Guest Post: Elder James Miller "We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth." (Article of Faith: 6)
Jesus Christ established His church when He was here upon the earth, and it was a church of order. The same offices that Jesus Christ established are here with His restored church. Heavenly Father is a God of order, and because of this His church is organized, but what is the purpose of so many offices and officers? This answer can be found in the book of Ephesians in the Bible: in the eleventh verse of chapter four of Ephesians, it teaches us that "[Christ] gave some apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, [and] for the edifying of the body of Christ;" This is the purpose of the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Christ is not physically here with us, and for this reason He has blessed us inspired leaders to do His work for Him for the benefit of all of us, here on earth. Although this is the unifying purpose of all of the servants of the Savior, each office, or calling, has its own specific purpose and responsibilities, and each requires great service of time and effort to carry out. The following are a list of some of the offices established by Jesus Christ and their specific responsibilities:
Apostle ~ The word means "one sent forth." The title Jesus Christ gave to the twelve men He chose as His closest associates during His ministry on earth. In modern times, Jesus Christ has called other men to serve as His Apostles. As in former times, as Apostle is a special witness of Jesus Christ and has authority from Him.
Prophet ~ The "household of God [is] built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets.." (Eph. 2:20) A prophet does many things for the welfare of the people of Christ including acting as God's messenger, teaching men about God's character, and above all being a preacher of righteousness. As a rule, however, prophets act as forthtellers, rather than foretellers. (For more information on prophets visit lds.org )
Pastor (Bishop) ~ The word 'bishop' means "overseer." Hence, Jesus Christ is called the "Bishop of your souls" (1 Pet. 2: 21-25). A bishop is a common judge of the people for temporal as well as spiritual matters, and acts as the Shepherd of a ward, or congregation.
Teacher ~ According to Doctrine and Covenants section 20 verses 53-55: "The teacher's duty is to watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them; And see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, back-biting, nor evil speaking; And see that the church meet together often, and also see that all the members do their duty." Teachers also visit the homes of Church members and encourage them to live the principles of the gospel.
Evangelist (Patriarch) ~ In latter-day revelation an evangelist is defined as a patriarch. Joseph Smith taught, "Wherever the Church of Christ is established in the earth, there should be a Patriarch for the benefit of the posterity of the Saints." Partriarchs are primarily called to give patriarchal blessings to members of the Church. These blessings give us some understanding of our callings on earth. They are the word of the Lord personally to us.
~The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles~
Although these are only a few of the offices of Christ's Church, it is evident that His church is a church of order, where the purpose of His church is to "perfect the saints." The Church of Jesus Christ is a kingdom of service to our God and for the benefit of our fellow man. This same organization brings peace and joy, as well as the blessings of heaven to all who embrace the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. We, as saints of His church, are led by men called of God today, as we are all led by Jesus Christ, "the chief cornerstone" of the Church.