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“Pastor” comes from the Latin word for shepherd, and is commonly used as a description for the person leading a congregation. You know how many times the term is used in that sense in the Bible?
Once: Ephesians 4:11.
The other ministries Paul lists there – apostles, prophets, evangelists and teachers – are much more described and discussed in the Scriptures. Still, in many churches and denominations today, pastors are much more common than apostles and prophets (and often evangelists as well).
Let’s focus on the ministry of the apostle. The Greek word describes someone who have been send, a clear illustration to Matthew 28:18-20. Looking at the lives of Peter, James, John, Paul and the others we see that their ministry simply is about missions and church planting. It’s a translocal ministry that equip local churches and start new ones so that the Gospel may reach the end of the world.
Catholics and Orthodoxs have tried to replace the ministry of the apostle with church tradition. Protestants have tried to replace it with the Bible. In both cases, apostleship is viewed as something cessational and temporary, a ministry that gave us the foundation of our faith only in order to disappear after that. This is contradicted by the simple facts that:
1. Apostleship is never described in the Scriptures as something that would cease or decline; on the contrary, more and more apostles pop up the further we read the New Testament (Rom 16:7, 2 Cor 8:23).
One of the most amazing books I’ve read is called Voice in the Night by Surprise Sithole. It’s an autobiography where Surprise tells about how the external, audible voice of God saved his life as a young man and called him to go and preach the Gospel in his homeland Mozambique as well as other nations nearby. He healed the sick, raised the dead, fed the poor and planted churches, just as Jesus had told us to do. Later on he became a leader in Iris Ministries.
In the video above Surprise shares a few of the stories that can be found in his book. Not only has he raised eight people from the dead, he has also seen a lot of food miracles. Like many other saints, he combines signs and wonders with poverty reduction. I think he is a wonderful example of a humble and joyful leader with really strong faith and burning compassion. We need to listen more to these guys also in the Western church!