As the apostolic ministry revolution continues to progress we will see a change from a pastoral-only model of ministry toward an apostolic model of ministry.
The current structure or model of church ministry revolves around the pastoral paradigm (model) of ministry. A paradigm is a structure of ministry that serves as a model or pattern. It's astonishing but the word pastor, Greek poimen is only mentioned once in the entire New Testament. From one occurrence in Scripture, we have built thousands of pastoral churches. Yet there were no churches ever built in the New Testament by pastors. Even the one started at Antioch soon received Barnabas as an apostolic leader. Barnabas was a sent-one (apostolic gift) from the church in Jerusalem.
All New Testament churches were built by apostles, not pastors. Scripture says, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11). Though we see the word pastor, poimen, only once in scripture we have used it to create a model of how ministry is supposed to function and have made it our current model for ministry.
In reality, we have created a structure of church services that is designed to bless, nurture and comfort attendees. After all, that is the dominate grace on the pastoral ascension gift to comfort, bless, nurture, protect and lead to still waters. There is nothing wrong with being a pastor. What we are discussing is the transition into an apostolic model of ministry that enables us to be more effective in establishing and advancing the Kingdom of God. Jesus said that we would know something by its fruit. So what is the fruit of a pastoral-only model of ministry? Some would say ineffectiveness, spiritual weakness and apathy in a major part of the body of Christ. Granted we all need pastoring, but let’s explore the possibility that a pastoral-only model is not God’s best structure for effective ministry.
Let’s be honest, this model of pastoral ministry doesn’t raise-up strong believers that are capable of handling the spiritual warfare of our generation. Secular humanism, homosexuality and the advancement of foreign gods like radical Islam are attacking the Kingdom of God like never before while the Church of Jesus Christ does nothing but watch. This is the fruit of the current pastoral-only model of ministry. Could we expect any thing different? After all many of the leaders of pastoral-only model ministries were voted into service at their various churches. Some of these pastors, not all, we would call hirelings that God never called nor sent in the first place. These pastors more than likely were selected by some pulpit committee chaired by businessmen who were pre-qualified to select the next pastor of the church, according to their financial status within the congregation. So what was the fruit of their selections? The fruit was men that were hired to pastor the people rather than apostle the church. These hirelings became the paid overseers of religious daycare centers that some call worship centers.
It is important for me to say that I am certainly not anti-church neither anti-pastor. Yes, we need pastors but that’s not the only five-fold ascension gift grace the body of Christ needs. I love pastors and good shepherds of God’s people. As leaders transition into the apostolic model of ministry, we will need thousands more pastors. I am strongly supportive of the local church with a set leader who is God-called provided the pattern of ministry is understood biblically. There will always be a set man over a congregation. Scripture says, “Let the Lord the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation” (Numbers 27:16). Apostolic ministry models may have a plurality of leadership gifts working together to equip believers known as a presbytery, but there will always be one set man that is ultimately responsible before God to apostle a church. We will discuss this more later.
In the thinking of an old pastoral-only model of ministry, I’m a pastor myself that has not missed a church service in over twenty years. Local meetings are very important for believers, and Jesus himself supported them. The Word says, “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read” (Luke 4:16). Let’s face it the pastoral-only model of ministry is not working. We need something that is more effective, and that’s going to be the apostolic model of ministry that we are experiencing today, the new apostolic-prophetic church.
We have had two thousand years to reach this world for Jesus with a pastoral model of ministry. Even in the time of profound technological advancements in communication we still have not reached the world with the Gospel of the Kingdom. We know that the gospel of the kingdom must be preached in the entire world as a witness, and then the end shall come (Matthew 24:14). So what's the problem? Could it be that the pastoral-only model of ministry created a religious system that has resulted in our ineffectiveness? Have we become so program oriented that we have bound ourselves in a powerless religious system? Have we so structured our ministries that we have created a religious form of godliness that denies the power of God? Have we compromised our faith and locked the Holy Spirit out of the Church?
Without Holy Spirit-led meetings, it’s easy to pattern our ministries into a religious form. We simply look at the current Christian fads and copy them thereby allowing our services to form some sort of structure or pattern. This is typical in many pastoral churches today. I don't want to sound anti-orderly but many times we are so structured that we miss the point of gathering ourselves together in the house of God. In a religious context, the church can become structured around a Sunday morning collection of people gathered together for the weekly “hour of power.” This is where you come to church...
- Sing a few songs
- Hear a song special
- Listen to announcements
- Pay one's tithes
- Listen to a simple, non-compelling sermon or motivational message
- Receive your blessing
- Pray a closing prayer
- Go home and wait for the next week of the same old same old next week. Boring!
In this setting everything is focused to climax in this one hour period. So inadvertently we create a system of “consumer only Christianity” whose only purpose in coming to church is to receive. To receive the best in music and teaching with the finale of being prayed for to receive one’s breakthrough. Please understand me, I am not at all against music, preaching, prayer or breakthrough but let's go a little further. People need to be both blessed and changed. A religious structure of church services can create a “bless-me-only” event-oriented entertainment model of ministry. Church then becomes a place where people become spectators and are never equipped and released to do anything. So in order to gather numbers and fill chairs many churches have reinforced the pastoral model of ministry and moved into...
- Entertainment (Hollywood Christianity)
- Programmed services
- Religious rituals
- Seeker friendliness
- Consumer Christianity
- Franchised ministry
A franchise ministry is simply a cookie cutter of another ministry that has no Spirit life design. Because of this, we have inadvertently created a non-challenging, humanistic, consumer minded religious system that is being promulgated each week throughout the world.
Today hundreds of churches are closing because they are refusing to let go of this old model of bless-me-only Christianity, the pastoral-only model of ministry. I submit to you that the Holy Spirit is challenging this model of ministry and is releasing a reforming spirit that will challenge this ineffective structure. Yes, change is on the way, good change that will help every pastor that is reading this. I know what you have been going through trying to serve God the best way you know how but are on the verge of burnout and despair. Let me assure you that help is on the way. The Holy Spirit is going to restore an effective structure of ministry that will empower you to raise-up strong sons and daughters in the Lord that will take the battle out of the church and into the city.
Our answer to effective ministry models will not be found in the efforts of church growth seminars based on humanistic efforts to get people to pencil Christ into their busy weekly schedules. Scripture says “Unless the Lord builds the house those that labor do labor in vain that build it” (Psalm 127:1). The way the Lord builds His house is through His pattern and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Effective ministry will come by the guidance of the Holy Spirit through revelation from the Word of God and His way of doing things. Christ’ Church was never intended to be built around a bless-me-only, nurture-me-only or comfort-me-only model of ministry. Yes, the Holy Spirit still blesses, nurtures and comforts people in every service but that’s not all He does. He equips them for victorious Christian living. The Church was designed to be built upon the foundational leadership of apostles and prophets with Jesus Christ himself as the chief corner stone.
THE COMING MASTER BUILDERS
A. W. Tozer once said, “How tragic that we in this dark day have had our seeking done for us by our teachers. Everything is made to center upon the initial act of ‘accepting’ Christ (a term, incidentally, which is not found in the Bible) and we are not expected thereafter to crave any further revelation of God to our souls.”
Apostolic ministry gifts are spiritual master builders that carry the revelation of Christ governing Church. As Paul said, “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon” (1 Corinthians 3:10).
My prayer is for the manifestation of this master building grace to be imparted once again to the Church. As apostolic grace is poured out during this time of restoration there will unfold an effective apostolic model of ministry where every believer can move beyond a bless-me-only, consumer mind-set of Christianity and ministry into a build me, mature me, prepare me and send me to change the world model of ministry – the apostolic model. I know there are thousands of pastors that are struggling with their callings who are doing their best by trying to shore up a pastoral-only model of ministry that is falling apart. The good news is the Holy Spirit is showing us how to stop pastoring and start apostling His churches. Pray about making the transition. Apostling doesn’t mean that the needs of the people don’t get met. Apostling means that you train others to carry out the pastoral aspect of ministry. We will discuss this more later.
The pattern for an apostolic structure of ministry can be found in the book of Acts. As we continue on our journey to discover the new apostolic revolution we will see this new model emerge right before our eyes. Are you willing to make the transition?
Understand that the Holy Spirit wants to do more than bless, nurture and comfort you. Yes, you are going to get blessed, nurtured and comforted but He wants to equip you to make a difference with your life. The old concept of going to church to listen to a ten minute motivational sermon that helps you cope with problems or the concept of just getting blessed is no longer effective. Start developing a different mindset of your local church and see it for what it really is. The Church is not a white building with stain glass windows, red carpets, wooden pews, hymn books and tall steeples. No, it’s the Church of Jesus Christ, the seat of governing authority on the earth today. Inside you can hear the very voice of God, find forgiveness for sins and be equipped as a revolutionary change agent for the Kingdom of God.
Start asking the Holy Spirit to help you learn how to transition out of a pastoral-only model of ministry into a more effective apostolic model of ministry. Go to conferences hosted by real apostles that have actually built something and are the set leaders of apostolic ministries. Be sure to avoid the title only apostles. True apostles are identified by their function and not their titles. Apostles, for example, have churches. Listen to their audio recordings and read their books and make every effort to further your education regarding the new apostolic Church revolution.
Finally, ask the Holy Spirit to lead you and guide you into effective ministry. Jesus said, “If any man lacks wisdom let him ask of God who giveth freely and upbraideth not.” My prayer is that this information has helped you see what the Holy Spirit is doing.
(c) Apostle Jonas Clark
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