“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers–” (Eph 4:11)
Several years ago I listened to a pastor who was somewhat upset with some in the congregation. While I don’t remember what the issue(s) was, I do remember his chastising remarks. He said if some in the congregation didn’t straighten up that he would call in a prophet and expose them. I instantaneously chuckled inside thinking, “Do you not think God has some prophets sitting here that could easily expose you?” This, of course, has a humorous element, but I saw this as an indication of how the traditional church is failing to follow the New Testament pattern.
Several times during the past 20 years I have heard pastors in the pulpit comment on Ephesians 4:11-12, “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service—.” Without exception, as I recall, each pastor then began to elaborate on his role to prepare everyone for works of service. Not one of them bothered to talk about apostles, prophets, and evangelists. While most people understand the evangelist, there is some confusion about prophets. While Old Testament prophets foretold future events, current thinking is that those gifted as prophets now are those in the church who have a keen sense of God’s will according to His Word. Don and Katie Fortune have written an excellent book titled “Discovering Your God Given Gifts” based on seven gifts outlined in Romans 12:8. They call the prophet a perceiver in order that these people are not confused with other references to prophets such as the office of prophet. These prophets, or perceivers, have a God-given ability to rightly divide God’s Word more accurately than others. They are valuable for their input at giving spiritual leadership in the church.
I wonder why the churches I have been associated with never had a prophet who was a part of the congregation. Why are prophets always located somewhere out there in some other place? They just seem to travel and stop in at local churches to help prepare God’s people for works of service, or perhaps ferret out those who do not comply to the pastor’s wishes.
As to the pastor’s threat to bring in a prophet, why would God call in an outsider? Of course our Lord did say, “A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country, and in his own house.” (Matt 13:57)
The traditional church tends to have a hierarchical form of government which has the pastor as head of the local church. No where in the Bible is this shown as a model for the NT church. When one man is set up as THE leader of a local congregation it is more a reflection of the Old Testament priests who were the spiritual leaders. A more serious problem occurs when people look to their pastor as king over the congregation. An even greater problem visits the congregation when the pastor sees himself as king. In other words, the traditional church can become centered on one man relatively easy. Mega churches are often built around men with mega personalities. And if the mega personality is not Christ centered a lot of people are lead astray.
I don’t know anything in the church that sounds more ridiculous than a pulpit committee, a group of people that goes shopping for their spiritual leader. The NT has much reference to training and disciplining others, including leaders, but nothing about shopping for a hireling. That is more ridiculous than a pastor threatening to go to a distance land to find a prophet.