PART 2 - BALANCING ACT BETWEEN THE CLERGY AND LAITY by Doug Krieger IF EACH ONE OF YOU HAS – WHY DOES SOME “LEADER” HAVE TO ORGANIZE IT, LEAD IT, or DOMINATE IT?
In our previous articles/chapters we set out to “practice Ekklesia” in accordance with one of the rare glimpses of the same found in 1 Corinthians 11-14 wherein: “The whole Ekklesia comes together in one place . . . if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all [NOT JUST BY THE PREACHER] and thus, the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you” (1 Cor. 14:23-25). There’s nothing – absolutely nothing here – that bespeaks of some charismatic preacher or faithful pastor doing his job – NO, NO, NO—it’s the WHOLE CONGREGATION or Ekklesia doing the job of testifying, prophesying, convicting and convincing. The minister, pastor-teacher, preacher, evangelist, apostle, prophet may just have to (for a refreshing change) sit there and behold the work of equipping he has done! Such a gathering of the Ekklesia is NOT under the control of a central/regional work, ministry, or preacher/pastor, teacher or evangelist! PASTORAL ATTITUDE CHECK: THANK GOD, my congregants are taking up the burden and are ministering to one another as the Body of Messiah—FOR A CHANGE! Shouldn’t this be the goal of anyone’s ministry—DUPLICATING disciples who will in turn minister to the saints, teaching them to STAND ON THEIR OWN—to “meet and greet” other members of the One Body of Christ to avoid division in fellowship with other “factions” within the One Body—those “differing” from you? After all, we’re not supposed to be COMPETING with other “churches” – or are we? Someone coming in from the outside into a place of business, a home, a “cottage meeting” atmosphere with DIFFERENT TYPES OF CHRISTIANS (some Pentecostal, some Baptist, some Redeemer Church of God, some Anglican, some Seventh-Day Adventists, some Catholics, some DONES, and some believers who “haven’t a clue”—can you imagine!?) and sharing Jesus with one another wherein “each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation” (1 Cor. 14:26) and the whole gathering is an environment where “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets” and not to the “known spiritual authorities” in the room? Tell me, in such a gathering as described in 1 Cor. 11-14 do you see someone “directing traffic”—telling “members individually” how to pray, how to sing, how to worship, when to pray, when to sing, when to worship? I don’t think so. In point of glaring fact, trying to find ministers “doing their duties” in such an environment is antithetical to the very reading of the text. Good grief! How can anyone ever, aside from the “pastor-teacher” have a “teaching” - well, perhaps if they were given instructions by the INSTRUCTOR on what, when, why, how and where to teach . . . then it “might” be permissible (if kept to a minimum). WHO KNEW SOMETHING LIKE THIS CAN BE DONE DECENTLY AND IN ORDER without an “overlord” hidden in the hollow orchestrating the whole thing or “central headquarters” lurking in the background “calling the shots?” No, the saints have been TRAINED by you, the pastor-teacher to GROW UP INTO CHRIST IN ALL THINGS—to start functioning as the very Body of Christ you’ve equipped them to be! YOU SHOULD BE PROUD OF YOURSELF when your kids grow up and learn to stand on their own two feet! Why, oh why, do you fear, as a pastor-teacher that your training of the congregants in this manner will “put you out of a job” - and, besides, isn’t that why you were hired: To minister as a pastor-teacher? Or, try this out for size: Hasn’t the HEAD OF THE BODY ordained you to EQUIP THE SAINTS TO DO THE WORK OF THE MINISTRY instead of you doing all the work? Yet, one would think that the “clergy” or “ordained pastors/teachers” or, for that matter, prophets and evangelists, would delight to see their congregants exercising their GOD-ORDAINED “EACH ONE HAS” when the Ekklesia comes together. Tragically, most (thank God, not all) see such “Ekklesia-style gatherings” as either a nuisance or a threat to their “ministry.” “If it ain’t building my ministry, it ain’t gonna happen!” Well, just what kind of a “ministry” allows saints week after week, year after year, awaiting for the next message from the pulpit when you haven’t taught them to have a “teaching” themselves . . . you’re seeking “revelation” from the Word when you should be equipping them to have their own “revelation” from the same: JUST LIKE YOU! You tout your prophetic gift, but forbid you would ever consider a “mini-school of the prophets” wherein scores would be raised up by your insightful training—shouldn’t that be the “equipping gift” of the prophet? And, forbid an environment where all can prophesy ONE BY ONE that all may be encouraged and all may be edified! Here you go: “Or did the word of God come originally from you? Or was it you only that it reached?” (1 Cor. 14:36). What does that mean? Frankly, you’re not the only one in Corinth who received the revelation of the prophetic gift—others did too--and, it’s about time you acknowledge that and to discover who they are! You’ve become quite the evangelist—no doubt a real gift to the Body of Christ . . . yet, how many evangelists have you raised up, equipped, for the work of evangelism as in “Do the work of an evangelist” (2 Tim. 4:5)? No, it’s not that Paul is suggesting, via Apostolic authority, Pastor Timothy should exclusively do the work of an evangelist but that he (Timothy) would practice the following: “And the things that you have heard me say among many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be qualified to teach others as well” (2 Tim. 2:2). That goes for every one of those so gifted—be they Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastor-Teachers . . . commit your gift to the faithful brethren who will “teach others as well” - that’s doing the work of an evangelist . . . get the point? WHY SEPARATE OUT THE GIFTED ONES WHEN THEIR NEEDED IN THE TRENCHES? Excuse me, another pet peeve. I can hardly deprecate the worth of Bible Schools and seminaries—I went to one and it was of inestimable value; however, why is it that we send off to such centers of learning potentially gifted brethren into environments which are, in the main,somewhat artificial and hardly attached to the so-called real world? Shouldn’t the “Household of Faith/God” be places where gifted members of the Body of Christ are being raised up in order for them to effect the ministry of their “disciples” who shall “be able to teach others also?” Have we forfeited the “work of the ministry” apart from the very Ekklesia that we are attempting to edify? Are we, instead, sending our most gifted (or they are sending themselves) off to these institutions, thereby “qualifying them,” and whereupon we inadvertently or purposefully perpetuate a system which caters to the raising up of gifted ones outside the immediate environs of the regular members of the Body of Christ? Do you understand what I’m getting at here? In other words, are we strengthening a system which strengthens the concept of a “clergy-laity” system which accentuates the already wide gulf between the gifted members of the Body of Christ (aka, the “clergy”) and the “regular members of the Body of Christ” (aka, the congregants)? Perhaps you wish to keep that gap which already exists—and you ask: Why does such a gap matter? It matters because within the context of 1 Corinthians 11-14 there is simply nothing which would enhance such a differentiation (i.e., gulf). Prior to “God has appointed these in the Ekklesia: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?” (1 Cor. 12:28-30) we have this verse: “Now you are the body of Christ,and members individually” (1 Cor. 12:27). The entire thrust for unity and diversity in One Body (1 Cor. 2:12-30) appears to take place within the normal setting of an Ekklesia with a quest for all of us to “earnestly desire the greater gifts . . . and yet I show you a more excellent way” (1 Cor. 12:31) - which is 1 Corinthians 13:1-13; the “more excellent way” is LOVE. Therefore, can we “safely say” the emphasis is NOT on the multiplicity of gifts within the Ekklesia but the exercise and embrace of divine love expressed to one another within the context of what appears to be a “normal Ekklesia setting”? I think so. If we get caught up in training our elite outside the atmosphere of the Ekklesia/assembly, are we separating out from the congregation those who should be doing the “practicum” within the context of the Ekklesia in the first place? I commend those “schools of Tyrannous” (Acts 19:9-10) which appear to have been Paul’s most dynamic training center where this training “continued for two years, so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.” If you would, a rather “hands-on” style training with the Ekklesia receiving the immediate benefit of such a center of ministry. Obviously, what Paul was teaching received immediate application by those being trained. It seems to me that “Christian Service” at Christian institutions of higher learning should consume a much greater portion, if you would, of the curriculum. Some of my most memorable times at the Bible School I attended were the weekly evenings when nearly 50 of us hit the streets in downtown Portland, Oregon to share the gospel of Jesus Christ—we desperately needed much more instruction along those lines of sharing our faith, not just teaching on defending it. Likewise, such corporate exercise made us keenly aware of the Body of Christ and the realization that it was when we “fought the good fight” together that we discovered we were “members one of another.” THE “HOUSE CHURCH” DOESN’T NECESSARILY MEAN “AN EKKLESIA-STYLE” GATHERING OF THE SAINTS Then there’s always the “house church” where in miniature the “control mechanism” and habits of the “clergy-laity system” replicate. How’s that? Well, for one, some in the clergy (and the laity) suggest you really can’t have a “house church” without an ordained pastor present. No, really, that’s ingrained both in “leadership” as well as in the run-of-the-mill saint (and in the culture of the clergy-laity “systems”); after all, how can things be “done decently and in order” without an ordained pastor taking charge! God forbid if the clergy hear you’re pulling off a “house church” without a properly “ordained member of the clergy” actually present! Or, for fear of being “out of order” the laity would recoil at pulling off such a gathering without ecclesiastical approval? Come on now, folks, YOU can do better than that!
THE “HOUSE CHURCH” BUT NOT NECESSARILY AN “EKKLESIA GATHERING”
1 Corinthians 11-14 mentions NOTHING, absolutely nothing about any “leadership” qualification aside from those who are “genuine” or “approved” (1 Cor. 11:19) who only need to manifest themselves when “factions” (which are necessary in a gathering) become “factious” and “divisions” become divisive—that’s when the “peace-makers” come forth! THE EKKLESIA ISN’T A “THERAPY SESSION” NOR “LET’S KEEP IT SMALL TO BE MORE INTIMATE” But we’re so used to having things “organized”—we have to have our “time of worship” and then our time of sharing. Some think that the Ekklesia is a time when saints can vent—as in therapy or a time when we can have “intimate fellowship” and bear our hearts one to another (so let’s keep it small, less intimidating for fear of the “crowds” of 30 or 40). Well, try to find “therapy sessions” or “intimacy” in 1 Corinthians 11-14—it isn’t there—the entire focus is on saints edifying one another through a psalm, a revelation, a teaching, a prophecy, a tongue, an interpretation—THERE’S NO ORDER set; there’s no one setting the pace; there’s no mention of a pastor, evangelist, teacher, apostle, prophet. And, frankly, there’s little mention of a “therapy session” nor of “let’s get intimate” and bear our hearts (not that some of that won’t happen, but that’s NOT the norm of an Ekklesia gathering). Why? Because EACH ONE HAS, and that includes these so-called gifted members of the assembly. Hard to imagine: WE’RE ALL IN CHARGE…rather, praise God, the Holy Spirit is the ADMINISTRATOR of the gathering for: But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. (1 Cor. 12:7-11) Did you pick up on that? THE SPIRIT WORKS ALL THESE THINGS DISTRIBUTING TO EACH ONE INDIVIDUALLY! No, since you’re the ordained pastor or “sanctified teacher” - YOU or your cohort must “lead” or “organize” the gathering—follow me, “I’m the “ordained leader”—you guys are out of control, not under authority, if you think you can pull this off without proper leadership, FORGET IT!” Why don’t you try something new that’s more in line with Scripture? Why not train your congregants to DO THE WORK OF THE MINISTRY and gather saints in homes, businesses, wherever, to PRACTICE EACH ONE HAS without trying to “organize them” aside from training them to “do Ekklesia” - oh, no, how can they do that if there’s not someone leading them in the practice? Again, I’m not suggesting you “shut down” gifted ministers and ministries who should be “specializing” in ACTIVATING the members of the Body of Christ to replicate the gifts of the gifted ones—that’s precisely what I am suggesting! Seriously, if you, as an “ordained teacher-pastor” have not raised up but one or two who are “a lot like you”—then you’re probably not (maybe, barely) one yourself (i.e., a “pastor-teacher”). You’d be shocked and surprised if you train them how well they can actually do things “on their own” - yet, if you keep giving them fish, without training them to fish for themselves - well, you know the rest of that line - they keep coming back TO YOU for more of YOUR FISH (and, sadly, that may be precisely what you have in mind), but once you’re no longer in the picture, they’ll starve, panic or whatever—yet, if you’ve taught them to fish, they’ll survive. YES, they need training—that should be the job of the gifted members of the Body—that’s when you really need to be a TEACHER, a PASTOR, an EVANGELIST, a PROPHET, or even an APOSTLE; but the “traditional dichotomy” says the only ones who apparently HAVE (HAS) is not EACH ONE but the GIFTED ONE HAS and we (the LAITY) better get used to it! So sad, so very, very sad. We’ll be speaking about the origins of the “church service” in later chapters; however, “when the whole Ekklesia comes together” why is it, if everyone has, is there this propensity to structure what goes down in that gathering? First we’ll do this; then will do that; and, finally, we’ll end with this—so-and-so opens in prayer and the same person closes in prayer; meanwhile, if our gathering goes over one hour, it’s time to close this “thing” down. Here’s another “pet peeve” of mine: Try mixing it up—DON’T SIT IN THE SAME CHAIR, COUCH or on the floor in the same place . . . that’s another “habit” which can lead to the “traditional service” model . . . it nigh becomes the “chief seats in the synagogue” mind-set! Again, if it’s a ministry, you could get away with that course of action (having things more organized)—but if you’re trying to have “Ekklesia” (especially in a “home environment”)—well, all bets are off—THERE IS NO ORDER OF SERVICE! Apparently, there’s a meal—some type of “breaking of the bread and drinking of the cup” (we’re not clear how that goes down either). You may think, especially pastors: Krieger, you’re simply describing a FREE-FOR-ALL. No, I’m not, because I’ve got “decently and in order” on my side vs. same old same old on yours. I should know, I did it for years, as “Pastor Krieger.” And, one more peeve, what’s with the “Lord’s Table” being a “me focus” time (e.g., I’m such a sinner, wretch, crook—WE ALL KNOW THAT!) No, No, No! It’s DO THIS IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME. If Jesus isn’t lifted up in such a gathering of HIS FEAST, then however you wish to have it, it isn’t happening—it’s only when He’s the center of our worship, praise, testimony that there’s a real REMEMBRANCE OF ME! But I digress — Titles (especially Clergy titles), by the way, are relatively meaningless IN THIS SENSE: It’s NOT who you say you are or who others acclaim you to be—it’s what you do that matters. You could be “untitled” or heavily titled, such as: The Very Right Reverend, the Honorable, Senior Pastor Emeritus, Dr. D. R. Putz, PhD or just Sister So-and-So—it doesn’t matter for “the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all” (1 Cor. 12:7). If you say you are a teacher—then you should be equipping members of the One Body to be teachers as well. Back at the House Church: But brother Parks “gets-a-goin’” and we can’t shut him up—he literally monopolizes the meeting as if he’s the only one who’s got something to say (viz., prophesying as in testifying). Bro. Parks is utterly oblivious to anyone else in the room! Or, worse, what about the “dramatic Pentecostal-style sister” who goes off on a “Yea, verily, My people, unto thee I speak, if you will humble yourselves, etc.?” and offends just about everyone in the club room or the guy who can’t wait to unleash his latest California Fire Storm prophecy? There is a big difference between T-Ball and College-Age Baseball. Children need to grow up—but once they do, it doesn’t take them long before they’re playing a good game of sandlot baseball themselves without any coach at all telling them how the game is played or WHAT TO DO! Indeed, some companies have discovered that management is far more creative, dynamic, and successful when done with “teams” where INPUT accomplishes far more on an “even playing field.” Yes, such “management teams” need practice and training on how this is done—but once trained, they’re off and running with “fine tuning” here and there to keep things on track. Again, we’re NOT deviating from the plain Word of Scripture given in a rare glimpse of how Ekklesia is actually manifested “when the whole Ekklesia comes together.” “Your expectations are either supercilious or unrealistic . . . you can’t expect God’s people to ‘hit the tarmac’ running—not after nearly 2,000 years of ‘doing it the wrong way!’ Don’t we have to ease our way into this kind of gathering?” ANSWER: Yes, and no. Some instruction is helpful but I would suggest the least amount is better because once you “overdo it” you simply create another “method” and worse structure than you had before—the very “nature” of such an expression of Ekklesia militates against organization, structure, federation, methodology, and traditional leadership!
WE’VE GOT TO KEEP A LID ON “FOOD FIGHTS” BREAKING OUT!
The way it reads, again, in 1 Corinthians 11-14 sounds like folks are all allowed (not that they will) share EQUALLY and in ORDER and normally, so it appears, in twos and threes . . . there’s no place for a “one-man show or band” - it’s corporate, it’s exceedingly “user-friendly” where everyone feels the urge to contribute, participate, cooperate, as in: EACH ONE HAS. By dent of the number of folks there if someone is prophesying, don’t be surprised if they’re INTERRUPTED by someone: “Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged” (1 Cor. 14:29-30). “For in fact the Body is not one member but many” (1 Cor. 12:14). You know something’s off when the pastor opens the building, arranges the chairs, turns on the A/C or Heat, greets everyone at the door, leads the worship and most certainly gives the sermon, and wraps it all up somehow by shaking everyone’s hand as they’re leaving the building before locking the place up (again). You’d never guess that to be the case since this Pastor espouses the notion “for in fact the Body is not one member but many!” The rest of THAT BODY is in charge of “showing up” - getting their fish from the pulpit - then going home with a little praise, worship and friendly exchange . . . the exhausted pastor rejoices that another service is over! Not good! Let’s look at this sequence of passages and the order of “preference” or emphasis: “And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way” (1 Cor. 12:9-31, excerpts). First of all, please notice the stress upon the more “insignificant members” of the One Body—God gave greater honor to the part that lacked it! Also, if one suffers, everyone suffers and if one is honored, everyone is honored and rejoices. The emphasis is upon the “little guy”—the sister who drones on with her, what appears to be, a somewhat trite testimony (BUT IT IS HER PORTION—stop with the criticism; she’s just as important as anyone else in that gathering). Remember, if we were all one member, WHERE WOULD THE BODY BE? Listen up, we are the Body of Christ and MEMBERS INDIVIDUALLY or IN PARTICULAR. What sets us apart is not how different we are, but how essential we are one to another. THEN, it shifts to God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.” What’s going on here? Well, Paul’s not saying that apostles, prophets, teachers, workers of miracles, gifts of healing, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues are of no account—THEY ARE—but duly noted, little sister Insignificance is, in an Ekklesia gathering, critical to the fact that all members have NOT the same function but are MEMBERS INDIVIDUALLY. But, please notice, the “entitled ones” are secondary when it comes to the experience of the One Body, with the BEST WAY to practice “Body Life” (aka, Ekklesia) is the greatest gift: LOVE! And, it’s this kind of love—smack, dab in the midst of 1 Corinthians 11-14 which we so desperately need if we are going to defer to one another and honor one another in participating as His Ekklesia where EACH ONE OF YOU HAS! Somehow we’ve taken 1 Corinthians 13 OUT OF CONTEXT and reserved it for weddings and whatnot! We’ve made it a “stand alone.” When we’re talking about “biblical things in general” we always, so it seems, come back to 1 Corinthians 13 and state with all confidence: THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE - not this or that, but LOVE! Well, yes, but please note where it’s found - again, smack dab in the middle of 1 Corinthians 11-14 where having an actual Ekklesia-style gathering takes place. Yes, the greatest of “these” is LOVE—but IT’S FOUND IN AN EKKLESIA SETTING. If we don’t have this kind of LOVE domiciled in the Ekklesia gathering—then we’re missing the whole point of 1 Corinthians 13! This is beyond tolerance, diversity, etc. How are we going to accept the biblical fact that EACH ONE HAS if we are void of the GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE? Nope! You and I will never experience real Ekklesia without the Greatest of These! WHAT IF AN EKKLESIA-STYLE GATHERING GETS TOO BIG? KEEP IT FRESH
“REDEEMER CHURCH OF GOD” - LAGOS, NIGERIA
Let’s be realistic - once the “whole Ekklesia” shows up in one place, how are you going to “practice an Ekklesia-style gathering” if there’s more than 30 or 40 people in the location where this is taking place? I’ve seen some gatherings with a hundred or so and it was still possible if everyone, in the main, kept things “brief” so everyone could participate who wanted to (for you can all prophesy one by one that all may be encouraged) - but it’s pretty rare once you get a little crowd going—the “problem” is this: Such an assembled group, all prophesying (aka, participating) becomes so attractive, everyone and their brother or sister wants to come to such a gathering. Or, you can show up at the HQ of the Redeemer Church of God in Lagos, Nigeria with 12,000,000 in attendance—trust me, it’s awesome, and folks are “really into it” but such a massive gathering does not an actual Ekklesia-style gathering make! Folks there are all members of the Ekklesia—no doubt—and the ministry is terrific . . . but does it resemble 1 Corinthians 11-14 in that sense? Be honest, it doesn’t; but that’s not to say members of Redeemer Church of God do not meet from “house to house” enjoying the Lord as His Ekklesia with all sorts of “other Christians” in attendance - that’s Ekklesia! Well, when it gets that crowded, split up and have another Ekklesia-style gathering elsewhere or at a different time. Once again, the tendency is to “federate” such gatherings so that “someone” keeps a lid on “fires” that keep breaking out all over the place—forbid that re