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?

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CLARK E. WADE's picture

OK...and an op-ed from Kenya that sounds very familiar...

Thanks Dan. I appreciate your comments here but won't continue to belabor things. I am glad you liked the quote by Elton Trueblood, as he is one of my favorite writers, who was Quaker by the way.

By the way, I just received an email from our brother in Kenya, Jimmy Nduruchi. He sent me three op-ed pieces in the newspaper down there that sound very much like what we are debating here. I was pretty blown away by this. And brother Jimmy has help plant something like 15 organic house churches in Africa. I really do think we will see a spiritual explosion there of spiritual life and vitality unheard of here in the West.

I just gotta post one of these for your edification and perusal. This is what Isaac Mwangi wrote about a year ago in "The Daily Nation":

ALMOST DAILY THESE DAYS, the press is inundated with terrible news about mischief involving the clergy of various Christian denominations.

From child sexual abuse to eloping with the wives of their flock, misappropriation of funds, schism, the question of married clergy (for Catholics) and constant power struggles, the issues are legion.

Do we need a clergy in the first place? The notion of a mediating segment among God’s people is rooted in the Law of Moses, which created the Levitical priesthood for Aaron and his descendants. But the New Testament now says another priest has come in the order of Melchizedek and not the order of Aaron, with very significant consequences.

With this change in the law, all God’s people under the New Covenant form “a royal priesthood” (1Peter 2:9, NIV). Every believer, then, becomes a priest in his own right. Church elders did not constitute a privileged class of Christians.

The early church affirmed this belief in an all-believers’ priesthood by the way they lived out their faith. Hence, Paul exhorts the Corinthians: “When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.” (1Corinthinans 14:26, NIV).

For nearly 300 years, this is how the church operated. Naturally, this required that churches be small enough to allow maximum participation by everyone present. Anyone reading the Acts of the Apostles will readily see that despite the rapid growth of the early church, nothing is mentioned about raising funds to purchase land or to put up church buildings. The focus is always on the people.

Of course, Christians also came together in much larger numbers for various reasons; to listen to a gifted teacher or a visiting apostle, for instance. But when one person exercises his or her spiritual gifting for an hour or so as others shout Amen, that’s not church. That’s ministry.

But are we bound to follow the early Church as our example? Numerous texts in the New Testament show the apostles, particularly Paul, encouraging believers to follow in their example. Once a text is properly interpreted, it applies to all true churches and no one has God’s sanction to do whatever they wish to the church.

WITH TIME, THE CHURCH DEGENE-rated greatly both in doctrine and in practice. Doctrinal correction came about through the Protestant Reformation and biblical truths were affirmed, among them the priesthood of all believers. Unfortunately, the clergy-laity divide was maintained.

Our neo-Levitical priesthood has removed the focus from people to physical structures and programmes. It has presided over the erosion of Christ’s supremacy and replaced it with human control.

To coerce believers into financing a system alien to scripture, verses have been quoted out of context, enabling the kingpins of religious traditions to live in luxury and put up magnificent “sanctuaries” even as the real temples of the Holy Spirit – the believers – wallow in poverty.

Far from being God’s family, the Church has been turned into a business enterprise. A predatory priesthood has made Christ unattractive and bred passive Christians. Having abused its own rule-book, moreover, the moral authority to correct others in society has been severely undermined.

This is why Christians are leaving the established structures of the Church every year. They are not doing it because they have lost faith. It is to seek a more intimate relationship with Jesus devoid of man-made rituals.

In the words of Hal Miller in his foreword to Frank Viola’s book, Rethinking the Wineskin: “Like trains, institutional churches are easy to find. The smoke and noise are unmistakeable. Relational churches are a bit more subtle.

Because they do not announce their presence at every intersection, some believe that churches like those in the New Testament died out long ago.

But nothing could be further from the truth.”

Mr Mwangi is the chief sub-editor, The EastAfrican. (imwangi@nation.co.ke)

P.S. Brother Isaac, I couldn't have said better myself. Great article brother.

CHRIST IS ALL IN ALL,
Clark




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