“And *he* has given some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some shepherds and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints; with a view to [the] work of [the] ministry, with a view to the edifying of the body of Christ; until we all arrive at the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, at [the] full-grown man, at [the] measure of the stature of the fulness of the Christ; in order that we may be no longer babes, tossed and carried about by every wind of *that* teaching [which is] in the sleight of men, in unprincipled cunning with a view to systematized error; but, holding the truth in love, we may grow up to him in all things, who is the head, the Christ: from whom the whole body, fitted together, and connected by every joint of supply, according to [the] working in [its] measure of each one part, works for itself the increase of the body to its self-building up in love.” (Ephesians 4:11-16, DARBY)
“Behold, I do a new thing; now it shall spring forth: shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the waste.” (Isaiah 43:19, DARBY)
On the prayer call tonight, a discussion began about leadership today and questions about leaders and the state of modern leadership. A lot of things came out of the discussion, all of which was interesting, most notably, the contrast between the old and the new.
We talk a lot about God doing a “new” thing today, and saying that isn’t new. I’ve been hearing people chant that God is doing a “new” thing for at least fifteen years, and too often I see the same old thing, recycled over and over again. When it comes to leadership, it seems like the only thing that we do is try to make leadership roles and offices fit comfortably into our own concepts of ministry and to fit what we are seeking, what we like, and what we want to see done in the church.
For example: Over the past twenty years, we’ve seen the emergence of “designations” within various offices, especially the pastoral. “Senior Pastor.” “Associate Pastor.” “Co-Pastor.” “Chief Apostle.” “Covering Apostle.” “Evangelistic Apostle.” While I understand where the first two came from and how they emerged (I am not going to even comment on the rest of them and their ridiculousness), it is obvious that designating offices is to establish who is in charge and the reason we use them is to give certain authority, administrative descriptiveness, and identity to people who are doing work that is somehow outside of their office. We’re doing this to make the five-fold fit the comfortable notions that we have about church, see things through the eyes of the pastor or evangelist alone…and instead of shaking up our concepts and doing something genuinely new in church, just do the same thing.
I have no disrespect to genuine pastors or evangelists. I’m not knocking how people designate themselves because most people use systems, language, and terminology that will be familiar to others so people will understand what they are doing. I believe in the entire five-fold and I believe the entire five-fold is to be respected and honored, but I believe the five-fold should be respected for what it is. In our church today, we are automatically structured and purposed to exclude at least two (if not more) of the needed offices because we have based church notions on Americana, comfortable, modern western values, and are so busy trying to compete for authority and control, we want to make sure everyone knows who we are and how much we are in charge.
One woman on the line tonight reiterated a story about how an entire team of leadership all “moved up” in title: the “Senior Pastor” became the apostle, the “Co-Pastor” became the “overseer,” and nobody else became anything…and they all kept doing the exact same things. Their titles changed, their work did not…showing forth that we don’t understand the five-fold any better than we ever have, we don’t understand how the offices work together, and we still want everything to sound like, look like, and be a pastor, even if it’s not.
I think we need to realize that, in saying God is doing something new in leadership, we need to realize that what is new in our day and age – the five-fold ministry and a right understanding of bishops, elders, and deacons (what I classify as the appointments) – is a restoration of God’s original system of leadership for the church. For it to be modern and new, we need to understand the five-fold beyond the pastor or the evangelist and seek God about how we can make it work in our day and age, in this time, in a way that can be relevant and cutting edge for the needs we have today. We need to stop debating the “old” that never dies: women wearing pants, women wearing make-up, women in ministry, women bishops, can people be in ministry and divorced, conspiracy theories about churches, whether or not there are apostles today, etc., and apply ourselves to understanding the five-fold and really learning what these different offices are that God has given to the church and the signs of each office and really applying ourselves to learning exactly what it is we are called to instead of trying to roll ourselves up in different variations of offices that are most comfortable or visible. I pray for a generation of leaders that will embrace their true callings, their true purposes, God’s true vision for leadership, and will, instead of running, rise up to set the church aright, in the direction it needs to go. We need to stop laying down and dying because of lack of knowledge and start realizing the Lord has equipped us with people in this generation who are qualified to teach us on these essential things and take us to a new place…a now place…a place of His perfect will, where we can be fitly joined together, no longer tossed to and fro.
Let us never forget the “old,” original thing, given by God 2,000 years ago, is truly what is needed to transform our age, our era, our leadership; to steer this ship to where it needs to be, and to see new things happen – not crazy things, not counterfeit signs – but the new day that we all look for, and seek.
(c) 2014 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.