Archive for September 11th, 2008

In his book “A Church Building Every 1/2 Mile“. Jon Zens says this in reference to pastors and fellowship:

“Since pastors can’t usually find meaningful relationships among those closest to them, where do they turn? The ordained must leave their parish and attend gatherings of other ordained people. This accounts for the existence and proliferation of Ministerial Associations, Clergy Conferences, Clergy husband/wife retreats, and ministries to troubled church leaders. The clergy/laity divide creates a situation in which those on top can only find camaraderie with others in the same profession” (pg 36)

The fiber, backbone, driver, and engine of leadership is relationships. Take these words from Paul to the Thessalonicans:

But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.

He then goes on a few verses later and says “like a father with his children”.  Let me say if we get this wrong we get everything about the leadership Jesus talks about wrong. Jesus slept, ate, prayed, traveled with His disciples, even to the point of washing their feet. But if the quote above by Jon Zens is correct we see something that is the polar opposite and it dominates our churches.

Let me tell you why this happens. Religious Education, Church Offices, Pulpits, Hierarchical Structures, and the professionalization of the “pastorate” contributes greatly to this if it is not 99% of the reason this exists. As long as I am a Shepherd over Sheep versus a Shepherdly Sheep this problem will never cease. As long as I am identified by titles (reverend, pastor, minister, elder, deacon or the wacky ones such as bishop, apostle, superintendent, prophet or the like) instead of relationships I will never be deemed “the mature among equals” but I will consistently perpetuate a chasm that never narrows.

As Paul meets with the Elders in Ephesus (Acts 20) and he tells them that he would never see them again, you get one clear picture. They loved this man. They hug and kiss him and then they weep. We will fire a pastor if he isn’t performing (bringing in revenue in the name of people). Paul uses two of the most intimate familial relationships to express his love to the whole church in Thessolonica. We can’t miss this. If your leadership is defined by a title, position or function instead of your relationship to people you are no different than the way the Gentiles functioned. 

Listen, Jesus goes as far as to say “who are my mother, brothers or sisters”. Read this quote from Jon Zens for me:

Secondly, in the “clergy system” Bible School/Seminary graduates are imported into churches. They enter the “pastoral search” routine by coming to a church, preaching their best sermon, going through an interview, receiving a “call” from the assembly, and then accepting this “call”. Such a method functionally bypasses the knowledge of a person gained through relationships in the body. It is important to realize that in the New Testament, leaders emerged from within a believing community. (pg 51)

This is well to common in our churches and passes by with little to no scrutiny. How would Timothy and Titus know who were the mature believers to select as elders? The people would have known and would have been following these people. Remember elders came post church plant not pre church plant. I think we read our 21st century mentality into much of this. Timothy and Titus was SENT to ordain Elders in churches that had people functioning as elders. Notice they didn’t go to “make” elders Timothy and Titus didn’t bring guys they knew to function as the leaders of those congregations they elected them from among the people. People who were already functioning at the level Paul had described in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. And these things would have been impossible without relationship.

The people in Ephesus and Crete would have had intimate details about their lives. They would have played with their kids, ate each others food, worked beside them, and served with them. They would have saw the good, bad and the ugly and would have been able to trust them as they both grew and functioned in their giftedness. They would have known that these men loved them and cared for them, because they would have already been doing it. Listen, we can functions as leaders in a “church” I can begin working on my seminary degree and immediately walk into a church and be appointed some type of intern “position”. I may do well, but we will never see the type of maturity, equipping, inter-dependency, sacrificial love, support, and mutual edification that Paul describes in the New Testament. The people will always function as laity and the pastors as clergy and we will fall short of the New Testament pattern that the Reformers fell short in. That is their ecclecisology. If we are to lead like, Christ, Paul, Peter and John, if we as older men and women will be able to use terms such as “as a father or mother” or “my beloved children” or “my dear children” then it will take relationships. Us opening our homes and our lives. Allowing those we lead to see us function as human beings not as “clerical robots” saying the right things at the right time. If our relationships are outside of the body that we are “called” to lead then all we become is CEO’s, Presidents, Offices and never brothers and sisters and that misses what the New Testament and our Master calls us to.

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