to 150 church members.
• Ideally, each local church should have several such elder/pastor-teachers sharing the teaching and preaching load, while respecting each other and exalting the Lord Jesus Christ. In the last message I went into how such men should be discovered to start with, and then trained and placed into the office of elder. I also touched on the Bible’s requirements for anyone desiring this ministry.
Today, I wish to teach on a super important matter which I only touched on last message. This is the matter of the Biblical Church unit, which is the Citywide Church. New Testament order in church government and ministry can only work at full effectiveness, as we move toward this reality of the Church in Oxford Hills, or the Church in Lewiston, or the Church in ten little villages in far Northern Maine.
Jesus prayed passionately for all believers to be one as He and the Father are one. John 17: 20-23 tells us just what he prayed, and even why he prayed it. Let’s go there now.
The apostles always addressed the Church in each city; never First Baptist Church, or Trinity Assembly of God, or the Vinyard Church of West Overshoe. Jesus’ prayer and the apostles practice are always centered around a great church in each locality with hundreds of groups meeting in homes, and a great Congregation meeting as well, with at least several elder/pastors in place, with a variety of prophets and teachers speaking, and with connections to apostles. Furthermore, Jesus, and no man, is the Senior Pastor, or “arche-poimen” (Greek). There are not alternate church models in God’s word.
In order for the believers and the church family as a whole to benefit from fully realized New Testament order in both Government and Ministry, we need to move toward this Bible model of what the Church is. Let’s start with a look at the current problems, and then move ahead from there today.
I need to point something out about current structure of the Church in America and the Western World.
• One supposedly Bible Believing church claims that anyone who speaks in unknown tongues is “of the Devil”.
• Another one on the next corner teaches that you must speak in tongues or else you do not even have the Holy Spirit in you.
• One teaches extreme 5 point Calvinism,
• while another teaches extreme Arminianism, (but their pastors do not talk these things over with each other.)
• One is very involved politically, urging believers to participate in the public square in bringing light to dark areas.
• while the next teaches that believers should not even talk of such things, because these are tainted and of this World.
• One teaches that it is a sin to dress up in fine clothes for church meetings because our beauty in not to be of the outward man, and so as not to exclude the poor,
• while another teaches that it is a sin not to dress our best for church, because we are going to meet with someone of utmost importance and we show our respect in this way.
• Each teaches that the other church group is in sin!
• These are only a few of the many areas of conflict among the splinters of the Lord’s Church within each city.
The reality is that we are all warped!
• This is because of the root sin of prideful independence, and willful self government.
• This is because of failure to submit to the impassioned cries of the Lord that “we all be one, even as He and the Father are one, that the World may believe…”
• This is because of the exalting of persons (Calvin, Wimber, Luther, Copeland, Schofield, Whomever) as warned against clearly in I Corinthians 1 and 3.
• This is the fruit of sin.
• My heart cries out for this to change radically so that the Church in Oxford Hills may emerge in truth and in deed!