Our Drift from Apostolic to Pastoral Ministry
Because we changed both the name and meaning of our Lord’s words in Matthew 16:18, our churches have ceased being apostolic and have become largely pastoral. Our primary concern shifted from spreading the gospel and reaching cities to pastoral care.
We measure “church ministry” success largely by attendance and not influence. Pastors and church leaders feel compelled to keep the church plates spinning to fulfill what’s been determined as a successful ministry. This drives pastors and leaders to the brink of godless competition, joyless exhaustion, and career-ending depression.
Jesus never commissioned us to sit within the walls of buildings and “do” church but to engage with culture as the Ekklesia. The Ekklesia was created to take the revelation of Jesus Christ through the Gates of Hades and into the darkest places on Earth.
The Temple, the Synagogue, and the Ekklesia
In the days of Jesus, there were three main institutions in Israel: the temple, the synagogue, and the Ekklesia. Now, most are familiar with the temple and the synagogue but know very little about the Ekklesia. The temple and the synagogue were religious institutions organized to worship and instruct God’s people.
The Ekklesia was not religious but governmental. It was first developed by the Greeks hundreds of years before Christ and expanded by the Romans when they took power. Every city had an Ekklesia.
The Ekklesia had expansive authority in determining the affairs of cities and territories. It functioned as the legal ruling assembly of a city, meeting 40-50 times a year to lead and govern. Ekklesias were regularly summoned to actively participate in legislation, declare war, make peace, negotiate treaties, make alliances, elect officials, and more.
In legal co-operation with the Senate, the Ekklesia had the final decisions in all matters affecting the supreme interests of the state, as war, peace, alliances, treaties, the regulation of army and navy, finances, loans, tributes, duties, prohibition of exports or imports, the introduction of new religious rites and festivals, the awarding of honors and rewards, and the conferring of the citizenship. 1
In other words, the secular Ekklesia had expansive authority in determining the affairs of their cities and territories. To adequately manage these affairs, the ruling council typically met three to four times a month. 2
Since every Ekklesia governs through Roman rule, its role is to activate and enforce Roman customs and laws ensuring each city looked and acted like Rome itself. Ekklesia’s colonized regions. They were the local ruling expression of Rome, apostolic in nature.
It’s no coincidence that Jesus released the name and function of His divine agency, the Ekklesia, at the Gates of Hades.
He said in Matt. 16:18, “I will build MY Ekklesia.”
What does this mean? Jesus chose the Ekklesia to be and function as His spiritual government, legislating heaven on earth.
The will of our King is to access every dark, demonic gate, freeing people from the kingdom of darkness and ushering them into the kingdom of light.
The Bible says that when Jesus died, He first went through the Gates of Hades himself and plundered it, leaving it powerless. He took the keys of Hades and death gave it to His Ekklesia (Revelation 1:18; Ephesians 4:9-10; Colossians 2:15; Matthew 6:19).
This means the church (Christ’s Ekklesia) has the keys, and the devil does not. The Ekklesia is commissioned to use the keys to access locked gates and reclaim that which is lost (Luke 19:10) again, legislating heaven to earth.
In the next post, I will explore in greater detail what Christ’s Ekklesia is called to do. Let’s just say, for now, that Jesus is passionate about the Ekklesia and has zeal for what He is building. More to come!
1 A Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, Mythology, Religion, Literature and Art By Oskar Seyffer; pg. 203
2 Ekklesia Rising: The Authority of Christ in Communities of Contending Prayer by Dean Briggs pg. 111