Acts The Church and Ministerial Training

Kaitiaki's picture

Basically this is just a "what do we learn about the Church from Acts?" thread. As we watch Paul and Barnabas and then Paul and Silas building the Church in Acts, what can we learn about their concept of the Church as a whole? Robert suggested my original plan was too cumbersome so asked me to create new threads.

Thread Moderator: Kaitiaki

There are two aspects to this thread: the training of the local congregation (for the work of ministry - as in Ephesians) and the theological training of ministers (or pastors).

Acts shows us local congregations that trained young men (and women) for every appropriate aspect of Church work. That included the work of ministry and missions. Discuss this statement. Do you think it is valid? What implications (if any) are there for the present system in almost every denomination of sending young men to a seminary to be trained? How does your Church seek to apply those implications in the way they train ministers and missionaries?

CLARK E. WADE's picture

Greetings Justin, I would

Greetings Justin,

I would like to work my way down to all the comments here and don't know if I can do it all, but will start from the top and work down.

Justin: Doesn't your argument rely on a fair amount of hopeful assumption and semantic wrangling on your part? It appears as if you begin with an ideal model of church ministry--"I wish we had the nature of this discourse. But I'm convinced..."--and move towards specific interpretations of particular words which, by your own declaration, have wide varieties of connotation, settling on those connotations which with further semantic argumentation fit your ideal model of church function.

Clark: What I am relying on for my assumptions is Ephesians 5:11-12. Paul is not among people who haven't heard the gospel, but those who are common brothers and part of the family. Paul's apostolic mission, as well as the five-fold minsistry, has one function, and it is this:

"His intention was the perfecting and full equipping of the saints THAT THEY SHOULD DO THE WORK OF MINISTERING TOWARD BUILDING UP CHRIST'S BODY, THE CHURCH."

Now right there, I see a two-fold nature to the church of Christ. There are those who equip the saints to do the work of the ministry, and there are the saints who do the work of the ministry to building up the body of Christ without benefit of lectures by the clergy. The lectures, from this passage, should be "equipping" lectures, But there's a time for the saints to put this into practice by gathering together according to Hebrews 10:25 and I Cor. 14:26.

So, in a word, based on this same passage, my assumptions is that Paul was equipping the saints for the work of the ministry, to build up the body of Christ. I actually believe that what he was speaking to the saints are probably the same content that we would find in Ephesians, Colossians and I Corinthians.

The spirit of God, in this passage, doesn't single out special people for this work, but it is the work of "the saints, that they should do the work of the ministry to building up the body of Christ."

Now if we just pause and let that passage soak in a bit, you will understand my passion. And if the fellowship has been properly equipped by the leadership, they will know how to get together, without benefit of clergy, to edify one another, to admonish one another, to build up on another, so that the body "builds itself up in love." This is the supernatural dynamic of a body that has been properly equipped. It is "building itself up in love."

But what is actually done is quite remote from this. The leadership often creates and builds a dependency on itself. The saints don't see their place to come together to edify one another but it is all about gathering together on a Sunday morning to hear the sermon. As such, in my view, this detracts and hampers the every-member functioning of the body of Christ that the scriptures admonish the brothers and sisters to come together to do. \

Justin: I'm with Dan that either/or thinking on this issue is fatal, and perhaps its because I'm biased. My father is the pastor of an institutional church. But it is a small country church, with a congregation ranging from 40 to 5 depending on the time of year and service. This church has small meetings, home studies, interactive Bible studies, testimony services, prayer meetings, and a lot of social activity on top of that.

Clark: What I wrote in the upper comment is that I strongly believe in both ministries, that is the apostolic ministry and the ministry of the saints one to another. We desparately need both and we need apostolic ministers who know how to equip the saints for the latter in obedience to scripture, to equip the saints to "assemble together to encourage and build up one another."

Justin: You say that Jesus' way of speaking to the saints was usually family style, that he would often talk around a dinner table. You ridicule the idea of standing on a soap box and delivering a lecture at the dinner table. But you discount other modes of Christ's ministry, namely moments like the Sermon on the Mount, which is definitive instruction for Christian living, aimed specifically at his disciples. That is certainly not presented as an interactive dialogue.

Clark: Brother, what I was trying to point out is our Lord's good pleasure of going to Bethany in the family, home of the brethren and finding a place to rest His head. If the Lord wants to give me a sermon, I will listen to whatever He has to say. But there are so many stories in the gospels of His simple interactions in the living rooms of the saints. The anointing of oil by Mary took place in a home where Jesus felt at ease. His "self-invitation" to Zaccheus' house for dinner. So many of our gatherings together are so "formal," but Jesus seemed to love the informal gatherings. I mean think about it. We dress up to go to church. Our language changes in the way we speak to one another. We put on aires. For 1-1/2 hours we can manage to look pretty good and impress the crowds. Jesus liked going to the homes of people, where they actually lived and where the wife and kids know our true faces without the church-face.

And brother, I know you have done some thinking regarding small and large groups and the dynamics involved. I read a book many years ago that had a profound effect on me, and it was called "The Trend of Our Times" by P.A. Sorokin. He talked about the same issues you raised, almost verbatum, regarding the small group that gets larger than 13 or so. At this stage, authentic intimacy begins to break down. Even the best of us can't love a whole lot of people. Jesus spent three years of His precious short time building intimacy with 12 folks. He wasn't out to make a great showing in the flesh. Sure, I suppose He gave them a sermon on the mount, but what of all the time in-between? Eating together, talking together, walking together, fellowshipping together. Jesus our Lord was building a commmunity not on a single sermon, but on the fellowship, the communion of the saints around His life. He was showing us how to live our lives around Him, how to live our communities of faith, around Him. Let us all learn how to see the big picture.

"For I am yearning to see you, that I may impart and share with you some spiritual gift to stengthen and establish you; that is, that we may be mutually strengthend and encouraged and comforted by each other's faith, both yours and mine." The apostle Paul, Romans 1:12