'The five are called together for a common task ...' I wrote in my previous blog entry. I was referring to the apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers as mentioned in Ephesians 4: 11-13. People who are appointed or given by Jesus for a certain task.
For the sake of clarity, let's go back to that text again:
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service (NIV translation). What is their job? Equiping believers for work in God's service. The Good News translation states: He did this to prepare all God's people for the work of Christian service...
That is quite a responsibility. Together (as a team) they must equip (prepare, get ready, arm) the believers to be of service to God. There is no one who can do this on his or her own. Nowadays I see shepherds (also called pastors, reverends, priests) struggle to do this all alone. It is, in my opinion, no wonder that many end up on the couch with a burn-out. Only Jesus himself was shepherd, as well as teacher (rabbi), apostle, evangelist and prophet!
It has never been His intention to put all those qualities in one person! He desires cooperation in a team so that we can keep each other accountable and no one will get the chance to rise above the other. There is no hierarchy in these five functions / tasks. If such a thing exists, we must base it on 1 Corinthians 12:28 where it says: And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers...The shepherd and evangelist are not even mentioned here.
I truly believe we are missing something in our spiritual growth and development if we are being equipped by just one (perhaps two) of these people. Suppose you only listen to a teacher (preacher) and never learn from an apostle what it is like to be sent out and travel and plant churches. You could just end up sitting in a pew for thirty years (with a lot of knowledge, yes) without ever going into the world ....
Now, that is unthinkable, right ...?