I have noticed an interesting phenomenon taking place in the Church. We like titles. Using a descriptor like “pastor” is comfortable for most people. Even “teacher” and in some cases “evangelist”, if you are a bit more evangelical. When words like apostle or prophet are used to describe a person’s calling eyes will begin to roll and so do the subtle remarks about the danger of pride and self-promotion that might be associated with those functions. Apostles and prophets are not the only people who experience the temptation of pride and self-promotion. In our pastor-driven American church culture, I have seen plenty of pride and self-promotion in lots of pastors – including me.
In circles of fellowship where education is valued the initials of a person’s educational accomplishments will either precede their name as in “Dr. so-and-so” or follow them with the designations of M.A, M.S or any variety of alphabet soup. Education is valuable and wise, but it does not require God to achieve these designations – just hard work and dedication. If you don’t think so, attend a graduation ceremony from an institute of higher learning. Not everyone walking in cap and gown follows Jesus. They were just good students.
If the Church is going to express the kind of maturity Paul described in Ephesians 4 that will only come from sitting under the influence of the equipping gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher, perhaps we need to ask our selves a question. Why are so nervous about certain titles/functions or give more credence to an educational achievement than we do to a gift given by Jesus to equip and mature the Church.
Maybe we are not as mature as we first imagined.