We must not think about church leaders simply as people who have chosen to work in the churches. Rather, as a gift to God’s people, Christ selects and appoints certain Christians to do special work for him. Their task is to serve God’s people on behalf of Christ. Christ has chosen them to do this work so that God’s people will become mature in their relationship with him.
Perhaps we are even wrong to call these people ‘leaders’. Paul preferred to call himself a ‘servant of Christ’ (Philippians 1:1). As Christ’s servants, they do different kinds of work for him; they do not all do the same work. Each of them must do the work that God directs him to do.
An ‘apostle’ means someone to whom God has given a special task with great responsibility. For example, Peter had the responsibility to bring the message about Christ to Israel’s people. Paul’s special responsibility was to establish the first churches for people from other nations (Galatians 2:7-9).
By the power of the Holy Spirit, a ‘prophet’ declares what God is saying in a particular situation (Acts 21:9-11). His words must never oppose what the Bible teaches; rather, his message should emphasise the Bible’s message.
All Christians should speak about Christ as God gives them the opportunity. However, an ‘evangelist’ is someone with the special responsibility to declare the gospel, the message about Christ and his death. He explains to people how they can have a right relationship with God.
A ‘pastor’ is simply the translation of the word ‘shepherd’ into the language called Latin. A shepherd takes care of sheep; a pastor takes care of people (John 21:15-17). It is especially the pastor’s task to look after the weakest people (Zechariah 11:7; Mark 9:42). He should work hard to help them to become stronger in their relationship with Christ.
When pastors teach, they must teach God’s word, the Bible (2 Timothy 3:14 to 4:4). It is the Bible – and not people’s thoughts and opinions – that can make people strong in their relationship with God (Psalm 1:1-3).
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© 2018, Keith Simons.