Purpose of this Session
The New Testament describes specific ministries and functions in the Body of Christ. Our exploration over the next lessons will fall into three sections.
a. The offices (of which only two are mentioned in Scripture)
b. The ascension gift ministries (often referred to as the five-fold ministry)
c. The gifts of grace ministries
These are of course not comprehensive in their scope, but are specifically mentioned as particular areas of ministry and function within the Body of Christ.
Offices within The Body of Christ
Although there are many ministries in the Body of Christ, only two offices are specifically mentioned in Scripture:
1. The office of a servant (deacon)
2. The office of overseer (bishop)
We must be careful not to merely clothe secular leadership paradigms and seek to apply them to the church however. These offices are not official positions, as in a corporation; they are living functions in an organic Body.
Frank Viola in his challenging treatise on church life, “Reimagining church” says:
“The present-day leadership structure (in many churches) is derived from a positional mindset. This mindset casts authority in terms of slots to fill, job descriptions to carry out, titles to sport, and ranks to pull. It resonates with concern over explicit leadership structures. According to the positional mindset, terms like pastor, elder, prophet, bishop, and apostle are titles representing ecclesiastical offices. (an office is a sociological slot that a group defines. It has a reality apart from the character and actions of the person who fills it.)
By contrast, the New Testament notion of leadership is rooted in a functional mindset. It portrays authority in terms of how things work organically. That is, it focuses on the expression of spiritual life.
Leadership in the New Testament places a high premium on the unique gifting, spiritual maturity, and sacrificial service of each member. It lays stress on functions, not offices. It emphasises tasks rather than titles. Its main concern lies in activities like pastor-ing, elder-ing, prophesy-ing, oversee-ing, apostle-ing etc.
To frame it another way, positional thinking is hung up on nouns, while functional thinking stresses verbs.”