Sunday, July 29, 2012

Church Leadership Issues (Titus 1:5-9)

Paul starts out the meat of his letter to Titus instructing him on the task he is to fulfill in Crete; namely to establish leadership in the church network there so that the churches will be successfully guided to live out their mission. In fact, this mission and its implications pretty much make up the entire content of the letter. Paul lists the qualities that the leaders should have and the bad habits and characteristics that should be avoided. It is nearly an exact copy of the list he writes to Timothy, so we’ll leave an analysis of the traits for that letter. Here we will simply raise two important (and perhaps disquieting) points regarding church leadership:

1. Churches in the New Testament tended to be led by individuals from within the fellowship.

2. In the examples we see in the Bible, leadership was appointed by outsiders/apostolic figures.

Both of these examples do not match current church practice in most evangelical churches.

On the one hand, church leadership has become a job much like any secular career field. Churches shop around for leaders from outside their fellowships and communities. Pastors are fairly adept and climbing the career ladder such as it is.

In my own tradition, the decision of whom to appoint or not as a leader is done democratically. There are spiritual reasons for doing so, but not exactly Biblical ones, and for the most part politics and popularity play more of a role than Spirit.

The way things are done today does not have to be a bad thing, and the example in Scripture here does not have to be prescriptive. However, the Biblical example seems to be more reproducible, flexible and Spirit-led whereas the trend in today’s church is toward specialized, slow-moving and institutional. Any desire towards a movement of growing and reproducing churches that will impact the culture around it needs to lean toward a more Biblical model of church leadership.

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