Fathers & Sons Part 4
This isn't so much a new article as an update on the previous posts.
The other day I had a flash of insight into why this topic is so misunderstood.
Firstly let me preface the revelation with an observation. I had assumed that the underlying message about relationships in the church is that we are all grown-ups. In other words, we are not talking about children being dependent on their fathers. Rather we are talking about the sense of closeness and bonding together with mutual serving that should be there between fathers and their adult offspring.
I think that by failing to clarify this, I may have unnecessarily upset a few people on the Open Heaven forum last month.
Here is the revelation.
In the traditional church, the denominational system, relationships are marked by dependence. The flock are dependent on the clergy; the clergy are dependent on the denomination.
Sometimes this turns quite toxic when the pastor actually needs people to be dependent on him/ her. In this case the pastor will manipulate people into believing that they can understand nothing without his teaching or make no decision without his/her wisdom. I see this in some pentecostal denominations as well as in some mainline denominations. This is called co-dependency.
As a reaction to the above, some people are saying that we can all be independent. In its worst forms it is anger against the church. People say "I don't need to go to church- it's just me and Jesus." But this too is wrong. It is independence. Why does Jesus teach so much about relationships in the church, if He did not really intend for it to be an important part of the Kingdom of God?
The relationships that God wants for the church are marked by inter-dependence, in which we recognise that we all need one another. The people who are in the 5-fold ministry need one another because one person alone cannot minister to the Body of Christ. We need all of pastors, teachers, evangelists, apostles and prophets, and those people need one another also.
But we all need the encouragement and friendship of each other in the Body, regardless of calling or office or gifting. I need you as much as you need me.
This understanding of inter-dependence should break down the unhealthy division between so-called clergy and laity. The person called "Pastor" may not be the person with the pastoral gift. Similarly the prophets and evangelists in the church may not be the ones who get to do the preaching each week.
I am so thankful that in my small church I have present the full range of the 5-fold ministry gifts. I am an apostle by gifting, but there are people who are prophetic, and others who are pastoral; some who are evangelists and some who are teachers.
It's my great desire that everyone in New Life rises to their full potential of serving the Lord and serving the Body. Then we will all be able to grow in maturity.