JAC Online

Professionalization without democratization

(a 'chief' danger' of the 21st century)


What are we getting at, here?  There’s been a hyper-professionalization of western Christianity that strays from biblical norms and thus warps biblical Christianity and hampers the advance of the great commission (we are not here against the pursuit of excellence, effectiveness, and efficiency).


How does it look?  In Ephesians 4:11-16, Paul explains how the ‘ecclesia’ – the called out – are meant to operate. 


11 He endowed us with the apostolic, the prophetic, the evangelistic, and the counseling and instructive, [1]


12 to prepare ‘the sanctified’, to kick up dust in a flurry of activity for their labours, to construct and build up Christ’s body, [2] 


13 until we arrive at unanimity in action on our convictions and a proper recognition of God’s Son, in consummate adulthood, our stature measured by Christ’s superabundance [3]


14 Then, we will no longer be speechless and simple-minded, every new instruction blowing us, surging and conveyed around, into the fraudulent craftiness and trickery of human deception. [4] 


15 We will speak truth, with affection, and in so doing

grow in every way like Christ, who is our head.[5]  16 Christ fits and holds together every supporting joint, each part playing its part causing the body to grow, building herself up in goodwill. [6]


How has that looked in practice?  It has normally looked like the first three roles that Jesus gives – apostle, prophet, evangelist – being ignored.  And it has looked like the separation of the fourth role into two separate, professionalized careers: ‘pastor’, and teacher.  And, yet, that’s not what it says. 


First, the word translated ‘pastor’ is everywhere else in the Bible translated ‘shepherd’.  We have a general idea of what shepherds do.  With a lot of patience and energy, they care for their flocks.  They apply the rod to correct and the staff to direct, and they protect their sheep from all manner of threats.  But how do people today see ‘pastor’?  From a neutral perspective, ‘pastor’ is typically assumed to be the (male) vocational Christian leader of a local body of believers.  We’re guessing that the opinionated perspective on ‘pastors’, coming from people who don’t follow Jesus, is much less sunny. 


So, to be clear, ‘pastor’ as vocational Christian leader is neither a biblical position nor strategically beneficial (because of the negative connotations of non-participants and the enervating effect on the non-‘pastors’). 


Second, we have teachers.  While this role is often conflated with ‘pastor’, in that ‘pastors’ typically carry the microphone on Sunday mornings, there is some respect for teaching within conventional modern western communities of believers.  A lot of respect.  In some kinds of Christianity, the sermon is the focus of the weekly gathering (to clarify, this is not meant to be the case in The Salvation Army, in which the ‘prayer meeting’, also known as the appeal, is the climax of every meeting).   


To recap this bit, we typically, these days, ignore apostles and prophets and evangelists and magnify ‘pastors’ and teachers. 


Here’s the rub: The Greek in the text includes shepherd and teacher together.  They aren’t even the ‘fourth’ and ‘fifth’ of these roles Jesus gives ‘the called out’.  Combined, they compose the fourth.  So, biblically, there isn’t such thing as a ‘pastor’ or a teacher.  There is a role that combines both functions.  So, think for a moment of what role in the Body of Christ involves shepherding and teaching. 


Right!  Discipler.  Do you get it?  Disciplers are disciples who disciple others.  They shepherd and teach them.  They are not necessarily, and not for the most part, professional Christians.  They are like you and me – bi-vocational (in that they carry a day job and also fill this role as discipler). 


Solution?  Well, first of all, let’s pay some attention to the apostles, and prophets, and evangelists.  Let’s identify and welcome and nurture and attend to them. 


And let’s identify the disciplers and magnify their role in the Body.  This involves downsizing unbiblical roles of ‘pastor’ and teacher (as currently understood and normally activated in our day). 


Democratization in this sense leans away from clergical and ecclesiastical professionalization into the role of the amateur – the opposite: ‘amateur: “engaging or engaged in without payment; nonprofessional”.  Here’s the origin of the word ‘amateur’: “mid 18th century: French, from Latin amator ‘lover’, from amare ‘to love’.”


We are mobilizing the people of God and deploying them as apostles, prophets, evangelists, and disciplers out of LOVE.  


It’s a wildly different operating Body of Christ.




[1] didomi – Strong’s give, endue (endowed)- endue- definition: endow with a quality or ability, originates in late Middle English ‘induct into an ecclesiastical living’; tous = the (‘the’ as in ESV, NLT); poimen = shepherd; AV Translation count – shepherd 17; pastor 1; shepherd definition – person who tends and rears sheep; verb – gives guidance (counseling) didaskalos = instructor (instructive); (apostle, prophet, evangelist, and shepherd instructor are nouns in the original; they are rendered adjective here to smoothly accompany the definite article that precedes each and the verb endue)  [‘endued’ verb tense aorist active indicative]

[2] katartismon = preparing, equipping, complete furnishing (prepare); aigon = sacred, holy (‘the sanctified’); ergon = work, toil, labour (labours); diakonos = attendant, servant; HELPS – thoroughly raise up dust by moving in a hurry, to kick up dust as one running an errand (kick up dust in a flurry of activity); oikodomen = building, architecture, edifying (construct and build up); somatos = body

[3] katantao = meet against, arrive at, attain (arrive at); henotes = oneness; Strong’s – unity, unanimity, agreement (unanimity); pistis = persuasion, credence, moral conviction (action on… convictions); epignosis = recognition (properly recognise); aner = man; Strong’s – distinguish an adult man from a boy; used generically of a group of both men and women (adulthood); teleios = complete; Strong’s – brought to its end, finished, perfect, consummate (consummate); metron = measure (measured); helikia = maturity, age, stature (stature); pleroma – fullness, a filling up; Strong’s – a ship inasmuch as it is filled – manned - with sailers, rowers, and soldiers, the body of believers… ; Chandler – complement, as in crew being the complement of the ship; HELPS – even super abundance (superabundance)

[4] nepios = not speaking, simple-minded (speechless and simple-minded); kludonizomai = surge (surging); periphero = convey around (conveyed around); anemos = wind (blowing); didaskalia = instruction (instruction); kubeia = gambling; Strong’s – deception, defrauding (deception); anthopos = man-faced (human); panourgia = adroitness; Strong’s – craftiness, cunning (craftiness); methodeia = traveling over, wile; Strong’s – cunning arts, deceit, craft, trickery (trickery); plane = fraudulence, straying from orthodoxy ; Strong’s – straying about (fraudulent)

[5] agape = love, goodwill; Strong’s – affection, goodwill, love, benevolence, esteem; HELPS – moral preference (affection)

[6] epichoregias = supply (supporting); energeian = operative power; + metron = measure (playing its part); poieo = make (causing); heautou = him or her (her, following the other role of the people of God as ‘bride’); agape = love, goodwill; Strong’s – affection, goodwill, love, benevolence, esteem; HELPS – moral preference (goodwill)  











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