The Church in the New Testament: Its Form, Function and Purpose
Its Form, Function and Purpose
James C. Wright, J.D.
Fasten your seat belts,
it’s going to be a bumpy ride!
All that you think of as "church" is about to be
challenged so God can woo us back to being, once
more, the multi-faceted, wonderful, exciting
Body of Christ.
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 2
To Understand "Church" …
We must understand God's ultimate purpose in history
We must understand how the Lord designed His Church to help
fulfill that purpose
And then we must understand how we personally fit into that
purpose, both through the Church and also individually
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 3
Reconciling the World to Christ …
God "through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry
of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to
himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to
us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for
Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf
of Christ, be reconciled to God." (2 Cor. 5:18-20 ESV)
… Is God's Goal and Our Purpose
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 4
Reconciliation Comes As …
"On those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned …
you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their
shoulders, the rod of their oppressor…. For to us a child is born, to us a son
is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of
the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign
on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with
justice and righteousness from that time on and forever." (Isaiah 9:2-7 NIV)
… Christ's Kingdom & Rule Forever Expand
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 5
Jesus Confirmed His Mission …
"The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring
Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be
released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and
that the time of the LORD’s favor has come." (Luke 4:18-19 NLT)
"… he said to them, 'I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God
to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.'" (Luke 4:42-42 ESV)
"The time promised by God has come at last!" he announced. "The
Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!"
(Mark 1:15 NLT)
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 6
And His Mission is Now Our Mission
"Jesus [after His resurrection] said to them [His disciples] again, 'Peace
be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.' And
when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
"Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are
forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld." (
John 20:21-23 ESV)
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 7
We Engage In Reconciling All Things …
"And he [Christ] is the head of the body, the church. He is the
beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be
preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,
and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or
in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross." (Col. 1:18-20 ESV)
… As Christ's Body, The Church
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 8
Reconciling "All Things" Means All Things!
Jesus uses the Church to reconcile to Himself, in our lives personally
but also in our society and culture, all that Satan previously possessed:
"And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on
earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all
nations ['ethne', meaning cultures], baptizing them in [i.e., bringing
them into full identity with] the name of the Father and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have
commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of
the age.'" (Matt. 28:18-20 ESV)
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 9
The Body of Christ Has Much Yet To Do
Jesus has captured full authority and legal title, but not yet full
"He stripped all the spiritual tyrants in the universe of their sham
authority at the Cross and marched them naked through the
streets." (Col. 2:15, The Message)
"'You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have
crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in
subjection under his feet.' Now in putting everything in subjection
to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not
yet see everything in subjection to him." (Heb. 2:7-8)
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 10
The Church Is Not On Defense!
"Simon Peter replied, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'
And Jesus answered him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh
and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in
heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my
church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you
the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth
shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be
loosed in heaven.'" (Matt. 16:16-19 ESV)
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 11
We Knock Down The Strongholds of Satan
In Jesus' time, the city represented the seat of power for a region and
A city's main gate and plaza were the locale for any society's vital
Political, Religious, Economic and Military Power
Commerce and Money
News and Socializing
Arts and Culture
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 12
So What Does Reconciliation Look Like?
The Triune God decided, before time began, to expand their fellowship
and love to others, and created us for that purpose! As Jesus prayed:
"Father, it's time. Display the bright splendor of your Son so the Son in
turn may show your bright splendor. You put him in charge of every-
thing human so he might give real and eternal life to all in his charge.
And this is the real and eternal life: That they know you, the one and
only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent." (John 17 MSG)
The Trinity's Love, Fellowship & Unity …
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 13
… Extended To Us and Between Us
"For the message you gave me, I gave them.… For I'm no longer going to
be visible in the world; they'll continue in the world while I return to you.
Holy Father, guard them as they pursue this life that you conferred as a
gift through me, so they can be one heart and mind as we are one heart
and mind…. Make them holy – consecrated – with the truth; your word is
consecrating truth." (John 17 MSG)
Holy & Consecrated in Truth …
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 14
… To Then Reconcile the World to its Creator
"In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world, I give them a
mission in the world…. The goal is for all of them to become one heart and
mind – just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, so they might be one
heart and mind with us. Then the world might believe that you, in fact,
sent me. The same glory you gave me, I gave them, so they'll be as
unified and together as we are – I in them and you in me. Then they'll be
mature in this oneness, and give the godless world evidence that you've
sent me and loved them in the same way you've loved me." (John 17 MSG)
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 15
Individual Pietism – The Spirit of Our Age
Most Christians today act as though Jesus went to the cross to
reconcile Himself to us – as though his greatest purpose is to meet our
individual needs, solve our individual problems, and simply get us to
heaven – rather than to reconcile us to Him so we can advance His
The belief that God's ultimate goal is a "personal relationship" –
without integrating into authentic church to be equipped and work
together in reconciling all things to Him as His multi-faceted body
and presence on earth – is heretical.
If solo Christians are not part of Christ's body, how can they claim He
is their head or that they are doing His will?
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 16
Doing Their Own Thing "for God" …
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of
heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in
your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty
works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew
you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'" (Matt. 7:21-23 ESV)
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 17
Solo Christianity: There's No Such Thing
Question: Unless we become the "body" of Christ, with Him as the
head, who will Jesus work through to reconcile "all things" to himself?
Question: If we are not part of His body, the church, how can we even
claim to belong to Christ?
Question: How can we manifest Christ and be His presence on earth,
apart from being the church (i.e., the multi-faceted Body of Christ)?
Question: Is this even possible if we don't know how to "be the church"?
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 18
Authentic Church Edifies by Participation!
"And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good
works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the
manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as
you see the Day approaching." (Heb. 10:24-25 NKJV)
"Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs." (Eph.
"Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom
teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and
spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God." (Col.
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 19
Church Leaders Equip Us To Minister
We reconcile all things to Christ as we are equipped and become mature,
through the Church, in using our unique gifts in His service. (Eph. 4:11-16)
"And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds
['pastors'] and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry [i.e.,
service according to our gifts], for building up the body of Christ, until we all
attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to
mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so
that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and
carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in
deceitful schemes. . . .
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 20
Through Love, Not Coercion or Compulsion
"... Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into
him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and
held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is
working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love." (
Eph. 4:11-16 ESV)
So we don't act by human cunning. Rather, we function as the
Body of Christ through truth spoken in love, not by force.
We build through love and trust that our individual roles, when
properly working, all fit together.
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 21
"Equip" – Fitting Properly into Christ's Body
"The Greek word for equipping, 'katartismos,' is used as a noun only
once – in Ephesians 4:12. But the word has an interesting medical
history in classical Greek. To equip is to put a bone or a part of the
human body into right relationship with the other parts of the body so
that every part fits thoroughly…. A Greek doctor would 'equip' a body
by putting a bone back into its correct relationship with the other
members of the body." – R. Paul Stevens, Liberating the Laity
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 22
The Fully Functioning Body of Christ …
"Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so
it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong
to each other. In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain
things well." (Rom 12:4-6a NIV)
"God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use
them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then
speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the
gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God
supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus
Christ." (1 Peter 4:10-11 NLT)
… Everyone Using Their Gifts to Serve
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 23
The Body of Christ, Reconciling All Things…
Coming under his headship and displaying unity thru loving service.
Proper facilitating (rather than dominating) church leadership equips
us to be Christ's ambassadors – according to our individual gifts.
We become mature and able to effectively minister through love in
those places and circumstances where we find ourselves or He sends
We don't rely on human cunning, craftiness or deceitful schemes.
We reflect Christ's love as we minister – both in and outside the
Church – to woo people to, rather than impose, Christ's Lordship.
God is sovereign – He makes all the pieces fit!
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 24
… By Expanding The Kingdom of God
When the Church functions properly, we are equipped to act as
Christ's wonderful, multi-faceted body – His arms, hands and feet
acting in unity and love to make Christ visible throughout the earth.
We reconcile all things by loving one another and then loving others
as we use our gifts in service to all through Christ.
Christ's rule and Kingdom thus continually advances, blessing all men
and all creation:
"The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of
righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." (Rom. 14:17 KJV)
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 25
Key Biblical Concepts for the Church
To be the multi-faceted Body of Christ that reconciles all things to Him, the
Church must return to Biblical principles and patterns:
Intimate, smaller fellowships that facilitate ministry one to another
Everyone is equipped to contribute and use their individual gifts
No one person or group of "professional" Christians dominate
Face-to-face participation rather than passive, anonymous pew sitting
Diversified and engaged elders who facilitate rather than control
Fully functioning, throughout-the-week community and fellowship,
rather than focused on Sunday-morning "God Shows"
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 26
New Testament Church Podium Church
Networks of small, typically home-
based fellowships in neighborhoods
Home-grown elders generally chosen
from within the local church to pastor
and equip God's people
Main meeting: Share a meal, minister
to each other, foster community
Diverse leadership w/ diverse giftings
Deacons chosen by people to handle
Generous giving to help others and to
support leaders actually bearing fruit
in others' lives through their labors;
almost no "overhead" or waste
Church buildings and programs
Pastor hired from outside to become
Elders, if any, act as corporate boards
of directors; disengaged from people
Main meeting: Sunday performances
that encourage passive and
Single pastor becomes bottleneck
due to limited (but real) personal
gifts as he tries to oversee everything
Entitlement to tithes without regard
to fruit; resources consumed by
buildings, overhead & infrastructure
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 27
The New Testament Church
Functioned Just Fine Without:
Church buildings (4th
Scripted and directed services (4th
c.); church programs/bulletins (19th
Pews (or other theater-style seating), podiums and pulpits (4th
Hierarchical leadership over local churches, beyond multiple elders and
deacons (evolved over late 2nd
c. to 6th
Sermons and monolog preaching (trend began late 2nd
Entertainment-based worship (19th
Old Testament tithing (Started 4th
c., not generally taught until 8th
c., formalized 11th
Ritualized (late 2nd
c.) and clergy-led communion (4th
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 28
Jesus Set The Pattern …
In Luke 10:1-11, Jesus himself established the pattern of advancing the
Kingdom through home-oriented fellowships located where the people
He sent seventy-two disciples, two by two, to find houses of peace and
hospitality (likely headed by those who were not yet believers) to serve as
focal points for bringing the Kingdom of God into a new town or village.
Without a house of peace and hospitality, the disciples could do nothing
and had to move on.
Jesus' direct disciples were secondary to the house of peace and hospitality!
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 29
Peter and Paul Followed The Same Pattern
Peter and the apostles organized Jerusalem believers primarily into home
churches where they fellowshipped and shared meals. (Acts 2:42-47; Acts 8:3)
Paul started new churches in new cities as home fellowships, then moved
on so local leaders could emerge without overshadowing them.
Those churches often were hosted by hospitable women, such as Mark's
mom in Jerusalem (Acts 12:12), Lydia in Philippi (Acts 16:15 & 40), Priscilla in
Ephesus and then Rome (1 Cor. 16:19 & Rom. 16:3-5), and Nympha (Col. 4:15).
Every church meeting place mentioned in the New Testament is a home
(except for short-lived additional gatherings at the Jerusalem temple).
There's no historical reference to church buildings until the 4th
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 30
Vain Traditions or Biblical Authenticity?
"The New Testament church had no fixed order of worship. The early
Christians gathered in open-participatory meetings where all believers shared
their experience of Christ, exercised their gifts, and sought to edify one
another. No one was a spectator. All were given the privilege and the
responsi-bility to participate. The purpose of these church meetings was
twofold. It was for the mutual edification of the body. It was also to make
visible the Lord Jesus Christ through the every-member functioning of His
body…. They were informal gatherings that were permeated with an
atmosphere of freedom, spontaneity, and joy … they did not serve as a
platform for any particular ministry or gifted person." – F. Viola, Pagan Christianity
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 31
We Can't Become Rigid, However
The whole Jerusalem church met outside at Solomon's Court in the
temple for worship & foundational teaching. (Acts 2:46 & 5:12)
Smaller home churches would then meet throughout Jerusalem to
"devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching." (Acts 2:42)
The large gatherings at the temple didn't last long, however.
Persecution came, and according to The Book of Acts, God used that
to force the church to expand by scattering and decentralizing!
In Ephesus, Paul held "daily discussions [not monologs!] at the lecture
hall of Tyrannus" from 11 am to 4 pm for two years. (Acts 19: 9-10 NLT)
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 32
Solomon's Court at the Temple in Jerusalem
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 33
We, And Not Some Building, Are God's House!
"Christianity was the first and only religion the world has ever known
that was void of ritual, clergy, and sacred buildings. For the first 300
years of the church's existence, Christians gathered in homes. On special
occasions, Christian workers would sometimes make use of larger
facilities (like Solomon's Porch and the Hall of Tyrannus). But they had
no concept of a sacred edifice nor of spending large amounts of money
on buildings. Nor would they ever call a building a 'church' or the 'house
of God.' The only sacred building the early Christians knew was the one
not made with human hands." – F. Viola, Pagan Christianity
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 34
Local Church Leadership
Unlike today, where churches organize around catalytic leaders, appealing
personalities or visionary builders, the New Testament example is different.
Paul, John, James, Peter (and other catalytic and visionary leaders) generally
started or helped young churches, but didn't stay.
They allowed a diverse group of local elders to emerge, encouraging them.
They carefully avoided the natural tendency of churches and new believers
to defer or lean on them – thus failing to develop diverse gifts.
They were mentors and spiritual fathers who encouraged and admonished –
rather than control, dominate or rule over – local congregations and elders.
They expanded the Kingdom of God, not their own Kingdoms!
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 35
No Single Pastors in the New Testament
The fact remains that there is not a single example in the entire New
Testament of a single or sole-proprietor pastor over a church, except for
Diotrephes (who John strongly condemns because he "loves to be the
leader" and elevated himself over other leaders). (3 John 1:9 NLT)
There simply is no office of a "pastor" separate from, or over, a plurality
of local elders.
Rather, being pastors (also translated "shepherds") are what elders are
commanded to do! (Acts 20:28-29 NIV)
In the New Testament, local church leaders are always referred to as
elders – plural!
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 36
Properly Functioning Leaders Are Vital
Among the Apostles and elders in the Jerusalem church, some
functioned as "first among equals" – like Peter, then James – but
decisions were still by consensus rather than dictated. (Acts 15:22)
An elder (interchangeably translated "bishop", "overseer", "presbyter",
"teacher" and "pastor") is to be a good shepherd, rule well, teach sound
doctrine, study scripture, minister to the sick, be hospitable, of good
reputation and respect, and facilitate the equipping of God's people for
works of service. (Eph. 4:11-12, James 5:14, 1 Tim. 3 & 5:17-22)
Deacons are to handle money, administration and responsibilities to
free the other leaders to focus on their separate duties. (Acts 6:2-4, 1 Tim.
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 37
Elders in the New Testament
Plural and diverse, but never solo over a local church.
Accountable and subject to higher ethical scrutiny and public rebuke,
although there's no church "office" hierarchically over them.
Engaged and actively involved in the lives of the people they serve.
Equipping God's people for service and ministry, both inside and outside
the church, according to each person's unique gifts.
Facilitating, not by controlling or directing the meetings or God's
people, but by creating an open environment where others will
participate, come forth in their gifts, minister, and feel secure in doing
Lead by humbly serving rather than hierarchically lording over others.
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 38
Elders Don't Dominate, but
Care for God's Flock by Humble Example
"I WARN and counsel the elders among you (the pastors and spiritual guides of
the church) as a fellow elder … Tend (nurture, guard, guide, and fold) the flock
of God that is [your responsibility], not by coercion or constraint, but willingly;
not dishonorably motivated by the advantages and profits [belonging to the
office], but eagerly and cheerfully; Not domineering [as arrogant, dictatorial,
and overbearing persons] over those in your charge, but being examples
(patterns and models of Christian living) to the flock (the congregation)….
Clothe (apron) yourselves, all of you, with humility [as the garb of a servant, so
that its covering cannot possibly be stripped from you, with freedom from
pride and arrogance] toward one another." (1 Pet. 5:1-5 AMP)
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 39
Yet Balance Is Needed Regarding Leadership
The New Testament mandate for a diverse plurality of elders (the
"presbytery") does not mean leadership by lowest common denominator.
The radical belief that a plurality of elders will or must be co-equal in
gifting, function, influence or respect is unrealistic and not scriptural
Some may be worthy of "double honor" or serve full time, supported by
the fruit they produce in others. (1 Tim. 5:17-18, 1 Cor. 9:6-14)
Other elders may be especially respected or gifted as catalysts, visionaries
or coordinating leaders within the church and the eldership – perhaps
generally or in specific areas – but never with hierarchical authority over
the other elders. (Acts 15:13-23)
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 40
Shared Meals: Integral to Church Meetings
"All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to
fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper ), and
to prayer…. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in
homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and
generosity – all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all
the people." (Acts 2:42 – 47 NLT)
There are numerous New Testament and historical references to the
fact that the early church, as it met in each other's homes,
incorporated a shared meal into their gatherings. (1 Cor. 11:20-21; Acts 20:11;
2 Pet. 2:13; Jude 12)
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 41
The Importance of the Shared Meal
The importance of sharing the Lord's Supper ("communion") as a full
meal – historically called a "love feast" by early Christians – as a
normal part of being the church was emphasized by the 1st
New Gentile converts were to refrain from only two things: eating
practices (consuming meat offered to idols, blood and strangled
things) that would be highly offensive to Jews and thus prevent shared
meals while fellowshipped together, and from sexual immorality. (Acts
Sharing a meal helps forge friendships and community because it
allows us to related informally. It fosters fellowship, love and unity.
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 42
If Good Enough for Jesus, Peter and Paul …
Home-based, participatory fellowships with diverse, facilitating and
equipping leadership, for the first three centuries, were the primary model
for the church – consistent with the pattern established in the New
The church advanced as believers built community thru face-to-face
fellowship, ministering to each other and sharing communion together as
a full meal in their homes.
These churches transformed the culture, as per the Great Commission.
… Why Not Good Enough for Us?
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 43
Where Did We Go Off Course?
The switch to buildings and clergy dominated churches occurred in
the early 4th
century, when Emperor Constantine officially recognized
Christianity for the first time as a legitimate religion.
He then used Christianity to unify the Roman world through a massive
campaign of building "churches" (i.e., buildings) in most Roman cities
and consolidating religious authority under official "clergy".
Until then, authentic church had always been primarily home based,
community-rooted, participatory and fellowship focused.
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 44
The Body of Christ?
The "church" degenerated over several hundred years:
From active, face-to-face fellowship and community to directed
meetings with passive "members".
From local elders and ministering to each other, to ministry by hired,
professional, hierarchical clergy.
From facilitating, equipping and serving leadership to leadership with an
attitude of entitlement, expertise and ownership over God's people.
From advancing God's Kingdom through organic growth and
reproduction, to accumulating power, prestige and wealth through
After the shift fully occurred, Europe entered the "dark ages"!
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 45
Some Things Never Change …
So why do we still pine after the such things today, constantly chasing
after leaders who make us dependent – with the best of intentions! – and
following after vain traditions?
"An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land: The
prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power; and My
people love to have it so." (Jer. 5:30-31 NKJV)
We all want what is familiar, what is religious, what feels safe, and what
doesn't demand much of us!
… But what does God want?
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 46
God Help Us All!
"When the Greeks got the gospel, they turned it into a philosophy; when
the Romans got it, they turned it into a government; when the Europeans
got it, they turned it into a culture; and when the Americans got it, they
turned it into a business." – Richard Halverson (national church leader and
former U.S. Senate Chaplain)
• The inescapable fact is that a podium church is seldom good for the one-
man pastor or pastoral staff (see pastoral burnout statistics), and never so
for the people.
• Yet we keep doing the same things, while expecting different results – but
instead produce the same disengaged, passive, generally immature and
ineffective kinds of Christians who mirror the world more than Christ.
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 47
Why Does This Matter?
With large, clergy dominate meetings, we can't minister one to another.
We can't fully develop our gifts because the focus is directed ministry.
With a Sunday service mentality, where we fellowship with the back of
people's heads and watch the "God Show", it's hard to develop community.
We can't be the wonderful, exciting, visible, multi-functional and
participatory Body of Christ where all serve in love according to their gifts.
My observation is that although podium-focused churches produce some
growth, it's limited. People hit a plateau because the whole structure and
mentality fosters passive and anonymous Christians.
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 48
For all practical purposes, is your church …
a showcase for …
organized around …
dominated by …
and structured primarily to support and facilitate …
… one man (or leadership team) and his (or their) gifting
– or –
Is it structured primarily to support and facilitate …
… everyone ministering according to their multi-faceted
gifts as the diverse, fully-functioning Body of Christ?
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 49
Equipping Others Using Others
Allow Them to Function Give Them Functions
Believe in Them Make Them Believe in You
Delegate Authority Expect Submission / "Team Players"
Further God's Plan for Them Make Them Part of Your Plan
Give Them What You Have Take What They Have to Give
Dialog & Discussions Monolog Sermons & Teachings
Freely Spend Time with Them Require Appointments
Serve Them Let Them Serve You
Unleash Them into Their Calling Rope Them into Your Calling
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries Based Partially on a Chart by Wolfgang Simson in The House Church Book 50
Nonetheless, Let's Stop Blaming
"Podium" Churches, Solo Pastors & Others
What are your expectations when the church meets?
To be ministered to and blessed, (i.e., to receive)?
Or to minister and bless, (i.e., to give?)
"It is more blessed to give than to receive." (Acts 20:35)
When we meet: If you love one another enough to bless one another by
lifting up Jesus and sharing the unfolding grace He's given you, then
you will truly receive – far more than you contributed!
No church will ever rise above the expectations of its people, (i.e.,
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 51
The Problem Often is Us!
If your meetings encourage participatory ministry one to another, and your
"needs" are still not being met …
… then it's likely because you are refusing to edify others and lift Jesus up
by contributing what you uniquely have to offer.
Here's a secret: Your needs usually arise from your giftings.
For example: Those with the gift of mercy need intimacy with the Lord
(worshipful prayer & singing) and with others (sharing from the heart).
But their gift best equips them to be the ones who initiate in those areas –
thus bringing forth in the church the very thing they most need!
Your needs will be met when you contribute to the meeting what you need –
because it's rooted in your gifts – thus blessing you as others join in!
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 52
The Wonderful Body of Christ:
Reconciling All Things by Showing Christ as We Each
Minister, Participate, Edify & Equip in Love and Unity
"So here's what I want you to do. When you gather for worship,
each one of you be prepared with something that will be useful
for all: Sing a hymn, teach a lesson, tell a story, lead a prayer,
provide an insight… Take your turn, no one person taking over.
Then each speaker gets a chance to say something special from
God, and you all learn from each other… This goes for all the
churches – no exceptions." (1 Cor. 14:26-33 MSG)
(c) 2010, Fulcrum Ministries 53