Transitioning Pastors from Paid Positions to Released Callings Part 4 (how does this BETTER release my gift than a paid position?)

28 08 2008

Many of my friends in the house church movement refuse to deal with the issue of how to BETTER release 5-fold callings using a New Testament structure.  They are content to tell John Piper, Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll and Rick Warren that they should sit week after week as an equal member of a house church gathering and they wonder why gifted 5-fold ministers reject their model as an unrealistic step backward.

We need 5-fold ministers to be MORE released and for their influence to broaden not lessen.  So how does a New Testament structure that does not depend on the 5-fold endlessly maintaining individual churches, actually better release the giftings of those “called into ministry”?

Here are three ways –

Way #1 – Apostolic Teams. Instead of the modern phenomenon of teaching churches, evangelistic churches, pastoral churches etc. that arises from one member of the 5-fold leading one church, all of these should be on a balanced team.  This team would plant and shepherd many works resulting in each of the 5-fold always working in their area of calling and gifting while providing the correct gift balance to each work they are assisting.  This also eliminates the isolation many ministers feel as they will always go out in teams of 2 or more to do their work.

Way #2 – The City Church (Training Centers). The real domain of the 5-fold is the city church (that does not exist today).  5-fold ministers need to establish the city church (like Paul did with the School of Tyrannus) and then equip the whole church in an entire region from there.  Not only does this better release their gift in breadth (they equip the whole city) but also in depth (they refine particular trainings that they can impart better than any other).  Many 5-fold have specific teachings that they do better than almost anyone else (because of the depth of their faith and understanding in that area) but, nevertheless, they preach sermon after sermon hopelessly diluting the impact of the specific messages God has given them to impart to many.

Way #3 – New Works. Any city of above 20,000 people that does not have a city church where an itinerant 5-fold minister can come in and train the Christians in that city NEEDS A NEW WORK.  A new work is the process through which we establish a city church in a new region (beginning with a training center for the city).  Look around and see how many places, both in America and throughout the world, need a new work.  The 5-fold cannot be fully released without the re-emergence of the city church.  Of course not all the Christians are going to recognize your training center as the city church but over time hundreds and then thousands will see the fruit, and be trained there as you bring the 5-fold of the city together to disciple the city as a whole.

So this New Testament way of releasing moves 5-fold from –

  • Isolated Pastors to Apostolic Team Member
  • Using a Portion of their Gifting to Ministering from the Center of Their Gifting
  • Ministering to one fraction of God’s church in the city to Ministering to the City Church

Yes, they can be BETTER released in a New Testament model than in our current model.

So we’ve asked and answered the top 3 objections to making this transition from paid positions to released callings.  Now we need to have the courage and determination to make this shift happen in our generation.

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3 responses

28 08 2008
Bill Faris

This is not “theory” for me, but the current events of my life. I have been a professional pastor nearly my entire life until a few weeks ago. I stumbled across Jeremy while in the process of preparing to close down the eight year old southern california Vineyard church we planted near our home. I did this because, frankly, God told me to but also because I have come to see that, for me, leading a traditional church is no longer an option.

We finished strong and then, having closed down our church, we released people to find where God wanted them to go. Meanwhile, I invited those who wanted to venture into a new endeavor of forming a network of community-based ministry, including house churches, with me to come along. About 30 have taken this first step with us, but it has only been a month since that point of departure arrived. Our website http://www.vcmn.org, tells our story and our philosophy better — especially in our “storyboard” section.

As for this transition, it is of course, radical. I have eight months of severance during which I must somehow reconfigure my life to include multiple income streams and a basic new shape to my ministry, leadership and practices of equipping and empowerment. It has already been daunting, but I am glad people like you, Jeremy, are out there reporting from the edge.

29 08 2008
eden2zion

Bill I’m really inspired by your courage and hope you continue to share your journey with us. I believe God is calling thousands of pastors in our day to do what you are doing and we need to help one another walk this strange, unfamiliar path to a new place of greater fruitfulness for His Kingdom.

17 02 2010
sdm

Thanks for your work and writing. I am encouraged in the midst of a huge transition to planting in a very unreached area. I have been working in a church plant in a city in western Canada. For 10 years we have seen this small community come together. But as I have felt called and equipped to plant another work in the city we are looking together for a new model that incorporates acts 19 and a more city based understanding. I believe these are excellent steps forward with your view of ministry, the city church, and broader discipleship training . One thing to mention about our context is that I do see great health in our city in regards to the development of unity in the laborers. Over the last 10 years we have a developed network of planters, pastors, and youth workers 40 strong who are encouraging each other meeting regularly for prayer for the transformation of our city. My questions are so many at this point. But as one seeking to plant a church in the next 12 months I would desire to plant within a vision of the city and the kingdom over and above planting another building, with a small group of isolated people. I would appreciate hearing what you would do as far as next steps in gathering such a group of leaders (with obviously diverse views) towards the furtherance of a city church reality.

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