Perhaps the biggest challenge facing church today is getting our church governance aligned with the word of God. Most churches are not run by the 5-fold minstry model described in Ephesians 4 and one has to wonder why they are not. The lack of a distributed power system in church, run by several leaders, all possessing different gifts outlined in Ephesians 4 could be hurting the church. In fact, I’ll go one step father and say that the lack of a team is a tremendous blow to continuing growth and unity in the body. Dare I say it is actually holding unity up?
There is a power void in church today that is not hard to explain. It exists because the saints have been over nurtured, controlled, and generally speaking, parented to the point that there is little spiritual maturity and thus, the Saints are not taking their rightful place to become ministers or serving in places of leadership (Heb 5:12-14). This power shift away from God’s model is what keeps believers from moving into deeper levels of maturity and also leads to abuses in leadership. “In the world, authority chiefly stands for the power or right to give orders and enforce obedience. It is concerned with exerting control in a particular spere,” says Graham Cooke, author of Prophetic Wisdom. “Jesus declared that human authority without Godly influence would cause leaders to lord it over people in their exercise of authority. When people feel a right or privilege over another, then abuse of authority is about to take place.”
In addition, the starvation to serve others outside the local church has stiffled many as well, giving rise to parachurch ministies, largely to the shaggrin of the local church. Parachurch ministries are actually the “monsters” that church created by not meeting the needs of the body. These parachurch ministries siphon off church-goers who are not satisfied serving out their prime service years as pew fodder. So the body created something outside the reach of the church so that external needs could be met. This was likely born out of a frustration to see action rather than hearing excuses for why we do not pray or serve the people of our communities more.
Ephesians 2:20 says that the church was built upon Apostles and prophets, not pastors and teachers. If on the other hand the Ephesians 4 model was being followed, much of what we see happening outside the church might well be originating from inside the church had the single (Catholic) leadership model not been continued by the Protestant church. Pastors, not unlike nobles of old, may not want to give up their territory, nor should anyone be entirely surprised by that. After all their entire survival may now depend on that system and for those lacking in true trust of God, changing may cost someone their lifestyle. As if following God was of no consequence.
Instead, new territory must be taken before the traditional views of church can change. Presenting the contrast to traditional church is a new thing that God is doing, but that in and of itself, will not change people. That will only come by a new revelation, and that which comes from God. So how do we get there?
I think three types of leaders in the coming transformation of church who will soon emerge: 1) Transformational leaders who do what it takes to speak to the church – all for what it is, good and bad. No excuses, not sugary coatings, just raw truth, 2) Figureheads leaders who will have an apostolic positioning from God to speak lovingly toward traditional churchgoers about the emergent church, much in the way that Paul was positioned by God to speak to the early churches, and 3) Those who will simply become the new 5-fold ministry leaders of a new emergent church model, who’s life and ministry will so starkly contrast traditional church practices that others will be drawn into it. This is not unlike Jesus who was offensive to those who controlled the power structure in his day. What was Jesus’ model? Personal freedom, less church control allowing people to make their decisions because he trusted God most of all, and a distributed power structure across a team, also known as the disciples whom he mentored.
The early church started the idea of corporate worship and services. During Martin Luther’s time, the 2nd day church emerged and new freedoms were allowed. But even so, it was not enough and in many respects it created as many new problems as it hoped to solve. God trusts the average believer freely. The average church, not so much. Now, this movement is one of a “third-day” church that will move from the formal, orthodox functional only model to one that operates like God, along smaller relational paradigms as opposed to the functional paradigm in church today. In other words, everyone today exists for the church, rather than the church existing for the benefit of its members. The future church will not be about getting things done like Martha, but will be about serving God faithfully in any way that is consistent with the word by being who we are called to be, like Mary. It will be a church that wants to build an army rather than an audience; one that is more interested in how many we send out than how many come in; and one that wants to attract the attention of God more than it wants the attention people.
Of course until that time, we will have to recognize that churches of today are in different places. There are traditional bible-based churches, transitional churches that are in a state of flux between the old and new wine skins, and new emergent churches that simply want to reach people without a great deal of bias toward any tradition for how things gets done.
Changing the landscape of church is not something we do, it is what God does. We can harp, fight, complain and try to force others to our way of thinking and we are no different than those leaders who use guilt or force of submission to accomplish their goals. Instead, we are to take this revelation as a promise of things to come and pray this into the natural while we let God change the hearts and minds of his people until it does. This new reformation will bring revival with it and awaken a slumbering, increasingly less relevant church to the forefront of our society. It will be as Bill Johnson says, “A body that is in equal proportion to the Head.” But before that can happen, we must discover the governance model that has always been there in Ephesians 4 and follow it like God intended. We must stop replicating the Pastor model for church leadership and follow the wisdom of Ephesian 2:20 and 1 Cor. 12:28.
Leadership wants maturity in the body, but leadership needs maturity itself and the body is looking for bold leaders to admit what we have today is not biblical. Until leadership humbles itself and prays, Luther’s model will rule the day leaving us with a machine that operates on only 20% (one of five manifested gifts) of its intended power to change the world.