Generational Transference in the Bible: Implications for Today’s North American Church (Part 5)

Generational Transference Passing
(Continued from previous post…)

Fourth, the central task of local church leadership is discipleship and equipping.  God raises leaders in order to equip others for the work of his ministry.  “While pastors do many things,” Snyder expresses, “the overriding task that gives pattern and focus to everything else is the equipping of the whole community for effective mission.”[1]  Everything a leader does in the context of community should be filtered through the lens of the purpose of Ephesians 4:11-12.  Such a focus demolishes the model many churches have inherited which creates segmentation between clergy and laity. 1 Peter and Revelations endorse the priesthood of all believers as foundational to the interconnectedness of individuals towards the pursuit of mission. [2]  1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 

The biblical concept is that everyone is called to minister and serve in the missional identity of the church according to the way God has gifted them.  The role of pastors, for instance, is to enable individuals within the context of community to accomplish the task God has specifically given them.  Embedded in the framework of every-member ministry is a functional-mindset of ministry leadership over that of a positional-mindset.  While terms like pastor, elder, prophet, bishop, etc, can be viewed as titles representing ecclesial offices, Ephesians 4 encourages the view that these are descriptive terms expressing how certain people are to function within the body of the Christ’s church.  The role of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers in Ephesians 4:11-12, is “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”  As Frank Viola has suggested, the New Testament roles of the church give the notion of leadership as resting upon functionality more than positional understandings.[3]

R. Paul Stevens and Phil Collins have stated “that the stagnation of the laity is caused mainly be the frustrating power of church system that keeps the laity marginalized and prevents the pastor from doing the most important work” of equipping the laity for the work of ministry.[4]  Equipping others becomes grounded in relationship, spiritual character and mission, just as Jesus modeled, rather than upon programmatic ministry traditions.[5]

Ephesians 4:11-12 establishes the functionality of church leaders in terms of “preparing” or “equipping” others for the sake of the missional identity of the church.  “Equipping” as a word is derived from Paul’s use katartismon, which means to “make fully ready.”[6]  So according to Paul, the role of church leadership is to make the people of the church fully ready for the praxis of serving God and others so that the church will fully function according to its identity and mission.

Wilkes describes the koine derivation of katartismon as being from two different contexts: 1) the medical practice and 2) the fishing industry.[7]  In the medical field, the koine definition of katartismon implied the setting of a broken bone in order “to prepare it for healing.”  In the context of fishing, the koine definition referred to the process of fisherman who worked to “equip” their nets at the end of their casting sessions so that the nets would be prepared for service during the next phase of fishing.  Both of these contexts, according to Wilkes, “provide leaders with images of their job.  To equip the church is to prepare its members to perform their part of the mission.  If the church were a net, the leader’s job would be to prepare that net” in order to enable the church to “fish for men.”[8]  And with the metaphor of the church as a body, the leader’s responsibility is to “set the fractured parts of the body so they can heal and eventually function” alongside the other parts of the body as a whole.[9]


[1] Snyder, 91

[2] 1 Peter 2:5, 9; Revelations 1:6; 5:10; 20:6

[3] Viola, Frank, Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook Publishers, 2008), 154

[4] Stevens, xiii

[5] Stevens, 37

[6] Zodhiates, Spiros, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: 1992), 843

[7] Wilkes, 186

[8] Matthew 4:19

[9] Wilkes, 186

Ken Castor

Ken Castor is a husband, dad, pastor, writer and teacher. He serves as a professor at Crown College, Minnesota, where he equips students to pursue Jesus-Centered Faith and Next Generation Ministry. For 20+ years he's focused on equipping the next generations in places like the U.S., Canada, and Northern Ireland. He's the author of Grow Down (Simply Youth Ministry, 2014), Make a Difference (Broadstreet, 2016), the Blue-Letters Editor of the Jesus-Centered Bible (Group, 2015) and numerous other articles and Bible Study guides. But, whenever possible, he gets down on the floor and builds Lego with his kids. Connect with him @kencastor.

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