A Guest Blog...by Frederick Tobun
At a time where countless numbers of people celebrate Christmas, it is placed upon us the responsibility to preach in and out of season the purpose and intent of the miraculous birth of the Son of God.
Within fellowships, communities and churches the proclamation of the prophet Isaiah will be read in the hearing of many. During this reading many minds will visit the scene of the nativity to reflect upon the baby born in the manger, the appearing of the heavenly host, the visits of the shepherds, the star at night and the wise men from the east.
For some enshrined before them will be the statues of the nativity, whilst for others a theatrical piece played out by ardent followers. This will be followed by music, dancing and merrymaking.
WHAT DOES NATIVITY MEAN?
The word nativity means “the event of being born” or the circumstances in which a child is born. Hence the word requires us to consider all the events during the birth of a child.
The reading of Isaiah 9:6 and the record of the nativity found in the gospels of Matthew and Luke provides us a revelation of the events taking place. These events together collectively describe a child being born and a son being given.
Many moons ago whilst reading this text I came upon the revelation which is so clearly distinguished by the prophet Isaiah. This began a journey from the child of the nativity to the son of the nativity. From a childrens story to history.
This meant that the typical characters and props associated with the meaning of the nativity changed from being just the foreground of religious christmas traditions into a sharper picture disclosing the richer understanding of God’s kingdom.
Why would the prophet make two statements about this monumental event? Why in one breath state a child is born and in another a son is given?
WHERE DO WE BEGIN?
The Old testament prophecies provide supporting evidence for these distinctions.
Numbers 24:17 states "I see him, but not now: I behold him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel"
Two sight’s are mentioned, I see him! The first natural and relating to the child's legitimate inheritance within the economy of Israel. I behold him! The second spiritual the revelation of who this child is as the Son of God and chosen King.
The writer goes on to state that what he saw was prophetic, what he wrote was a foretelling of future events. Hence this text would have been part of the inspiration of Isaiah's words.
To begin with we must come to appreciate the words used to introduce the distinctions. “Unto us” forcefully impress the relevancy and impact of the event on we who are in this world.
For whether the child is born or the son is given, both are unto us and drive home our responsibility to respond accurately. No one born from the line of Adam can disassociate themselves from the impact of the fulfillment of prophecy.
In addition the events recorded within the gospels pertaining to the prophecy provide ample guidance and teaching on how to approach the child, the son.
A STORY TOLD IN PARTS…
The significance of the nativity relates to appreciating all of the events which took place without reducing the narrative to a cliche of theatrical pieces. One thing I have learned is that history does not narrate well and there is a mastery involved in relaying history accurately from one generation to the next.
For many of us we have grown up with the nativity which focuses on the “birth of the child”. This majors on: baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, manger, angels, shepherds, star, wise men and gifts.
This nativity guided by the limitations of tradition creates an immature view which we haven’t as yet altogether grown up from.
The nativity that reflects the son has an altogether different approach and parallels the exodus and nativity of Moses. This majors upon:
These events tend to stand in the background of the first nativity and hence as a result reduce the importance and significance of the son being given.
THE WHOLE STORY TOLD…
When we step back to see the nativity in its entirety we cannot afford any longer to hold onto the immature romanticised perspectives of our traditions, but are forced to grapple with the gritty reality of faith by both “seeing” and “beholding”.
We are forced to come to terms with the fact that the christmas we know is not the christmas they experienced.
Faith in keeping with the Kingdom provokes us to see things as they are, whilst beholding what will be: Read Isaiah 60:2: “See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but (behold) the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you”
Here the prophet again provokes both the natural sight and the spiritual sight coming into harmony. We are not to ignore either, but rather ensure both are framed by the word of God. The shepherds and the wise men experienced what the prophet stated.
The shepherds were commanded by the angels to seek for the sign. They subsequently sought for a baby in a manger. Once found they testified to all of the savior's birth.
The wise men were commanded by prophecy to seek for a sign. They subsequently sought for the shining star which would lead them to the King in Bethlehem. Once found they gave gifts unto the King.
Both the shepherds and the wise men encapsulate the rich experience of encountering the fullness of Isaiah 6:9 and serve as an example of how to respond.
On the one hand the shepherds provoke us to testify of the savior's birth signifying the hope of waiting on the Lord for his promises. On the other hand the wise men provoke us to recognise the realization of the promise by practically honouring and serving the Lord with the fruit of our obedience and substance recognising his authority, divinity and sacrifice.
Looking past our traditions with their set times, places and events and beholding the truth of the nativity I wonder what this would be like today? Could the riches of Christ’s commonwealth be so manifest that it makes redundant the need for a Christmas day?
The famous carol written by the English hymn writer Isaac Watts and based on Psalm 98 conveys within the first and second verse the spirit of our worship.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King;
Frederick Tobun is the founder of Restore Citizenship and serves as a community elder of the Islington fellowship. A digital communications professional, Frederick is passionate about reaching out with the message of kingdom citizenship and seeing the development of the Ekklesia within local communities.
I do a lot of talking about the ‘church as we know it’. If you follow my blogs, books, live teaching and other media, you hear me say that the ‘church’ will not be the same in a few years. It is in transition. But the question must be answered, ‘Where is it transitioning to?
I also speak often about the Greek word ekklesia. Sometimes I share it as though people thoroughly understand what I am talking about. In my excitement to show that Jesus never said He would build a church, I failed to clearly articulate His intentions. Within the framework of His intent is the revelation of where the coming transition is taking us.
It all began with the simple declaration, “upon this rock I will build my ekklesia”. Jesus had other word choices besides ekklesia. He could have said He would build His heiron, which is the Greek word translated as temple. Everybody in Jesus day would have identified with the temple. He could have also declared that He would build His synagogue. Both words would have been acceptable to the religious minds of that day. The temple and the synagogue were centers of Judaic religious activity.
Jesus used a word that had no religious connotations...
Jesus used a word that had no religious connotations – ekklesia. It was known in that day as an arm of the Roman government. He did not say He would build a church. Understanding this gives us a glimpse of where the church is transitioning.
The ekklesia was given specific authority by the government it represented. The Roman ekklesia could legislate, confer or deny citizenship, set policies and elect officials. Likewise, when Jesus declared He would build His version of the ekklesia, a similar authority would accompany it. Rather than representing the Roman government, His ekklesia would represent the Kingdom of Heaven. The authority it had would be a clear threat to the kingdom of darkness (Matthew 16:18-19).
The devil’s tactic to disrupt the Lord’s intent was to change the identity of the ekklesia. When the instructions were given to insert the English word church for ekklesia, the Body of Christ shifted from having an impact in the world, to an audience in a building. The Body of Christ took on a completely different identity. It was never intended to be a church.
...the Holy Spirit is bringing emphasis to the ekklesia the Lord originally proclaimed
Maybe this will give you a glimpse of what the coming transition is intended to produce. Over the past 400 plus years, the Lord has restored many things that had been stripped from His ekklesia. Critical doctrines and the ministry gifts were restored in preparation for this time. Unfortunately, they were restored and encased in a system totally foreign to their original purposes. Today, the Holy Spirit is bringing emphasis to the ekklesia the Lord originally proclaimed. Ekklesia is being restored. Its restoration will bring back the kingdom authority it originally had.
This is the first part of the coming transition. Church will be restored to ekklesia, and there is much more to come. Once we realize our identity, we can move into doing what is expected of it. Binding, loosing and establishing the footprint of the kingdom in the earth will once again become the norm. The gates of hades will not stand a chance against what Jesus said He would build.
If you are like me, you are looking forward to this powerful transition. Jesus is still building His ekklesia, with believers like you. Get ready, there is more to come.
P.S. Watch the latest episoded of 'Good Morning, Ekklesia!' Currently we are doing an indepth study on Ekklesia In The Word.
Transitioning from one thing to another can at times be challenging. When you see something beyond your current place, there becomes and inward drive to reach it. Between you an that destination you may encounter both giants and roadblocks. There is a difference between these two obstacles you must understand.
Roadblocks are inanimate deterrents to your destination. Imagine yourself traveling from one city to another and halfway there you encounter a sign that says the road you are on is closed. This is a roadblock. The sign did not tell you to discontinue your journey. Its presence only indicated that that road you were travelling was no longer available to you. A roadblock is clear indication that you must take another route.
Roadblocks are the loss of a job, an ally leaving you, an unexpected death, or some other trauma. As difficult as they may be, they do not mean the end of your journey. These events alert you to the need to pursue other paths to reach your destination. Simply put, roadblocks don’t stop you, they redirect you.
Giants are the voices that come to discourage and intimidate you. These are often people that accentuate your weaknesses and shortcomings. “You don’t have enough money!” “You don’t have a good education!” “That has never been done before!” “What makes you think you can do this?” “This is more than you can handle!” I am sure you can add your list of such discouragements you may have heard.
Giants cannot stop you. If you allow them, they will discourage or intimidate you to the point that you choose to quit. Giants must be destroyed. Goliath taunted David and tried Him, but David killed him. You too must kill the giants that try to stop you. It may mean separating from some friends. You may have to stop discussing your plans with naysayers. It means you will have to be selective from whom you get advice. You must destroy the voice of the giant.
I believe the church as we know it is in a time of transition. More and more people are awakening to the reality of ekklesia. Undoubtedly both roadblocks and giants will appear as we journey to the place God intended for us. The response to these obstacles will be your choice. I believe you will move forward in the power of the Lord! Follow these three steps:
1. Keep Your Sight In The Word of God It is easy to get distracted and potentially confused. The Word of God is your compass that will keep you moving in the right direction. Yes, you may zig when you intended to zag, but the Word of God will keep you on the right path (Psalms 17:5).
2. Listen To, But Don’t Embrace Your Critics Those who criticize you have no loyalty to your feelings. In their criticisms, they may reveal deficiencies you may need to address. Rather than allowing their negative words to stop you, correct the issues and move forward as a stronger, better you (Psalms 5:8; 27:11).
3. Pray On Your Feet I strongly believe in prayer. Scripture commands us to ‘pray without ceasing’ (1Thessalonians 5:17). To be in constant state of prayer suggests that many times we pray in motion. Even the idea of waiting on the Lord is not to suggest you are dormant. It means we increase our worship as we anticipate His direction (Isaiah 40:31). As you seek to transition, remember the words of the Apostle Paul “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14 KJV). Pressing means you are pushing forward.
Leaving church to become ekklesia can be achieve only as we keep our eyes on Jesus Christ. I believe you are among those who will demonstrate what Jesus meant when He declared “…upon this rock I will build by ekklesia...”. The Ekklesia Center is working diligently to provide you with additional tools to help you navigate this journey.
“How do you unchurch the church? How do you kill religion and tradition and stop it from spreading? How do you unteach the sound of the Hammond organ [that make some believe it is the presence of God]?
This is my paraphrase of a question recently asked on a Facebook post.
As a product of the church, I am very familiar with the ins and outs of its system. I have been a church musician from 10 years old, and I have served in nearly every capacity. Most recently, I have served as the pastor of a traditional church. I know church. I love the many wonderful relationships I have gained and still maintain.
Currently, I am leading the ‘church’ I have served for 28 years into becoming a network of house gatherings. I have experienced first-hand what it means to unchurch the churched. It is actually an attempt to recalibrate the mindset of people. Anybody can leave a sanctuary and meet in a living room. However, if WHAT we do is not infused with WHY we are doing it, then all we have done is change locations with no real purpose. The reality is that you can’t effectively unchurch anyone who still holds to a church mindset.
adherents that they believe they are correct in what they do. They use scripture to support traditions created by man (Mark 7:13). Their experiences are touted as spiritual validation (John 4:20). Emotionalism is confused with the real presence of the Lord. Becoming unchurched begins when you receive the revelation that Jesus is the Christ, Son of the Living God!
The churches that appear to be growing have found a way to put on a bigger and better performance than the other churches in their vicinity. They draw in the crowds with polished praise teams, crisp musicians, dance troops and preaching that appeals to the senses. Their growth is more transfer evangelism than winning new converts. When their appeal wanes, the people go looking for the next spiritual thrill. I would like to offer 3 ways this can change.
1. Pray that believers see the truth
2. Remain steadfast in your resolve
3. Know that you are called
The ministry of The Ekklesia Center is to help guide believers into a firm understanding of what Jesus is building in the earth. Visit our website often to get more insights to help you in your journey.
I recently read a Facebook post where 2Corinthians 6:17 was quoted. “…come out from among them, and be separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” The writers implied that those who have received the ‘revelation’, must separate themselves from those who are still in the institutional church.
The writer further implied that anyone in a traditional church was not only ignorant, but unclean, too. If this post was isolated, there would be no cause for alarm. However, when I saw the many ‘likes’ he received, and the numerous supportive comments that followed, my heart was broken.
Most ‘believers’ I know were saved in a traditional or institutional church. For those few who were not, they often looked for a traditional or institutional church to connect with after receiving Christ. The concept of ‘church’ is deeply engrained in the psyche of most believers.
Some of us have recently been graced by God to see something fresh. We have learned that Jesus never came to build a church, but rather an ekklesia. We have learned that ‘church’ and ekklesia are not the same. We have learned that Jesus intent is to give the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven to an earthly ruling council with the authority to bind and loose on earth, whatever heaven has already bound and loosed. God has given authority His ekklesia to affect every facet of human existence. Unfortunately, everyone does not see this. Most believers only know the ‘church system’ that has been prevalent for nearly 1,700 years.
I have served as a traditional or institutional ‘church pastor’ for nearly twenty-five years. I see and embrace what God is doing in the Body of Christ today. What do I do with those I have served all these years? Do I leave them because my revelation shows me something that is incompatible with the traditional church? Do I ‘come out from among them’ and abandon them because they seem to still like traditional church?
No. I will not abandon them. Many are still trying to comprehend the difference between church and ekklesia. I suspect that there are some reading this blog who still have not comprehended the difference.
I am determinedly working to transition from ‘church’ into ‘ekklesia’. I am weaning myself, and helping to wean those around me from the system we have known all our lives. I am teaching those I have served to gather interdependently from house to house.
What about the many relationships I have gained with other existing traditional pastors? Do I ‘come out from among them’ implying they have allegiance to some evil entity? Have they become ‘unclean’ because God has allowed me to see something different? Will God receive me and reject them? To use 2Corinthians 6:17 to imply some spiritual superiority over other believers is pure spiritual arrogance.
an atmosphere of ‘us versus them – good versus bad, and right versus wrong’. You can never build something new based on being an antithesis to something else. What you build must have focus and purpose and above all revelation. Jesus said that He would build His ekklesia with those who have the revelation that He is the Christ, Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:16-18). We are workers together with Him (1Corinthians 3:9; 2Corinthians 6:1)
Those of us who have been given a glimpse of the Lord’s ekklesia, have been entrusted by Him to bring this truth into the earth. We must seek to be an example of God’s will and way before our brothers and sisters. We need to spark their interest by the way we love them and one another (John 13:35), assemble with each other (Acts 2:21-47), and impact our community (Acts 16:20; 17:6). When they come asking what is going on, it gives us an opportunity to share (1Peter 3:15).
Finally, it is interesting that the admonition to forsake not the assembling is preceded by provoking one another to good works through love (Hebrews 10:24-25). I personally do not believe that I have the right to bash another system if I have not exampled the love, power and purpose emanating from mine.
Gideon’s defeat of the Midianites with 300 soldiers is a familiar story of faith, obedience and the strategic power of the Lord. When the Lord called him, Israel was already outnumbered.
Then the Lord began to whittle down his troops. It is interesting that the first thing God identified that would hamper Gideon was pride. If Israel had defeated the Midianites with the 32,000, God knew they would take the credit for the victory. They would claim that it was by their hand that they had won. So how did God sort these prideful people out?
Gideon was instructed to ask those who were afraid to leave. Twenty-two thousand admitted to their fear and left. Isn’t that interesting? God said that their issue was pride, but fear is what identified it. This reveals to us a truth we need to consider today. It answers why some continually resist ekklesia out of fear of repercussions. It explains why many attach themselves to religious traditions, while feeling that there must be more. It explains why some will deny the truth, even though they have the facts in front of them.
Pride attempts to mask their limited understanding of ekklesia, while fear reveals their unwillingness to venture beyond the status quo. Pride maintains an outward persona of confidence, while fear exposes their anxiety of potentially losing position and status. Pride portrays a ‘we are better than others’ in the church world, while fear grips their hearts with emotional instability.
Israel hated how they were treated by the Midianites. As soon as their crops were harvested, the Midianites came and took their goods. They were deeply impoverished (Judges 6:1-6). Today, many sense they are impoverished in the church system. They are being robbed week after week by sectarian doctrines and religious traditions. They want out, but don’t know where to go. Then along comes ekklesia. It is refreshing. It appears to offer a way to real spiritual growth. But it comes with a price. You must address your fears that have been masked in pride.
As important as ekklesia is to the Body of Christ, imagine the concern of the Father. Potentially too many people are pursuing it. Specifically, many are pursuing it with the wrong motives. They are found in three categories.
God is looking for the 300 who will win the battle. He is calling out those who are not afraid of losing friends. He will use those who aren’t shaken when some label them as a cult. God wants a people who are more interested in divine purpose than they are in positions and titles. The 300 do not fear losing any perceived status for the cause of Christ. The future of ekklesia will be contingent upon a pure cadre of believers who are fully committed to its advance.
Are you among the victorious 300?
Ekklesia is rising. The Ekklesia Center’s three-point plan to establish, develop and release believers can equip and prepare you for what the Lord is doing in the earth today. You can walk in faith. You can walk without fear. You can walk in confidence knowing that what Jesus is building, He is building with believers like you. Blessings.
Learn more about being established, developed and released. CLICK HERE
Ekklesia will be a disrupter. When Christians discover the historical facts surrounding what Jesus actually said, they will have to take a good look at how we have veered so far off course!
In my book, Leaving Church Becoming Ekklesia, and in other writings, I list six types of people and their responses to learning about ekklesia. In this post, I want to somewhat expand on that list to include five reasons why some are rejecting this teaching. These are not theoretical or hypothetical reasons. Each reflects actual beliefs I have encountered since I began sharing and teaching about ekklesia.
Before I outline this list, I want you to know that I am not solely focused on the negative and apprehensive responses I’ve heard. I have encountered many more people who have been liberated and empowered by learning about ekklesia. I simply share this in hopes that some who read it will avoid falling into the subtle traps satan uses to keep us from discovering what God has for us.
Here are the five top reasons people use to reject ekklesia.
My purpose for writing this was to show you there are barriers to understanding what the Lord is doing in this age. You may be able to add to this list. The Ekklesia Center is committed to helping you align with the word of God.
We strive to help you place your religious traditions in their proper place. We help you to accurately interpret the Word of God. We stand with you when you feel you are losing things dear to your heart. We unapologetically will provoke you to learn and discover for yourself. And finally, we help you to discern truth, even when it comes through people who you are not used to hearing.
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We are in exciting new times. Jesus is still building today with believers like you.
PS. For a limited time, you can download a FREE copy of my book, 7 Facts Why Jesus Didn't Say He Would Build A Church CLICK HERE
Believers are expected to build upon apostolic foundations
The church system has not taught the Body of Christ to build – but rather to watch and maintain systems. When it comes to building - most believers have no clue as to where they can begin – as everything they have known has been contained in the church system as we know it.
In today’s Ekklesia Insight – let’s look at the progressive layers of building the ekklesia as revealed in scripture.
First, we MUST begin with Matthew 16:18 where we read Jesus as saying
"… on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)
Jesus first declaration is that HE WOULD BUILD. He is the sole builder of the ekklesia. But we find that there is another layer of building that is through the apostles and prophets
Jesus is the sole builder
For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:18-22)
We see clearly that the impartation from apostles and prophets is critical to every believer. What they provide to us is FOUNDATIONAL. This passage in Peter serves as a segue to the next layer of building.
Notice that Peter said that we are LIVING STONES built up as a spiritual house THAT WE SHOULD BE A HOLY PRIESTHOOD. Remember we are built on the foundation of apostles and prophets and we as living stones and a holy priesthood should be offering up spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God hrough Jesus Christ.
Paul brings this all together. Listen to his words in 1Corinthians 3:10-11. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, AND ANOTHER BUILDS ON IT. BUT LET EACH MAN BE CAREFUL HOW HE BUILDS ON IT. For no one can lay any other foundation than that which has been laid, which is Jesus Christ.
This becomes the final layer in the process of building the ekklesia. After confirming his apostolic and foundational role he made it clear that the purpose of the foundation he builds is for believers to have something build upon. The final layer is what you build.
You determine the quality
of what you build
Make no mistake about it – according to Acts 2:28 IT IS THE LORD’S EKKLESIA that He purchased with His own blood. That is why He is the sole builder of it.
All others, the apostles prophets you and I are layers through which we become laborers together with.
Be a builder. Take heed how you build upon the foundation of Jesus Christ. The Ekklesia Center will come along side you to help.
Before Jesus said what the ekklesia would be given, or what it could do, He declared that it would be necessary to have the revelation of who He is.
Let’s put this in context. Jesus had twelve young men following him. He led them to a place called Caesarea Philippi – a place that was forbidden territory for most Jews in that day. It was a place where dead Caesars were deified. It was where the temple of the goat god Pan where all kinds of debasing sexual activity took place – often in full view. It was where a cave – known as the Gate of Hades had a river flowing through it where both human and animal sacrifices took place. Just being at Caesarea Philippi could stimulate the flesh in so many ways.
It was here that Jesus asked two basic questions. First, who do men say that I am? IN OTHER WORDS, what are people saying about me? The answer they gave reflected the atmosphere and the environment they were in. They spoke of Jeremiah – Elijah – John the Baptist – and other DEAD prophets.
But Jesus then asked them – who did they believe He was? Peter said, “You are the Christ – the Son of the Living God.” HERE IS THE KEY. Jesus made it clear that flesh and blood did not reveal that answer to him. JESUS SAID HE RECEIVED IT FROM THE FATHER IN HEAVEN.
This single revelation is basis for
everything we do in the Kingdom
When you KNOW by revelation that Jesus is the Christ – Son of the Living God – it emboldens and empowers you to live above levels that your flesh and blood will struggle with. Jesus is building His ekklesia based on the revelation of who He is.
His ekklesia will not be built with people who know ABOUT Him – religion can do that. Most denominations have their version of Jesus – but when you personally have a revelation of Jesus as the Christ – Son of the Living God you shift from having head knowledge of Him – to giving all to be like Him.
We read in Philippians 3:10 that Paul’s desire was to know him, and the power of his resurrection. In his letter to the Galatians 1:16 Paul knew that when he was called – it pleased God to reveal His Son to Him.
That’s why he said in 1Corinthians 12:3 THAT NO MAN SPEAKING BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD CALLS JESUS ACCURSED: AND THAT NO MAN CAN SAY THAT JESUS IS THE LORD, BUT BY THE HOLY GHOST. Jesus is building His ekklesia with believers who have a revelation that He is the Christ – Son of the Living God
Once you have that revelation – He will build with you. Are you ready!
The third religious spirit we will address is that of image, specifically the false images ‘church’ leaders portray in public. You would be amazed at the struggle many leaders endure trying to maintain an strong image in front of their congregants. Inside they are hurting, angry, lonely, discouraged and insecure, yet they put on a mask of confidence when they are out in public.
A false image will have a person trying to live an unrealistic life.
The church system has built a structure that often demands that a ‘pastor’ be all things to all people. This is not written a job description, but we assume a ‘loving and caring pastor’ will visit the sick, administrate the resources of their church, resolve conflicts, teach and preach weekly, perform weddings, oversee funerals, all while trying to take care of their own family, pay their own bills, miss events their children are involved in, try and meet the needs of their spouse, and find time to pray, study and relax.
In his book, Unfinished Business: Returning the Ministry to the People of God, Dr. Greg Ogden lists four things we expect from pastors:
- They must be the teacher of doctrinal tradition
- They are expected to be the primary caregiver
- They must publicly be a living symbol of the sacred
- They must preside over rites of passage
Now juxtapose this with the survey by Pastoral Care, Inc. that listed 49 negative factors facing pastors today. Even with some of the slight improvements, it is clear to see there is a problem.
Is ekklesia the answer?
It would be foolish to claim that understanding ekklesia will solve all these problems. But I do believe understanding ekklesia will address three major issues.
- Hierarchy must be eliminated. The ekklesia Jesus is building is constructed from the bottom up. Leaders serve the Body of Christ as they do the work of ministry (Matthew 20:25-27). In the kingdom, Jesus is King. Each of us are spiritually equal but functionally distinct. That leads to the next issue.
- Function will replace title. Ministry gifts are functions that some are gifted to perform. Proof of an apostle is the ability to do an apostolic work. The concept of serving in the ‘office’ of something is hierarchal in nature. In the kingdom, who you are in character and relationship to Jesus Christ, is more important that what you do.
- Shared responsibilities. There are more gifts than just the five-fold ministry (1Corinthians 12:1-12). For the Body of Christ to be effective, we must recognize and honor all gifts and their role in expanding the Kingdom (1Corinthians 12:23). When all parts of the Body fulfill their function, we become a body that is fitly joined together, that will grow into the fulness of the stature of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-16).
I can hear some saying that all this can be done in the ‘church as we know it’. My response is that Jesus declared He would build an ekklesia, not a kyrikos aka church. We are workers together with Him as He builds His ekklesia – not church (1Corinthians 3:9). It is the ‘church system’ that has taken us off course. We owe it to the Lord to make a concerted attempt to try and live out what He intended for us.
Of course, I cannot close this without reminding you that we are created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26). Any other image we embrace leads to emotional and spiritual destruction. Don’t let religious pride draw you into a false image.
As a believer in the Lord’s ekklesia, you don’t have to be anything other than you He created you to be. Learning to serve in your assignment is the most liberating thing that can happen in your life.
About The Author
Tim Kurtz is the Founder of The Ekklesia Center. The purpose of this blog/vlog is to explore subjects that show how the mistranslation of ekklesia to church has impacted the Body of Christ. He has served in ministry over three decades amd is the author of several books. He and his wife Carolyn have been married 46 years and live in SC Michigan.