Church Leadership

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TruthTalks: Anointed Leadership – The Church Jesus would Attend Series

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When Christians exercise the apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, pastoral, and teaching roles under the anointing and guidance of the Holy Spirit, then we are likely to encounter Jesus.

When the Old Testament roles of King, Prophet, and Priest are applied with grace, power, and a focus on Jesus, then surely He is pleased to be in our midst and we are blessed to be in His presence.

If you want to find out more about this, or would like an expanded version of last weeks post on the same topic then click on the play button below:

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Anointed Leadership: The Church Jesus would Attend Series

Top ImageGod anoints men and woman to lead; this fact is indisputably taught and demonstrated in both the Old and New Testaments. Unsurprisingly then, anointed leadership is one of the evidences and criteria for the presence of God in a Sunday church service.

In this series, I am considering only what happens in a corporate gathering of the church, such as the Sunday service.

Individual Anointing in the Bible

In the Old Testament there were three special classes of people who the Holy Spirit anointed to lead the people of Israel; Kings, Prophets, and Priests (Exodus 28:41, 1 Kings 19:15, 1 Samuel 10:1). The kings lead the people in national affairs under the anointing power of the Holy Spirit; The Prophets spoke on behalf of Almighty God; and the Priests represented the people to God.

Then came Jesus and fulfilled the prophecy of the coming anointed Messiah (Psalm 2:2, Luke 4:18) to embody all three sacred offices; the perfect King, Prophet, and Priest.

‘God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him’ (Acts 10:38).
Although Jesus perfectly modeled and fulfilled these three anointed offices, when He ascended back into heaven, He passed on these functions to His church. Ephesians 4:8-13 records how Jesus appointed Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers to equip and build up the church in order for His people to ‘become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.’ Although not explicitly stated, these five categories of anointed ministry equate to the three Old Testament (OT) offices. The Apostles establish, govern and lead the church (OT Kings). The Prophets speak out the Word of God to the church and the Evangelists proclaim the Gospel to the world (OT Prophets). The Pastors and Teachers are to represent the people of God before His throne and to instruct them in His Word (OT Priests).

Unfortunately, in much of today’s church, these roles and ascriptions have become blurred and confused. Pastors attempt to fulfill the apostolic function, Apostles call themselves ‘Senior Pastor’, Evangelist think they are Teachers, Priests govern, and everyone thinks he is a Prophet.

The Anointed Leaders in a Church Service

Three designated people play dominant roles in most Sunday church gatherings. In the church I attend:

  1. One of the Elders co-ordinates the service (OT King). He greets the people, tells them what is likely to happen during the service, and orchestrates the various activities that follow.
  2. The worship leader helps the people to worship God and to enter as much as they can into His presence (OT Priest).
  3. The preacher speaks the Word of God to the People (OT Prophet).

It matters little who these people are, man, woman, or adolescent, but it matters a lot that they are anointed by the Holy Spirit with grace and power to do what they are supposed to do. And their task is to direct the people, be an example to the people, and point the people to Jesus. Helping the church to focus on Jesus and encounter his presence is paramount. This is what the Holy Spirit does and so this is what His anointing leaders are to do. Jesus said, “the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26).

Pointing to Jesus

Leaders do not represent Jesus so much as point people to Him. So, perhaps it would be useful to give some examples of what this does and does not mean in practice.
  • When a preacher makes what he thinks is a great point and immediately calls on the congregation to “give the Lord an applause offering”, he is pointing at himself, not Jesus.
  • When a worship leader takes center stage, sings songs nobody but he and his group can sing and cavorts about in front of the church with great showmanship, then he is pointing to himself and not Jesus.
  • When the person co-ordinating the service controls everything tightly, dominates and personally performs almost everything except singing and preaching, then he is pointing to himself and not to Jesus.

By the way, I am using the words ‘he’ and ‘him’ simply for convenience. I can’t see valid reasons why women should not lead worship, co-ordinate services, or preach.

So how then should a person co-ordinate a service, lead worship, and preach? By consistently pointing the people to Jesus.  They do this by honouring Him with their words and actions, helping the people to encounter Him, and faithfully speaking His words to them. Preaching is a form of prophecy in that it proclaims the Living Word (Jesus) from the Written Word of God (Bible) under the unction of the Holy Spirit. Worship leading is essentially a priestly duty because it helps the congregation to encounter The Lord and to respond to Him in song and in prayer. Leading a service is part of an apostolic ministry in that it lays out the structure of the service, co-ordinates it, and guides the people in responding to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

And in Conclusion

When the apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, pastoral, and teaching roles are exercised under the anointing and guidance of the Holy Spirit, then we encounter Jesus. When the OT roles of King, Prophet, and Priest are applied with grace, power, and a focus on Jesus, then surely He is pleased to be in our midst and we are blessed to be in His presence.

Anointed Leadership: The Church Jesus would Attend Series Read More »

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Women’s role in the church

Women In Church

In which roles may women function in the church? My answer is ‘all and any’. Which offices may women fill within the church? My answer is ‘Deacons but not Elders’.

In 2010 I wrote a short article on this subject where I based my contention for male Eldership mainly on the biblical pattern of ‘headship’. However, I did not even touch on the so-called ‘limiting texts’ that Paul penned in First Timothy and 1 Corinthians. I have just re-read Frank Viola’s article on the supposed limitations placed on women within the church. He contends that a responsible reading of scriptures within their original contexts cannot result in female suppression. I agree with him but thought that I too should comment on some of the key issues.

But first I must restate the three ‘golden keys’ to responsible Bible interpretation, which are:

  1. Context

    An informed evaluation of biblical, textual, historical, and socio-economic context which yields the ‘first intended meaning’ of any particular passage. This usually yields the essential meaning of the passage. We then apply the truth of the passage into our current historical and cultural contexts.

  2. Christocentricity

    This is what Jesus taught, modelled, and revealed of the Godhead, and, is for me the final determinant of the meaning of a biblical passage. 

  3. Exhaustive Reference.

This requires a consideration and appreciation of what all of scripture has to say about the matter in question.

All too often church leaders come to their understanding of a passage by reading back into it the current conditions of their society. The role of women in the church is a prime example of this. Women play major leadership roles in post-modern politics and business so surely they should play a like role within the church. But, if we truly believe that the Bible is our trustworthy guide to faith and life then we must start with what we responsibly understand it is teaching, and then apply this in our current situations.

However, a responsible, interpretation of scripture must take full account of original Context, Christocentricity, and Exhaustive Reference. I am critical of the arguments based on current conditions, but I am equally critical of arguments based on a superficial and de-contextualized reading of scripture.

The two ‘limiting’ texts most often cited by those who restrict the role of women in the church are:

1 Timothy 2:11-15 ‘A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing — if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety’.

 

1 Corinthians 14:34-35 ‘Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church’.

Read the Frank Viola article for details of alternative, yet valid, ways of understanding these passages within the context of the churches of that day in Ephesus and Corinth. I really don’t need to add anything to his analysis in a short article such as this.

‘The Message’ translation of the Bible is very interpretive, but this is helpful in understanding how Eugene Petersen understands key texts. His rendering of 1 Timothy 2:11-15 supports Frank Viola’s understanding – ‘ I don’t let women take over and tell the men what to do. They should study to be quiet and obedient along with everyone else. Adam was made first, then Eve; woman was deceived first — our pioneer in sin! — with Adam right on her heels. On the other hand, her childbearing brought about salvation, reversing Eve. But this salvation only comes to those who continue in faith, love, and holiness, gathering it all into maturity. You can depend on this’.

Now, if we apply the Exhaustive Reference principle the matter becomes even clearer because the Old Testament, the Book of Acts, and Paul’s teaching on the gathered church point strongly to the kind of interpretation presented by Viola and others (myself included). For instance, just consider Acts 2:1-18, 16:11-15, 18:26, 21:9 and then add to this Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 11:4-5 on praying and prophesying .

As to the Christocentric principle, Jesus did not teach directly on the subject in question, but He did model an acceptance of women in ministry. For instance Luke 10:38-42 where Jesus accepts Mary positioning herself as a disciple by sitting at His feet to learn from Him. Also, read Luke 8:1-3 and 23:49 for insights into how Jesus interacted with women.

I think that a biblical context-based understanding of both prophecy and teaching also opens the door to the acceptance of women preachers and teachers within the church.

Just to be clear, I believe that women can and should minister in all capacities within and through the church, including that of Deacons, but should not serve as Elders, which is a headship function… but church government is another matter requiring another article.
Roughly one-half of mature and gifted Christians are women, yet in many churches they are relegated to teaching children, counselling other women, and doing admin-type tasks in the church… and this because a few texts are taken out of context – what a shame!

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Where have all the burnt stones gone…

…long time passing?

I was useless at mathematics when I was at school, but by the time I attended Business School I had warmed to statistics, graphs, and equations.  We all know the statement that “there are lies, then wopping lies, then statistics”.  There is some truth to that, yet statistics do alert us to trends and significant anomalies.

Here are some interesting statistics concerning the church:

  • George Barna estimated that in the United States 28% of the population is unchurched, and that 61% of these people described themselves as Christians.
  • Of these 18% stated that they are ‘born again’ and that their faith is of daily importance to them. To a reasonable extent the South African church statistics traditionally mirror those of the USA.
  • This means that there are roughly 8,000,000 people in South Africa who regard themselves as Christians yet do not attend church of any sort. Perhaps the majority of these folk are Christians by family history only. However, if the statistics are in any way reflective of reality, there are about 1,500,000 ‘born again’ believers who do not attend church.

I am not sure who first coined the term ‘burnt stones’ to describe these folk, but I think it was Ern Baxter.  Nehemiah describes how Sanballat ridiculed the Jews who were attempting to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. He sneered, “Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble – burned as they are?” (Neh 4:1-2) Very few people become disciples of Jesus Christ and do not initially attend church.

So, the one and a half million believers who do not attend must have dropped out for some reason or another. The most common reason given is “we were burned”.
By this, they mean that they were hurt, disappointed, disillusioned, financially milked, or over-worked by the church they were attending. There are other reasons cited but they are no more flattering to the perception of ‘church’ – boring, irrelevant, legalistic, manipulative, unfriendly, money-grabbing… the list goes on.

I am one of those who believe in the church. I see her as a precious body of believers, the apple of God’s eye. As a pastor, I know that church leadership often gets things wrong. Sometimes they try to structure the church as a business and as a result tend to produce spiritually bankrupt adherents to the Christian Faith. Sometimes they structure the church as an army and leave many wounded souls lying in their wake as they march on to ‘victory’. But the fault doesn’t lie solely with church leadership.

In essence, the church is the household of God (Ephesians 2:19).  It is a family (1 Peter 4:17),  yet so many of its members do not seem to appreciate that they are part of a real spiritual family. From time to time I learn that someone who has been attending for years has suddenly left and joined another local church or are not attending church anywhere. No reasons given; no goodbye and God bless you; just … gone. Of course, we follow up and usually find out that someone in the church ticked them off, or their children’s friends attend another church, or whatever. The question remains, ‘why did they just up and leave their spiritual family?’ In truth, the answer probably is that either they don’t regard the church as a family, or they have a warped view of what a family is and how it functions.

For too long now, too many churches have been setting themselves up as spiritual entertainment centres, colleges, clubs, or hospitals.
If the church presents itself as a supplier then it is hardly surprising if its ‘members’ behave as typical consumers. If a consumer doesn’t get what it feels it needs then it goes somewhere else. If the other church ‘suppliers’ don’t meet the need then the consumer becomes an unchurched ‘burnt stone’. A consumer says, “What can I get from this church?” whilst a family member says, “How can I contribute to this church family?”

Alternatively, so many people come from dysfunctional families that they think it normal to behave as though the church too is a dysfunctional family, even when it isn’t. Fathers walk out on their children, children rebel and leave home, so why not just leave church for whatever reason seems good at the time?

One and a half million ‘burnt stones’ – just think of that! What can be done? Well, if you are one of these, then I appeal to you to consider again just how important the family of God is. Acts 20:28-29 describes the local church as ‘the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.’  Now that makes the church important and valuable!

You have a place within the church, as a living stone, not a burnt one.
If you know folk who are ‘burned’ then why not try to lovingly explain what church really is and then invite them to connect with it again.

 

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About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.