Category: Leadership


COMPLEMENTARIANISM – A FORM OF PATRIARCHY

Complementarianism is a belief that limits the roles of a wife to those that won’t infringe on her husband as head ‘over’ her. As such, Complementarianism is a form of patriarchy, but, unlike full-blown Patriarchy, which has women subject to men in every area of society, this version is restricted to how it effects the spousal relationship. The basis for this belief is their interpretation of Biblical passages like Eph 5:23, 1 Cor 11:3, 1 Tim 2:11-15 and 1 Cor 14:34-35. (Click on the references for an Egalitarian/Mutualist view of these passages).

CHURCH LEADERSHIP

In a nutshell, Complementarian wives cannot take on any leadership roles in society where they are ‘over’ their husbands. And so, fueled by a common misconception that church leadership roles are hierarchical, despite Jesus commanding to the contrary (Matt 20:25-27), Complementarians restrict women in church roles too, in order to prevent them from violating their concept of male headship in the home. In fact, when it comes to church leadership, Complementarians are especially quick to implement this practice, believing that Paul was addressing the possible violation of this spousal headship structure in passages like 1 Tim 2:11-15 and 1 Cor 14:34-35.

HEAD – AUTHORITY OR SOURCE?

What is clear is that this belief hinges on the principle of hierarchical headship in the home. However, even though Ephesians 5:23 certainly does speak of the husband as head (Gk. kephale) of the wife, the biblical era meaning of ‘head’ (Gk. kephale) means source and not rank headship. Also, to note, is that the text says that ‘the husband is the head of (not over) the wife, even as Christ is the head of (not over) the church, which also fits with that era’s use of ‘head’ as source and not authority.

MUTUAL SUBMISSION

Furthermore, Eph 5:21 says ‘submitting yourselves one to another’, which clarifies that the male headship spoken of in Eph 5:23 must be understood within the context of mutual submission and not rank leadership, even if men had this kind of authority through state legislation or culturally. In fact, the term ‘submit’ in Eph 5:22 is not in the Greek, which clearly shows that wives were being directed to the same ‘submitting…one to another’ of Eph 5:21, and not another.

Even in the unlikely event that ‘head’ did mean rank headship in this passage, it should be seen as being descriptive of a husband in New Testament society, who automatically acquired legal authority over his household by virtue of his gender, but as prescriptive of how he ought to behave, given his position, for the sake of his wife and not primarily his own. Understood this way, Paul was being prescriptive within the confines of Roman society’s boundaries, just as he was with slave owners and slaves.

NO CHURCH HIERARCHY

Ironically, neither the meaning of source or rank for ‘head’ would preclude a wife from becoming an elder or pastor in a church and thereby interfere with the supposed spousal rank ‘headship’ principle, because there is no hierarchy in the Church where anyone is ranked ‘over’ another, except Jesus as Lord. That said, it is evident that the passages on Jesus being ‘head of’ His body also have to do with Him being the source rather than being about rank leadership, though it is clear from other contexts that He has this too.

SUBMIT TO HUSBAND

Also ironic is that if one takes a Mutualist (Egalitarian) or Complementarian view here and considers the likely scenario where a husband agrees or allows (depending on the view) his wife to be a pastor, elder, governor, or the country’s president, either by mutual consensus or authority over (again, depending on the view), then the outcome would be that she may, for Eph 5:23 says that it is to her husband that she is supposed to submit. And so, no church or any other man has the authority to stop her.

COMPLEX, BEYOND BELIEF

The Complementarian narrative centers around subordinate roles of a wife in relation to her husband, but the exact parameters for women in general, and each woman in particular, appears to be subject to the discretion and influence of male church leaders who claim Biblical authority for their exclusively male role and their varying interpretations. Furthermore, the application of their belief becomes so tricky, given their various interpretations, that it is hard to imagine that God would have given us something so difficult to pin down. Not to mention that the complexity of applying their belief increases and varies even more when we step out of the spousal relationship and consider leadership for single women or widows that don’t fall under these headship passages.

----------- Do You Have a Fuzzy View of Gender? ----------- Kevin Tuck, httpwww.rgbstock.com

———– Do You Have a Fuzzy View of Gender? ———– Kevin Tuck, http://www.rgbstock.com

Equality Lost

Sadly, the Church’s long embrace of Patriarchy (male leadership in society), as well as its current entanglement with Complementarianism (a newer watered down version of Patriarchy where the role of leadership in the home and church are designated to males), are a perpetuation of the Fall and its consequence, “HE (man) SHALL RULE OVER YOU (woman)”. As such, they have nothing to do with the New Covenant and the gender equality found in Christ.

To consider how this came about, here, in a nutshell, is an overview of mankind, male and female, their dominion and how they have related to one another in God’s timeline:

Creation

The foundation for male and female equality, being joint heirs with joint dominion is found in the very beginning, in Genesis 1:27-28:

So God created man in his own image… MALE AND FEMALE he created them … And God said to THEM,”…fill the earth and SUBDUE IT, and HAVE DOMINION over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen 1:27-28).

Note: nothing is said of gender roles or rank, or roles with rank.

Fall

Inequality that exists through so-called male roles of leadership was not in God’s original plan, but is described in Genesis 3:16 as one of the consequences of the Fall.

To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and HE SHALL RULE OVER YOU” (Gen 3:16).

History shows that man has certainly done this, even, and sometimes especially, by those in the church.

Note: male rank became the typical default.

Restoration

Although He worked, and works with us in our brokenness of male dominance, inequality is not God’s original or ultimate plan. In the New Covenant, described in Acts 2:17-18 and Galatians 3:28, we find a restoration to the equality seen at creation:

And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy (Acts 2:17-18).

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:28).

Note: nothing is said here or anywhere in the New Testament of spousal rank or church roles with rank.

Male Dominance Preserved by Misinterpretation, Tradition and Man’s Fallen Nature

These doctrines of Patriarchy and Complementarianism come from misinterpreting God’s word and are perpetuated by having become unquestioned tradition for many. Of course, the fallen male nature to want to dominate also helps to entrench these traditions.

As a result of years of indoctrination and bad example, many in the Church have a veil of Patriarchy on their minds that causes them to misread texts like 1 Cor 14:34-35, 1 Tim 2:11-15, 1 Tim 3:1f, 1 Cor 11:3f and Eph 5:22f. Consequently, these texts are used to endorse behavior that is contrary to the Spirit, which is both sad and ironic, because Paul was often teaching against Patriarchy with those very texts.

For a look at those misused texts in context, click on these links:

1 Corinthians 14:34-35 – “Let your women keep silence…”
1 Timothy 2:11-15 “… I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man…”
1 Timothy 3:1f – “…an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife…”
1 Corinthians 11:3f – “…the head of the woman is the man…”
Ephesians 5:22 – “Wives, submit to your own husbands…the husband is the head of the wife…”

May the joy of God’s original purpose of gender equality, that was lost at the fall, but found in Christ, become all the more yours in your home, the Church and in all of life.

God bless,

Rob

Image by weirdvis (Lynne Lancaster) http://www.rgbstock.com/user/weirdvis

Image by weirdvis (Lynne Lancaster)
http://www.rgbstock.com/user/weirdvis

God’s Way Sacrificed

To many, the idea of church leadership through consensus sounds like leadership is taken from God and given into the hands of men. Nevertheless, it is precisely God’s way of seeing His will done in and through the Church. Sadly, the church is full of stories of leadership abuse, which could have been prevented if we had implemented God’s way of directing the church.

Authority

Church leadership only has authority to implement God’s leading concerning the whole church when group consensus is reached by the whole church. While one person may have God’s word on a subject, and with that the authority to share it, he or she still needs to obey God’s way and seek consensus before action can be taken.

Consensus Builds True Unity

This may seem like a painful process, but in the end it builds real relationships and true unity around issues. Outside of consensus, leaders easily default to the sin of preeminence where they employ the world’s ways and steam roller their ideas into action. Sadly, many church leaders justify this style by the success of their ministry, but the end never justifies the means! An environment of love is the only way to the outcomes that we seek and may often be more important than our goals.

Consensus Protects the Group and the Individual

Consensus is a way of protection. For example, in the case of church discipline in the New Testament, consensus is sought by involving everyone. This way a fair judgment can be reached through unity and also the fear of the Lord can be on everyone involved.

Consensus is the Fruit of Faith

Seeking consensus puts faith into practice. It is the belief that Jesus really is the head of the Body of Christ and is able to lead each member in unity.

Right and Wrong Examples

Acts chapter 15 is a good example of how the whole church is involved in resolving serious decision making and of how everyone was involved. Conversely, 3 John 1:9-10 shows Diotrephes as a leader who sought preeminence and bullied his way in the church.

For more on this subject you can read these related posts:

Church Leadership

Hierarchical Leadership – The Main Hindrance in the Body of Christ Part 3

Who Calls the Shots (Decision Making) in the Body of Christ?

Rank or Respect

Church Governance 101

Does the Bible Support the Position of a Senior Pastor?

The Super Guru Culture

Rob

Acts of the ApostlesThe term apostle is used throughout Scripture, but is it a role that is still found in the church today? To explore this possibility, let’s consider what the Scriptures have to say.

The Twelve

Generally we associate the term apostle with the twelve disciples that Jesus called apostles during His earthly ministry, see Luke 6:13. These men were with Jesus from the early days of His ministry witnessing all that He taught and did. As representatives, they were sent out during and after Jesus’ earthly ministry to testify of Him and His kingdom in word and power.

But, did the term apostle end with them?

Matthias

In Acts 1:15-26, Matthias is chosen to replace Judas, who was one of the twelve and who betrayed Jesus and then committed suicide.

Paul

Most of us,  without much thought, automatically associate Paul as an apostle. But, most of the evidence to Paul’s apostleship is by way of his own letters, where he calls himself an apostle, which alone could appear to be a dubious self-appointment.  However, Peter, one of the twelve, rather than take exception to Paul’s claim to apostleship, instead ratifies it when he called Paul’s letters “Scripture” in 2 Peter 3:15-16.

Also, although Luke’s account in Acts doesn’t directly refer to Paul as an apostle, it clearly shows Paul to be one by the call on his life, through his teaching and by the miracles associated with him. In fact, it appears that Luke purposed to show in his narrative that Paul’s apostleship was just like that of Peter’s by intentionally choosing to reflect on the similar miracles that each did.

The term apostle didn’t end with the selection of Paul.

Here is a list of persons who are also called apostles in the Bible:

Barnabas – Acts 14:14

Andronicus and Junia – Rom. 16:7: – they were shown to be apostles depending on whether the text is to mean “among” or “to” the apostles

Timothy & Silas – see 1 Thess. 2:6 in context to 1:1

Epaphroditus – Phil.2:25 -“messenger” is the same word translated apostle elsewhere

Apollos – 1 Cor. 4:9

Evidence for Today?

The above list from Scripture shows a continued and broader use of the term apostle outside of the twelve. So, clearly, along with the unique apostleship of the twelve, Jesus chose others as apostles after His ascension.

This goes hand in hand with Eph. 4:11-12 where it mentions certain role players in the body of Christ, namely, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers who were given as gifts to the churches “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ…”

Can the list of names above, along with this scripture, be considered evidence for the role of apostle continuing to this day? Many, who are uncomfortable with persons being referred to as apostles in the church today, would have no problem with persons being referred to as an evangelist pastor, or teacher. But, for some reason, using the term “prophet” and “apostle” for someone today is considered anathema.  Why is this so?

Ignorance and Tradition

I believe that it’s because of ignorance and tradition that we sit with a narrow concept and use of the term apostle. And, also, out of ignorance and tradition we have incorrectly associated rank with this role and as such cannot imagine any regular person attaining the much elevated rank of apostle.

Now, although apostleship is a very significant role in the body of Christ that carries certain important responsibilities, it has no rank over anyone else in the body of Christ. The title or rather term apostle simply means “messenger” or “sent one” and as such describes a function or role in the Body of Christ.

Reverence and respect for an apostle should be no more than for anyone else in the body of Christ. Further reverence should be spared for the function and who the apostle is representing and not in a title of rank that we’ve created out of a title of function. This is hard for us to grasp, because in this world we typically associate rank with titles. However, Jesus taught his disciples differently, see my post, No Rank, Only Roles in the Body of Christ.

Jesus

It would be fitting to mention the most outstanding apostle, Jesus. Those preoccupied with the idea of rank might consider referring to Jesus as an apostle a demotion. Yet, in Heb. 3:1, He is called this, not as an inferior title, but rather as the description of His role as a messenger or sent one from heaven. However, unlike any other apostles, in this role Jesus does carry preeminence in rank and is certainly superior in its execution.

Today

I believe that to this day many have carried out the role of apostle, but have been referred to by other terms. Certainly, some have been among the leaders in missions. Yet, whether they have been known as such or not, the ministry of the apostle has lived on in Jesus’ Church to this day.

Look around in the body of Christ and perhaps you will notice an apostle or two among us. Don’t tell them though, as the false issue of rank associated with the role might make them giddy and fall :).

Rob

Fostering Wolves

Fostering Wolves

Exploring the possibility of real unity under one roof despite differences of opinion

Fostering Wolves

When we elevate individuals in the church by kowtowing to them and their opinions, they can easily begin to think that they are superior to the group. And, very quickly they can seem distant and untouchable in the minds of regular members. It’s already a challenge to hold regular people accountable to one another and God’s word; imagine how much harder if someone has the idea of having preeminence. And, all the harder still if others believe the preeminence to be true.

These elevated individuals can subtly influence the flock or even blatantly rule them. Either way, it’s an environment for fostering false teaching. Paul warned the elders of Ephesus saying that “savage wolves will come among you and not spare the flock. Indeed, some of your own men will come forward and distort the truth in order to lure the disciples into following them” (Acts 20:29-30). Ever wonder why we have anointed men and women speaking different messages to one another to their own band of followers? I suggest that elevating people or allowing them to elevate themselves has contributed to this.

Super-Gurus

Paul readily used terms of equality when referring to people that he was a leader among; terms like, brother, partner, co-worker and fellow soldier. It shows his mindset and that of the early church. Super-gurus existed, but weren’t elevated.

There are, no doubt, some incredibly anointed teachers in the body of Christ, but as anointed as they may be, they are not above anyone else or above having their message examined in the light of God’s word. The Bereans, in Acts 17, didn’t dance around Paul, and they were commended for testing his message against scripture. In the same way, we should be able to test a speaker’s message and openly share our opinions if we believe the Bible to be saying something different. Also, this kind of interactive environment with a teacher can allow for more growth than simply hearing a one-way message.

Leaders Entangled in Sin

God’s word speaks of “the sin that so easily entangles us” (Heb. 12:1). Here, the author, a church leader, has clearly included himself with the pronoun “us”. By putting our church leaders over us, they are easily isolated and are more susceptible to fall into sin. Then, once involved with sin and without help, like a python strangling its prey, things can get more and more serious for them. Or, having begun with something small, the sin escalates to something more devastating.

Allowing formal or even subconscious hierarchy amongst us is a trap that can bring awful damage to the leader and to those who have wrongly elevated him. When leaders go astray, it is far less of an earth shattering experience if they are among the flock and not over them. Having been seen as equal to everyone else and just as vulnerable to sin and error, they are more reachable and easily helped.

Leading without Hierarchy

This requires brave leadership. No fear to lose people. Jesus lost many, but gained true followers through the Spirit. Don’t control; Jesus didn’t! You cannot really hold it together anyway. Members are designed to learn and grow in freedom. They are not yours!

For the sake of unity and fellowship it seems that if we focus on agreement over issues and on doctrine that we will always divide and be divided. If, however, we fix our eyes on Him who fellowships with each of us, despite our differences, then we may be able to accept one another with the same mercy and grace shown to us.  He lovingly holds us together in fellowship in His body, made possible by His death, resurrection and ascension.

If the Sadducees and the Pharisees, with all their differences, could come together under one roof, how much more can’t we who are unified by God’s Spirit and placed in the body of Christ. Jesus came under the same roof as people who rejected Him and who would have Him crucified! How far are you prepared to go?

Too idealistic for this world?! Yes, but, remember, we are not of this world!

Rob

Other posts in this series:

Part 1: God’s Home

Part 2: Issues and Opinions

Part 3: Blissfully Ignorant in My Church

Part 4: The Problem of Being Different in Church

Part 5: Dividing over Issues

Part 6: Loving the Wacky, Not Their Wackiness

Being Different

Being Different

Exploring the possibility of real unity under one roof despite differences of opinion

When Seeing Beyond is Unwelcome                            

Consider what happens in a church group when a member or two begin to think differently, and perhaps even see beyond the horizons of their group. Most groups don’t facilitate open sharing, and even where some do, anything outside of certain domains of thinking is quickly shut down. And, where there is openness to be heard by a leader or pastor on a subject, you are generally herded by their reasoning into their camp of prescribed denominationalism or particular church bias.

In these environments, members cannot co-exist under one roof with openly professed diverse thinking, never mind different practices. In fact, if you don’t withdraw and conform (religiously called “submit”), then you are likely to hear something resembling, “If you don’t like it here then perhaps you need to find a group that thinks like you do and rather meet and worship with them.” But, is this a suitable outcome?

Prohibited from comfortably sharing their new found views with their brothers and sisters to reflect on, and unable to explore possible growth with others in that area, people may feel the need to then leave the group and fellowship elsewhere. When this happens, those enjoying life within the “safe” parameters of the original group can be very unsympathetic toward those wanting to leave. They can consider them to be rebellious and un-submissive to leadership and their church’s established views.

This type of leadership and group control is destructive both to individual and corporate growth which require personal freedom along with mutual submission to bring about true unity. Also, true unity does not come through controlling people’s behavior, but rather through recognizing that foundationally unity already exists through each member’s inclusion into the body of Christ. We can flow with unity and grow it, but we cannot undo it at its starting point. That said, all fellowship should be founded on this basis alone despite our differences in points of view.

Unfortunate Dilemma

So, the problem with denominationalism, and most groups for that matter, is that if a person’s ideas start to become too varied from that of the group, then depending on the issue, they may be faced with the predicament of needing to choose between staying or leaving. It’s a sad dilemma where they may feel that by staying they would be compromising their growth and that by going they would compromise the fellowship that they have enjoyed.

Clearly, denominationalism, guru following and fellowship based on uniformity of thinking are flawed ways for building on the unity that we already have as members of Christ’s body. Yet, people are content to feed off teachers rather than Christ, be happily ignorant of God’s word and find security in environments that easily fuel division and that one day may serve only to spit them out too.

So, how can we enjoy safe healthy fellowship with one another despite, at times, holding conflicting views?

In my next post I’ll share more on this.

Rob

Other posts in this series:

Part 1: God’s Home

Part 2: Issues and Opinions

Part 3: Blissfully Ignorant in My Church

Part 5: Dividing over Issues

Part 6: Loving the Wacky, Not Their Wackiness

Part 7: Preeminent Leaders and Super-Gurus

Very useful post by Jim Wright, Crossroad Junction, on healthy leadership within authentic organic church plants.

The Super Guru Culture

Suoer Guru

Suoer Guru

The Making of a Super Guru

Some gifted men and women of God are unfortunately elevated to super-guru-status in the Body of Christ. Be they world renowned or local favorites, some individuals are treated as though they were a cut above everyone else. Sometimes it’s in part their doing, fueled by how they carry themselves, but it’s always as a result of how they are perceived by those around them. In other words, they are never totally self-made.

I am not saying that men and women of God cannot be greatly used by God and in some cases become world renowned. But, when these individuals are treated with more reverence than everyone else and people dance to their every tune and hang on their every word then they have gone seriously off track. This often appears as a form of honoring, which it may be, but this type of über-honoring is exclusive to them and is not only counter to God’s design, but also cripples the Body of Christ. (For more on this see my post, No Rank, Only Roles in The Body of Christ.)

Those positively affected by the teachings of an individual, or the signs and wonders associated with them, or even by the love they’ve received from them, easily fall prey to follow, and even elevate, a human and not Jesus Himself. People seem to fail to see that when they were touched through these individuals that it was Christ who touched them and that apart from Christ these individuals had nothing.

Sometimes, these gifted men and women are innocent of creating this super status given to them, and it’s simply the carnality of those in the church that helps make super-gurus out of people. The church in Corinth had this problem with some saying,“’I follow Paul,’ or ‘I follow Apollos,’ or ‘I follow Cephas,’” (1Cor.1:12), and Paul spoke strongly against this. Others carry themselves in a way that demands superior treatment and people fall for it. John spoke a certain “Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them” (3John1:9).

Church created super-gurus can easily fall into the trap of enjoying this status given to them.  And, then, somewhat deluded, these gurus find support and defense for their delusion from their followers. This cult-like following that arises reinforces the sense that the delusion is truth and creates a feeling of security for those caught in it.

Nip it in the Bud

It’s one thing expecting a reasonable man to be accountable to others in the Body of Christ and God’s word, but far harder a deluded one, and then on top of it, supported by a band of deluded followers. Now, I’m not talking about those we generally all think are whacko, but rather the gifted men or women, pastors, teachers, etc. who are pretty much on the straight and narrow with their views. It’s by allowing these individuals to speak and act with an air of superiority and the false notion of God-given preeminence, or by allowing them to be thought of in such an elevated way that we help to create these untouchable personas.

Many a regular pastor, Christian teacher and blogger have been tainted by this to some degree or another, but it becomes easily magnified in the more well known “apostles”, teachers, etc. We are responsible for creating and allowing this problem and we need to nip it in the bud before it begins. Nip it in the bud in your own thinking about gifted people. And, nip it in the bud in the way you carry and think about yourself. Deal with it in your fellowships when you hear people wrongly elevate others.

Personally, I don’t kowtow to hierarchy in the church anymore or to illustrious gurus. I disdain any hierarchy in the Body of Christ and also this guru culture that feeds this problem. These are the ways of the world that we have brought into the church and that causes partiality, the unhealthy dependence on individuals and is the cause of people going astray.

Rob

Peacock - CopyLeadership is determined by the extent you influence regardless of rank. And, contrary to how most local churches and denominations have been structured and governed, the New Testament church did not use or require hierarchy when it came to leadership. The elders, whether apostles, prophets, evangelists or pastors and teachers, had no rank in the body of Christ.  The respect due to them was by virtue of their calling to a particular role of servanthood in the body of Christ. Rank and titles did not exist, only roles.

The honor and respect that anyone received was the fruit that came from an environment of mutual submission. This atmosphere allowed for the recognition of one another’s roles. And, not only was this the case, but to further reinforce this counter-worldly-thinking, Paul said “On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are in fact indispensable, and the parts of the body that we think are less honorable are treated with special honor, and we make our less attractive parts more attractive. However, our attractive parts don’t need this. But God has put the body together and has given special honor to the parts that lack it,  so that there might be no disharmony in the body, but that its parts should have the same concern for each other” (1Cor. 12:22-25).

Those in the Body of Christ who were more mature were able to assist the Chief Shepherd as elders in shepherding the flock. God’s word, whether written or spoken, was the only authority. Consequently the elders had no more or less authority than anyone else. And yet, through their maturity and experience in the knowledge of God’s word they were able to be useful guides to each other and especially the young in the flock.

Sadly, this style of church was eroded over time by the desire for control and power among its leaders. And, in time, the church began taking on the very leadership styles of this world that Jesus told them, in Matthew 20:25-27 and 23:2-12, to stay away from. In these passages you will see that Jesus not only taught that we aren’t to lord it over one another, but also that we are not to even have authority over one another, nor use titles, because we are all brothers. See for yourself:

“But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister (servant); And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant (slave)” (Matt. 20:25-27).

“The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat … But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matt. 23:2-12).

Rob

Mutual leadership

Mutual leadership

Part 6 (Go here for part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5)

Soon after sharing the gospel and churches were planted, it says this of Paul and Barnabas: “And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.”

In the New Testament, no single pastor is left to run the church. Preeminence is given to none, and the work is entrusted to the Lord with elders given the responsibility of caring oversight, not government. It says of Jesus that the government will be on His shoulders and they lived like that.

Elders are to caringly interact, but are on equal footing with all. Any hierarchical leadership is usurping the Lord’s place and prohibits the Spirit from dynamically using the whole body. Being in charge (preeminence), whether desired out of lust for control, or for the noble idea of helping others, is not the way of Jesus.

Note these scriptures:

I wrote a letter to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be in charge (have preeminence), will not accept us. 3Jn1:9

Jesus called the disciples and said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers among the gentiles lord it over them, and their superiors act like tyrants over them. That’s not the way it should be among you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be a slave to everyone. Mk10:42-44

But he said to them, “The kings of the gentiles lord it over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called benefactors. But you are not to do so. On the contrary, the greatest among you should become like the youngest, and the one who leads should become like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who sits at the table, or the one who serves? It is the one at the table, isn’t it? But I am among you as one who serves Lu 22:25 -27.  This is not about disguising our ways, but changing our ways.

It is not that we are trying to lord it over your faith. On the contrary, we are workers with you to promote your joy, because you have been standing firm in the faith 2Co1:24.

Do not lord it over the people entrusted to you, but be examples to the flock 1Pe5:3.

People are entrusted to elders for their care, feeding and guiding, not to be governed over by them; for their serving, not for any authority over them.

All can speak with authority as the Lord uses them. And, the word of God is available to all to be our authority. Positionally, we have authority over the enemy, but not over each other.  We are to serve one another and encourage one another in what the word says.  We all have authority to use the word of God to teach, admonish and even command one another. The word is the authority, not us, or any position of authority. Jesus wouldn’t give positions of authority in the church if He spoke against this.

Hierarchical leadership in the body of Christ is like slavery was in the New Testament Church. If we treat one another as Christ would have us, then, in time, leadership will take on a form where the term leader, as we use it, is redundant like slavery became to the body of Christ.

Leading should be mutual and without coercion. Some may, at certain times, lead for longer periods in one or other area than others. Typically, elders may find themselves leading a lot more than others, but their leading is to bring the flock to a maturity where they too interactively lead as the Spirit uses them in their gifting and with God’s word.

Those of us that have tasted the freedom of life in the church without hierarchical leadership will never want to go back.

Rob

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