Class Leaders: Pillars of the Church
By Steve Manskar
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling-place for God (Ephesians 2:19-22).
Have you ever seen or visited a gothic cathedral? Many of the most famous and beautiful cathedrals in the world were built in the gothic style. I am most familiar with Salisbury Cathedral in Salisbury, England because the annual Wesley Pilgrimage in England is based at Sarum College, which is located in the cathedral close. Salisbury Cathedral is a beautiful building with the tallest gothic spire in Britain.
The pointed arch is a distinctive characteristic of gothic architecture. It allowed medieval architects to build tall spacious buildings with large windows that let in lots of light. The pointed arch distributes the weight of the building downward onto pillars. The pillars hold up the building rather than the walls. This is why you see many pillars and arches throughout a Gothic cathedral.
Image your congregation is like a gothic cathedral. It reaches toward God and is filled with beautiful windows, walls, ceiling, and decorations. Each part of the building contributes to the mission. All of it is supported and held up by the pillars. The majority of people of the church are like the walls, ceiling, windows, lights, etc. All of them are held up and supported by the people who serve as the pillars. These are the apostles and prophets Paul mentions in Ephesians 2:20. Jesus is the keystone of the arches that holds the church together, allowing it to be faithful to its mission of glorifying and drawing people to God and his kingdom.
Paul expands the list of the people (pillars) the congregation needs to faithfully carry out its mission in the world in Ephesians 4:11,
The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors, and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry for building up the body of Christ.
The church needs to equip, call, deploy, and support women and men God has placed in every congregation to serve in these essential roles. They are the pillars that hold up the church and enable it to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world..
In the Wesleyan tradition the class leaders served as the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers who equipped the people called Methodists for the work of ministry for building up the body of Christ.
Covenant Discipleship groups provide the mutual accountability and support for discipleship people need to discern God’s call to serve as a class leader. In other words, Covenant Discipleship groups form the pillars the church needs to support its mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. They produce the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers every congregation needs.