Which of the following statements reflect the values of your church? Which statement reflects the values described in the New Testament?
A) Prospective church leaders should be evaluated by their job experience and their ministry skills: proven ability to grow a church, excellent communication skills in preaching and writing, exceptional organizational leadership abilities, and the people skills to provide pastoral care and persuade people to follow his or her vision for the church. B) Prospective church leaders should be evaluated by their character: above reproach, trustworthy, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, upright, holy and disciplined. He must not be given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money nor pursuing dishonest gain. He must love what is good and hold firmly to the teachings of the Bible.
Most of us will recognize that the list in “B” is a compilation of qualifications for church leadership found in 1 Timothy and Titus. And in like manner, most of us can likely agree that when it comes time to search for a pastor, priest, or staff member the emphasis is on "A," on the kind of skills they have and what they can do for the congregation. The focus is upon what they can do for us rather than who they are. In fact, in many cases, the incoming church leader isn't even known by those selecting him. (Sure, we get resumes and references and the like. We can even go online and listen to their sermons and look at their Facebook page. But do we really know them?)
The New Testament paints a much different picture. Church leaders are raised up from within a local church body and everyone knows their character because they know them as people that they have loved and served with for an extended period of time. There is no need to launch a nationwide search for someone they don't know; instead they recognize that there are qualified church leaders in their midst.
Granted, they might not be as skillful as the seasoned professional minister but is church supposed to be a performance by skilled professionals or is it supposed to be a meeting of the family of God who come together to encourage and care for one another? Do we really need the most skilled preachers and musicians or is it more important that we have leaders that we know and trust? Should we search for an out-of-towner or should we appoint someone who loves us and our community?
"Maybe it's not such a great idea to send our best young people off to a distant Bible college or seminary and then try to recruit strangers to come and lead our church."
Honest contemplation to questions like these will likely bring some change to our process for developing and selecting church leaders. We might find that the New Testament pattern of taking the things that we have learned and then entrusting them to reliable people who can teach others might be the way to go after all (2 Tim. 2:2). Maybe it's not such a great idea to send our best young people off to a distant Bible college or seminary and then try to recruit strangers to come and lead our church. Perhaps it is true, as Paul writes in Ephesians, that God has given gifts of men and women church leaders to each church so that they can equip the rest of the body for the work of the ministry.
Every local church and situation is unique so God might lead us different ways at different times. He is Lord of the Church and He does call people to go to various places to plant new churches or strengthen existing ones. But, in general, a healthy church ought to see people coming to Christ, growing in Him, and becoming leaders who then reproduce themselves. That is the goal. That is what we should strive to achieve – raising up and releasing church leaders of known character who can lead a church they know and love into everything that God has for that church.
Let's Pray Together:Lord, help me to find the ministry or place in church leadership that You have for me. Help me to see the church as You do, as the family of God coming together for mutual edification and encouragement rather than a performance by a few for an applauding audience. Help me to recognize good people to whom I can impart what You have taught me. Raise up church leaders with character from within our local church so that we might have quality Spirit-led leaders whom we know and trust without doing extensive searches to bring in a stranger. Hear my prayers for my church and these leaders that I bring before You now....(continue praying as you feel led)
Real Life Testimonies and Examples: House Church Part 1-- This video should automatically start at 5:28 where former missionary Bruce Woodford talks about his experience in selecting new church leaders.
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