Positions vacant: prophets, priests, kings

Archie Poulos

Many of us have read or heard Mark Driscoll's 18 obstacles to evangelism which we face in Sydney. Mark certainly set a cat amongst the pigeons while he was here with us. I thank him for the insightful diagnosis of our situation, while having some questions about some of the solutions.

One obstacle (his number 12) particularly took my attention. He said churches need prophets, priests and kings, according to 1 Peter 5, where Jesus is chief shepherd, and the leaders are under-shepherds under Him. In Mark Driscoll’s model Prophets do the preaching and teaching, priests look after people (for example, hospital visits), and kings are concerned with systems, policies, procedures, real estate and the like.

While I am wary of ascribing these titles which, when put together belong to the Lord Jesus alone, I am also excited about Mark's comments. It is so easy for us to fall into the 1 Corinthians 12 error of only valuing one type of ministry and seeing all others as insignificant. In using titles such as these Mark gives value to the variety of ministries that exist in our churches.

The other important contribution of his observation is that it implies that no person is prophet and priest and king, or preacher, carer and administrator. In Sydney we often expect our paid staff to be all three. We are in very great danger of absorbing the world's way of thinking that assumes we pay people to do things for us. Consequently in our smaller ministries we develop the expectation that the minister must do all things.

The key implication is the necessary and Biblical assumption that the church is a body, and all members of the body must be engaged in the work of the body. Every part of the body is required to do its ministry for the church to be what it should be.

There are a few more things that I would like to add to Mark's comments though:

1. Why are the three categories of prophet, priest and kings the categories of leadership? Leadership is exercised by appropriate service, so why stop at prophet, priest and king? The New Testament has far more extensive lists of those serve.

2. There are some forms of service that are greater gifts. These are the word gifts of teaching the truth of God's revelation, and we must remember that.

3. The word gifts can and should be employed by everyone who serves. In administering, you relate to people. Relationships require words - words that seasoned with salt because they extol the saviour.

4. Ministers may not be the only people to fulfil these roles. Mark observes that Sydney is filled with priests and there's a deficit of prophets and king. It seems to me that our clergy see themselves as prophets, and our congregations want them to be priests and kings. We need to keep working together to best utilise the gifts God has given us.

Let's get about all being active in our churches, in whatever ways we have the ability the serve helpfully.