J. Lee Grady's article, "Stuck on Titles?" (January/February), was most appropriate and very timely. I am a 74-year-old minister who retired 11 years ago from my 32-year pastorate in San Jose, California. Since then, I have been in an active traveling ministry both here and abroad, and have become quite concerned about excessive focus on titles and bizarre prophetic behavior. The present emphasis in Ministries Today on the fivefold ministries should be very helpful to the church at large. You are to be commended for tackling it.
Ernest B. Gentile
San Jose, California
Ted Haggard ("Building the Body," January/February) spends a great amount of time describing the apostle, prophet, pastor and teacher. But it appears to me that he is rather dismissive of the place and ministry of the evangelist. While it is true that mass evangelism is not relevant in America the way it was 50 years ago, the evangelist is still important. The evangelist's role in the Western church is changing and he/she needs to be more engaged in the life of the local church than ever before. Yes, there have been problems with evangelists (and so have there been with pastors) in the past. Does that mean we throw the baby out with the bath water? As America becomes increasingly pagan, we need more than ever the ministry gifting of those who are called to become evangelists.
Who's in Charge?
Contrary to Ted Haggard's suggestions, the senior pastor is not the spiritual authority of the ministry of the local church. According to God's order, which is set forth in 1 Corinthians 12:28, there are only three anointings that have that authority: the apostle, the prophet and the teacher. In Ephesians 4:11 we find the listing of the fivefold gifts, but in 1 Corinthians 12:28 we find the order.
Servant's Heart Ministries
I am a native of Ireland now living and ministering in the United States. Many of the ministers I have met talk about the importance of having a "covering." Since I have come to the United States, I have worked with and in several different denominational groups. I found that the principle of accountability within such a structure, even though well-intended, hardly ever materialized. There was, among all these different organizations, a standard of ethics, but there was no way of holding people accountable to those standards. Since planting the Church in the Word, I have begun to fellowship with a local group of ministers who raise the discussion of ethics in ministry often. This keeps the issue in the forefront and gives us a reminder of its importance. But the most effective form of accountability I have is my council. This is a group of people from my congregation that meets regularly. They have access to all the financial records and are responsible for setting salaries, etc. These men help me stay in line. They know what the expectation is and hold me accountable. In the past, when we needed some guidelines on issues such as salaries for staff, we have gone to other ministers with which our local church fellowships. But on the level of accountability, the council has the Bible and our church constitution as guides. If an organization such as ICEA could enhance the cause for accountability, I am all for it. I just wonder how it could stay clear of the trap that so many denominations fall into.
Patrick J. Hoban, pastor
Church in the Word
Praise the Lord! The article by Jack W. Hayford ("Practicing What We Preach," November/December) just guaranteed that I will renew my subscription and also made my day. It's about time! Finally, someone is taking a positive step. I agree with everything Jack has said in his article and also recognize some of the potential negative impacts mentioned in "Time for a Showdown?" by Ken Walker (November/December). But, in the final analysis, something needs to be done. I believe that Jack Hayford is the only person who could set this up and get it running. I'll even volunteer my help to do whatever I can to make this happen--and my financial support.
Kingdom Business Ministries
I am presently incarcerated in Corcoran State Prison and a Christian. I find your magazine very informative and insightful for believers, particularly Jack Hayford's article "Practicing What We Preach" (November/December) and Stephen Strang's column "The World Is Watching" (Publisher's Page, November/ December). It is true that the church should distance itself from those who are not exemplifying righteous living. The church cannot lose its voice, and those who are responsible for leadership of God's people should stand in support of what the ICEA represents.
I want to strongly agree with Pastor Jack Hayford in his call for ethical accountability. Of course, the central issue will be the construction of an internationally accepted code of ethics that will be biblically sound and at the same time culturally sensitive. The development of such a code of ethics will require some kind of brutally honest self-assessment by ministry leaders worldwide. This would be of great benefit to the church.
Rev. Gregory L. Fisher
Regional Coordinator for East Africa
Foursquare Missions International
I just finished reading portions of Jack Hayford's article "Practicing What We Preach." I am in total agreement that as ministers we should be doing just that. I would even support the overall concept of ICEA. The article goes on to talk about the ECFA (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability). The ECFA is great for larger, well-funded ministries. In fact, our ministry would belong if we could afford to. Unfortunately, the cost associated with being an ECFA member is more than some small ministries can bear. Would ICEA end up being a "club" that only the larger ministries could belong to? As the CEO of our ministry, I carry my own credentials with another organization to whom I am accountable. So, would ICEA only be for those who in the past have chosen not to be accountable to anyone else?
Kenneth L. Unger,
Something I Can Feel Ministries
Beware the Men, Too
Douglas Weiss' perspective concerns me ("Beware the Seductress," January/February). He appears to take a "watch out for seductresses" perspective regarding women that is widespread in the church and sends a signal to men to be on guard. To address women on the prowl without addressing the problem men have with their own hearts presents an imbalanced solution to the issue. I am sure there are women who are on the prowl. However, I believe that most women who have sexual encounters are looking for personal affirmation because of emotional pain, and think they can find love and acceptance in a sexual relationship with a man. Because they are searching for these things does not qualify them as seductresses or women on search-and-destroy missions. To address this problem in this manner without a balanced approach creates an attitude that women are the problem. If there are proclivities within the heart of an individual looking for affirmation, women will likely search for it in a relationship. Men certainly have the same kinds of needs and will likely seek out fulfillment in things they can play with or prove their worth through, such as jobs, athletics and toys.
Rev. James Solomon
Living Waters Chapel
Out With Pet Theories
I was disappointed by the article "The Dark Side of End-Time Teaching," by Paul T. Coughlin (November/December). It has been my experience that the majority of charismatic-movement pastors I have met are afraid of teaching on the end times because of the excesses. In addition, there is almost a criminal shallowness and lack of dedicated Bible study on the subject in the charismatic movement. Every celebrity pastor has his own "pet theory" with little biblical justification. The problem with the article is that it further serves to discourage pastors to teach on Revelation, etc. Also, the author hopped, skipped and jumped his way across Bible prophecy and used Marilyn Manson, Warnke and others as a justification not to teach on the subject. Bible prophecy is one of the most abused areas of Bible teaching along with faith, the gifts of the Spirit and many other areas. But, we are responsible to God to faithfully teach Revelation, Daniel, etc., without coming up with ridiculous theories.
Los Angeles, California
The article, "The Dark Side of End-Time Teaching" was very compelling. We've seen our share of "end of the world" preaching, buying bottled water and canned goods, etc. My husband left me and my children when they were young after he was given promises of ministry through a "prophecy." My faith, although dealt terrible blows, has remained over the years. We must pray for forgiveness for those we've hurt, and pray to forgive those who have hurt us.
Lake Grove, New York
The photo caption on page 18 of the article "Children's Ministry in Reverse?" (January/February) should have read: "Children from Grace Christian Center in Warren, Michigan, experience the power of God as they pray for a young boy in a wheelchair. Photo courtesy of Tim Carpenter." Ministries Today apologizes for the error.