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Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Myth of Church Leadership (5b)

Contrasts between
Followers of the Lord Jesus
Church Leaders 

3. Their assignments/tasks/responsibilities (job description):
     -the job description for each follower of Jesus is unique and personal. It is
       uniquely fitted by the Lord to the individual follower and in keeping with
       His plan for that follower.  (John 21:21,22)  Peter seeing him saith to
       Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?  Jesus saith unto him, If I will
       that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.

     -the job description of each church leader is determined by the expectations
       of the group which has called him/her to lead them.  It is fitted by the
       group to their own perceived needs. I Samuel 8:19,20 “We will have a
       king over us; that we also may be like all the nations; and that our
       king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.

4. Their rewards/benefit package:
     - the Lord Jesus’ followers will be made fishers of men Matt.4:19
     - those who are poor in spirit are blessed for theirs is the kingdom of
       heaven Matt.5:3
     - those who mourn are blessed for they shall be comforted Matt.5:4
     - those who are meek are blessed for they shall inherit the earth.
     - those who hunger and thirst after righteousness are blessed for they
        shall be filled Matt.5:6
     - those who are merciful are blessed for they shall obtain mercy.
     - those who are pure in heart are blessed for they shall see God.
     - those who are peacemakers are blessed for they shall be called the
        children of God. Matt.5:9
     - those who are persecuted for righteousness sake are blessed for theirs
        is the kingdom of heaven. Matt.5:10
     - those whom men revile, persecute and say all manner of evil against
        falsely for Jesus’ sake  are to rejoice and be exceeding glad for great
        is their reward in heaven for so were the prophets persecuted
        which were before them. Matt.5:11,12
     - those who do and teach the Lord Jesus’ commandments shall be
        called great in the kingdom of heaven. Matt.5:19
     - those who refuse to swear any oaths, but let their yea be yea and their
        nay nay,…
     - those who resist not evil, but rather turn the other cheek…
     - those who are sued at the law and whose coat is taken but let them
       have his cloke also…
     - those who are compelled to go a mile but go the second mile as well, ….
     - those who give generously to those who ask of them and do not turn
        away from those who would borrow of them….
     - those who not only love their neighbours, but also love their enemies,
        bless those who curse them, do good to those who hate them, pray for
        them that despitefully use them and persecute them… have the great
        honour of demonstrating to others their Father’s likeness (who
        makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends his
        rain on the just and on the unjust)!  Matt.5:34-48
     - those who do their alms, their praying and their fasting secretly will be
       rewarded openly by their heavenly Father.  Matt.6:1-6,17,18
     - those who seek first his kingdom and righteousness will have all their
        necessities of life provided….food , drink and clothing. 
     - those who come to him burdened and heavy laden, he will give them
        rest Matt.11:28
     - those who take his yoke upon them and learn of him will find rest to
        their souls for his yoke is easy and his burden is light.
     - those who will be your minister  will be great among you. Matt.20:26
     - those who will be your servant will be chief among you. Matt.20:27
     - those whom give generously to others will receive generous giving
        from others. Luke 6:38
- those who believe on the Lord Jesus will not perish but have
   everlasting  life and are not condemned.   John 3:15,16,18
      - those who drink of the water the Lord Jesus gives will never thirst but
        the water that he gives will be in them a well of water springing
        up to everlasting life. John 4:14
      - those who reap in the Lord’s harvest field receive wages and gather
        fruit unto life eternal.  John 4:36
      - those who come to Jesus will never hunger and those who believe on
         him will never thirst.  John 6:35
       - those who eat Jesus flesh and drink his blood have everlasting life,
         will be raised up in the last day, they dwell in him and he dwells
         in themJohn 6:54-56
       - those who do as their Lord did, i.e. washing one another’s feet and not
          taking place greater than their Lord will be happy. John 13:14-17
       - those who love each other as  the Lord Jesus loved them will be known
          as His disciples.  John 13:34,35
       - those who believe on the Lord Jesus will do the works that He did
         and greater works John 14:12
      - those who ask anything in His name will have what they ask that the
         Father  may be glorified. John 14:13,14
      - those who keep the Lord Jesus commandments love him and those who
         love him will be loved by the Father, by the Lord Jesus himself,
         the Lord Jesus will manifest Himself to them and he and the
         Father will come and make their abode with them. John 14:21-23
       - those who abide in him will bring forth much fruit. John 15:5
       - those who abide in him and his words abide in them will ask what
         they will and it shall be done for them.  John 15:7
       - those who labor with their own hands to meet their own needs, the needs
         of others and to support the weak will be more blessed in giving than
          receiving.  Acts 20:33-35

   -church leaders receive “benefit packages” that vary greatly depending on
    who it is that hires them. But their benefits just do not compare to those
    promised by  the Lord, Himself!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Myth of Church Leadership (5)

Contrasts between
Followers of the Lord Jesus
Church Leaders

1. Their call/appointment:
       -followers of the Lord are called/appointed by him to follow him.
         “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”  Matt.4:19

       -church leaders are called/appointed by a denomination, a school,
         a ministry or a congregation to lead them.   (God does not call
         anyone to church leadership!)  As in Samuel’s day, the desire for
         mortal leadership among God’s people is a rejection of God’s leadership.

1 Samuel 8:4)  Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, 5)  And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. 6)  But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. 7)  And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. 8)  According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee. 9)  Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them. 10)  And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king…..19)  Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; 20)  That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.
2. Their necessary credentials:
     -followers of the Lord Jesus only need …
                - a willingness to follow and obey the One who has called them
                  John 2:5)  His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he
                  saith unto you, do it.
                - a willingness to humbly serve those to whom He sends them.
                  Matthew 20:25-28)  But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye
                  know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over
                  them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it
                  shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among
                  you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief
                 among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man
                 came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give
                 his life a ransom for many.                                             
               - there is no gender monopoly on following him.

     -church leaders must:
                                    first be instructed/trained/educated in the beliefs and
                                    practices of the group they will lead,
                                   second be tested/questioned/investigated in order to
                                    prove their proficiency in explaining/teaching the beliefs
                                    and practices of the group they will lead,
                                   third be in possession of written documents (diplomas,
                                    ordination certificates, letters of commendation)
                                    verifying that authorities recognized by the group they
                                    will lead are satisfied that they are qualified to lead.    
     - church leaders (generally) must be males!

To be continued....

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Myth of Church Leadership (4)

Followers of the Lord Not Leaders of His People

As we have considered the absence of scriptural directives for any believer to be a leader of others and the inherent dangers when mortal men lead others, we would also do well to see the abundance of instructions to all believers to be followers of the Lord!

In the NT alone there are 25 direct commands given to believers to follow the Lord Jesus. There are 8 specific instances of people being obedient in following him and 4 specific warnings not to follow those who do not follow him!

Six times Paul instructs believers to follow him but clearly does not direct us to follow him blindly but only to follow him as he followed Christ.  Those who follow Christ will always be good examples for others and so scripture also commands us to be followers of other saints before us who were followers of Christ.   (Please follow the subject of “following” and “followers” through the NT with your own Bible and concordance.)

In this regard, it is most instructive to consider all that the NT has to say about all believers being good examples for others to follow!

The Lord Jesus is our prime example and is to be the preeminent one that we follow. Immediately after he had taken the humble place of serving and washing his disciples’ feet, he said, “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” John 13:15-17

Then Paul who wrote to the Corinthians, “Be ye followers of me even as I also am of Christ”, wrote to the Philippian believers to follow him and others who walked in the same way, “Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.Philippians 3:17

Then as Paul wrote to the saints at Thessalonica we see how the task of being followers of the Lord Jesus and good examples to others is passed on down to each succeeding generation of believers… “And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing. For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” I Thess.1:6-10

So it is very clear from the teaching of the Lord Jesus and the apostles that they were not at all interested in “leadership development”. Rather they were most interested in “followership development”!  Followers of the Lord Jesus would always be good examples and patterns for the generation that would follow them!

We see that Paul taught this same principle to younger men who were co-workers of his:…
To young Timothy, Paul wrote the following: “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.”

To young Titus Paul wrote telling him how to instruct both older and younger brothers and sisters in the Lord. But all of his instructions to others were to be illustrated and reinforced by the example and pattern of his own behaviour… But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.” Titus 2:1-8

In Paul’s final visit and conversation with the Ephesian elders - the instructions, commands and warning which he gave stand in stark contrast to the common practices of “church leadership” of today! “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  Acts 20:28-35

Finally Peter, who was given the responsibility of feeding the Lord’s sheep, writes to other shepherd/elders teaching exactly the same things as the Lord Jesus and Paul had taught.  I believe that Peter’s words here are some of the clearest instructions in all the NT  which reprove many of the ideas connected with “church leadership” today and teaching the positive pattern of followers of the Lord Jesus being living examples for others to follow… “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over  God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.” I Peter 5:1-3

(Your comments and questions are welcomed and encouraged. In the next post, I hope to show from the scriptures we’ve been considering the vast differences between  the scriptural teaching for followers of the Lord and the prevalent conception of “church leadership” of our day.)

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Myth of Church Leadership (3)

In my first post on this topic I challenged my readers to check out my claim (which many may think is radical and utterly false!) by what the scriptures clearly teach on this subject. Those who have been willing and have taken the time to list all scriptural references to the words “lead”, “leadeth”, “leading”, “led”, “leader”, “leaders”, “leadership” and  words of similar meaning such as “guide”, “guides”, “guidance” , “direct”, “direction” and  “directors” etc will be well aware that all such references in scripture are roughly divided into two groups: -those referring to God as the leader or guide of his people and those referring to mortal men who lead others.

Firstly, You will have found, as I did, that there are roughly  90 instances in Old and New testaments where God leads, directs or guides. He leads in the right way, in His way, in the way we should go, in light and truth, beside still waters, in paths of righteousness, to keep his statutes, in a plain path, in safety, in the way everlasting, into the way of peace, into the land of uprightness, by the springs of water, in the way of wisdom and in right paths.  He leads His own sheep out, gently leading those that are with young, He leads from evil, into blessing,   into all truth, to repentance, into the love of God, into patient waiting for Christ and finally unto living fountains of waters and wiping all tears from His people’s eyes.

Secondly, You will have found, as I did, that there are about 50 references in all the scriptures when mortal men lead, guide or direct.  In only about 10 of those instances was such leadership of benefit and blessing. Those cases were only when Old Testament people were lead by Gods appointed leaders such as Moses and Joshua, when Israel was lead into battle by divinely appointed leaders and captains and once in the New Testament when Saul of Tarsus was lead by the hand when he was physically blind.

In all the rest of the cases of mortals leading or guiding, Jeremiah’s declaration is most appropriate: I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.  And the prophet Micah warns us all, “Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide.”  Apart from mortal men being specifically appointed to leadership by God Himself,  leadership by mortals is always “into a way that is not good”, i.e.  God’s people are lead by mortal men into captivity or prison, into error, wickedness, destruction or death, into judgment before governors, councils or their enemies. The blind lead the blind into the ditch, into Babylon  or into idolatry.

Thirdly, It is most important to notice that not once in all the NT is any mortal man or woman appointed by God to the responsibility of leading, guiding or directing other people.

Furthermore, if one is actually going to lead others, it is crucial that the leader have the trust or confidence of those who are lead.  So a study of all that the scripture has to say regarding where our trust or confidence should be placed is most instructive…

Fourthly, If you were to look up all the instances in scripture of the various forms of the words “trust” and “confidence” you would find about 130 scripture passages which declare that God alone is worthy of our trust,  instruct us to place our confidence in Him  and describe the many blessings and benefits of doing so.

And Fifthly, by way of contrast, there are about 60 instances where we are forbidden to place our trust or confidence in man, in his gods, his wealth, his wisdom  and where the follies, curses, harm and destruction of doing so are clearly described.  Among these are many instances of warnings about trusting a friend or even your self!

It is for all five of these reasons above that I maintain that leadership by mortal men or women in the church of Jesus Christ is a myth without any scriptural support!  When men or women are appointed to or assume leadership in the church it is a sure sign of rebellion against Christ and disobedience to the Word of God!  While these words seem very harsh and critical, I also want to make clear that I do not believe that everyone who has been appointed to or has assumed positions of leadership in the church are wilfully and knowingly rebelling against God and His Word.  Likely the vast majority, like myself for many years, are simply following a religious culture which has been steeped for centuries in a “leadership” mentality and believes that such is entirely Biblical!

I am simply saying that it is high time to search out the foundations of this teaching, recognize it for what it is, reject it and return personally and corporately to the scriptural mindset of being followers of God as dear children!  As each of us radically adjust our thinking to acknowledge and follow only One Leader, our Lord Jesus Christ we will exert a far greater influence than any professed “leader” ever could!  If each of us purposes to be the best follower of Christ that we can possibly be,  we will in turn become examples to encourage other saints and those who do not yet know our Saviour to also follow Him.

(more to follow in the next post regarding followers of Christ exerting powerful influence on others by example. But let me encourage you to “flesh out” this subject for yourself and others by your own comments questions and observations in “comments” below or in personal emails to me at

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Myth of Church Leadership (2)

I must confess that for many years I myself propagated the myth of church leadership! Actually, there are many myths (in bold type below) which are associated with “church leadership”.

I highly regarded the separate class of the “clergy” which was appointed and “ordained” to lead the “laity”.  I attended and graduated from Bible school where I was trained in “homiletics” (which I was falsely informed was “the art of sermon preparation and delivery”). I served as a “pastoral intern” in preparation for “entering the ministry”. I was “ordained” a “clergyman” and given the highly respected title of “Reverend”. Not long after that I was “installed” as “the pastor” of a mission church in the West Indies. Here I was elevated to an elite place of ministry (“the pulpit”) above other believers and appointed to teach in a Bible school which was established to train other “church leaders” for “the ministry”!

But even then (the late 1970’s) the Lord was beginning to shake my concepts of “church leadership”:

- I began to be troubled every time I stood in the pulpit to lead (i.e. monopolize a “service”). I became deeply burdened realizing that the very fact that I was the appointed speaker meant that every other believer was virtually muzzled! They could not function (in stirring one another up to love and good works and exhorting one another) as God intends when His people assemble together! (Hebrews 10:24,25)

-I eventually realized that instead of a church hiring one “pastor” from outside the congregation to commence his ministry among them, God had designed an assembly of His people to be cared for by a plurality of elders/overseers/shepherds who were raised up within that gathering,  well known by them and recognized by the saints by the work that those men were already doing! (Acts 14:23, 20:28, I Timothy 3 and Titus1)

But for many years I still firmly believed that such elders/overseers/shepherds (of which I was regarded as one) were to be the leaders of the church, were to be appointed to be the primary speakers as well as to appoint or invite others to lead the saints by giving pulpit ministry.

I also believed that there were certain “church leaders”, “full-time Christian workers” or  “translocal servants”  such as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors or teachers who were to be paid or “supported financially”. But scripture never teaches any these things!

But I am just now beginning to realize that the practice of all of the above ideas (in bold type) denies many truths stated plainly in scripture. They deny…
- the priesthood of every believer (I Peter 2:5-10),
- the giftedness of every believer for ministry (I Peter 4:10,11; Romans 12:3-13; I Cor.12:7-27),
- the leadership of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in the life of every believer (Ps.23,2,3; 25:5; 27:11; 139:24; Isaiah 40:11; 48:17; 55:4; John 10:3; Romans 2:4; 8:14; Rev.7:17)
- the promise of divine provision for the needs of every believer who purposes not to hoard, save or stockpile for their own future but who rather gives generously to meet the needs of others as he/she is able. This provision is promised regardless of one’s gifting or function in the Body! (Phil.4:19 with 4:13-16; Acts 2:45; 4:35; and II Cor.8:11-15)

But perhaps even more, these myths about “church leadership” deny the facts that every believer from the youngest to the oldest, whether male or female, bond or free, Jew or Gentile, literate or illiterate…

-has all of the Father, all of the Son and all of the Holy Spirit dwelling in them (John 14:16-23)  Therefore the impression, often given, that “church leaders” are nearer to God than the rest of us is simply not true!

-hears the voice of God  (John 5:24; 8:47 & 18:37) has the anointing of God and is taught of God. (John 6:45; I Thess.4:9; I John 2:27)   Therefore the impression, often given, that “church leaders” hear from God for the rest of us is simply not true!

But most important of all, these many myths about church leadership entrusted into the hands of mortal men or women deny many vital truths concerning the relationship of every believer with their crucified, risen and ascended Lord Jesus Christ! These myths are practical denials of the following facts…

-Every believer has one mediator between God and themselves and one mediator of the New Covenant- the man Christ Jesus!  (I Tim.2:5; Hebrews 8:6; 9:15; 12:24) Therefore the impressions , often given, that we cannot meet with God, hear from God or speak with God apart from certain church leaders are simply not true!

-Every believer has just one Master and ought not to regard any other or submit to any other as “Master”, “Rabbi”, or “Father” nor to anyone who wishes to hold a place of preeminence or control over them. Those who are truly great among God’s people are happy simply to be “brothers” and “servants”!  In Matthew 23:2-12 the Lord Jesus warns us of those who desire titles, control, preeminence and power over others.
“The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.  For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”

-Every believer has just one Lord and ought not to give allegiance to any other. To do so is to deny the Lord Jesus and to bring division into His Body. 
Hear Paul’s reproof in I Cor.1:11-13 and his plea in Ephesians 4:1-6:
“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?”

 “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

-The Body of Christ has only one head! Therefore no one else has any right or authority to direct, to rule, to take charge over the lives or ministries of other saints or to hold others accountable to one’s self!  In Colossians 1:18 Paul declares the headship of Christ
“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.”

In Romans 14:12 he reminds us that our accountability is to God and not to men!
“So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”

In the next couple of posts, I hope to set forth the dangers and detrimental effects which follow when ever mortal men lead God’s people, the great blessings which accrue when God leads and how we can adjust our own minds and hearts to become followers of the Lord Jesus rather than aspiring to be leaders of others.