Should the Church Be a One-Man-Show? Is the Church too Pastor-Centric? #EverybodyPlaysBall #95
Happy Thursday, Friends! Day 16 of shelter in place here in Sunny and windy central California. We have not resorted to cannibalism yet. We have resorted to all sorts of pranks, however, including my daughters pretending to be burglars breaking in last night at 1am and filming me coming outside with a machete to see what was going on. We also had every picture in our house today covered with Shrek faces, and my monitor covered with Kim-Jong-Un pictures, so that is something.
Shout out to my brother or sister in Harare, Zimbabwe yesterday who downloaded a bunch of episodes of the show! Today was actually one of the best days ever for the show, with over 400 downloads in one day, which is awfully nice of you people – I’m glad you are listening and that we are hearing the Word of God together! Shoutout also to KRF78 for her or his most encouraging iTunes/Apple podcasts review!
Excellent podcast for daily Bible study!☆☆☆☆☆I love this podcast. I love the combination of a reading plan with a daily study of pertinent Bible study questions. Highly recommend!Krf78
Today’s Bible passages are Leviticus 5, Psalms 3 and 4, Proverbs 20 and Colossians 3. Our focus passage today is derived from Colossians, and is yet again focused more on one verse than the whole passage:
16 Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.Colossians 3:16
Today we are going to talk about how the Body of Christ – the Church – was set up in the New Testament. Before we do, I need to remind you that I am the pastor of a church that you should come visit online at: https://www.facebook.com/VBCsalinas/ I would like you to visit in person also, but I guess it’s not yet time for that. #pandemic. Anyway – I am a pastor, have been one for a long time. I like pastors. Some of my best friends are pastors. Some of my spiritual heroes are pastors. Keep that in mind when I say this: Far too often, the modern Western church is way, way too pastor-centric, when you compare it to the way “church” is described in the Bible. I present the above passage as exhibit 1. For exhibit two, I invite you to go and search for how many times the word ‘pastor’ shows up in the Bible. Go ahead…I’ll wait. I’m just kidding. The word pastor appears exactly ONCE in the CSB and the NIV, and ZERO times in the ESV. Yes, it appears 9 times in the KJV, but 8 of those times are in the Old Testament book of Jeremiah, and they aren’t referring to church pastors, because that book was written hundreds of years before the birth of the church in Acts 2.
So – what gives, are pastors illegit? No, I don’t believe so. If you search for ‘shepherd’ and ‘elder,’ you will find quite a bit more hits, and I believe both of those words are synonymous with pastor when used in the context of the people. You will find that Paul appointed elders (plural) in every church, so they were definitely important – especially those who focused on preaching and teaching. (1 Timothy 5:17) Even then, however, you do NOT get the idea from the New Testament that the church was very pastor-centric. Instead, it was very Jesus-centric and very member-centric.
Consider some of these gifts of the Spirit passages:
10 Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve others, as good stewards of the varied grace of God. 11 If anyone speaks, let it be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, let it be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything.1 Peter 4:10-11
7 A manifestation of the Spirit is given to each person for the common good: 8 to one is given a message of wisdom through the Spirit, to another, a message of knowledge by the same Spirit, 9 to another, faith by the same Spirit, to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another, the performing of miracles, to another, prophecy, to another, distinguishing between spirits, to another, different kinds of tongues, to another, interpretation of tongues. 11 One and the same Spirit is active in all these, distributing to each person as he wills.1 Corinthians 12:7-11
26 What then, brothers and sisters? Whenever you come together, each one has a hymn, a teaching, a revelation, another tongue, or an interpretation. Everything is to be done for building up. 27 If anyone speaks in another tongue, there are to be only two, or at the most three, each in turn, and let someone interpret. 28 But if there is no interpreter, that person is to keep silent in the church and speak to himself and God. 29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should evaluate. 30 But if something has been revealed to another person sitting there, the first prophet should be silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that everyone may learn and everyone may be encouraged. 32 And the prophets’ spirits are subject to the prophets, 33 since God is not a God of disorder but of peace.1 Corinthians 14:26-33
Putting aside the debate about whether or not some of the gifts mentioned above ceased (I believe they didn’t)…but no matter what your view of the gifts, I’m sure you can see in the passages we just read that the early church was anything but a one-man-show. It was a Body of Christ show that pointed everybody to the head of the Body of Christ – JESUS.
Lack of proper biblical emphasis on this topic -the gifts of the Spirit – leads to an immature and stunted Body of Christ that depends on the gifts of 3-5 important people while everybody else is along for the ride. Think of the arm-wrestler who lifts everyday on his right arm, but the rest of his body is atrophied. A church that only has 3-4 people evidently serving/using their gifts is a freak show, not the Body of Christ. Everybody is called to USE their gifts for the building up of others. Everybody plays Ball – when that happens, the church GROWS into maturity and fruitfulness.
YOU have a spiritual gift. You are empowered to minister to people and build up the church. Colossians 3:16 gives us this amazing picture of the whole church, lively and active and ministering to each other in various ways.
1 Corinthians 12:7 7 A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person to produce what is beneficial: Symphero – better for everybody, together-profitable.
Consider – without the Gift of Exhortation – (Parakaleo – called alongside somebody for support) there will be people in the Body who feel crushingly alone, and will despair, suffering far more than they should, and being weakened by it. An Exhorter walks beside those who are suffering – TWO ARE BETTER THAN ONE – and fights together with them. GET OFF THE MAT!
Without the gift of giving – many of us would suffer remarkable financial hardships. God, through the gift of giving, provides money through His people at just the right time to fuel the ministries of the church, to provide for the needs of widows, orphans and those who are struggling greatly. My Father in Law has this gift, and I can’t tell you how many times it has been such a rich blessing to us.
Without the gift of leadership, there would be little cohesive togetherness. Some projects simply cannot be done by 1-2 people – leaders are needed in those situations. Everybody would go their own way, but a gifted leader (not one who leads by power, or bullying, or strength) is a delight to follow and rally around. A gifted leader does not diminish who you are, or your calling in any way, but enhances it!
Without the gift of mercy, those who are suffering would rarely truly be comforted. The truly wounded – the abused, the suffering, would do so in silence, and ultimately come to believe that the church is unloving, or God Himself is unloving. The Gift of mercy TRUMPETS the LOVE of God and the LOVE of His people to those who need to hear it most. When you are suffering, your ability to hear and perceive love is SMASHED. It takes LOUD examples of love, shown consistently over time. This is the gift of mercy.
Without the Gift of Service, there would be SO many important things undone when we gather. Diapers would not be changed in nursery, trash would not be picked up, coffee wouldn’t be made, people wouldn’t be helped when they have their hands full. This gift almost cheats, because Jesus’ key to greatness is serving. Some are gifted to be GREAT in the Kingdom of Heaven eternally.
Without the Gift of Faith Probably several of us would have quit gathering together with other Believers. Many would not have been healed or prayed for. In a group like this, the gift of Faith enhances every ministry, every outreach, every prayer offered. When the odds look terrible, and people want to quit, or not even try, the gift of faith sees the majesty and power of God and says, “Behold the Lamb!”
Rise up gifted members of the church and embrace your role and calling – even if you are ‘sheltering in place’ let your light (the light of Jesus in you) shine before men so that they will see Jesus and glorify God the Father!