11 As for his gifts, to some he gave to be apostles, to others prophets, or even evangelists, or pastors and teachers. 12 So he prepared those who belong to him for the ministry, in order to build up the Body of Christ, 13 until we are all united in the same faith and knowledge of the Son of God.At first blush it sounds good, but...
But the writer of Ephesians wasn't writing into a vacuum. He had particular issues in mind. For example, he would have had a specific understanding of the role of an apostle and an evangelist. You can be sure that the pouting pastors have a quite different understanding, conditioned by their own distinctive doctrines and history. The embarrassing truth is that an apostle isn't a jet-setting tithe-farmer, and ordination as an evangelist isn't the equivalent of elevation to Britain's House of Lords. Slapping these verses onto the current situation is a bit like prescribing Aspirin for someone who's been electrocuted and is still twitching.
Then there's the unavoidable fact that these geezers aren't claiming to have an apostle or a prophet in their midst. They do have a dead apostle of living memory, but he's not a lot of practical use, other than as a pretext.
Nor do these confused clergy seem to grasp the fact that Ephesians is a less-than "100% proof" source for proof texts. Internal evidence strongly indicates that it was written by someone other than Paul. It isn't regarded as one of his genuine letters.
So why all the ballyhoo over Ephesians 4?
It can be used to justify hierarchy.
Now let's think: no apostles, no prophets, the prospect of a couple of retreaded evangelists from the previous administration (all title, no power)... now what does that leave them with?
Pastors and teachers. And the practice in these circles is to conflate the two into one.
What about garden-variety lay members. Well, what have they got to do with anything? Ephesians 4 doesn't even mention them, right?
(In fact the book of Ephesians is addressed to them: "to the saints in Ephesus, to you who share Christian faith." It's right there in 1:1. Lay engagement and empowerment is assumed throughout, or the writer - who wasn't Paul, but may have been a protégé - would have simply written directly to the pastor.)
Now my dear Watson, the game is afoot! It would appear that the point of the exercise is to create a comfortable sinecure for a bunch of disgruntled ministers who couldn't handle being accountable to a governing structure which they themselves elected. Decapitate the denominational officers and you have a two-level hierarchy, them and us, dumb sheep and pastors. As they themselves say: "We encourage one another to follow the Ephesians 4 template for the pastor, members, and congregation."
Any provision for checks and balances, for restraints on pastoral authority? None that leap out at you. The new body appears to be a loose association of loose cannons. At the congregational level it's just "pray and pay" members with limited rights (or none at all) and underqualified pastors who hold unaccountable authority.
The potential for abuse is enormous.