Apostles, Prophets, and Evangelists go out on mission, Pastors and Teachers are supposed to stay put. At least that’s the sentiment of many within the church. Actually, it’s quite a hurdle to get people to accept that there are indeed still Apostles, and Prophets walking around. I try to make it easier or more palatable sometimes by saying that there are those within the body with the “characteristics” of apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers, but admittedly that line of thinking is a bit weak and undercuts the import of equipping saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, for unifying those in the faith, for contributing to others for their maturity and ours, and for attaining the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11,12,13)
Of course I’m given a bit more latitude because I’m a “crazy missionary” living and working in a context that no one else will, and one that is still breaking new gospel ground. It’s almost permissible to hold to a more “apostolic” ministry because we’re bringing the gospel to where it’s not known and naming Jesus amongst people where He has not been named. Additionally many have not seen a bible, read it, or know what it is. It’s almost acceptable that I still cling to my antiquated notions that some are still acting all prophetic and apostle like.
But, that’s not what we’re here to talk about exactly. For the rest of this post, I’ll just assume that there are all five giftings alive and well amongst the body of Christ. I’ll also assume that each of these are sent or are capable of being sent. When it comes to evangelists, it’s a no brainer. Of course they’re sent! Someone’s got to “go” and preach the gospel to all of creation. But, if the church by its ignorance or by some other diabolical ulterior motive seeks to excise apostles and prophets, then it’s only left with 2 possible types of people to send, namely evangelists and pastor-teachers. And again, pastor-teachers are supposed to stay put, so that leaves only the evangelist to do mission. Wrong…Wrong…Wrong!
A Pastor’s heart is one that is disposed to mission. If someone is pastoral, then he/she will leave the secure flock and go on mission to find the one’s. The one’s are those who are lost, who have been separated from the flock, or those who need to be loved back into fellowship. The Pastor can also be sent to watch over the flock in a different sphere. A pastor is not excluded from being missional or living as sent.
Back to apostles and prophets. Let me share from “the real world” of missions. When we begin ministry in a new community, we identify which of the Ephesians 4:11 people gifts are most needed as catalysts to create an environment disposed to the making of disciples and the gathering and fellowship of the same. If they need a prophetic kick in the pants, then so be it. If they need someone with an apostolic disposition to envision, imagine, and facilitate how the Kingdom looks in their context, then again, so be it. We’ll decide amongst ourselves which of us, operating in our gifts, are best suited to meet the present need of any given community and send them. Here’s an important point. We decide collectively. The Pastor doesn’t get to decide alone who is sent and who is not. In fact, if any of the five giftings are better equipped to commission and send, it would be the apostle. Don’t you think? But none of these, have a weightier “authority” over the other. Do they? Every community is assessed and matched up with the ones that can best address their short or long term needs. Each community is different. This form of collective and probing ministry has contributed to the amazing movement happening in our context. Every part of the body, or pre-body needs every other part of the body acting in accordance with its gifting. Each of the types of people listed in Ephesians 4:11 are sent. Some are continually sent and some are sent for seasons. Some stay put and other stay in motion. Some are sent elsewhere to stay put, and some are sent with perpetual sent-ness. A few questions:
1. Should Pastors stay put?
2. Seriously, if you don’t think there are apostles and prophets anymore, why not?
3. Assuming that all 5 gifts are still functioning in the church, do any have authority over the others?