Leadership in the early church (3)

1) The early church worked out their leadership based on the mission and method of Jesus.
2) The elders were the pastors in the early church.

3) The elders managed the tasks they were responsible for through delegation.

So far we have seen that Jesus trained His disciples to lead the mission of His church. He sent them (apostolos) to multiply disciples, who in turn would raise up other disciples (2 Timothy 2:2). In each church more mature disciples (the elders, presbyteros) were appointed to oversee (episkopos, watch over) the people of God as pastors (poimenos, shepherds). These different titles all refer to the same leaders (elder, overseer, pastor).

The elders were authorized to direct the affairs of the church (1 Timothy 5:17). In other words, there was one elder leadership team responsible for every aspect of church life and ministry. These affairs would include for example: worship, prayer, discipleship (preaching/teaching, discipline), fellowship, evangelism, stewardship, pastoral care, benevolence, administration, ministry and asset management, etc. They were responsible for everything. Continue reading ‘Leadership in the early church (3)’ »

Leadership in the early church (2)

1) The early church worked out their leadership based on the mission and method of Jesus.

2) The elders were the pastors in the early church.

The word ‘pastor’ comes from the Latin for shepherd (poimen in Greek). As we will see, this title was never applied to an individual in the church, but to the elders altogether.

Jesus is the Chief Shepherd (John 10:11,14, Hebrews 13:20, 1 Peter 2:25, 1 Peter 5:4). He is the Good Shepherd, in contrast to the bad shepherds described in Ezekiel 34. All of the qualities seen in Psalm 23 perfectly describe Jesus. This is how He related to people, as sheep for whom He was willing to die to protect.

Jesus assigned the task of caring for His sheep to the apostles. In John 21:15-17, Peter is being restored as a disciple after denying Jesus three times. In the threefold commands to ‘feed my lambs’, ‘take care of my lambs’ and ‘feed my sheep’, Jesus is calling Peter back to his task as a disciple/apostle. As we see below, the first disciples/apostles understood their task as caring for the Lord’s sheep. Continue reading ‘Leadership in the early church (2)’ »

Leadership in the early church (1)

Recently I have been part of discussions in our church about leadership structures. In one conversation we were talking about the early church model of leadership, and someone asked how the early church structured their leadership.

I want to spend some time in a number of posts outlining my thoughts on this topic, based on my reading of the New Testament.

1) The early church worked out their leadership based on the mission and method of Jesus.

Jesus’ mission was to rescue God’s creation family and to restore God’s creation kingdom. Through His life, death, resurrection and ascension He re-establishes both God’s creation kingdom and creation family. As followers of Jesus, we are restored as God’s children (identity), renewed in the goodness of God (character) and recommissioned in the service of God (purpose). As disciples, we are being trained to live WITH God as His children, LIKE God in His character, and FOR God’s purpose in the world. Continue reading ‘Leadership in the early church (1)’ »

How to be a friendly church?

I’ve been thinking about whether guests would consider our church a friendly church. Often times members are quick to say that their church is friendly, but would visitors feel the same way? A friendly greeter at the door may or may not help (Walmart has these too). A time of mutual greeting may or may not help too (does it every move beyond a hollow greeting and handshake)? Are the people friendly-natured? Is there a friendly atmosphere or energy in the church? Do people look you in the eye as a visitor and engage you in a conversation? Do they actually seem to be interested, or are they just performing their part? Do people seem genuinely glad to be there, and glad that you are there too?

I found an article online by S. Joseph Kidder that raised some thoughts about being a friendly church. Some of them are printed below.

How about you, what makes a friendly church to you? (share your comments)
Do you contribute to the friendliness factor in your church?

1. Give guests the best attitude.
Visitors to your church need to notice a prevailing friendly attitude. Most will make up their minds about your church within 30 seconds of entering the front door. Continue reading ‘How to be a friendly church?’ »

Attending church less often!?

I recently read a post by Carey Nieuwhof on declining church attendance: 10 Reasons Even Committed Church Attenders Are Attending Church Less Often. Although attendance is not the goal or mission of our church, it is an important part of who we are and what we do as a church.

The reasons he suggests below are facts, whether we like or agree with them or not. The reasons suggested are his, the comments that follow are my summary.

1. Greater affluence
More people have more disposable money, and more options. Travel options, technology options, options for their kids.

2. Higher focus on kids’ activities
A growing number of kids are playing sports. And a growing number of kids are playing on teams that require travel. Many of those sports happen on weekends. Continue reading ‘Attending church less often!?’ »

Time to reconsider how we do church?

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24?-?25)

I have heard this verse used to encourage people to go to church. And to challenge those who have given up going to church. But what if this verse is NOT describing what we do when we go to church? Do our church gatherings actually accomplish what this verse suggests?

“How we may spur one another… encouraging one another!” As far as I know, there is very little “us” involved in spurring and encouraging. I know from personal experience that the large majority of spurring and encouraging is not “one another” but “one to the others”, namely me. I am the motivational speaker, everyone else listens, hopefully. A few others help, the worship leaders, an elder and a deacon (sometimes reluctantly). But for the most part, we come to be fed, to be encouraged, to be moved, to be challenged. We come to be passive, to be inactive, to be spoon fed. And then we evaluate and/or criticize the meal. Or leave to find a church with a better chef. Continue reading ‘Time to reconsider how we do church?’ »

Is it time to change how we do ‘church’?

“In many ways, the shift from the inherited Christendom mode to a predominantly missional mode of church is the biggest challenge facing the church since the Reformation. We are, whether we like it or not, living in what is rightly called a post-Christendom, post-Christian, postmodern world. We cannot assume that the ideas formulated in completely different historical contexts and conditions are equal to the complexities of the increasingly unstable, globally embraced world in which we must render our particular witness to Jesus. We must simply accept that what got us here is not going to get us there.”

From: “The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating Apostolic Movements” by Alan Hirsch.