God 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:
- 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.
- The worship leader helps the people to worship God and to enter as much as they can into His presence (OT Priest).
- 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.