7 Minute Read
Over the past weeks, there have been many articles announcing the death of pastors who have died from the coronavirus. One denomination has been hit very hard with several of their bishops dying. From the articles I have read, this has impacted several denominational streams. Catholic, Pentecostal, Baptist, Nondenominational, Charismatic, have suffered losses of ministry leaders. No group can claim its doctrinal stance protected them more than some other group.
Is there something we need to understand? Is God saying something that we refuse to hear? My own thoughts on this run the gambit. I have learned however, that my opinions mean nothing outside of the Word of God. Therefore, I want to approach this delicate matter from what I can glean from scripture.
A pastor’s death is newsworthy. It makes good headlines in a secular society when a prominent pastor dies. But let us put this in perspective.
There have been over 56,000 deaths attributed to the coronavirus as of this writing. Pastors, ministers and Bishops are only one segment of the total. I would suggest they represent much less than one percent of the total deaths. There have also been doctors, nurses, policemen, schoolteachers, postal workers, military personnel, and other such categories that have suffered their share of COVID-19 related deaths. Singling out ‘clergy’ simply makes for good headlines.
At the same time, as believers, the death of a ministry leader hits home. It strikes at the soul of religious hierarchy. Suddenly our iconic view of them becomes distorted in an unspoken way. . Something in our hierarchal pecking order makes this feel out of place.
I am reminded of Isaiah who saw the Lord after Uzziah died (Isaiah 6:1). Please, please, please don’t think that I am suggesting that ministers who have died were willfully drawing people after themselves. In fact, the opposite is true. Most of these ‘clergy’ leaders would point their congregation to Jesus Christ.
My point is that the church system as we know it has elevated the role of ‘clergy’ to the point that people subconsciously see their pastor as invincible. Thus, when a pastor dies, people suffer a dual loss. First, there is the loss of the leader. Second, there is the loss of emotional contact. Not only is the leader gone, but also the ability to lean on them for ‘spiritual’ support.
Is COVID-19 killing ‘clergy’?
The reality is that this has taken the lives of some ministry leaders. I am saddened like everyone else about this. Yet, the question to be answered is whether COVID-19 is killing ‘clergy’ – not Bishops, pastors or ministry leaders. Confused? Let me explain.
In Chapter three of my book, Leaving Church Becoming Ekklesia, I outlined five necessary transitions that will impact ‘church as we know it’. This chapter I titled Necessary Transitions, dealt with the coming changes to the infrastructure of the ‘church’ system. In chapter five, I presented six characteristics of a major transition. I wrote that this was written so that you don’t have to be blindsided by the coming changes.
What is changing, and what are we transitioning to? I believe we are entering the early stages of ‘the day of the saints’. There is a coming shift when God will raise up ordinary believers to impact the earth from the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 6:10; 16:18-19). Remember, the ministry gifts in Ephesians 4 were given to equip the saints for the work of ministry. When you read all of Isaiah 61, the passage Jesus read in the synagogue (Luke 4:18-19), it declares a people called ‘trees of righteousness’. More importantly, they are empowered to build, raise up and repair (Isaiah 61:3-4).
This transition has a direct impact on what we have called ‘clergy’. The church as we know it today has two classes of people, the clergy and the laity. Greg Ogden wrote in his book, Unfinished Business:
Like ekklesia was mistranslated as church, by the 12th century, the ‘clergy’ became a word erroneously used to denote a class of people who were more spiritually astute than the so-called laity. Today we refer to Bishops, pastors and ministry leaders as clergy.
However, a study of the Greek word that clergy was supposedly translated from, reveals a different story. Kleros in Greek never implied a distinction between an upper and lower class in the kingdom. Kleros conveys the full inclusion of the Gentiles as equal partners in the benefits of the gospel. Kleros refers to the inheritance in all the saints (Acts 26:18; Colossians 1:12; 1Peter 5:1-3).
COVID-19 has shaken the ‘church system’. More and more believers are waking up to the reality that God has design and purpose for them. The concept of ‘clergy’ has begun to slip. The hierarchal system that sustains the contemporary clergy concept has suffered a powerful blow. As the Lord’s ekklesia rises, leadership will become aligned with divine patterns. As the Lord’s ekklesia rises in the earth, clergy will shift from being a spiritual upper class to kleros, which is a body of believers who have inherited the benefits of the Kingdom of Heaven. Are you ready for this transition?
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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.