About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
churches are organizational structures that define, administrate, and
oversee its ministries with the hope their members will implement.
In this scenario, ministry originates from the organization.
In contrast, the apostle Paul promoted a form of ministry that
evolves from supportive, personal relationships in the Body of Christ, the
church (1 Corinthians 12). I
call this form of ministry "relational based ministry."
In 1 Corinthians 12:13
through 30 Paul defined church as individual believers, who by the Holy
Spirit, have been immersed into each other's lives to form one unified
functioning body. He equated
church with a human body, where each body part is joined to other body
parts to meet the needs of the body and fulfill its mission.
In this scenario, ministry originates from supportive, personal
relationships - natural friendships that form within the Body of Christ,
When Paul, and those
with him, entered a city, they did not create an ecclesiastical structure
in the hope of conscripting people to fill its ministry needs.
Instead, they introduced individuals to Jesus, who once receiving
the Holy Spirit into their lives, became an organic community of
believers. It was not until a
later date when Paul sent men like Titus to implement structure into these
communities by ordaining elders (Titus 1:5).
These elders, along with deacons, were qualified people who were
exhibiting leadership skills within the community.
The implementation of structure presupposed the existence of a
community of believers living in supportive, personal relationships from
which elders and deacons were chosen.
I understand the
difficulties that today's church would incur when attempting to transition
back to what Paul taught. Nevertheless,
as we move forward by recognizing and developing supportive, personal relationships in the local church that result in relational based ministry
has its benefits. It's beneficial
because ministry is birthed, not just from the organization, but in the
hearts of believers in these relationships who would naturally take ownership of their
ministry. Relational based
ministry can be effective ministry because it is rooted in individual,
God-created personalities, God-given talents, and God-chosen
relationships. When thinking
of relational based ministry as it relates to the organized structure of
church, ministry is overseen, but not micro-managed, by the structure.
I call this "ministerial autonomy within ecclesiastical
ministry is an organic form of ministry that is born from the Holy Spirit
led hearts of those in supportive, personal relationships that fulfill the
needs and mission of the local expression of church.
It is what the Body of Christ is all about, and is worth restoring
to today's church.