WATCH DRURY WRITE A BOOK. – THIS IS A TEMPORARY POST Writer’s first draft of a book to be published by The Wesleyan Publishing House. as an introduction to the ministry. This web-posted copy is an early draft of the manuscript and not intended to be used as a final document. While the editors will catch minor errors if you see something significantly wrong or missing drop Keith Drury a note at firstname.lastname@example.org © 2003 Keith Drury
A Minister’s Family Tree
Is this notion of a minister or priest a new one or does it have biblical and historical support? If I am headed into the ministry to whom will I look to in the Bible and through history as my models? Who has gone before me that I can read about and learn from? To whom can I look to for guidance and as a model of what it means to be in the ministry? What exactly is my ministerial "family Tree?"
No matter where you are in the world you will find a religion and as part of that religion you will also find a class of people serving as priests or ministers or religious leaders of some kind. These priests and ministers serve the masses by bringing the people and God together. Put most simply, the priest or minister "represents God to the people and the people to God."
Christianity holds this in common with other world religions. We have a long line of ministers and priests in our family tree. While present ministry is certainly more important than digging up the roots of our ministerial family tree, it is still worthwhile to know our ministerial lineage. We do not take up the calling to the ministry lightly—we join an impressive line of people before us who represented God to the people, and the people to God. Many of the following "titles" overlap, which reminds us how, God always raises up spiritual leaders for his people. The titles and work may overlap and shift through the generations, but God always calls out spiritual leaders for His people.
course the Patriarchs did not have a minister--they were the ministers. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Job dealt directly
with God. They had no synagogue, no temple, no priests, not even any part of
the Bible. As the head of the household/tribe the patriarch served as the
clan's priest. Sometimes they also represent God to the people outside their
clan. Noah represents God to a corrupt world, providing an "escape"
for the people who might have repented. Abraham intercedes on behalf of the
provides a transition between the Patriarchs and the priests. Jacob's son
Joseph had been sold by his brothers into slavery and was shipped off to
Priests and Levites
Moses was not a solo priest for long, his brother Aaron emerges early in the
story as a kind of grandfather of the priesthood. A portable church was
constructed and "the Tabernacle" emerged where collective worship and
sacrifice occurred, not just for families, but for an entire people. One
particular tribe of that nation—the Levites—was called to serve as priests and
assistants to the priests. These Priests
and Levites of old became ministers not by being individually called but by
being born—It was an inherited
calling—you were a priest or Levite by being born the child of a priest or
Judges & Kings
you think that a King looking out for both temporal and spiritual things, along
with host of Priests and Levites officiating at the
The Scribes studied and copied the Word of God—the Torah. They were students of the Scripture and carefully transmitted and multiplied it for the people. While the Scribes may not be in our direct family tree, they do represent the careful study of Scripture and urgency that God’s word would multiply. When you are ordained you will take up the mantle of the Scribes in a commitment to study and multiply the Scriptures in your own heart and mind and in the lives of your people.
A Rabbi is simply a teacher. Rabbis drew around them people interested in study—these people were called “disciples.” Jesus was a rabbi and gathered around him disciples whom he taught. When you are ordained you will take up the mantle of the Rabbis for you are not called just to administer and preach, but to teach your people.
the priests officiated at the one national
had lots of disciples. From that larger group of followers he called out twelve
to serve as Apostles—to "be with Him." These were His inner
circle—His designated successors—to whom He gave authority to multiply the
church and make decisions in His name. He even promised them they would do
greater things than He did! After Christ ascended the Apostles took up the job
of leading and ruling the church. They assumed the delegated authority from
Christ Himself, and thus were respected and obeyed in the early church. They
also received His Commission to propagate disciples and eventually they took
the gospel from
first the Apostles did everything—including the daily distribution of food for
the widows in
Prophets and Teachers
In the church at
Originally the work of “Bishop" was probably simply the chief pastor of a local church. Eventually the bishop became a regional church leader supervising other ministers and churches. The work of Bishop is still here today and is still called a “bishop” in some denominations or a “district superintendent." When you are ordained you will take up some of the mantle of bishop even if you never become a district superintendent or general superintendent of your church—for in the modern world every minister has a great affect on other ministers and thus serves as a trainer and improver of fellow ministers.
The local spiritual leaders of the New Testament church were sometimes called “elders.” Some denominations still call their ministers "ordained elders." Elders presided over a congregation and were looked to for wisdom and guidance. At first they were probably older than others, but the whether from age or insight, they were looked to for wise leadership. The elder “presided” over the church service and was thus sometimes also called the “president.” When you are ordained you will take up the mantle of the elder for even though you may still be young, you will be looked to for wise answers and insight based on all of history.
The early church had a special category for widows—they were sort of the first century "nuns." Specific instructions were given for these women for a house-to-house ministry. When you are ordained you will take up the mantle of the widows, for you will not be able to "go to work" at the church building all the time—your ministry is with the people, from house to house as well.
Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastor-Teachers
Paul listed four categories of the equipping ministry repeating some of the above list but adding two not mentioned yet, the “evangelist” and “Pastor-teacher.” The evangelist may have been one called to wander from church to church in order to reach the lost and spread the good news of the gospel, and the pastor-teacher was most likely the local elder given care of the flock as a shepherd to lead, teach and train the people in obedience. When you are ordained you will take up the mantle of the evangelist in your task of winning the lost; and you will take up the mantle of the pastor-teacher in becoming fixed to one group of people committed to helping train them in godliness.
At the end of a long line…
When you are ordained you will stand at the front of a long line of people God has set apart to build a holy people. Your family tree is a wonderful one. There are thousands who have gone before you serving God and His people… representing the people to God, and God to the people. What a great family tree we ministers have! To know those who have gone before us helps us to remain faithful to our own calling.
Follow up study and application
1. Of all those listed in our “ministerial family tree” which role is most attractive to you? Prophet/preaching? Priest/intercession/leading worship? Or, what other role? Why?
2. Tell about a minister you know by describing their work as most like one of the categories from the tree—that is, “He’s mostly kind of like an elder because…” or “She’s mostly sort of an evangelist because..” or “She’s kind of like a priest because…”
3. God seems the keep changing through history how he gets ministers and what they do or are called. Why is this? Might God change these things again in the future? How?
4. Is it important to use the same terms as the first century church did? If so, which terms would we use from the Bible’s terms?
5. Make a chart organizing all of the “ministerial family tree” with a column for the terms and another one for a description of what their work included.
6. Make an actual family tree of ministerial heritage in this chapter including all of the limbs and branches up to today’s ministers—and you.