One of my friends commented on my last post about what’s most important in the church, pointing out that not all areas of importance necessarily require or deserve equal attention.
This is worth thinking about.
My own view is not one of thinking of areas of ministry like a pie chart that might have various percentages of time, energy or possibly money allocated to various areas. For me, it’s not a matter of things being equally balanced, but understanding how ministry works together.
Ephesians 2 talks about God’s people or household “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” (2:20)
I find myself in agreement with those who see the Apostolic foundation relating not only to the 12 Apostles, but also to the importance of the apostolic nature of the church today.
Remember, the word apostle refers to one who is sent. When the church ceases to be apostolic, it stagnates. It doesn’t go but prefers to stay. Some churches that are evangelistic but not apostolic grow large but don’t go. Of course some larger churches both grow substantially AND go (church planting). Others stay small and go (multiply). Many stay small and don’t grow or go (lack apostolic and evangelistic ministry)
Prophetic ministry continually calls the body to faithfulness to God and what he’s called us to do and be.
My view is that really healthy movements have an understanding of these ministries.
In Paul’s Ephesians 4 list, after apostles and prophets come evangelists.
My contention here is not that this is any kind of hierarchy of leaders, but that areas of ministry open up other areas of ministry.
The local church (and our total movements) need to be evangelistic.
If the church is not evangelistic (reaching new people), we can only teach and shepherd the same group of people, which will likely dwindle over time.
It’s not that evangelism or the evangelist is more important then the teacher or shepherd. Only that evangelism is the ministry that opens and increases the capacity for the teaching and community / relational growth that leads us to be mature disciples of Jesus.
Evangelism without teaching in shepherding leads to converts that don’t grow fully.
We must must must, realize that the area of ministry that God has gifted us for requires us to not only appreciate the other areas of ministry but to see how dependent we are on them.
My view is that once we see this paradigm and how the pieces fit together – flowing out of one another, we will see what’s missing.
We desperately need mutual submission to one another.
And we need to be honest about what’s missing.
It’s different in various environments.
But I do believe my friend is correct to say that what’s often missing in local churches is the deep importance of evangelism.
What is your church and the body you’re connected with strongest in? Where are you weak and missing an important piece of the biblical paradigm for mature ministry?