And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry... (Ephesians 4:11).
How often can you read such a text? Not often enough, I think. We can learn so much that will help us today to build a healthy spiritual community, a church that is truly the Body (the representation) of Christ on earth.
Jesus gave it like this for a reason; let us not take anything away from it and add nothing to it. I sincerely believe it would be very useful to take a closer look at the forms of leadership in our contemporary churches in light of Ephesians 4:11-13. By the way, I think it is easier to start a new church with these verses in mind, than to reorganize an existing one with the dogma's, patterns and systems already in place, but that aside.
The people (whether you are a hairdresser, construction worker or nurse) who are called and assigned to one or more of the five functions, tasks or ministries mentioned must always bear in mind that they do that work as part of a team in order to to equip (prepare, get ready) believers to serve God. The Good News Translation calls it 'works of Christian service'.
When we think about the purpose of the church these verses keep popping up. We do not come together just to come together (although that can be very useful from a spiritual and social point of view) but to be equipped for work in the service of God. In that sense we could see the church as a vocational school. We don't know much when we enroll, we learn and learn and ask questions and do our homework. We are not supposed to stay in grade 5 or 6 for ten years, we are called to grow and graduate!
The equipping must always lead to service. There will come a time when we will put the acquired knowledge into practice, when we will do what we have learned. There comes a time when we are going to share God's love with a world in need, whether that is around the corner or in a distant land. In doing so it is very possible that we are called once more... to equip others!