Leadership Courage Series # 30

To the Church at Ephesus, Paul wrote: So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…  Yet, since the Reformation, the Church in the West has been dominated almost exclusively by those with the pastor-teacher gift.

It shows.

What do you miss when apostolic grace is missing from the Church? 

An apostle is a “sent-one”.  Walk into the dozen churches closest to your home and send the members out into the community to minister there.  Call them to establish the Kingdom reign and rule of God out there.  Challenge them to pioneer fresh and meaningful expressions of ministry that make sense to the prevailing culture — outside their walls.

The Christians in those churches will look at you like you’re nuts!  And the longer they’ve been “churched” the more aghast they will be.  If they’ve been in church their entire lives, their incredulity will be nearly insurmountable.

Why?

The religious culture in which they’ve been steeping has been training them to be scandalized by the assertion that they’re supposed to minister regularly, routinely, naturally, and passionately among those who are not followers of the Christian way.  The culture believes that’s what ministers are paid for.  “Ministers minister.  We come and sit and listen and sort of tithe…”

Trust me on this. 

I’m close to a few Senior Pastors who challenged their people in just this way — and the power brokers who control their elder boards — ran the pastors out.  Out of the church.  Out of town.  Out of pastoral ministry.

A tragedy.

It is heartbreaking for the pastors.  It’s far more disastrous for the congregations left behind, mired in meaningless maintenance of impotent programs and life-sapping control.  The greatest catastrophe, however, is for those the Church continues ignore, insulating them from what would have been provocative demonstrations of Christ’s transformative presence in their midst.

They just go to Hell.

Does this remind you, at all, of Jesus’ words: “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either.  [Mt 23:13 NLT]

See, the apostolic impetus ignites action.  It generates ground-breaking innovation.  It leads change.  It is consumed with whatever could expand the reach and impact of the Kingdom of God.  The apostolic is risk-taking, not safety-centered.  Its orientation is forward.

Forward looking.

Forward leaning.

Forward moving.

Teaching is valuable in so much as it produces Christ-honoring Kingdom advance.  In individuals.  In congregations. And in society.

Christ gave the apostolic to the Church for her effectiveness.

And, where it’s missing, minimized, or marginalized, you get, well… you get what we’ve got today.