We do not all embrace clerical garb or even titles. My denomination dispensed with clerical clothing some decades ago. Although given the title Rev, I have it because it suits the 'Church' and the world, but I do not revel in it!
For those denominations that do have ordained ministers, there is a biblical basis for their 'setting apart', of those who are gifted to preach/teach/lead/serve the congregation, especially in their 'setting apart' they (the minister) gives up the right to work at any other profession etc, and are given a stipend to live on.
There is much made about the abuse of gifts concening those who are in ministry/leadership, but when you scratch the surface a little deeper in most, if not all churches, you will soon discover abuse and misuse of gifts is common amongst God's people, more than some are prepared to admit!!
It is easier to disguise these abuses and misuses if you are hiding in the pews, or worst still, born again but not attending church anywhere! (For example, how many Christians in any given church setting actually use their gifts, and how many are pew warmers?).
There are many hardworking indiviuals, humbly servng God and His people, who are simply 'getting on' with what they are called to.
As I have stated before, if a small church only has one teaching elder, and he happens to be the paid minister, then why not accept that the Lord of the Church has it all in hand, and that the minister in question will be adequately supported in terms of godly leadership? If it ain't broken, leave it alone!!
Sorry Peter, I strongly disagree with you The church of Christ is not disfunctional. Many of those who profess to belong to it may well be disfunctional but the true church is functioning more powerfully, testimonially and most important worshipfully than at any time in its history. Our blinkered view of it from the bunkers of the western world can be very restricted and even, sadly, distorted. Martyrdom in the faith and service of Jesus Christ is at an all-time high. Conversion to the Christian faith is proceeding with an acceleration in many parts of the world, faster than ever before. The attacks of Satan, in their scale and diversity are more frantic than Christians have ever experienced previously. I was watching an online video of a church service in Malawi a short time ago. It was held in a marquee which was packed. Some of the worshippers had walked twenty miles to attend and the heavenly joy in the service could not be denied. Lethargy, unbelief, inaction and apathy might well mark much of the professing church in Scotland, the U.K. and indeed the prosperous western world but in huge areas of humanity where allegiance to Christ comes with real sacrifice there is another story to tell.
Peter, my last post was in reply to tour previous one. Regarding my remarks about clerical garb etc., I did not intend to refer to you nor were you in mind. Being set apart for a particular service, having received the call of God is one thing, and I do not question it. However, and you may or may not agree with this, but I feel it cannot be denied, in many churches today there is a commonly held view that the minister is some kind of holy man, superior in the Christian faith, nearer to God and somehow or other a person through whom the ordinary church member must go through in any spiritual exercise or matter. I do not think for one moment that you would identify with or subscribe to this in any shape or form, but the fact that such an attitude is fairly widespread, cannot, I think be denied. As to a local church only having one teaching elder, I believe that is not uncommon, but surely a higher standard of spiritual leadership should be the desire and should indeed be striven after.
We must distinguish between the world's opinion of the church and perception of what it is, and God's view of it. We can quantify the former from the media. We can only understand and appreciate the latter from God's word. The world looks on and sees a corrupt, failing organisation because of widespread unfaithfulness. God looks upon it as the one pearl of great price for whom Christ, the merchant of Matt.13:45 sold all that He had in order to possess it. it is heavenly in origin, character and destiny. The gates of Hell will not prevail against it. (Matt.16:18)
Let us bring some clarity to the debate. I believe it was Augustine (one of the early church fathers) who first talked about 'the church visible' and the 'church invisible'. God sees both, we only see the former, but get a hint of the latter through our reading of Holy Scripture.
I think that we are agreed that the church (as we see it) is far from perfect, hence the elephants in the room that this topic is based on!
Each of us (3) are mature Christians with experience of the church visible, certainly from the viewpoint of the UK. Each of us also know (I assume) that the reason that the church(es) struggle is because of a lack of biblical application and discipline, either/and from the pulpit and pews.
If, IMO, there is no desire to be biblical from either/and these two areas, then that will lead to a degree of dysfunction within the visible church.
It is a key duty of those in leadership, particularly bible teaching ministry to continue to teach and apply, whilst encouraging others also to apply God's Word.
That will inevitably cause tensions etc, when there are different people at different levels of spiritual maturity either applying or not applying God's Word.
The net result of this will be topics like this on forums like this, where we get to vent our frustrations, concerns and anxieties about the church visible.
As for the world and its view of the church, well sadly because the church is full of sinners, and actually the best place for sinners, we will all at various times fall short of the standards set in the NT. (Particularly because we have a hidden enemy who causes us no end of strife).
But the elephants cannot be ignored, and must always be dealt with biblically, both in our wn lives and in the life of the church visible.