What is my role within the church?
For the past several weeks I have been teaching a course at Grace Church of the Valley School of Ministry on the Five-fold Ministry, using text Ephesians 4: 11 in the KJV it reads …
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;” and the
Amplified Bible (AMP): “11 And [His gifts to the church were varied and] He Himself appointed some as apostles [special messengers, representatives], some as prophets [who speak a new message from God to the people], some as evangelists [who spread the good news of salvation], and some as pastors and teachers [to shepherd and guide and instruct],”
I found the past few years very interesting as I have spent time preparing and studying material and lectures for this course at GCOTV School of Ministry. I look at scripture within the context it is written and the historical perspective of the church that much of what I was taught growing up in the Fundamental Baptist as well as attended some great Baptist colleges. I missed some great blessings of scripture. This passage of scripture is one of those blessings. I was taught or better yet indoctrinated that passages such as this and references to Gifts of the Spirit stopped at the time the Scripture (Bible) was completed (basically stating that they ceased at the Apostle Johns death).
Today as a Professor of Pastoral Theology, Minister, and Student of the Word of God I attempt to look at the scripture through the church worldwide not through the limited scope of a denomination, college, or the teaching of one particular preacher or pastor. As ministers we often quote: 2 Timothy 3:16 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) “16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness,” if we truly agree with this then we must agree that the passages we disagree with are inspired.
So, what about the passage in Ephesians where the Apostle Paul writes: He gave (of course we know that the Apostle Paul is referring to Christ) Apostles, Prophets, Evangelist, Pastors, and Teachers so let’s break this down into simple terms:
1) Apostle … The simple meaning of the word is “Messenger or Representative” these individuals have a clear understanding of the word of God both the “Logos Word” which is the written word we find within scripture and the “Rhema Word” that God uses men to share with individuals to uplift and move forward in the ministry.
2) Prophet … The simple meaning of the word is “Proclaimer of Truth” of what God is doing with the in the church, world, and within individuals lives.
3) Evangelist … The simple meaning of this word is “Soul-winner” this individual doesn’t see people he/she see soul’s individuals that need a personal relationship with Christ and they will go out of their way to share the truth with them.
4) Pastor … The Elders, Bishops, and Overseers of the local assembly of believers, the shepherd of the flock the individual that God mandated to feed the sheep, protect the sheep, and care for the sheep.
5) Teacher … The individual that is entrusted to take the Body of Christ deeper into the understanding of the Word. Preparing individuals to defend the faith and share the foundation truths of scripture within the Body of Christ so that the church is effective in ministering to those within and in the community.
Personally, I have noticed a few “what I will call” rules for these Gifts …
I. They are never self-proclaimed, they are always God appointed with confirmation of the local Body of Christ or denomination.
II. They always operate within the authority of the local Body of Christ or denomination and under the leadership of that ministry or with the Local church or denomination providing wise-counsel and direction.
III. They have a personal devotion and desire to continue to study the word of God and seek God’s face daily to advance themselves in their personal relationship with God (with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit)
IV. All of them have one central theme or desire …. Build the Body of Christ!
Back to my original question: “What is my role within the church?” …
Sadly, it took me over 25 years to find and understand my role within the Body of Christ. Even though I was always teaching serving as Children’s Pastor, Men’s Leader, and Pastoring (either as Senior Pastor or Associate) I always felt I was missing something. About four years ago the Lord led my wife and I to Grace Church of the Valley and Pastor Roger Webb who walks out the Gifts of the Spirit, and especially the gift of discernment. After one conversation, he simply said, “You have the gift of teaching, I want you to teach and lead my School of Ministry” and the rest is history …
I would encourage every pastor, minister, and member of the Body of Christ to identify your Gift and seek wisdom in how you can apply it to help build the Body of Christ. Don’t fill a spot because there is a need, find a ministry because there is a passion.