When a young guy expresses that he wants to go into ministry, it’s usually assumed that he’s gunning for a pulpit ministry. He’s told that he’ll need to buckle down for a lengthy term at seminary and a hefty bill to pay the price. On the day he graduates, he somehow doesn’t feel any more qualified to minister to people than when he went in. He’s had his nose buried in texts, but like Spurgeon once said, “He’s at home among the books, but at sea when it comes to men”.
Many seminary grads who once dreamed of “tearing it up” for Jesus come to the realization that at the end of their seminary term they have no idea how to do what Paul did in the book of Acts. They can alliterate points, protect christian orthodoxy, yet they are unable to do the most important thing that Paul did…plant a church.
Paul was not a Pastor. Sure, he did pastoral things, but Paul was a front-line churchplanting missionary. The New Testament model of ministry is about EXPANDING outwards, wherein most of our churches today are about building upwards…getting a bigger widescreen; a better website; a larger parking lot; more comfortable sanctuary seats…and don’t forget multiple services!
So if Paul wasn’t a Pastor, what exactly was he? The greek term apostolos means “sent one” or missionary. In other words, he was a man on the move. Like a ninja, Paul would sneak into dark areas, strike with the gospel katana, raise up trainees, take his bow, and then sneak back off into the night. With deadly efficiency, Paul would complete his objective, nail his target, and “whoosh!”, he was gone. On to the next one! The glass slipper of a mega church would never have fit the apostles travel worn soles. Paul would rather plant churches “where Christ has not been named” than to stay in on spot.
Don’t get me wrong. There are mega churches in the New Testament; Jerusalem and Antioch among them, which God used to send out missionaries throughout Judea, Asia Minor, and beyond. Simply put, they were sending agencies. In contrast to Paul, the apostle James was a “sending apostle”. He stayed put and deployed others to strike out into the darkness. When New Breed first started up, Dai Hankey and I were convinced that we were both “ninja apostles” and that we’d always be on the move like Ronin. Nonetheless, Dai stopped “walking da’earth like Kane from da Kung Fu” and began training up multiple ninjas from his church planting headquarters.
The difference between Dai and a Pastor is that Dai’s focus is on raising up others who will duplicate what he’s done in order to rapidly facilitate a vast number of church plants. This is in contrast to a Pastor who simply buys better toys for his congregations and puts more butts in the pew. I’ve been thinking that we need more ninja‘s in the Kingdom of God…at least that’s what I think most guys going into seminary hoped they’d be when they got out. And I’m pretty sure that if we focused on training ninjas instead of pastors, things would start to look a whole lot more like the book of Acts.