Summary: Some leaders like a Gap, some follower create a gap, the way god meant his Church to be was good leaders leading and good followers following. you can also listen on line at www.preaching.co.nr
We shall discover today that “Church as it was meant to be” was clearly a leader- following community of believers. We know the passage so well, that says “they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching…….” Acts 2:42. This highlights the fact that they came under the teaching and leadership of the Apostles.
So much is taught in the church today about good leadership but so little about being a good follower. Church as it was meant to be was successful because of the contributing factor that early believers were good followers.
God has never intended his church to be (as it has perhaps developed in sections of the church) polarized between clergy and laity and so, for that matter, between leaders and followers or Pastors and Sheep. We are all equal in the eyes of God. Gal.3:27-29 However, in God’s design for His Church, he has made some to be leaders. Eph 4:10-12
Unfortunately some leaders like, and have created, a big gap or a distance between themselves and the people. When Paul and other writers speak about the togetherness of the church, they as leaders are a part of the body of Christ, just like the people they wrote to. (Eph 2:22, 3:6, 3:18, 4:16, 1Thess 4:17, 5:10, 3John 1:8)
Despite Congregationalist ideas about Church, God is not a democrat, nor a socialist, nor is God a dictator, or a communist or even a conservative. God is Sovereign and he has designed his Church the way He has meant it to be. God help us to discover and maintain your design.
If leaders or follower abuse God’s design they’ll answer to him and God may well ask some people at the Judgement seat, “Why did you do that to my Church?”
NO DIVINE GAP
So there is a Divine Order in God’s Church, of leaders and followers. However, there not is a Divine Gap between leaders and followers, because we are one in Christ. (Rom 12:12, 1Cor 12:12, 12:27, Gal 3:16)
Sadly, because leadership has been abused by politicians, bankers and even clergy, followers find it hard to trust leaders and so a Gap is formed between them.
The Gap between those who lead and those who follow is often filled with mistrust and suspicion, because of bad examples or experience of leadership. (Acts 5:35-38 speaks of some bad leaders and disappointed followers)
Leaders can also create and fill a Gap between themselves and people because of bad experiences they have had with people.
Some times there is a Gap because the leader is not Jesus, but just a human being. Therefore, some believers claim to only follow the Holy Spirit. Paul had followers, and Paul rebuked people for saying they only follow Jesus and not the church leadership. (Acts 9:25, 17:34, 1 Cor 1:11-13, 11:1)
DISAGREEMENT BETWEEN LEADERS AND FOLLOWERS
It is very dangerous to step outside God’s ordained order and refuse to come under the covering of leadership, especially when you don’t agree. What if you don’t agree with the decision of a leadership? How should you respond? Many people just go and find another church that they agree with until they disagree.
Some questions I ask: Is what they are doing or proposing unbiblical or unethical? Sometimes we need to ask if it is manipulative of the Word of God to gain their desires? Remember only God really knows their hearts.
So many people and Churches have been obstructed in going forward because some individuals have said “the Holy Spirit has not told me.” Trust your leaders to follow the Lord and to hear the Holy Spirit and, if they get it wrong, the Holy Spirit will be more gracious than many Christians or the Leaders will answer for it before God.
We can look with admiration at the early church because of its rapid growth, however, and perhaps say, “what a good bunch of leader- following saints.” Unfortunately, the early church faced similar issues to what the church faces today. Often problems arise in the church between leaders and followers because the enemy is allowed to create the Gap between leaders and followers.
Some of the issues the early church faced were;
The Corruption of Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5:1-4.
The Complaining over whose widows were being cared for most, Acts 6.
The Conflict at the Council at Jerusalem Acts 15
The Competitiveness of the super apostles 2 Corinthians 11:4-6
The Corruption of the Corinthian Church (see below)
The Compliancy of the Thessalonian Church (see below)
Problems in the Corinthian Church
A glance at just one of the early church epistles reveals the same problems many modern day churches face today (with some obvious exceptions, like #8 below). When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, he had to expound on issues like: