Is New Testament Ministry Based On Teamwork?

Why are the members of the body of Christ (the church) given various spiritual gifts if only one member is expected to do all the ministry when the church meets? (“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” –1 Corinthians 12:7)

When you read the New Testament, you notice a plurality in ministry.  Ministry doesn’t usually involve (or focus on) only one man, but on the body — on a team. When Jesus sent His disciples to do ministry, he sent them in pairs.  Even Paul, as prominent as he was in the early church, is often referred to as part of a team: “Paul & Barnabas” or “Paul & Silas.” (Unlike the modern church, you never see the work that God did through Paul referred to as “Paul of Tarsus Ministries.”)

Even church leadership in the New Testament seems to be plural or team based. “Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church.” –Acts 14:23. Notice that they appointed a team of elders in each church, not just an individual elder. And James says: “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them . . .” –James 5:14

Plural leadership:
* Keeps the attention and the power off of an individual man or woman.
* Establishes the concept of teamwork in the church.
* Facilitates hearing from Christ, the Head of the church, as the leadership team seeks to come to agreement and to know and obey Christ’s will in the church.
* Makes Christ the actual Head of the church, not just a figurehead.

The reason for plural leadership is further explained in Ephesians 4:11: “So Christ Himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip His people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” Thus, the role of church leaders (apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers) is to train the people for the work of the ministry.

Therefore, leaders’ ministry is not finished in the church until they raise up other leaders who are as effective (or even more effective) than they are. Apostles (literally means “sent ones”) are not just called to go do ministry, but also to send out other “sent ones” (apostles). Prophets are not just to prophesy but to release other people to prophesy. Evangelists don’t just tell others about Christ, but train other believers to witness about Jesus. Pastors (literally “shepherds”) are not just supposed to care for the sheep, but also to train and release other people to look after the flock. Teachers aren’t just to teach other people information, but also to teach others how to teach and to raise up more teachers for the body of Christ.

team ministry

That’s something that the founding leaders of The Salvation Army understood and implemented.  Leaders were called “officers” and there were usually two of them in each corps (church). Members were called “soldiers” and were all expected to take an active and aggressive role in ministry and in the salvation war.

About Steve Simms

I like to look and think outside the box. In college I encountered Jesus Christ and I have been passionate about trying to get to know Him better ever since. My wife and I co-lead a non-traditional expression of the body of Christ in Nashville based on open participation and Spirit-led sharing. We long to see the power and passion of the first Christ-followers come to life in our time. I have written a book about our experiences called, "Beyond Church: An Invitation To Experience The Lost Word Of The Bible--Ekklesia" that is available in Kindle & paperback @
This entry was posted in 5-fold ministry, apostles, church teams, Ephesians 4:11, evangelists, ministry team, officers, pastors, prophets, Salvation Army, shepherds, soldiers, teachers and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Is New Testament Ministry Based On Teamwork?

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