It makes so much sense (to everyone but God) that churches should be run by pastors. After all, who went to theology school to learn all about God, so that he could teach the flock who God is? Famous churches are almost always famous because of their preaching, right?
Yes, the book of Acts has something to say about that, too (“I am of Paul”; even early on people were following teachers over God). But the main thing the book of Acts spells out is the gifts of the Spirit that were given to the church. The primary gift of the Spirit to the church was the Holy Spirit of God. He was the one to lead us into all Truth. So how do we get to the truth without the Spirit?
After Creation, God didn’t ask Adam to explain to Him the differences between all the animals that God had just created. All God asked Adam to do was to name them. Moving back into our present age, who do you think knows more about God: a seminary professor or the Holy Spirit? Your answer will determine where you go for your instruction.
The coming revivals aren’t going to be teachings about God from the pulpit. They are going to be encounters led by the Holy Spirit of God whom everyone will feel enter into the gathering. Bodies and minds will be healed supernaturally in His presence. The knowledge of God will be imparted to people simply from being in the Spirit’s presence.
Most churches that pride themselves on teaching the Word of God (pride is always a telltale sign in relating to God) emphasize preaching over the other gifts of the Spirit. Why is that? Many even decided that after the original disciples had died, some of the gifts of the Spirit ceased. That seems to have been when the church transformed from a hospital for humanity into a school of theology. Never a dull moment, right?
The book of Acts really is the model for the church, regardless of the era in which that church finds itself. Jesus was more inclined to tell the paralyzed man to “take up your bed and walk” than to explain in a sermon how his sins had been forgiven.
Today’s superstar pastor normally doesn’t conduct a healing service, but he is quite willing to preach a sermon about why the gift of healing disappeared with the Apostles. My estimation is that the sick and lame in the congregation would rather be healed of their infirmities than listen to a cessationist sermon preached about supernatural healing.
All the gifts of the Spirit of God are important, not just the teaching gifts. The leadership of the churches wasn’t assigned to pastors, but to elders, whose qualifications the book of Acts describes clearly enough. Would the Gospel have been preached to the ends of the earth if the original Apostles had all become pastors to individual churches? I think that would have insured that the Gospel would have become a footnote to human history.
What if instead of calling pastors to run churches, we instead relied on elders? The elders could invite itinerant preachers to speak at their church or conduct revival meetings or healing ministries, where newcomers could clearly see the Spirit of God at work in their midst.
This would return the focus back onto God and His Spirit, instead of star preachers. The Gospel (good news) that the early church taught didn’t make theology students out of church members, yet it turned the world upside down with its message of grace and mercy, and the message that God is Love.
The reason all of this matters is that the world is filled with broken people who want to be made whole again. Christians might see churches as places of fellowship and learning more about God. The broken people are looking for hospitals, where they can be made whole again – body, mind and spirit.
What in the world gave them that idea? Was it the Gospel? The lost and broken don’t need big-name pastors and big theology. They need the supernatural part of God to touch them with his love and healing and deliverance. We need to be reborn, not reeducated. What we need to learn is how to hear God when He speaks to us, individually or corporately as a church.
The Bible teaches us that we are made in God’s image. We didn’t evolve from pond scum. God is equally at home in the supernatural and natural parts of His creation. We are to be also. We were made to inhabit both realms. If that were not so, how does the Holy Spirit and the resurrected Jesus indwelling us work? The Father is everywhere present. That includes inside of us. How can we even be whole if we don’t recognize our spiritual or supernatural reality?
But how can a church even exist without a full-time pastor? Well, it could be under the guidance of a group of godly men, sometimes known as elders or deacons. That was the Acts model. They could teach the congregation themselves, or they could invite guest pastors for more in depth or special messages. Members could run Sunday School and child care and the other elements needed to have a functioning church, including pastoral counseling and care. A certain amount of reliance on the Spirit encourages His presence, which is the ultimate goal, if the church is to become God’s hospital for broken humanity.
The war that we now find ourselves in is not going to be won by sermons. This is a supernatural battle. If the Body of Christ is to prevail, it will take both the Spirit and the Bride, and the supernatural weapons they can call upon to bring victory.
craigemcmillan.com: Earth’s Final Kingdom, Vol. 4 in the Armageddon Story novel series
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