When your car is making a funny noise, or not performing as expected, you take it to someone that can repair it. When you are not feeling well, you go to a doctor to see if there is something they can do to heal your body. When you are in emotional pain, you might see a therapist or counselor. When your house has termites, you call the exterminator. Barring supernatural intervention, most folks in church are smart enough to know when something is wrong.
The question, what do you do when your church is has no passion, every new vision seems to be the same old thing, every sermon is one that you've already heard, and you have 800 pseudo invitations to dinner, but never get a date and time? Like most Christians, you go to another church, meet a few hopeful friends and start the cycle of disappointment all over again.
Have you sat down to think about why this is happening over and over again? Do you blame yourself for not pressing in, the pastor for not caring, or some other excuse as to why there is little in the way of power, love, invigorating teaching, or intimacy with Jesus?
May I suggest this? Many churches subscribe to traditional church structures that are more corporate (business) like, than biblical. Trust me, if all was well in Church Land, I'd suggest not changing anything. I am firm believer in, "if it works, don't fix it. And if it's broke, shoot it twice!" Honestly, if you are happy with a car that has one tire, or a broom with no handle, then you can stop reading here. Don't you believe that God has more for you? More for your church?
Today, I am drawing a line in the sand. For just over ten years I have been pondering this verse. Ephesians 4:11 "It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up."
My church background is varied, but it includes years in Baptist, Anglican, Charismatic, and Pentecostal churches. I have also attended services in the Church of God, Word of Faith, Congregational, Roman Catholic, Full Gospel and a host of independent denominations (which I would group in either Charismatic or Pentecostal like experiences). What I have not seen is a fully function leadership team that included the 5-Fold ministry gifts, sometimes called the ascension gifts. What I have seen is arguments over the gifts of the Spirit, the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, whether the deacon board should vote or cast lots, whether woman can teach or be elders, and I have also heard that lobsters are the cockroach of the sea (see Jewish dietary laws for an explanation.)
I have studied church history and revival quite extensively, and in a nutshell, here is what I think happened. In the first century church there was great power from On High. So great that Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead for lying about their contributions to the offering plate. Just think about that for one minute. You lie about something you did, or didn't do in church, and your smote right in the restroom.
The 5-Fold gifts were in action, but until Paul wrote about them, there were not really defined (understood). Most folks were Jews and eventually the Gentiles got in on the salvation deal. People brought all kinds pagan and current religious ideas to "church." That is why Paul wrote them letters, known as Epistles. He was instructing them on the way that the Holy Spirit would change them, while challenging them in their own ideas.
Men being men, tried to gain power and position, and the result? The intensity of the New Testament church waned. Instead of rekindling the fire through prayer and repentance, they just got more religious-- like the the Pharisees had been in the time of Jesus. By the third century they had church buildings, and the equipping structure (ascension gifts) of the church started to fail spiritually. The early apostolic movement (gospel spreading/church planting), became nation building followed by the Crusades. Prophets virtually ceased to exist. The role of the evangelist was taken over by "being born into faith," not "born again by faith."
Finally, all that was left was the Pope, the cardinals (elders) and the local pastor who submitted to Rome. His role was more that of an administrator of the local church then a caregiver for the flock. Teaching came from Rome, and no one questioned it really-- well until Martin Luther. People were split over all of this, but many found a true salvation. Since the time of Martin Luther, we've had many revivals in different counties.
I often think of Paul as a somewhat of a music theorist, except that he was a student of the wonders of the New Covenant (Kingdom). Bach didn't know music theory per se, what he did was write music that sounded good to him. Some time later, after his gift was well recognized, folks sat down to analyze what it was that he was doing in this amazing music. Paul did something similar. He saw what God was doing, heard His voice, saw His wonders, and prayed and brooded over the things of the Spirit. Then he wrote them down. He challenged the worldviews of the day, while chronicling for all ages, the will, the heart, and the wisdom of God Almighty.
So what's wrong with the church? Except for some remote areas, the power of God is more talk then action. All around the world church folks are religious, denying the power of God, snipping out chunks of the Bible, to suit their own ideas and personal logic.
I don't have all the answers but, I believe the Bible. So where are the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers? Paul said that the prophets and the apostles were foundational to the church with only Christ, the cornerstone more important. You can read it in Greek, and read every commentary on earth, but the word is true. I believe it, do you?
When we look at the myriad of problems in the church, over a long period of time, you've got to agree there is something is wrong!
I'd be interested in your comments. Over the next few weeks, look for a short series on what does the 5-Fold look like in the New Testament church.
HERE IS THE ENTIRE SERIES