x428......Problem: Releasing Ministry
1. There is a person who "has authority" over the church
2. This person (usually "the pastor") is thought to have the right, or the duty, of 'testing or proving" the people which are "under" him, in order to decide who is qualified to be a "minister" or a "deacon"
3. The "test or proving" which the "church authority" holds people to is completely up to their discretion. A person can be "tested and proved" over many many years. Usually that "test" includes church attendance, faithfulness to tithe, obedience to the leadership, as well as personality, and perhaps even the way a person dresses.
Result: We have very few people who are ever "released" to become ministers or deacons. We have a system of "promotion" within our churches, based largely on worldly judgments which we believe the leadership has the right to hold over the people. The "promotion" which many receive often has nothing to do with their anointing, but rather has to do with our traditional un-Biblical view of what the church ought to look like and function like. The "ministry" of a "deacon" or and "elder" is nearly functionless, and is simply a title given to people who have been in the church a long time, or have done some exceptional service to the leadership. We continue to function by the traditional system of hierarchy, handed down to us by Roman emperors--a hierarchy which is non-existent in the new testament Bible.
Result------ The move of God in the earth is slowed to a crawl.
Here is what the Bible says about these misconceptions which we have.
Misconception #1.-- "There is a person who has authority to rule over the church"
25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. 26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. (Luke 22:25-26, KJV).
Our first misconception which limits ministry is that "ministry" equals "authority over others" within the church. This definitive statement by Jesus (which is also repeated in Matthew 20 and Mark 10--as well as demonstrated by every aspect of Jesus' earthly ministry) clearly tells us not to exercise authority over one another amongst ourselves. It clearly defines just what "ministry" is--the word means "service" not rulership--specifically not rulership with authority over others. The word "chief" above is the same word which is translated in Hebrews 13:17 as "them that rule over". Hebrews 13:17 is much more well-known in our churches than Luke 22:25-26--which is a very unfortunate situation. Hebrews 13:17 uses the word "rule", but does not give the definition of exactly what "rule" is. This word (Greek "hegeomai") is clearly defined by Jesus in Luke 22:26. If we were to simply translate this Greek word as "leadership" which is it's correct definition, We would understand the complete picture.
"........... he that is chief ("hegeomai"), as he that doth serve. (Luke 22:26, KJV).
"obey them that have the rule over you ("hegeomai"), and submit yourselves:....... "(Hebrews 13:17, KJV).
We should "obey" (listen to --give heed to) them that "serve"--and comply (submit) to their service to us. (If we were to read the rest of Hebrews 13:17, we would find out that it is saying to listen to those who are serving us the word of God --them that must "give account"--logos--the word of God. This verse simply means we ought to listen to someone when they are teaching the word of God to us--IT--will benefit us.Also note--it does not spell out "pastor"--"elder"--"bishop"--"priest"--as the "offical person" who has the God-given right to teach the church--since in the apostolic network of the Bible church, anyone could teach!!).
When we believe that within the church the leadership "has authority" over us, we are disobeying Jesus' commandment of what ministry ought to be. It is commanded to be service to others, and specifically NOT authority over others. This is a command from Jesus, but little understood or taught in many churches. The result is that we start out with the wrong concept of what ministry is in the first place, and, we accept the worldly concept of authority over others within the body of Christ. This is the first limitation to the move of God.
Misconception #2. A person (usually "the pastor") is thought to have the right, or the duty, of "testing or proving" the people which are "under" him, in order to decide who is qualified to be a "minister" or a "deacon"
first let's take a look at where we get this concept of "testing or being proved"--
10* And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. (1Timothy 3:10)
When we read this single verse out of context, it can lead us to believe some wrong things. First of all we can misuse this verse to verify our concept that in order for someone to be a "deacon" they should be first "proved". This verse taught out of context can be used to confirm our wrong concept that leadership has the right to test or prove a person for as long as they want, by whatever standards they choose in order to allow them to "use the office of a deacon".
If we simply read this verse in context, we will find that the "test" of a deacon has just been stated. This test consist of simple standards, which probably 85% if Christians could meet---they must be married to only one husband or wife, they must not be liars or drunkards, they must not want to serve God for greed or gain for money. Their homes must be Godly, in fact, most of the qualifications are regarding their home--Why? Simply because these are the requirements for a person to operate a church within their own home--which is the way that the church in the NT was spreading the move of God. (Another of our chief problems with ministry is that we are trying to build a non-Biblical church. WE are trying to build a church based on tradition of man rather than example of God in the Bible. We are building a church which has much more in common with the OT house of God than the NT house of God--old covenant principles which are all specifically done away with in the new covenant.)
8* ¶ Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; 9* Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. 10* And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. 11* Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. 12* Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 13* For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. (1Timothy 3: 8-13)
Our second problem is that tradition has misdefined the term which is stated in the King James Bible "office of a deacon". In our churches today we believe that this is a title of someone who serves within the church, "under the pastor". If we look at the Greek we will get our answer. The phrase "office of a deacon" is in the Greek, simply one word--"diakonos". This word simply means "servant". Why is the word "office" inserted here by the translators? Quite simply because at the time the Bible was translated into English, (about 500 years ago) the organized church was incredibly corrupted by the authority of man. Christian kings claimed to have the God-given Biblical right to rule with authority over their nations. The church was used as a vehicle to control people with fear and intimidation. Our "king James" Bible, although a very accurate translation, was designed in a time when the organized church was very politically controlled (in fact it is always important to remember that our country was founded by people who rebelled against this Christian authority which these "Christians kings" used over their people!). The titles or "offices" which it was thought "ministry" occupied were very powerfully used to rule over people, and our most influential translation of the Bible, whether we want to admit it or not, was done for a "Christian king" who was seeking to establish his right to be absolute monarch over his nation--and to try to say that the Bible gave him this right.
The concept of the "office" of ministry is carried over from the office of the height priest of the OT. When the Bible was translated 500 years ago--and unfortunately to this day, we still believe that ministry (service) is an office of authority--a special designation of someone to be a "priest" If we study history we will see that functionally, the priest of the catholic church became the pastor of the protestant church--carrying over basically the same functions and "authority". Note: The "office of the high priest" is referred to in the new testament--it is a Greek word (hierarchus)--from which we get our english word hierarchy. So "hierarchy" was specifically only in the old testament priests office--an office which is specifically done away with in the new testament (book of Hebrews chapters 5-10). The two words were functionally related by the translators, since the church of that day was very much turned to the old covenant priestly operation within the Christian church--over 1,000 years of catholicism had driven it firmly into the church.
Another problem we have with our interpretation of a "deacon" is that we do not understand what functions a deacon or minister is meant to operate in.
The key thing to understand is that "deacons" are the "5-fold" ministers. I know this does not fit in with our understanding of church operation--but this is Biblcally the truth!
11* And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12* For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (Ephesians 4: 11-12)
The gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher--are said here to be the anointing (the gift of Christ--mentioned in verse 7) for the work of the "diakonia"--the servants---the deacons--the ministry. If we simply take on a consistent translation of the word "diakonos" the truth now becomes clear.
It is the deacons--(ministers--servants) who are the people within the the body of Christ who function in the gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher. The qualifications found in 1Timothy chapter 3 are just simply guidelines (very simple ones which certainly most Christians can meet) which the Bible tells us to use in order to allow people to do ministry in the church. The ministry they will do will fall into the categories of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher.
These are NOT offices or titles of rulership--they are anointings and gifts which those who meet the simple qualifications of 1Timothy 3, should be permitted to utilize in order to serve God.
This also brings yet another one of our misconceptions which limits ministry. When we see ministry in context from the Bible it now becomes clear where "pastor" fits in. "Pastor" is an anointing for a deacon (minister--servant)--just the opposite of what we believe! "Pastor" is not an "office of rulership" over the church, so it is completely un-biblical to have a pastor appoint a deacon--or "have authority" to "prove or test" anyone in any way!
The Bible itself provides the "proof" of a deacon--not the personal "authority" of the pastor or any church leader--not our tradition or experience of church operation.
The church illustrated in the NT Bible was building an entirely different church than almost every church we have today. We have no command or scripture that tells us that the church of our day and age should be built differently than the church which is given to us as our example in the Bible.
In the NT, they were interested in qualifying absolutely everyone they could to become a "deacon" (servant--minister). They wanted everyone to function in their gifts and anointing--this was how the church would grow (these gifts are for the "edification of the body"--the building up--the growth of the church). The church operating out of the homes of Christians was how the church was growing in the times of the Bible. We are growing a church which is not grounded in this principle. It is the apostolic network, operating freely within many many christian homes that is the "....the pillar and ground of the truth."
"But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to
behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God,
the pillar and ground of the truth." (1 Timothy 3:15, KJV).
1Timohty 3 is all about releasing ministry--but it is very much misinterpreted and taken out of context. When we only take out the word "proved" and then believe that the "pastor" has the right to make the "test" for a deacon whatever he or she wants it to be--we are very far away from the word of God and the example of the Bible.
All of these misconceptions and traditions based on our experience give the result that ministry becomes limited and slowed--exactly what the enemy wants.
We are building a church which is not Biblical--on authority which is not Biblical--based on concepts of ministry which are not Biblical.
God help us.