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

Dan, If one person is


If one person is speaking from a pulpit and the rest of the members of the church are listening, this should be, regarding the examples and passages in the New Testament I have cited, an equipping meeting of the saints for the work of the ministry.

There should be a regular meeting of the saints where it is the saints that actually do the work of the ministry to building up the body of Christ according to Ephesians. If the pulpit ministry has the eternal purpose of God in view, then they will be giving to the church practical ways that this can happen and will themselves encourage the saints to get together as the church in the fullest meaning of the word without resorting to liturgy, orders of service, sermons, and the like.

These are face-to-face meetings.

Having participated in these kinds of meetings for three years now, I can attest to the wide difference there is in a meeting where the congregation listens, and another kind of meeting where the congregation is expected to participate by ministering to the other members.

What I am trying to say here, that if the only meetings the saints are attending is one where they are listening to sermons without seeking other believers to "encourage one another" according to Hebrews 10:25 and I Corinthians 14:26, then their church experience is only half of what it should be.

You can have the best worship team on the planet with the best preachers, and if there hasn't been mutual ministry from the saints, one leaves the church building feeling the difference in a very pronounced way that is hard to describe. There's something about it that feels very superficial and contrived to me.

For it is "In Him [and in fellowship with one another] you yourselves also are being built up [into this structure] with the rest, to form a fixed abode (dwelling place) of God in (by, through) the Spirit."

Jesus commands us to "love one another.' One thing I know is that you can't love 500 people, or get to know 500 people in the intimate ways that scripture says we should be doing. It is imperative that saints gather together to encourage one another, to pray for one another, to bear one another's burdens, to admonish and teach one another, etc.

And I believe this is where real growth comes from. As people actually function in the meetins with thier giftings, their spiritual lives and intimacy with Christ also seems to mature. For myself, I can hardly abide the seating arrangement of the rows of pews. I want to worship Christ while facing my brothers and sisters and seeing their faces. We need to not be afraid to experiment a little bit more with our seating arrangements, for starters.

And we shouldn't be afraid of opening up the meetings a bit more so that saints can really be involved in the meetings. Let us have the courage to dream that what once was can be again. Let us have the courage to envision the ekklesia of Christ coming together as a mutual society of ministers. We can do this if we choose to follow more biblically mandated, or better yet, apostolically mandated principles of having not only one main speaker in our meetings, but as Paul says, "Let two or three" of the saints speak and thre rest weight what is said.

Scripture tells us that there are many members of the body of Christ, some are teachers, some are exhorters, some ar admonishers, some show mercy, some prophecy, some bring a psalm, and the list goes on and on. The situation we now have that is so popular consists of one member of the body of Christ doing most of the ministry to the body of Christ. Paul says that if the whole body is a single organ, then the body of Christ is missing 1 Cor. 12:19. Paul is constantly talking about this "one anotherings" as one of the most dominant features of church meetings. It sounds like to me that Paul is inferring that if this "one another" of mutual ministry is absent, then the very body of Christ is missing as well.

Now Dan, perhaps I am misreading such passages. Perhaps I am twisting such passages, as you have accused me of, for my own ends. But can you explain to me what these passages mean if not the obvious?

My opinion of this passage is that if one of the saints is dominating the meeting of the saints with their gift, be it preaching, teaching, speaking in tongues, or whatever, the body of Christ is missing. As Paul writes in Romans 12:

3 For by the grace (unmerited favor of God) given to me I warn everyone among you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance], but to rate his ability with sober judgment, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him.

4 For as in one physical body we have many parts (organs, members) and all of these parts do not have the same function or use,

5 So we, numerous as we are, are one body in Christ (the Messiah) and individually we are parts one of another [mutually dependent on one another].

6 Having gifts (faculties, talents, qualities) that differ according to the grace given us, let us use them: [He whose gift is] PROPHECY, [let him prophesy] according to the proportion of his faith;

7 [He whose gift is] PRACTICAL SERVICE, let him give himself to serving; he who TEACHES, to his teaching;

8 He who EXHORTS (encourages), to his exhortation; he who CONTRIUTES, let him do it in simplicity and liberality; he who GIVES AID and SUPERINTENDS, with zeal and singleness of mind; he who does ACTS OF MERCY, with genuine cheerfulness and joyful eagerness.

When I read passages like this, I think and believe, we should be seeing all of these gifts operating simultaneously in our meetings. "Teaching" is but one gift of many.

In the meetings of the saints as properly conceived and equipped by apostolic workers, ""each person is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good." (I Cor. 12:7:

Nothing is said here about ministry coming from one person, but what does the Spirit say?:

4 Now there are DISTINCTIVE VARIETIES and distributions of endowments (gifts, extraordinary powers distinguishing certain Christians, due to the power of divine grace operating in their souls by the Holy Spirit) and they vary, but the [Holy] Spirit remains the same.

5 And there are DISTINCTIVE VARIETIES of service and ministration, but it is the same Lord [Who is served].

6 And there are DISTINCTIVE VARIETIES of operation [of working to accomplish things], but it is the same God Who inspires and energizes them all in all.

7 But TO EACH ONE is given the manifestation of the [Holy] Spirit [the evidence, the spiritual illumination of the Spirit] for good and profit.

8 TO ONE is given in and through the [Holy] Spirit [the POWER TO SPEAK A MESSAGE OF WISDOM, and to another [THE POWER TO EXPRESS] A WORD OF KNOWLEDGE and understanding according to the same [Holy] Spirit;

9 TO ANOTHER [WONDER-WORKING] FAITH by the same [Holy] Spirit, TO ANOTHER the extraordinary POWERS OF HEALING by the one Spirit;

10 TO ANOTHER the WORKING OF MIRACLES, TO ANOTHER PROPHETIC INSIGHT (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose); TO ANOTHER the ABILITY TO DISCERN and distinguish between [the utterances of true] spirits [and false ones], TO ANOTHER VARIOUS KINDS OF [UNKNOWN] TONGUES, TO ANOTHER the ability to interpret [such] tongues.

So, there you have it. This is a body that is not missing because all of these functions are being used and experienced in that body and not over-localized on a single organ or member.

Then Paul writes:

11 All these [gifts, achievements, abilities] are inspired and brought to pass by one and the same [Holy] Spirit, Who apportions to each person individually [exactly] as He chooses.

"All of these gifts" are inspired and brought to pass by the Spirit.

IF we are open to the Sprit of God and haven't hemmed Him in with our liturgy and our traditions, all of these gifts will be given opportunity to be expressed in our gatherings.

And this is the most remarkable statement of all:

12 For just as the body is a unity and yet has many parts, and all the parts, though many, form [only] one body, so it is with Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

The body of Christ has many members, each with their own place and function, and when that body is being expressed in all of these giftings, we see a fuller Christ, as Paul says: "so it is with Christ."

There are dozens of such scriptures Dan. Dozens of them which speak of this one anothering. Now, can you show me a single passage which describes the body of Christ as a gathering of His members to sit down on a pew to support the gifting of one member of the body of Christ in their ministry to the exclusion of the rest of the body of Christ in their giftings of exhortation, of wisdom, of teaching, of admonishment, of encouragement, etc?

Paul seems a bit fanatical on these things in his stubborn insistence that the body of Christ is many-membered, many-splendored, many-functioned.

Now let's say the preacher preaches a sermon three times a month and what if he were to open the congregation to mutual ministry one Sunday a month and have two or three non-professional brothers or sisters bring the message of teaching, of exhortation etc?

What if we began to take these passages of scriptures at face value as we sought God's face to help us implement and pursue and nurture the ministry of the saints, by the saints, and to the saints? This is what I am advocating here and what I believe is in the heart of Christ for His church based on my reading of scripture and His Spirit of affirmation in my heart saying these things are so and are as true and as important today as the day they were first written.