The five-fold ministry mentioned in Ephesians 4:11-13 is comprised of the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher. The Justice League film features six members, but each seemed to relate to a particular ministry role. Here’s a breakdown… and it’s sure to answer every question you’ve ever had about the five-fold ministry… maybe!
Cry-ins, ponies, and coloring books. It seems like each day there is a new buzzword filling our social media trending topics displaying the unfortunate case of entitlement among disappointed college voters having difficulty coping with the election results. But this is not a blog about the election, its outcome, or who voted. Though the idea of campus “safe spaces” and “cry-ins” seems like it’s cutting edge in universities across America, it is actually already well established in certain circles of the church, breeding apathy and creating a bubble that separates believers from… well, everyone else.
My husband and I love the church. When I refer to the church I am referring to the collective body of Christ – the family of God. We have planted churches and pastor one that meets in a coffee shop. Not once during this time have we felt burnout from being around other believers. I firmly believe it’s because we see them not just as members of the church, tithers, or community leaders. It is because we consider them family. Perhaps for some of you, the word “family” doesn’t carry a positive association. Maybe your family drives you crazy and you like to keep your distance. Let me help define what family should look like in church.
Years ago, my husband prayed for a young man who was born with an illness. He told Jonathan that if he didn’t receive healing he would never see him again, to which my husband replied, “You don’t just need healing. You need love. You need to know that people are willing to walk with you through the good, the bad, and the ugly.” That is family. Those who will love you no matter the circumstance.
Notice that Jonathan wasn’t asking him to come to our church. I can’t tell you how many relationships I’ve seen dissolve overnight simply because one friend stops going to another friend’s church. Sensitive, sensitive! If anything, such behavior shows conditional friendship. I’ll be your friend if you attend our meeting. Otherwise, see you later! And that’s the problem. Jesus said the world would know we are His disciples by our love for one another. Not by our church association.
Why do I bring this up? Because when we develop a culture that hinges on the sensitive, volatility of fragile relationships, the slightest offense can send the structure of such an entity in a spiral of complete disarray. You know whom else acts in such a way? Secret societies! Sororities, fraternities, and freemasons (to name a few) all require pledges of allegiance to be in their elite club. Though the initiation may be different in each one, all solidarity is broken the moment one person breaks a vow. The church should be different. We shouldn’t sign our names in blood. Jesus bled for us. We shouldn’t rush like Greek life on campus. But more time is spent trying to instill the vision of the pastor and the local church brand than discipling new believers to do the works of Jesus and greater – the actual command Christ gave. Thankfully, even when we are unfaithful, God is still faithful (2 Timothy 2:13).
In saying this, I am not saying quit your church. What I am saying is make sure you surround yourself in a healthy family of believers, not just church members whose friendship banks on whether or not you attend their weekly Sunday service. The construct of church has led us to judge the church experience by its format, not its family. For years, I have seen fiery, passionate, powerful believers fizzle and burn out. Some have abandoned the faith altogether. They’ve attended the most prestigious ministry schools, traveled the world ten times over to preach the Gospel, and have accomplished amazing exploits in the name of Jesus. But somewhere in their journey, they take a wrong turn. It typically begins in one of two ways.
First, they neglect the importance of rest. They feel the constant urge to save the world. What began as a fun adventure turned into a grueling job of striving to please the Lord. The truth is, He is already pleased with you simply because you are His child. And though there is a Great Commission that is largely replaced with glorified busybody church functions, the commandment to preach the Gospel to the world – wherever God may place you – is not to be done without resting in what He has done. We cannot save the world. It has already been saved when Jesus died and was raised from the dead. Most people simply don’t know the Good News yet. They’ve never been told. So how can they believe if they haven’t heard? I often say, I am glad I am not the Holy Spirit. You should be glad too! His Spirit has been poured out on all flesh already. Now we just confirm what He is testifying to others: Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.
When believers are surrounded by the rock stars of Christendom, they can easily feel overwhelmed. This person fasts and prays all the time and sees miracles everyday, the dead raised, thousands of orphans cared and taken care of, and yet they still find time to preach around the world. If I don’t follow their example, I’ll never save the world! In an instant, a formula is created – a step by step program – to see God “move” when the truth is, grace is effortless. I'm not saying that you can't be inspired by others. But never let their accomplishments create a methodology for successful ministry. Jesus was sufficient in doing that! Think about it. In Galatians 5, Paul doesn’t call it the fruit of a believer. He calls it the fruit of the Spirit. God produces fruit supernaturally – effortlessly. The miracles are a byproduct. The adventures are a byproduct. The exploits are a byproduct. It’s arrogant to believe that our efforts can produce the kind of fruit that is only produced by God’s Spirit. It’s prideful to believe that we can twist His arm by “doing” enough to somehow make Him respond. Grace is undeserved, unmerited, and unearned. In other words, you can’t work for it. When rest is neglected and life loses its flavor for fun, burnout is inevitable.
Second, many believers want to hideaway. All I want to do is pray 24/7 and worship around like-hearted believers. Prayer is great. Worship is great. But have you considered that you don’t just pray but you are the prayer? Have you considered that you don’t just worship but you are worship? 2 Corinthians 2:15 says we are the fragrance of Christ ascending to God. It doesn’t distinguish whether or not we are singing, dancing, or praying. You don’t leak the Holy Spirit. You overflow every moment of every day! Abundant life is spilling out everywhere you go! You change the atmosphere just by being you filled with the Holy Spirit. If you don’t believe that, perhaps it’s because you’ve never been told. Faith comes by hearing and we all had to hear this news for the first time at some point in our lives. Maybe, for you, this is a first!
Nothing beats an incredible, loud, power-packed worship gathering. Whether gold dust is spitting out from thin air, it begins to rain inside the building, diamonds fall from the sky, or people start getting healed in bizarre ways, it is nothing short of phenomenal, encouraging, and fun. But then there is coming home when it’s over. My husband calls them Holy Ghost hangovers. You feel on top of the mountain in worship and prayer gatherings one day and the next day you feel like everything else is insignificant. We’ve all been there. And our first instinct is to return to that atmosphere of constant worship and prayer. In that place where our focus is on worshiping Jesus, nobody is fighting, exchanging words of conflict, or being spiteful. What’s not to love about it? It’s heavenly and lovely. In that moment you experience peace we wish the rest of the world would know. But in elevating those experiences in comparison to the day-to-day life of a believer, we must always be aware of the Lord’s unchanging presence in our lives. He is the constant. Separation from Him is an illusion. And when we, as the church, realize the glory of His presence in our everyday lives – whether you’re getting dressed in the morning, driving to work, doing chores, or visiting the dentist – the Holy Ghost hangovers will cease to exist.
The euphoric experience we may sense in those moments of fellowship with like-hearted believers should encourage us in fulfilling the Great Commission, preaching the Gospel to everyone, expecting miracles, signs, and wonders in everyday life. Otherwise, we will seek to only be around others like us all the time. And when we do so, we create a safe space. Suddenly church becomes a country club with a steeple and loses its effectiveness in reaching the brokenhearted, hurt, and lost generation who is looking for coddling rather than realizing they are called to boldness as a radical receiver of God’s unconditional love.
Have healthy fellowship with a family of believers, but don’t let it become a “safe space”. Rather encourage and stir one another to walk boldly in your gifts and calling, no matter which sphere of influence you're called to. Go to church. Go to conferences. But don’t let the desire to be in that atmosphere 24/7 own you. Don’t lose touch with those who need you. Better yet, don’t lose touch with those who need Christ in you. If you’re called to business, education, government, media, entertainment, sports, or whatever it may be – bring that euphoric grace and power of God into that realm to people who would never step inside a wild worship gathering or prayer meeting. Paul, the Apostles, and countless disciples of Christ even today count some things more important than a constructed safe space. Because in Christ is the most secure we can be – even in the face of danger and adversity.
The sleepless nights, unexpected fevers, and meltdowns are things parents know all too well. The title is true. Parenting is tough. It wears on you physically and emotionally everyday of your life. It is clear why God makes babies so cute! When it’s 4:00am and your little one has decided to stay awake to play peek-a-boo, their smile warms your heart. If anyone else wanted to play a game at 4:00am, you would most likely ask them to leave.
As the angels sang, “Peace on earth and goodwill toward men.” It’s the season of ceasefires and reconciliation. It’s a celebration where offense is buried and forgiveness reigns. It’s a time for giving. However, a lot of people see giving gifts as a burden and not a joy. If you have a difficult time shopping for gifts, I want to give you some ideas you may not find on Amazon.
Nobody enters marriage an expert. Often, the issues mentioned above don’t spawn out of a lack of love, but a lack of grace. Marriage demands that we become something more. Marriage is powerful and, as the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility. Being quick to forgive, fast to affirm, and racing towards responsibility are all signs of grace. I want to give you three pillars that will ensure a blissful union with your spouse.