Are they needed today?
Who should do the ministry in the church?
The ministry in the church is not just to be done by just one person - but by all of the believers in the church.
The early Christians had plenty of problems, but the one-pastor- centred church wasn't one of them. Teams of pastors called "elders" led their churches, and the burden of God's work was spread to all the believers not just to the pastor-elders.
As we shall see from Scripture all believers - men, women and children - are priests. All believers have distinctive spiritual gifts, and are responsible to exercise those gifts.
There is no "laity" in the New Testament church - we are all clergy or priests!
Scripture requires no special “ordination” of priests or ministers. There is no "one man ministry" in Scripture. We are all to minister in accordance with the gifts the Lord has given us.
There is to be open worship and open ministry.
There is to be no “spectator Christianity” in the New Testament church.
There are to be no armchair Christians.
The New Testament teaches that every believer is a priest ordained by God. The church is composed of believer-priests. This teaching is called "the priesthood of all believers".
1 Pet 2:5 - you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
1 Pet 2:9 - But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people.
Rev 1:6 ... has made us kings and priests to His God and Father.
Unlike the Old Testament priests, all believer-priests have the right of direct access to God. (Hebrews 10:19-25)
Because we are all priests, we don't need to have a special humanly ordained priest or clergyman between us and God, neither do we need to have the virgin Mary between us and God: (1 Tim 2:5) For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.
Question: If all believers are priests, who is the High Priest?
Answer: Jesus is our High Priest:
Heb 4:14, 15 - Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathise with our weaknesses.
Question: What are our priestly responsibilities?
Answer: We have responsibilities in the areas of worship and ministry.
These responsibilities include the exercise of all of the spiritual gifts that are used to build up the church:
Rom 12:4-8 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry (serving), let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
There are other lists of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4:11, 1 Peter 4.
Open Worship and Open Ministry
Because every believer is a priest - and every believer is to be involved in the priestly roles of worship and ministry - it follows that there is to be open worship and open ministry in the New Testament church.
When we talk about open ministry, we don't just mean the teaching ministry - we mean exercising all the different gifts of the Holy Spirit given to each believer-priest.
Every believer-priest, man, woman, and child, is given one or more spiritual gifts to use.
We should remember that although leading the gathered church in worship is a very important priestly duty - it is actually only one of the duties carried out by the New Testament priest. Scripture limits this role to the male priests, but there are many other priestly duties that can be performed by all of the priests.
In many assemblies or churches women perform most of the priestly duties. This is sometimes because there are more programmes in the assembly for women than there are for men. It may also be because the women are more committed to the work of the assembly than the men.
The freedom that believing men have to lead the gathered church in open worship doesn't mean that they can do any-thing they want in the meeting.
As Dr Rendle Short said a long time ago:
The open meeting is not a meeting that is open to man. It is a meeting that is open to the Holy Spirit. There are those who should not speak. Sometimes they have to be stopped by those God has put in charge of the assembly.
There is a need for Spiritual Preparation before the Open Meeting.
There's nothing that kills open worship quicker than when we, the priests, don't spend time alone with God and His Word during the week.
Our prayers will be cold and formal. Our hearts will be empty. The priests will have nothing to share at the meeting!