1 Corinthians 12:12-31a
For Sunday, January 27, 2013
Third Sunday After the Epiphany
What most of all is keeping the church in the West from gaining ground versus losing ground? One possibility is that we have forgotten the significance of apostolic leadership. In this passage Paul describes an organizational structure that might be visualized as a pyramid. The top of the pyramid consists of apostles; the second layer of prophets; the third of teachers, and the bottom layer of all the other forms of giftedness.
In most of today’s churches nothing like this exists. As Alan Hirsch observes in The Forgotten Ways, the typical large church today will have a Senior Pastor, an Executive Pastor, and Associate Pastors. This mimics a typical corporate structure in which there is a CEO, President, and Vice Presidents. The result is a church that is insular, bureaucratic, and enfeebled.
What if instead we were lead by those whose primary focus was taking the gospel to where it does not yet hold sway (apostolic leaders), supported by those with a special ability to hear from God (prophets), and complemented by a full panoply of other gifts? This could easily become the missional and organic church that many of us long for in the depths of our spirits.
So how do we get from here to there? First, we pray. Second, we ask our current leadership teams to step back and redefine where they ought to be leading us in light of the gospel. The gospel is not just for those of us who believe. It is for the world. So how serious are we about taking it there? Third, we start looking for the apostles and prophets that God has already put in our midst, and we start to listen to them and follow them.
Does this ring true for you? Why or why not? How could this make a difference in how you serve your local church this week?