Welcome to Brian's Bits, where Brian gets to share at length about various topics stirring inside of him.
THE Ministry, Part 2
3 September 2014
In yesterday’s article, I shared the first half of chapter 8 — “THE Ministry“ — from the book The Harlot Church System, by Charles E. Newbold.
If you have not read that article yet, you really need to do so before you continue here with Part Two. Not only does Part One contain the first half of the chapter, but I also share an important introduction from the author, as well as my own introduction, all of which you should read before you read the excerpt below.
As I explained previously, entire sentences highlighted in this color are MY emphasis — thoughts which struck me as especially important. I’ve even marked one particularly potent sentence in bold red. All other emphasis is the author’s, or implied by the author.
For more excellent chapters like this one, be sure to get your own copy of The Harlot Church System by Charles E. Newbold.
He who owns a database for the purpose of increasing himself in ministry wants to broaden his sphere of influence.
He tends to think he owns the people on his database.
He tends to think that he has a responsibility toward the people listed on his database — that he needs to answer to them.
He tends to think the people on his database owe him support for “his ministry.”
He tends to measure his success in THE Ministry by the size of his database. Names are like trophies. The more he has, the more he wants and the better he thinks he is. He may periodically, with pride, inventory the numbers just to see how many are on his mailing list.
He can become obligated to his database even if those names are no more than a short fax or e-mail list. The database can own a part of him and put him in bondage to it. He has not quit THE Ministry until he has trashed his self-serving databases. Inability to trash his self-serving database may indicate that it is an idol in his life.
The key word here for those in THE ministry is “self-serving.” Most of the “newsletters” I have seen read like a brochure promoting the one in THE Ministry who sent it out, most of whom are seeking financial support for themselves.
We must honestly evaluate: Does our database exist to increase ourselves or Jesus? John the Baptist caught a glimpse of the Kingdom of God when he said, “He [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30). THE Ministry is a ministry of the increase of Self, while true “ministry” is the ministry of the increase of Christ in others.
It had been some time since I had heard from Sue. I was happy to hear from her but felt the same emotions I feel when friendly telemarketers call. Uncertain about my perception, I continued a friendly conversation. Both of our families were free not to be a part of a local church and had independently decided to stay home on Sunday mornings. Since then, however, Sue and her husband, John, had started a church of their own.Ministry in the Holy Spirit comes out of who we are in Jesus and is not a position to attain to in the world. When we need to have a congregation in order to provide an income for ourselves, we have a harlot condition in our hearts. We are seeking something for Self. If we are truly called to be elders who shepherd God’s sheep, we are to feed His sheep. God forbid that we would seek to feed off them.
Finally, she got around to asking where we were going to church. I told her we felt we were not to be in a church at this time. She sighed and made a comment about how much time they were spending in prayer. “When you start a work you need to spend a lot of time in prayer” she said. “In fact,” she added, “we still don’t really know if...” Her voice and vocabulary failed her. I could tell she was sad to think their work might not continue to provide them with a livelihood. In an attempt to encourage her I said, “No matter what happens, the growth you are seeing and the relationship you are developing with these other people is eternal and above The Ministry and A Work.”
Sue replied in all sincerity, “We really feel called to the ministry, and if the ministry is going to be our livelihood, then at some point it has to be viable and more than just a couple of families meeting in a living room.”
The chairs were gilded and had curly swirls and fancy tapestries hanging down with tassels on the top. The sedan chairs looked heavy. These men were being lifted up and carried by the little ones in the church. The little ones were glad to try to carry them as they started out across a desert.“These brothers and sisters in Chicago were having a hard time financially,” Bill said. “They sold their homes before they left. They did not make the best use of God’s resources the way it was done. It was done in self-centeredness. People began to leave. They could not hold them up any longer. The leadership felt abandoned, but it wasn’t abandonment. The children should never have been made to carry the fathers; the fathers are made to carry the children.”
The Holy Spirit spoke a word of warning to those leaders being sent out saying, “You are going out, but you’re going out on your own will. You’re not going in My will.”
Soon after they went out, I saw that those who were carrying the leaders became weak and the sedan chairs tottered. The people kept trying to hold them up financially, praying for them, interceding for them, but everyone kept getting more weary. Finally, out of exhaustion, everyone had to let go. The sedan chairs fell and broke up.
“‘Do you really want to know?’ I asked in return.
“‘Sure, Brother Bill.’
“If Jesus walked in right now, He’d rip it off the wall and turn it upside down, and say, ‘Now, that’s a flow chart.’”
Bill concluded. “True leaders put the people in the place of honor and carry them in sedan chairs that are graced with tender care and mercy. If the minister does not see himself as one among the bride of Christ, he will rape the bride by using her to increase himself.”
The Babylonian Minister views himself as not only having been set APART but having been set ABOVE the “laity.” He is the “professional.” He takes on titles for himself in his personal ambition to build for himself a city, a tower, and a name (Genesis 11:4). Reputation is very important to him. Though he calls himself their servant, more often than not the flock is called upon to serve him, his plans, and programs. Yet, he is forever busy doing the work of the church in the place of the people — church work, not kingdom of God work.
Tradition has obligated this one-man-show ministry to fulfill many functions that are not within his gifting. Many in THE Ministry enter into pride when they try to take on responsibilities that do not pertain to their giftings. Such pride and ambition often leads to frustration and burnout. THE Ministry is in direct opposition to true New Testament ministry.
The word “ministry” in the New Testament is translated from several Greek words. Doulos (slave) and diakonos (servant) are two of the terms that have been translated “minister.” All saints are ministers / servants according to the pattern set forth in the New Testament. While there are some the Lord Jesus appoints to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds (elders), and teachers, they are given to the body to equip the other saints for the work of service (ministry) — Ephesians 4:11-12.
Those equipping servants (apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers) are not clergy positions within the church. They are not offices. The term office is not a Greek New Testament word. (Buy the book to see the author’s endnote 15.) Servant appointments are functions within the body of Christ. Those who exalt themselves as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers are spots in our love feasts and clouds without water (Jude 1:12).
Those who have the mantle of a true elder do not use their giftings to lord it over the saints. They see themselves as being equal among the flock. Paul warned the elders from Ephesus when they were together with him at Miletus to “be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, AMONG whom the Holy Spirit has made you overseers to shepherd the called-out-ones of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). Elders are AMONG the sheep and not positioned piously OVER the sheep.
Paul warned them to keep watch over their own hearts because, after his departure, he knew that savage wolves would enter in among them, attacking the flock. Some among them would gain prominence, distort the truth, and draw away disciples to follow them (Acts 20:29-30). Ministers of churches today are just as territorial. They chase off anyone they perceive might steal “their” sheep. They seem to forget that the saints of God are not their sheep! They are His sheep!
The servant does not seek to exalt himself — to increase himself in power, position, riches, and domination. He is content to remain nameless and faceless in order to serve when, where, and how the Holy Spirit leads. He does this without expecting anything for Self.
Quitting THE Ministry does not mean inactivity. We have a walk to walk. We are to follow Jesus wherever He goes, and we do not have to turn it into a business, put a name on it, or put a title on ourselves.
Each of us has a gifting — a ministry — with a little “m,” whether large or small, that we are responsible to steward. We have a responsibility to respond to the Holy Spirit when He prompts us to operate in that gift or ministry for the edification of the body, that we might build one another up into a spiritual dwelling as the household of God (Ephesians 2:19-22). These are functions and not positions.
THE Ministry implies that some among us are big shots and the rest of us are inconsequential. It implies a one-up, one-down relationship between those who are especially gifted from all the rest of us. If ever there were big shots in the Kingdom of God, the chosen twelve apostles would certainly qualify. Nevertheless, Jesus told His twelve that they were not to be like the princes of the Gentiles who lorded their authority over the people (Matthew 20:25-26).
With the twelve then, and even so for us today, “whoever will be great among you, let him be your minister [diakonos, which literally translates “servant”] and whoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant [doulos, which literally translates “slave”]; even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister [diokonesai, which literally translates “to serve”], and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:27-28).
The five equipping servants of Ephesians 4:11 have the anointings to equip the rest of the body of Christ for the work of service, but this does not make them greater than the rest of the body of Christ. Those with the apostolic anointing are at best “under-rowers.” Recounting his conversion experience before King Agrippa, Paul quoted the Lord as having said to him, “But arise, and stand upon your feet for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister” (Acts 26:16). The word for minister used here comes from the Greek word hyperetes which literally means “under-rower.” This nautical term generally denotes any subordinate who works under the direction of another. Apostles are subservient to the authority of Christ who sets them apart and sends them out. In 1 Corinthians 3:21-4:1 Paul includes Apollos and Cephas as under-rowers: “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers (under-rowers) of Christ.” This term was also used in reference to John Mark in Acts 13:5.
I find that when I try to DO ministry — that is, when I try to make it happen in my own strength, the anointing evades me. When I rest in being who I am without trying to DO ministry, the anointing compels me. I am far more productive for the Kingdom when I maintain resignation from THE Ministry than when I actively pursue it. When I pursue THE Ministry, I miss the Kingdom. When I pursue the Kingdom, ministry (not THE Ministry) pursues me. True ministry is the measure of Jesus that He desires to pour out through me.
For additional insights on the topics in this article, see my previous article Pagan Priests Called Pastors. You might also be interested in exploring these concepts further in a few other books, which I discuss in these articles:
This article is 41st a series of articles on this Web site related to Modern Christianity and the Church which also includes (scroll to see the entire list):
There are no reader comments for this blog entry.