Gospel Leadership | 1 Timothy 3:1-7, 1 Peter 5:1-4
November 18, 2018 Speaker: Christopher Rich
Topic: Stand Alone Passage: 1 Timothy 3:1–7, 1 Peter 5:1–4
Introduction | Leadership is Necessary in the family
Good Morning! Welcome to Damascus Road Church where we are Saved by Jesus Work. Changed by Jesus Grace. Living on Jesus Mission. Today in the life of our church we’re installing a new elder for the first time since sending out half of our leadership team to plant what is now Restoration Road. This is a time to reinforce how we understand leadership so we are unified as a family on mission together. Today we will look at How the church is like a family and how the new testament prescribes a church family to be arranged and function.In a family everyone has both relationships and responsibilities so everyone is to be connected and contributing. What those contributions look like can vary. A family on mission together requires leadership, vision, direction all forming a culture where the mission of God to the world and the members of the family of God flourish. As we talk about how a church family is arranged led we have three big experiential hurdles to cross. 1: The analogy of “family” can be difficult to embrace as we all come from a variety of family backgrounds with various degrees of health or unhealth. 2: We live in a culture with very few examples of effective humble servant leadership and we are all people who do not desire to be led but prefer the rejection of authority over us in favor of our own self-rule. 3. All institution with human leadership will be imperfect and many have experiences in the church with leadership that has been less than favorable some from domineering leaders others who are ineffective and have allowed immaturity to flourish rather than godliness. Our reaction from these experiences cannot be to reject or rebel from any form or structures of authority descending into lawless chaos. We need to be reminded of biblical model and structure of for managing and leading the family of God, the church at the local level.
1 Tim 3:14-15| 14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.
How is the church like a family? The church is by definition the family of God, and by nature a family of families living out their shared belief in the gospel together. The people of the church live in loving submission to one another, fulfilling their God-given roles, using their talents, gifts, and experiences to glorify God. Much of the new testament letters (specifically Paul’s and Peter’s) are concerned with giving instructions on proper living in the church as a family. God intends for the church to be organized and He has not left us without guidelines
Col 1:17-18 | 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.Before we can have or be leaders we need to know, submit to obey, and follow THE leader of all. Sin has separated us from the leadership of God to His people as we have tried to take leadership for ourselves. The Gospel restores relationship with God and replaces our proud rebellion from God with humble submission to God.Who is the head (Shepherd) of God’s house? JESUS! It is paramount in discussing the how and what of leadership we start with the who. We believe Jesus Christ is the head of the church, the one who plants, builds, and sustains it until He sees fit to end it Jesus is the Lord of the universe, and He is the Lord of the church. The church is made through Jesus, by Jesus, for Jesus, and is held together by Jesus. He is the king of the kingdom, has all authority, and is head of the church. Without a head, a body cannot live, it cannot grow, and it cannot function as designed.You can have gatherings.You can have traditions and religion. You can have buildings.You can even have preachers, programs, and a sense of community.But without Jesus it is all meaningless and it will one day begin to stink like a rotting corpse without a head.Therefore, the title of Senior Pastor is reserved for Jesus as it connotes a sense of age, immeasurable wisdom, and final authority. The church is a family who all Trust Jesus as savior King.
Phil 1:1 | Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: Scripture teaches that God has organized the people of His church into different roles in the church, each with different responsibilities.The church is full of members, deacons, and elders All three of these support one another in fulfilling the “work of ministry”.
MEMBERS | Family Relationships and Responsibilities: A family is not a family without members of it, otherwise it’s just a name an idea. One does not have to have specific office or role in order to contribute to the “work of ministry.”In fact, the life of the church is more dependent upon individual members living a gospel centered life more than its leaders running programs, starting ministries, or teaching Bible studies.Some members will be called to godly leadership, but all members are called to godly living. Scripture provides clear guidelines for how individual members without office or title, can fulfill the mission of God. The gospel-centered family is a God-given model for the Church family.
DEACONS | Leaders who Serve: The name deacon, or diakonos, is translated to mean: "servant", "waiting-man," "minister" or "messenger."Deacons are only explicitly mentioned in two places in the New Testament, both in relation to elders, because the two groups of leaders work so closely together (Phil 1.1; 1 Tim 3.8-13).The Acts 6 narrative is at times descriptive versus prescriptive (it tells us what happened but does not tell us exactly what we should do) in what it teaches. The purpose of having these leaders who serve was so the servant who lead would be more focused simply on Simple job description in what leaders in the church do. Devoted to prayer and the ministry of the word. In other words, when senior spiritual leadership is overburdened to the degree that they are unable to simultaneously get time for prayer, Bible study, and care of needy people, they are free to appoint pastoral assistants to help alleviate some of their burden—even if that burden is not the same one described in Acts 6.Deacons serve the church, being faithful to carry out the responsibilities entrusted to them by the elders, Example: Hospitality, Women’s, Sound, Road Groups, Benevolence. etc.
ELDERS | Servants who Lead Due to a tremendous amount of confusion and corruption in the history of church leadership, we feel it necessary to explain how our leadership functions and aligns with Scripture.term pastor-elder is used to distinguish the eldership from unbiblical “board elders” modeled after corporate America.The ordering of the church is not simply a matter of personal preference.Harmony and fruitfulness in our individual lives, our family life, and the life of our church are all dependent upon following God’s principles. The leaders of God’s household are more accurately described as “pastor-elder”, “shepherd-elder” or the like.To use biblical terms, the elders shepherd, oversee, lead, and care for the local church.In that sense, Damascus Road is an elder-led church. The words elder/pastor/bishop or overseer are all used interchangeably in the new testament to refer to the leaders of the church so these are not three distinct types of leader but rather overseer=elder=pastor. There all of our elders are considered pastors, men called by God to shepherd and lead this local expression of God's church. According to Hebrews 13.17, these men will have to give an account for those in their charge. To this end, we meet regularly to ensure they protect, lead, and nurture the church to the glory of God. Before talking more about what elders do we need to talk about what elders are and what qualities they MUST possess, and the team should function, as well as how they SHOULD relate, and how we lead.
PART I | WHAT MUST AN ELDER BE? QUALIFED | 1 Timothy 3:1-7
1Timothy 3:1-7 | The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2Therefore overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
Character: Elders MUST be qualified! The qualifications of eldership deal specifically with character.Elders are distinguished from other leaders in their mandate to teach doctrine, manage their household properly, and maintain an overall life of temperance and godliness. We are all called to be leaders of families, and some are called to be leaders in the church, community, etc. All of these characters qualification are those that every Christian disciple is called to exhibit.
Male Eldership:Biblically, only men are qualified to be elders. This should not be received as a condemnation of women in leadership, rather, embraced as an upholding of biblically assigned roles. Men and women are equal in value as image bearers of God worthy of dignity and respect. In God’s design for the family and the church family he has created distinctions in roles to promote flourishing of all, not domination of a gender for the pride of a few.Complementarian View (Moderate) – Men and women are partners together in every arena of ministry.All ministries in the church are open to all qualified men and women with the singular exception of the office of elder, which Scripture requires to be a male-only office to
mirror the order for the family. This is the view of Damascus Road Church.
Men qualified for eldership will have the respect of their families, friends, and even strangers in their personal, business, and spiritual lives.The best test for any elder candidate is to ask some very simple questions: (1) Would I want my son to follow this man’s example of a godly husband, father, and follower of Jesus? (2) Would I want my daughter to use this man as an example for her future husband?(3) Would I trust this man to take care of my bride and family? (4) Is this man pastoring his “first church” at home? True leaders exhibit exemplary character over a long period of time. In simple summary: the elder’s call is to nurture his relationship with God, maintain his household well, and teach and defend the truth SO THAT he might manage the church, shepherd the people, and provide a model of Christian living for others to follow.
Relation to God A man – masculine leaderAbove reproach – without any character defectNot a new convert – mature in the faithHolding Firm to the Word – knows doctrine, able to refute false truth
Relation to Family Husband of one wife – a one-woman man; sexually pureHas obedient children – successful father as prophet, priest, and kingManages family well – provides for, leads, organizes, loves
Relation to Self Temperate – mentally and emotionally stableSelf-controlled – not quick tempered but measured, sound in decision-makingSober-minded – able to communicate Disciplined – lives an ordered life emotionally, physically, spirituallyNot given to drunkenness – without addictionsNot a lover of money – Financially content, responsible, and upright
Relation to Others Respectable – worth following and imitatingHospitable – welcomes strangers, non- Christians for evangelismNot Violent – even temperedGentle – kind, gracious, lovingNot Contentious – peaceable, not quarrelsome or divisiveGood reputation with others – respected by non-Christians
#StayQualified Elders aren’t varsity Christians, but they are qualified. Elders aren’t Excellent Christians, but they are exemplary one.Being character qualified is a great responsibility, but it’s also a great blessing. It’s a gift from God, one given to enjoy, and one given to cultivate. As leaders fall, and fall some more, pastor friends of mine gather together and lament when this happens, soberly consider the fact that not of us are above or beyond a similar fall. However, we also praise God for His exceeding graciousness of equipping and empowering us with character that can keep us qualified to lead. Not only for leadership sake but for the blessing and enjoyment of flourishing life. To get be qualified is not a burden but a joy.
Calling: Elders MUST aspire the office. While there should be some internal reservation because of the reverence of the role there should also be some internal compulsion. Verse 1 says there is some aspiration, some “want to” even “need to. This desire is not wanting something self-deprecating or self-aggrandizing but is desiring a “noble task”This call is discerned in community, meaning there is external affirmation from called/qualified elders who have accessed character, competency, calling, and chemistry. One cannot, and should not, force someone to be a leader.Men qualified for eldership will have in innate desire to lead.Men can ask or be asked to consider eldership, but eldership should never be pursued by any man motivated by power, guilt, or regard. Men are not called to a role or an office but a place and a people for a time and season.
Competency: Biblical passages such as 1Timothy 3 and Titus 1describe elders’ responsibilities explicitly.Other tasks can be inferred through various passages describing the leaders of the church.The Scriptures illustrate how Elders serve by leading with their primary focus as the spiritual oversight of the congregation. Biblically, they must be able to teach but they are not required to have M.DIV as their last name.The term “ordination” is often used to prove a man is qualified to pastor a church, although it does not appear anywhere in the N.T.The word maintains a modern ecclesiastical sense where an unbiblical line is drawn between laity and clergy.In addition to being called and qualified, an elder must competently and consistently accomplish the biblical duties of an elder as listed by Scripture:There are a variety of different duties each requiring different competencies.
According to Bob Thune’s Biblical Eldership there are five key things Elders are called to:
- Feed God’s Flock: Treasuring Gods’ word and teaching it to others
- Protect God’s Flock: Refuting false teachers and spiritual apathy and sin.
- Lead God’s Flock: Being examples in both character and competency(skill)
- Care for God’s Flock: by encouraging them in the gospel through all kinds of life circumstances.
- Champion God’s Mission: and train others to live as missionaries in our culture.
An elder that doesn’t know the scriptures is not qualified to lead a church, and in fact, puts the church in danger.An elder may have skills and giftings that are stronger than others but every elder must be able to Teach/Preach, Lead the flock and care for sheep. We believe the utmost care, caution, prayer, and assessment must be undertaken to assure that only called, qualified, and competent men are appointed to this position of leadership. The being of what an elder is should include the doing of what an elder does.
PART II | WHAT MUST AN ELDER DO? Be Sheep who Shepherd | 1 Peter 5:1-4
1 Peter 5:1-4 | So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
Culture and Chemistry. Teams of character qualified, called and competent men can still be gathered together and struggle to relate to one another and effectively lead the church. Just because someone has character, competency, and a sense of calling doesn’t’ mean they are called to every elder team. Elders are sheep who need a shepherd and are under shepherds of the chief shepherd. Elders are specific to certain church at a certain time. You’re not an “at large” elder, you elder specific people, place, and time. You don’t shepherd under compulsion but in joyful alignment with the mission, vision, values of the specific church place and time and direction. There is a chemistry and compatibility that leads to greater excitement and alignment with this specific local church and the specific way they pursue the mission of Jesus with the specific people who are present. So no one is an elder of an “ideal church” but of a real group of flesh and blood people. Where chemistry is lacking so often is joy and effectiveness of the “team” not really a team but a collection of individuals. You may be gifted and feel called but may not a fit for a certain team at a certain time. Chemistry is also essential because they are to be culture keepers. We believe effective elder teams need to have an agreed upon culture and harmoniously function with good chemistry.This culture includes:Plurality of Eldership:Both the O.T. and the N.T. evidence a plurality of eldership in churches.There is a cooperative team as opposed to polarization around one-man countless times you see the NT refer to “elders” only talking about an “elder” in regards to individual qualifications. Equality and diversity of Eldership:The elders share the position, authority, and responsibility of the office of eldership. While there is a diversity of giftings and amount of time devoted based on vocation there are not JV elders or executive elders etc. Because people are unique individuals that means different elders will elder uniquely. Not every elder looks, acts, is gifted, or is involved in the ministry of the church in precisely the same way. This varies greatly (within the bounds of being qualified) based on giftings, desires, life stages. That means not every elder is always leading a group or teaching a Bible study but that are able to teach both explicitly (point people to the gospel through the scripture) and teach as an example. It means that some will have lots of time to serve, engage, others less. It means not all are called or gifted to be preachers, but all care about what is being preached.
Leadership within Eldership:Even though all the elders share in carrying the burden of equipping the church, we also believe that among the elder board there is one primary elder leading in this respect, and that is the Lead Pastor. He does not do all the thinking or decision making but often points the direction. We believe that the lead pastor is a ‘leader among leaders’ or ‘a first among equals.’He has greater responsibility and distinct role but NOT greater authority or unique office . He is in no way autonomous, he serves a role fully in submission to Jesus Christ and under the authority of the elder board.His role is as a servant-leader not a tyrant.Accountability OUTSIDE the Elder Board: 3Strand Covenant Community (immediate family/local) CB Northwest (Regional), Acts 29 Affiliation for church planting (Regional, National, International)
Champions of the mission, not caretakers of a museum. Elder/Pastors are not figure heads or those with a ceremonial role, they are culture shapers and culture keepers of the church. More than merely reacting to challenges they pro-actively lead and intentionally act as disciple makers. They are devoted and skilled and willing to teach, rebuke, rule, guard sound doctrine, do evangelism relationally and otherwise, engage with difficult situations and people, and train up other leaders. So an elders MUST be a faithful reliable Christian, but cannot be merely one Elders are pacesetters of the mission not place holders on a board. This means our elders embrace and embody our distinct mission, culture, vision, values, of our church including our: Mission Statement (Great Commission Matthew 28:18-20) - Identity Statement (WE ARE: Saved by Jesus’ Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, Living on Jesus’ Mission) – Core Values (Gospel Truth – GospelCommunity – Gospel Living) and embody our Marks of Discipleship – 4G’s (See specifics below):
- Gather – Present and active in roughly 40 Sunday gatherings each year. Actively Participate, lead and/or co-lead a ROAD Group. Reasonably engage in other church events/activities.
- Give – Demonstrate regularly, cheerful, and sacrificial giving to the local church.
- Grow – This includes personal discipline and pursuing other educational opportunities.
- Go on Mission – Serving on Sundays once a month, on mission in the home and community.
Skillful shepherds will lead the sheep. They will not be content for the flock to remain as they are, nor even manage them more efficiently. They will seek the growth of the flock numerically. They will also seek their progress, individually and corporately, towards maturity. They will not be managers, for managers deal in seen realities, but leaders, for leaders deal in unseen potentials. – Derek Tidball, Skillful Shepherds.
PART III | How should expect Elders to serve and lead you? How should you respond?
Hebrews 13:17| Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
Elders are accountable to God for the flock in their care. This is humbling (nearly terrifying) for the leaders, but also should be sobering for Christians to joyfully be active in a local church with Elders who love Jesus and engage with the people God has brought them.
EQUIPPING - Contrary to popular belief, the “work of ministry” (Eph. 4.1) in the life of the church is not the sole responsibility of the pastors.God has given gifted leaders to equip the saints for the work of ministry and mission. The purpose of the equipping is for us individually and corporately to grow in maturity for the purpose of the building up of the church. This means knowing, embodying, holding up, what is true. Teaching or instructing where their ignorance or lack and correcting or combating where there is error held or falsehood promoted. Titus 1:9 |He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. Elders know there way around the Bible, like a home town where they know roads and land marks. The word for “sound” doctrine has two meaning one is simply “healthy”. Healthy produces flourishing life and often multiples, opposed to sick which robs life. It also means “sound” like the soundness of ships hull that is solid and secure rather than porous and leaky. False teaching is like a sickness that robs life or a leaky hull that will eventually sink a ship.
1 Timothy 4:16 |Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. Another way of saying this guard your doctrine and guard your life. Know, grow, protect what true about you, God and the gospel, AND guard the application of Gospel truth in your life. One of the greatest bible teachers I’ve ever heard had sound doctrine, but not sound sexuality.It’s also necessary to engage in protecting what is true and discerning what is false.
EMPOWERING- This means Elders/Leaders aren’t the ones you go to get something taken care of, but we are here to empower you to fulfill the ministry/mission you’ve been called to in the life of this church to the city and community and places we’ve been called to reach. That means delegating responsibilities and developing this and the next generations of leaders.
ENCOURAGING –In the Gospel. We cannot heal what is broken in anyone. When you come with your ruined finances, broken marriages, chains of addiction, despair, bitterness we cannot wave a magic wand and fix anything. Quite the contrary. But we can present with you in your suffering and engage where there are difficult situations to tangible remind you you’re not alone. But most importantly all of what is considered “care” for sheep/flock that we’ve been blessed and entrusted with is to point them back to the Chief Shepherd. While good elders/leaders are important they are not where our hope is. Elders come and go, individual churches grow/shrink and change, but we rest in a one who never leaves and never changes.
In all things our hope is not in the character, call, or competency of Elders, Pastors, Leaders, Shepherd, etc but is in the unquestionable character of God who is good, perfect, and loving. God who saw the need for salvation and wholeness because of brokenness and the just wrath of our sin and was perfectly Called by His character to initiate and engage as a bold/humble servant leader who laid His life down for His sheep to save them from their sin and death to everlasting life. Jesus is exponentially competent to bring us this new life in His resurrection where begins a new work in us that he is perfectly capable to carry to completion. We look to Jesus for love and leadership, we lovingly point others to Jesus through leadership We’re humble to know only Jesus is a perfect leader, so we can look at our imperfections and not despair and at our gifts and not be prideful, so we can know He is sufficient while still striving for growth.
Because we know our God and king loves and protects His church we submit, serve, and lead as a Family on Mission Together praying all would simply Trust Jesus.
“Christlike elders are not an optional church feature; they are central to God’s plan for shepherding his churches.”– Jeramie Rinne