By Vince McCarty
As a former PK (preacher’s kid) growing up in Open Bible, I have seen just about everything, especially after being in ministry for forty years. I have heard so many sermons on unity, and yet there seems to be so much division in the church among Christians. Could part of the reason be that we are not doing a good job of teaching our members the importance of each of the ministry callings?
The Apostle Paul has given us a particularly important passage of Scripture which I believe we still need to work at fulfilling once we understand what he really is talking about. The passage is Ephesians 4:11-13 (NLT):
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.”
So the Lord has given gifts and callings of ministry, which include the fivefold ministry callings: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. I believe God is still calling people into these five ministries. Yes, I believe there are apostles today and I believe Open Bible has had many apostles, but that is a topic for another day.
The problem is the Church has failed – and I include myself in that group – to fulfill the purpose of Christ’s giving us the fivefold ministry. Paul said the purpose of the five-fold ministry is to “to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” We have a culture in our churches that places the entire load of ministry on the pastor, who represents just one of the five ministries, and we have also failed to disciple God’s people. This may sound surprising, but many churches do not have programs designed to disciple God’s people so that they reach the unity of their faith and knowledge of God’s Son and reach maturity in Christ.
To truly disciple someone means to train, teach, and walk alongside a new believer until they are able to disciple someone else. Our failure to disciple new believers is the reason so many Christians do not know how to defend their faith or share the hope of Christ with someone who believes differently than they do.
It was never God’s intention that the lead pastor of the church do all the work of the church, yet that is the model our Christian culture has created. Some pastors are leaving the ministry because they are burdened with responsibilities they should not have to carry.
During my recent trip to Madagascar last month, which was long but filled with spiritual blessings and divine encounters, I witnessed an appointment of someone with an apostolic ministry, one of the five-fold ministries, that was conducted correctly and in unity. These people followed Paul’s example, demonstrating that an apostle must be humble (1 Corinthians 15:9) and submitted to others (1 Corinthians 16:12). A true apostle does not automatically claim the title apostle for himself or herself.
In 2021 we initiated a new work in Dijon, France, with our field director, Michel Marvane, who leads a network of twenty churches in France. He and his group have also been sending missionaries to and ministering in five French countries of Africa: Togo, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, and Republic of Congo (Brazzaville). Pastor Michel had invited me to join him and his team from France in Madagascar this past month as they met with leaders from these five French-speaking countries for a conference.
During the conference Pastor Michel, his team from France, and the team of leaders from the five French-speaking countries of Africa anointed and prayed over Pastor Bernard Mosa, pastor of a church in Tamatave. The group recognized the calling God has placed on Pastor Mosa’s life as an apostle, publicly showing their support and affirmation. One of the characteristics of apostles is that they are founders of several churches and know how to train others to plant churches. Pastor Bernard Mosa oversees more than fifty churches, many of which he helped plant, and he is one of the humblest men I know. His ministry is recognized by all five leaders of the other African countries and, of course, by Pastor Michel Marvane and his team in France. The unity of all these ministries and leaders had a significant impact in our meetings. The power of God was palpable, and the Holy Spirit fell in that place.
I encourage you to join me. Let’s disciple and train up people for ministry and be open to delegating the responsibilities of church leadership using the fivefold ministry callings. If we do this, we will unleash one of the most powerful times for the Church today as God’s anointing and blessings flow.
About the Author
Vince McCarty is the Executive Director of Global Missions of Open Bible Churches. He and his wife, Lois, served 12 years on the mission field between Spain and Argentina and then Vince served as Administrative Assistant of Global Missions for 12 years. He has served as Executive Director of Global Missions from 2007 to the present. He and Lois have two adult daughters, Jessica and Vanessa.