Summary: 5th in 5 lessons prepared and delivered at InSight - Discovery Christian Church’s Believer’s Service.
“What would God say about... Church Leadership
At first you see only a basketball bouncing, then the shoes of an anonymous player.. Then all of a sudden you recognize who the shoes belong to, it’s Charles Barkley, professional basketball player, “the round mound of rebound.” All of sudden Charles is looking right into the camera and he says, “Hey, don’t look at me, I’m no role model, I’m just a basketball player.” That’s how the controversial Nike commercial shown in 1998 started. It ended with a well known “Sir Charles” saying, “Just because I’m a basketball player doesn’t mean I can raise your kids.” And with his admitted sexual episodes and his often biting tongue he was right. But he was and is looked up to. Somehow he thought back then he could sidestep any responsibility of modeling proper behavior if he just told us not to watch him. Compare that Peyton Manning, quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts who said, “If you are a professional athlete you must accept that you are a role model. It’s up to you how you use that platform.” Peyton goes out of his way to talk to kids, to sign autographs and to as he says, “.. let people know that I’m more than just a football player, I want to be a good example to follow. Which of the two do you think is a leader? Which one would you want your children to take after?
Well, certainly the world needs exemplary role models and that certainly must apply to the church. In a day when many are put off by religious scandals and cults we must know how to gage those that are going to be leaders in the church. So, tonight this teaching has a both a specific and a general application. The specific application is to us as a Church: Choose your leaders carefully and then follow them consistently. The general application is to us as individuals: Be careful who you choose to follow as role models. Whoever influences you, an athlete, an entertainer, a successful business person, a school teacher, you be careful who you choose to follow. So tonight I hope you’ll make both the specific application to our church in terms of who God says should be our leaders and the general application to your personal life.
I. THE ROLE OF THE LEADER: Vs:5
First, let’s look at the role of formal leaders in the church of the New Testament. We here at Discovery want to use the Bible as our rule book and road map for life and that includes following the example and Biblical qualification for who we ask to be our church leaders. The main church leader in the N.T. filled the office of Elder. Now, that didn’t happen right away. In the NT, the Church was first guided by the 12 apostles, the close associates of Jesus. But as the church grew they began to appoint Elders. The first mention of NT Elders is in Acts 11:30 where Paul and Barnabas delivered an offering to the Church at Jerusalem and gave it to the Elders to minister they way they though best. When we think of the word “Elder” we often think of someone older than us. You know as in, “Respect your elders.” And although it is good for a spiritual leader to have life experience, when the N.T. talks about being an Elder it is not referring to chronological age as much as to their spiritual maturity. That’s why 1 Timothy 3:7 tells us they are not to be a “recent convert.” Referring to the fact that they should not be young in the faith, not saying they can’t be young. Now, as I said I think there are some real positives we should consider with life experience. It would be hard for a 20 year old to talk to a 34 year old father about how to raise his children. But just understand that “elder” here is referring to spiritual maturity rather than chronological age.
The primary metaphor most often used in the N.T. to describe an Elder’s primary role was shepherd. A shepherd is a person who takes care of the flock in many ways. Bob Jones of J.B.C. says that in the Bible the Elders had four primary tasks.
1. There were to be able to teach the flock-1 Tim.3:2 says that an elder is to be “able to teach.”
2. They were to be able to guard the flock. To oversee or be responsible for the spiritual management of the flock. In Acts 20:28 Paul tells the elders at the Christian church in Ephesus: “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.” In vs:31 it says, “Be on your guard!” Talking about protecting the church against those who would distort the truth.