Please open your Bibles to Colossians 1:24-29
We are going to hit pause on Luke this week and take some time to fill you in on where we are headed as a church. This past weekend the board went away to Page’s river house and spent time in worship and prayer and discussing a number of things related to where we are headed as a congregation. The major change that we would like to begin the process of is one that changes us from the form of government that we have now, to a form of government that uses Biblical titles and Biblical qualifications for church leadership.
Before we do that I want to fill you in on the Why of this change. Now the first thing I want to share with you is that changing this doesn’t meant that the old system was totally broken and awful. I am always aware that when you critique an old system, you might offend those who were integral in that system because they think that you are invalidating their good experience. That is the very last thing I want to do. However, I have also learned from my time in leadership and business, that you can always make things better, and the doesn’t mean that things were awful before.
I will say though that one of the down sides of a board that is a sign up sheet is that the idea of leadership becomes a warm body proposition…
So, what I want to do today is not sell you on the what of leadership in the church, but the Why of leadership in the church, Why do we have leaders in the church?
Lets look at the text
Leadership is struggle and toil: Paul says that in his sufferings, he is filling up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ: I don’t want to spend a ton of time explaining this, but was it basically means is that the people around us do not see visibly the sufferings of Christ and his willing submission to death on a cross, but they can see our sufferings for Christ and our hope in the midst of darkness, and so what they lack in terms of visual experience, we fill up. Now this is a call for all Christians, but especially leaders.
We also see that Paul says he toiled among the people. Struggling with all his energy that he graciously gives me.
2. Leadership is stewardship: leadership is something that God gives to people, but He also gives for the church. V 29… Also look at Ephesians 4:7-16 The stewardship of leadership is meant to be grounded in the word, and it is meant to lead the people of God into maturity.
3. Leadership is not for everyone: Leaders must be qualified and called. Now, this flies in the face of a pragmatic culture of equality, but it is also Biblical, and in fact, the church is typically the only place the idea of equality gets played out in the way it does. Maybe government too, but we wont get into that.
Qualified: Look at 1Timothy 3:1-13
Called: Look at 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 “God has appointed…”
In light of the call for leaders to struggle and toil, and in light of the stewardship of leaders to unfold and declare the Word, and in light of the fact that leadership is gifting and calling working together, we, the board of ECC are proposing to change the model of our church government from a board of stewards, to an elder and deacon model.
What we are now: board of stewards: 11 people who have mainly signed up for positions and affirmed by the congregation, who govern the day to day business of the church. There are board members who have other areas of responsibility, and there are some who serve as member at large, and secretary. The only qualification to be a board member is to be a member of the church.
What we are proposing as a board is to open the scriptures and ask, “does our current structure line up with Scripture?” There are areas that I believe it does, and areas I believe it doesn’t. We are a congregational accountable Church. I will ferociously defend that to my death. I believe that the authority of the church lies within the gathering of the body, and that the body delegates authority to the elders of the church.
There are other areas that I have mentioned where our articles do not line up with scripture:
Titles: we do not have Biblical title for leadership. this may seem petty, but if we are to use Biblical qualifications, we should also use Biblical titles for leadership.
Qualifications: already talked about that.
Plural complementation Eldership: this is a little fuzzy here. We as a church believe that pastors should be male, but our board serves as an amalgam of elders and deacons and we are egalitarian in that respect.
There are others, but let me show you what we are proposing… Tom, can you put that on the screen?
Now, here is what we are asking. we want to have a congregational meeting at the end of the spring, early summer to discuss these issues and vote on weather or not to head in this direction. Until then, your job is to first of all, search the scriptures and see for yourself what the Bible has to say about leadership. Then ask as many questions as you can to make sure you understand what is going to happen and how. The board will be sending out documents as we prepare them so that you will see what we are proposing.