One Body Many Members

The body does not consist of one member but of many. 1 Corinthians 12:14


An elder in a small congregation once told me that they had had only two pastors since the founding of their church. “In between the two tenures”, he said,” we had no one to lead us. And so, for quite some time, we did everything ourselves: The preaching, the visitation, everything.” He then paused and muttered: “That was the only time that this church did well.”

At the time I thought that the congregation must have had some bad luck with their two ministers and experienced some exceptional grace from God during the period that they were without one. This, of course, is quite possible. But I am more inclined to think nowadays that the little church had inadvertently stumbled upon one of the greatest and most neglected truths of the Bible, namely that the ministry of Jesus Christ takes place through a body and not through one extraordinary individual.

In one of Jesus’ most ignored statements Christian leaders are expressly forbidden to let people address them by using titles. The reason? Jesus alone is our Rabbi and Master (Matthew 23:8-10). Bestowing a special title on a Christian leader is a case of mistaken authority. The result is that we open ourselves to be led by the teachings of humans instead of the teachings of Christ. Furthermore, Christian ministry then looks like a profession instead of a lifestyle.

This does not mean that your hardworking minister is insignificant or not worthy of support. On the contrary. What it does mean, according to Jesus, is that he is but one of many brothers. And so all the other brothers and sisters are called to unite with him, under Christ, to express the will of their one Master.

(Bloemnuus 29 May 2010)


One thought on “One Body Many Members

  1. Paul Zietsman January 24, 2011 / 9:27 am

    I think this post is very enlightening.

    Ephesians 4 brings us to realise that the gifts our Lord gave to His body are there to equip His body. These gifts are diverse, and not all centered in one person who performs the role of pastor, teacher, evangelist, prophet etc. He (God) gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as teachers, evangelists etc. These functions are not all vested in one individual. When Scripture speaks of a church (a singular congregation) it still speaks of these functions in plural. The same with elders. In Scripture, the responsibility for overseeing of the congregation is placed upon “the elders”…also plural. Not on “the pastor”. The elders are mutually responsible to lead the congregation by being exapmles, not dictators, and to jointly keep watch for sound doctrine.

    Furthermore, as stated, these “gifts” are there to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, they are not there for entertainment, of for passive spoonfeeding. Ephesians 4 states it thus:

    “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ”
    (Eph 4:12-13)

    In the book of Hebrews (5v12) the congregation is told that by reason of the long time they ought all to be teachers, but now they still need to be taught again. The proper functioning of these gifts in the body brings saints to maturity, and to a place where they in turn start ministering those gifts to others.

    Having seated all these gifts in a central figure has led to a “churchianity” where people are ever coming to be “serviced” (attend a service), but never become able to serve. They always “come” to be taught, but never “go” to teach. In “churcianity” a paid clergyman is expected to perform. Anyone else who starts teaching or evangelism etc is usurping his role, and threatening his position.

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