As believers from different camps continue to work together as never before, I find it helpful to use the following analogy whenever misunderstandings do arise. Sometimes we divide over our lack of understanding about how the Lord gifted us and our ministry houses. The Lord gave to the Church those with apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, pastoral and teaching graces to bring the Body of Christ to health and maturity. We humans can be down on what we are not up on. In my book “Working Together for Jesus” I use the analogy of a hospital to help believers see Christ’s Kingdom in operation in their town. Just as in the natural realm we can see that each of the different ministries is necessary to heal the lost and hurting of our world. Follow me as we spend a day at Jesus Christ Regional Hospital in your local city.
General Practitioners – Pastors
Surrounding Jesus Christ Regional we see dozens of doctors’ offices and clinics (churches) where they attend to their patients day in and day out. From infants to the elderly, these general practitioners (pastors) see everything under the sun. They are the true backbone of God’s health care system. They know every part of human anatomy and treat their patients with love and great concern year in and year out. They inspect their patients from head to toe looking for any sign of sickness. These G.P.’s are usually over-worked as they attempt to care for all their patients in their congregations. “How do you feel? How are you doing? Where does it hurt? It’s going to be alright. I want to see you in two weeks” are common statements heard in these doctor/pastor offices. These shepherds gladly embrace the responsibility of every individual’s well-being in the Body.
Paramedics – Evangelists
Suddenly we hear the sound of sirens and air horns. We see flashing lights of an ambulance (sounds like a typical evangelistic service) and a rescue squad as they leave the hospital to another tragedy. These paramedics (evangelists) rush to the scene with great boldness and energy. In dramatic fashion they arrive at the accident scene with a sense of urgency with their “Jaws of Life” to pry open the awful wreckage caused by the devil. These aggressive ministers move quickly to the hurting, often risking their own lives as they enter the fiery accident or collapsing building (the devastated situations people get themselves into).
They can appear to be rough and abrasive as they tear off the clothes of the injured and insert tubes and wires into them. They often beat on their patient’s chest, blow in their mouths and sometimes cut off limbs in an effort to remove them from the wreckage or bring them back to life. Their eyes scour the scene (the congregation or crowd) looking for any signs of other victims who need their help.
An ignorant bystander might think these insensitive rescue workers are doing more harm than good and cry out, “Hey, what are you doing?” Their quick, assertive response sounds almost threatening as they shout back, “I’m trying to save their lives!”
You know you are near one of these ministers because you hear phrases like deliverance, set free, power of God, healing, anointing, breaking strongholds. Everything at the accident scene (the evangelist’s meeting) seems like a life or death situation needing dramatic action. This is nothing like the pastor’s office. Crowds of people are quickly attracted to the action as they drop everything to see what’s happening at the scene (the revival service).
The general practitioner (pastors) rarely sees this kind of excitement and activity in their office (local church) but appreciate (or they should) the paramedic’s function. With lights flashing and sirens screaming (sound systems blaring) they rush to the hospital with great drama. They go from one dramatic event to another. They blow in, blow up and blow out of town as quickly as they came.
Medical School – Teachers
Meanwhile, students from the Medical School which is attached to the East Wing of the hospital are observing procedures in the Emergency Room. As the ambulance arrives and victims are carried into the hospital (the local church), the paramedics (evangelists) appear to dominate the atmosphere of the E.R. The visiting professors (teachers) with their new students offer insights as they critique the rescue workers’ procedures. These teachers are needed to introduce new or corrective techniques into the ministry to help save lives. Their research has also revealed the strengths and weaknesses of certain ministry styles and philosophies. They are alert to the theological ramifications that the rest of the ministers often overlook. Their work has revealed the harmful effects of certain medicines and procedures that need to be heeded. But sometimes their classrooms are so far removed from the reality of the sights, sounds and smells of the real world, their advice can fall on deaf ears which is regrettable for all, especially if you’re the patient.
Surgeons – Prophets
Further in the hospital complex we see a surgeon (prophet) entering the O.R. for a specialized surgery on a difficult case. Sometimes considered aloof or even elitist, these spiritual surgeons rarely deal with the mundane, day to day work of caring for people. They are not usually seen as a team player (though they should be). Their work is specialized. Once given the signed consent from the patient they perform delicate, critical invasive procedures with great skill. Let’s face it; most of us don’t want to find ourselves truly needing their ministry. It is usually after trying everything else and experiencing great personal suffering that we go to the prophet to hear the penetrating word of the Lord.
For many believers, their walk has been superficial and full of denial about their sinful habits or compromise; if given permission the surgeon can remove that cancerous denial or idol and save your spiritual life. This kind of ministry requires a sterile environment. Thus atmosphere (worship) plays a big part in the success of their ministry. They work under extremely bright lights and want everything exposed to the light. They are gifted to see and understand a person’s insides (MRI) to get to the root of the problem. They also have unparalleled insight and knowledge (discernment) of the latest techniques to fight disease (the devil) and the inner workings of the human body (heart & soul) as it relates to a holy God.
Many times they use unorthodox and never before seen measures to save a life. Sometimes it may take years before the rest of God’s health care community (the Body of Christ) will ratify and accept these new procedures. Some of these ministers appear almost other-worldly in their demeanor. As super-spiritual as some of these specialists (prophets) may appear to be, if you needed spiritual brain surgery this is the ministry gift to do it.
We need to be grateful to the Lord that these prophets have separated themselves for their life’s work. We need to thank God for the function they serve. Your life, or the life of someone you love, may depend on them some day.
Don’t You Wish More Christians Would Understand This?
As you can see, at Jesus Christ Regional Hospital every ministry gift serves a vital role to the well-being of the people. Each gift could be jealous or critical of the other, but if we focus on the hurting it becomes clear, that we need each other. If you were the one hurting and you were being cared for by these four spiritual professionals, wouldn’t you want them to communicate with each other concerning your personal spiritual chart?
Why haven’t we been working together better? What can we do to fix the dysfunction in the Church? What about those with an apostolic grace? I’ve been hoping you were going to ask that. In the next few pages we will discuss that missing element in the Church today.
Don’t you think more people would reach maturity if these professionals worked together? Ministry leaders need to recognize that every Christian needs to be touched by all the Lord’s health professionals if they are going to be whole. Let’s work together so the Church can truly be an effective hospital to the world. “Here’s a good place for someone to say Amen.”
Excerpt from “Working Together For Jesus”