CHURCH LEADERSHIP

Even as far back as the 1970s many church goers began to be suspicious of ordination and all that went with it. The spectacle of some leaders being given special status among the people of God seemed contrary to the essential equality of all people in creation, fall and redemption. When accompanied by the wearing of special clergy robes and designation as “Rev” and then the clambering for such giddy titles as “Right Rev.” and “Very Rev.”, the whole ordination thing seemed reminiscent of Matt 23:1-12 (Scribes and Pharisees). Women clamoured after these top jobs.

The liturgical construct separated ordained clergy from the people of God and from the eldership. Clergy were placed on a pedestal (with all its perils), the eldership was diminished (with all its perils) and the people of God were left behind in this hierarchical understanding of church (a tragedy).

The present rising pattern of non-ordained persons being entrusted with significant pastoral ministries in our churches may be a reaction against the abuse of ordination as noted above. Which makes it time to look at what God’s Word says about the appointment of pastors and leaders.

1 Timothy bear witness to an orderly process:

  • 1 Tim 2:7 on Paul’s appointment as a preacher, apostle and teacher;
  • 1 Tim 3:1-13 on the criteria of character and gifting applicable to church leaders;
  • 1 Tim 4:6 on the value of training in the ‘words of the faith’ and ‘doctrine’;
  • 1 Tim 4:13 on the key word ministries to be undertaken by leaders;
  • 1 Tim 4:14 on the recognition of the role of the ‘council of elders’ (πρεσβυτέριον) in recognising gifts of ministry (see also 2 Tim 1:6b);
  • 1 Tim 6:2 on expected standards for the content of teaching by church leaders.

The context of 1 Timothy is relevant to this discourse. Paul had left Timothy in Ephesus to continue his own ministry elsewhere (1 Tim 1:3). This was an apostolic delegation which many see as part of the transition from the extraordinary and time-bound office of apostle to the more enduring office of pastor or shepherd. We do know that Timothy had been well-reared in the faith by his maternal ancestors (2 Tim 1:5; 3:14). However, he was also young, subject to youthful passions (2 Tim 2:22), possibly subject to self-doubt (2 Tim 1:7) and open to dismissive treatment because of his youth (2 Tim 4:12). The recognition and affirmation of Timothy by Paul and the council of elders was important as testimony both to him and to the church as to his suitability for ministry.

Therefore, by all means let’s scrap the titles, robes and assumed status that can be implied by the traditional construct of ordination. Equally, let’s locate the work of pastor within the eldership rather than as a separate order and let’s recognise the gifting and service of the whole people of God. However, let’s not lightly dismiss the value of orderly processes to test and affirm those called to pastoral ministry.

Of course, the same applies to all roles in church service. The youth leader, small group leader or teacher of children all need processes of testing, training and affirmation before being appointed to their roles. However, the high potential of pastoral leaders to do good or harm demands that they receive particular scrutiny before their ministry is recognised.

This article is adapted from an article by David Burke “Rethinking Ordination” David was a lecturer at Christ College. He was almost refused ordination in 1979 for his views on clergy titles and robes.

ARE YOU IN A CHURCH LIKE THIS? IF NOT FIND ONE.

I have across another great sermon from Francis Chan. He starts in Revelation and its importance for these “last days” including sound teaching on the “Mark of the Beast of Revelation 13:16-18, but he concludes with information on how they are doing church. It lines up with the church we read about in the Book of Acts: small groups that require all participants to use their Holy Spirit given gifts, no buildings, no paid pastors and those small groups giving rise to more small groups – disciples making disciples. The centrality and inerrancy of Scripture is KEY.

EXTREMES OF CHRISTIANITY: WHICH TRULY EXPRESSES JESUS EXAMPLE?

Simple missional forms of church were normal in the first century – and are proving relevant for today. Here are some insights on the early church taken from the New Testament. 1. All NT churches met in homes, 2. There were multiple churches in each community that loved on its people, 3. All members of the church participated, 4. Church was not a building Christians went to or a denomination they belonged to. Christians were church in their community. 5. Households provided natural leadership for home churches, 6. Paul did appoint ‘overseers’ to foster these networks. These were mature believers, not given to power seeking – but encouragers, able to facilitate disciple making and the planting of new churches, 7. They were relational communities – eating, serving, sharing. Christians shared in Sabbath fellowship, Communion, Scripture reading and prayers. There is no tension over culture or ethnicity. 8. They were ‘zero dollar’ – but high cost church plants. First century believers shared faith with family, friends and neighbours, inviting them to their homes. High cost because it is a sacrifice of time and energy to share faith with family and social networks. Offerings help with rent, food for someone who has lost their job or a struggling family. Maybe to assist school expenses for a single mum or support another church start up. 9. Church structures are simple and Holy Spirit directed. No hierarchical structures, 10. Churches easily reproducible. Disciples made disciples and baptised them and in turn they made disciples. 11. They are the best environment to hand on faith.

Developed from article by Peter Rosenfeldt. Check out his website http://www.newlifechurch.com

PASTOR IN INDIA

A pastor in India who was known for long five- to six-hour prayer sessions was found beaten, tortured and hung to death from the rafters of his church, parishioners said. The murder has deeply shocked the congregation.

Morning Star News reported on Sunday that the body of pastor Gideon Periyaswamy of Maknayeem Church in southern India was found early Saturday morning. His death comes after he had complained about Hindu extremists.

Pastor Azariah Reuben, a close friend of the 43-year-old victim, said that Periyaswamy converted from Hinduism 25 years ago, and has served as pastor in Adayachery for more than 12 years, becoming known as a “prayer warrior.”

“The local Hindus were not happy with growing Christianity,” Reuben said. “They had several times tried to stop the ministry.”

PASTOR IN THE U.S.A

Kenneth Copeland’s ministry announced last Friday the acquisition of the “debt free” jet, which hit the market with a $36 million price tag in 1998. The ultra-long-range business jet can accommodate up to four crew members and 14 passengers in an executive configuration, according to Gulfstream. It is unclear how much Copeland’s ministry paid for the jet but A V Buyer says they currently have the lowest priced Gulfstream V on the market priced at just under $6 million.

“Father we thank you so and I’m asking you now sir, according to your word, bless our partners beyond measure. Yes, in the name of Jesus. For you said in 2002, ‘I’m sending you new partners who are very strong financially and they will obey me.

And I will increase your longtime partners and they will obey me,” Copeland, 81, said in a prayer of thanksgiving for the new jet.

“And you will not come short. And you will not fail. And you will not lack. And you will not come behind and you will not be diminished. Praise God,” he said of his donors.