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Tuesday, 30 October 2018

What does Jesus Christ expect of Church Leaders?

Again, very different
Everything about the Gospel is different from religion and everything about the way church is to be run is different from the way the world is run. And everything that Jesus Christ is looking for in a church leader is different from the criteria used by companies, political parties and organisations.

1. He must be a man
First of all, a church leader (I am thinking of overall church leadership, not specific leadership of say a children's ministry or a woman's ministry) must be a man. There is no hint in the New Testament that God's creation order, man first and woman second (nothing to do with hierarchy, everything to do with order) is done away with by the gospel. Men and women are equally made in the image of God. They are equal partners in salvation. They both are called to serve Christ, but just as in marriage where the husband is the head of the wife, so in the church men and men alone must be pastors and elders.

2. He must fit the criteria of Scripture
In Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3 there are around 21 qualities required of these men elders. All of them with the exception of one are about character. He must be a godly man. Jesus Christ does not expect leaders to be clever, educated, wealthy or succssful in the eyes of the world.

3. He must lead his family and his wife
One of the qualities is his ability to lead his own home. The logic is that if he cannot lead in the smaller sphere, how will he be able to lead in the large sphere?

Leading his wife lovingly is central to his domestic leadership. Most men, in the history of the world, from the moment of Genesis 3 onwards have been led by their wives. I have known men who are about as He-Man as Tarzan in the outside world, but who cower before their wife in the private of their own homes.

So it is right for the congregation to consider the elder's wife. Is she led by her husband? Does she support the church? Serve faithfully in the church? Is she happy in the church?

4. He must be a strong man
The characteristics required by Christ amount up to a strong man who knows and loves God and is not easily led astray by false teachers and false leaders who will one day threaten every church. Christian strong men are also gentle men, loving men, sensitive men, caring men. By "strong" we are not thinking "Putin-strong", but caring, sensitive and prayerful and gentle men. 

5. He must know truth well enough to spot heretics and encourage the sheep
An elder does not need to be a top-theologian (whatever one of those is). Only one of the 21 qualities is about his knowledge ("able to teach"). When we talk about knowing truth, the very last thing we mean is academic truth. The knowledge of God is very different from the knowledge of geography/astronomy/etc. It's experiential and personal and life-transforming, not encyclopedic. One day a sheep will come to him with a personal problem - the shepherd must be able to lead them in the ways of God.

6. He must be a supporter of the existing leaders and ethos of the church
It would be foolish to appoint a man who was hostile to the present shepherds who have been appointed by the Holy Spirit. If he is unsupportive outside of the leadership team, he is likely to be contentious inside. Does this man support the direction of the church? The DNA, the ethos? If not, two cannot walk together, since they disagree.

7. He must be a worker, not a shirker
No-one respects a lazy leader. And there is no such thing in the church as an executive elder, a button-pusher; someone who wants the authority, wants to make decisions, but does not want to dirty his hands in the grime and dirt and blood of ministry.

All in all an elder, a shepherd, a pastor is a strong and godly man, who cannot be led astray, either by his wife, or by false leaders who like foxes probe the chicken-coop regularly for weaknesses.

May God raise up such men in perilous days.

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