#017† THE POWER OF UNITED LEADERSHIP, A Pastorís Pamphlet (Part 2)†† By Rich Reid
YOUR BROTHERS AWAIT YOU
There are some good reasons for pastors to make time for each other, that have implications for every level of our ministries.
1.†††††††† Pastoral Unity helps to fulfill the purpose of God for the church age.
Here is an important theological perspective, yet few seem to be aware of it. Consider this with me a moment. What is Godís Purpose for the church age in which we live? Review these passages: Mat. 18:15 ≥I will build my church≤ Eph. 1:10 ≥all... under... Christ≤; 2:15 ≥one new man out of the two...one body" 3:6 ≥mystery...one body", 3:10 His intent...through the church; 4:13 ≥until we all reach... unity...mature...fullness≤.
Even Mat. 28:19, 20, the great commission says to make disciples who obey Christís commands, which is another way of saying bring people into t he body, build maturity and unity within the church and reproduce it.
To me that adds up to this. Godís mission in the church age, from the cross to the second coming, is to call out a people who are made one body by the life-giving Spirit they all share. They are one when they are born spiritually into Godís family (I Cor.12:12-13, compare I Cor. 1:1-2). They experience unity when they are filled with the Spirit. They grow in experiencing unity when they mature and are equipped to serve Christ and His body (Eph. 4:11-16).
Have you ever thought about the significance of the fact that Godís big concern right now is to add to and build oneness in the body of Christ, the church? The Church is Godís agenda. If that is Godís purpose, shouldnít it be ours as well? Has that been your driving sense of mission?
Well, first you may want to search that out some more, before youíre convinced one body in Christ calls for that much emphasis. Go ahead. Now, however, lest we lose perspective and beat a strange new drum to death, let me consider with you just what Biblical priorities really are. Donít be so sure you know already. Please check it out.
2.†††††††† Pastoral Unity is living by Priorities instead of Pressures.
It is easy to live under pressure in the pastorate. When is the last time you sat on the porch, or even the living room, without the TV on? Life in the culture is hectic for most everyone, then add the demands of the omnipresent pastorateówow! So the battle to live by Biblical priorities is quietly raging. But most people I hear speak of living by priorities fail to begin with a Biblical foundation. Should it be God, Family, Work? What happened to the church? God, Family, Church, Work, Recreation offers balance. Some insist on God and then Evangelism. Letís get it from Jesus, as he prays on the night before his crucifixion recorded in John 17. ≥... May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me≤ (Jn. 17:23). Christ is first, unity of the believers is second, which testifies to the world, which is third, in Jesus mind as He prays. (See appendix for further development in the form of a free sermon).
3.†††††††† Pastoral Unity can cause more life to flow through the body to do effective evangelism.
It is commonly understood that we cannot be good at evangelism unless we have a good relationship with Jesus Christ. We must have a good testimony, and His life and light must be seen in our lives. It is equally true that we must have a loving and united relationship with the believers to do evangelism. In Jesusí prayer the night before His crucifixion, John 17:21 and 23, He reveals that oneness will result in the lost world knowing Him. In order for life to reach the unbeliever it must flow from Christ through the fellowship of believers and then to a watching world.
I knew this principle, but I was still impressed when I saw it in operation. Four of us students were traveling to Boston from Wheaton for a conference, two guys and two girls. We were sitting in a booth in a restaurant having a great time enjoying one anotherís company, when I sensed it was having an impact on the waitress. She changed from ho-hum in attitude to marveling at our relationship. She had seen how we loved one another. Of course that statement depends on my accuracy of perception. But on another occasion, we have an unbelieverís word for it. A girl in our college group on the west coast brought a friend to several of our outreach events and then to college camp in August. Her friend was a Japanese co-worker at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who professed to be an atheist. After being around us a while and seeing our love, he remarked that we loved each other so much that it almost convinced him to become a Christian. It makes sense, doesnít it? It is less threatening to observe the love of others toward each other, than to have it all aimed directly at me.
4.†††††††† Pastoral Unity models unity before Christians and the watching world.
If Godís purpose is one Body, we need to model a proper balance for our people, donít you agree? We are told to be examples to the flock (I Pet. 5:3). Paul told Timothy to "set an example for the believers...in love" (I Tim. 4:12) But how do we model it? How do we, as equippers, equip the believers to be and become what God is producing in and through them? How do we produce oneness in Christ in themóunless we model oneness as leaders?
1)†††††††† Weíll have to teach the word on the need for oneness, for it equips us for every good work, according to I Tim. 3:16-17.
2)†††††††† Weíll have to pray for oneness. In Acts 6, leaders gave themselves to the word and prayer.
3)†††††††† Weíll need to provide opportunities for the body to function.
We canít do all the talking, if we are to get the people to become one by sharing and fellowshipping, right? Thatís hard for pastors, who have so much to say. But isnít it Christ who gives us our assignment? Then weíd better do it. We must encourage mutual building within the body of believers.
To model oneness, leaders must be independent thinkers as well as team contributors. Picture this. In Exodus 17, Moses is the key leader as the Amalekites come to attack Israel. Moses appoints Joshua to lead the army in their counter-attack. But Aaron and Hur also ascend the lookout mountain with Moses. Are they goofing off to avoid the battle? Or are they functioning as essential team members? Without Moses lifting up the rod to God, as a symbol of prayer, Joshua would have lost the battle. Without Aaron and Hur holding up Mosesí arms, Moses couldnít continue calling on God for victory. It took the whole team of leaders. And so it does today.
In my experience, committees and boards are often excuses for the individuals to pass the buck to a group who will take the heat for decisions made, or inaction on goals declared. A team of leaders, as I envision its application from scripture, is the sum of the contribution of differently gifted individuals. They make an impact greater than the sum of the parts, because of the principle that two are better than one (Eccl. 4:9-12 ) and because God is freed to work through them in power in a way not otherwise possible. United leaders can stand against opposition, but a divided board is powerless. Has that not been true in your experience?
How will the congregation learn to be a united loving fellowship of Godís people, who love, support and edify one another, if they never see it modeled by those who preach and teach that they should? Perhaps that is why so many churches endure conflict. I personally knew of 18 churches in conflict situations during a certain year in the 1980ís. Often it requires modeling by spiritually mature men, scripturally called elders, before others can see how it could happen. It is supernatural and not in the realm of our normal human experience. It can be modeled by a team of church leaders, but often in smaller churches there are leaders who are not spiritually mature on the elder level. Could not local pastors demonstrate it first?
5.†††††††† Pastoral Unity builds a functioning team that is victorious through prayer on the battlefield of evangelism.
When I arrived to candidate in a church in the Far South Suburbs of Chicago, I asked about what relationships existed with other evangelical churches in the area. There was only one other church that was even mentioned by church people, but that one was repeatedly spoken of with bitterness. "They have taken our young people.≤ The truth was that those young people had chosen to leave. But my point is that this church was ministering in isolation. Carry that thought out to apply the vision of reaching the 100, 000 people in the general area. The sixty people of our church, for instance, simply cannot do it. Satan≤s stronghold on the area will never be broken unless all the fellowships of Godís people can unite in prayer and evangelism. Not that we have to join an organization or become one church, but we could agree on the essentials of Christ, the Bible and spreading the Gospel. I see no other way for these people to be reached for Christ, especially when people move an average of every 4 or 5 years. They will be gone before we even get word to them that a church exists in the neighborhood, unless God intervenes. Instead, we more often see large churches very busy trying to make the adjustments to their growing numbers (still a small percentage of the surrounding population), and smaller churches trying to keep the few people they have. Both are often too busy to build relationships with each other. Pastorís meetings are occasionally held, but the most motivated are small church pastors who meet out of desperation and need for encouragement, instead of because of the vision of scriptural unity.
TIME FOR THE TEAM
Discerning priority levels of relationships is required if we are ever going to have time for the most important. The phone is ringing again. ≥... Yes, Iíll meet you at the airport...Iíll make time, Iíll rearrange my schedule. Can you come and let me share you with the congregation? ...You only have 2 hours, when? ...Oh no. I have a wedding scheduled. Sorry, weíll have to make it next time, Brother.≤ Notice the attitude is one of making this brother-in-Christ top priority over all local responsibilities if at all possible. Only when a prior commitment that could not be reasonably changed was present, was the meeting turned down. Why would that attitude be in place for a busy pastor? It is because there is enough history in the relationship to know that this brother is serving the Lord Jesus as an elder of some kind (pastor, missionary, evangelist). Therefore, that relationship is viewed as of higher priority than the local task of ministry.
Relationships precede tasks as love is prior to service. Yes there is an obligation to fulfill our responsibilities in ministry, but here is a brother in ministry with whom we are one, and for whom we would give our lives. Have you had that kind friend and brother in the Lord?
The triune God modeled this principle of Relationships before Tasks, as illustrated. Creation and redemption are tasks that grow out of the unity of the trinity.
Perhaps we can understand this principle better as we see it in our own families. Mom and Dad fight over the discipline of the children, and their lack of unity hinders the task of child rearing. Children of broken homes often have great difficulty with the task of school work. It is very hard to enjoy company when youíve just had a fight with your wife. While company might be a welcome escape from the battle, it certainly will not be a witnessing opportunity of the grace of God in your marriage. Relationship comes before tasks.
If the principle is evident in the trinity, and we can see it in our family life, would it not be true in our church ministries as well? Does scripture bear it out? I think it does. Paul told Timothy to appoint elders (plural) in every place. In Acts 20, Paul called for the elders (plural) from Ephesus to meet him. Even Peter called himself a fellow elder (I Peter 5:1).
Elders must build relationships among themselves as a first priority before they can carry out the tasks of ministry, especially such tasks as modeling unity and church discipline.
Church discipline requires unity. It is often avoided in churches of this century, though it has been somewhat revived in the past decade or two.
In a former church of mine, our desire was to obey scripture regarding discipline, because God knows best how to handle such things. Let me tell you about three very different cases. A young woman who had grown up in the church was committing adultery. It was obvious to all, being hard to keep secrets in a small town. The deacons realized they had to do something about it, so they sent two of us to call on this woman. We were not very welcome at the door. No change was evident. To shorten the story, the deacons were united that the only right thing to do was to ask the congregation to vote her out of the church, with great regret and encouragement for her to repent. Given the unity of the board and the blatant circumstances, the congregation did vote her out.
A few years later, a man complained that the board wasnít doing itís job. His list of complaints were scrutinized by the board and responded to with all the wisdom we could muster. There were more complaints and more accusations, apparently in an effort to cause trouble. The board responded as before, following Mat. 18:15f. But when push came to shove, the board was divided. Four out of six voted to exclude him from membership. The board couldnít stand together, so the congregation chose up sides. What was the conclusion? It was a 50/50 vote lacking a majority, but he and his family left, anyway. Without unity the task of loving discipline cannot be done properly. On the other hand, with a united board, we were able to discipline and restore another brother to faithful service, after confessing immorality. Praise the Lord for His word and His working.
Effective evangelism requires unity. Without unity, evangelism will be aborted. How many outreach projects have you had disrupted by conflict? The enemy knows this principle well, doesnít he?
Modeling unity requires unity. That is a profoundly obvious statement. There must be unity among leaders to accomplish the tasks of ministry. But have you realized that the congregation will not know how to be united if the leaders donít show them how? Telling is one thing, showing is another. I believe one reason Godís Spirit led the apostle Paul to establish a plurality of elders was so they could model loving unity to the people, who would then learn it. But what if we have only one leader, instead of a team of leaders? Unity cannot be modeled.
Americans are bent on rugged individualism, my Chinese friend use to say. It is true, isnít it? We have one Sunday School teacher per class most of the time. We have one leader per ministry, sink or swim. We have one pastor per church. It is very difficult for many people to accept more than one pastor when staff is first added. We send out one missionary family to plant a church, which takes many years.
Christís Mission experimented some years ago, breaking this mold by sending a church planting team. Iím not talking of two couplesóthey had 25 people go to Rome for 3 years. After 2 years, another team of 25 overlapped a year and went for 3 more years. Hundreds made decisions for Christ, and a good sized church was begun in 5 years. A lot of modeling went on there, an exciting application of principle.
How would you apply the principle of united team leadership to modeling ministry?
Within the local church, classes could be taught by a team of 2 or more people if at all possible. Ministries should be led by a dynamic leader, but someone who is a team man and can gather a team around him, who will minister together in unity. At our church we have gathered leaders together in a leadership community, so we work as a team in discipling ministry, even though some work with youth, some with adults, some with children, and some with small groups.
The burden of this pamphlet is that we model that kind of unity as pastors? If you are lonely at the top of your ministry responsibility, I hope you will be refreshed by looking around at the other brothers who are on the mountain top with you. If you are not particularly lonely, I trust you hear the clear voice of the One who is your Lord and mine. If you hear what I hear, let us then respond together. Your Brothers await your presence, to explore, develop and extend the power of united leadership. May Jesus Christ be praised!
APPENDIX ONE: Biblical Priorities
Let us sit in on Jesusí discipleship training in John 15. It tells me that we all need to have 3 "conversions". (No, my theology is not offóthis is practical application. This will preach.)
Three conversions to impact our generation for Jesus Christ:
I.††††††††† Be Converted to the PERSON of Christ John 15:1-11 Jesus wants us to remain in good relationship with him, one of love, trust and obedience to his word. That is the most important relationship to maintain, yet the least demanding of attention. It is most important because it is the source of life flow. Life flows from the love relationship of the Trinity through Christ to us via the Holy Spirit, so everything else follows from it. Have I missed a quiet time lately? Yes, I am afraid so. And I suffer for it. The Fatherís love will remain on me if I live in obedient relationship with Christ. That is priority one!
II.†††††††† Be Converted to the PEOPLE of Christ. John 15:12-17 Jesus commanded his disciples to love each other. That is a mutual relationship of love and friendship that grows to the point of laying our lives down for each other. Do your people love each other
that much? The model and standard is "as I have loved you". He chose
them to bear fruit, not as his servants first, but as his friends. If
our people lack this quality of love, we might ask: When have I modeled it before them? This is priority two!
III.†††††† Be Converted to the PASSION of Christ. John 15:18 Jesus demonstrated such passion for a lost world that he spoke to people about their sin, though they hated him for it. We too are to testify of the Savior, and we can expect the same from many, but some will respond to our teaching.
To identify with Jesus Christ means that we also identify with his people and his passion. To the extent that we are committed to these three priorities, Christ shapes our lives. What happened to the family? It is interesting that Jesus does not mention the family as he focuses on the crucial issues in the final hours he spent with his disciples on earth. Iíve asked why that is. Here are some thoughts:
The family is an extension of your personal relationship with God (Deut. 6:1-6). The family is for this life only, but the Body of Christ is eternal. Family members are covered as either believers or non-believers within the three priorities.
Can you think of anything that is not covered by these three, except for sin? If not, then shouldnít we order our schedules by these priority commitments? Priority one means that I spend time alone worshiping Christ in the Word and prayer, I practice his presence and obey him by faith in all I do. Priority two means that I serve my fellow believers above all other people, those in my family, my local church and in the larger body. Priority three means that I serve people and testify in Christís name. The priorities are best seen by contrast, for we are more familiar in practice with Satanís version, the inverted pyramid: Our task in the workplace or home takes first priority, we might get involved with church in the left over time, but often run out of time to spend with Christ.
If we accept these three priorities as Biblically foundational, then the enemy will seek to create imbalance. Youíve seen it, Iím sure. Those who over emphasize priority one become individualistic loners, or Pharisaic hypocrites. While those who over emphasize the fellowship can become dependent parasites, cliquish or consumers of services. Then task-oriented evangelists run out of gas for lack of support and input from the Body.
The proper picture is one of life flowing...
from the Lord...
through the Body...
to the lost world.
APPENDIX TWO: Priority in Relationships
Applying the principle of relationships before tasks leads us to sort out the priority of relationships on the local level, within the local church, as well as among pastors. While we are instructed to serve those we have leadership over, I am attempting only to show priority of relationship. While I love all of the believers, I also have a prior relationship with my own family. If called upon to decide whether to serve someone in the church or to serve a member of my family, and I canít do both, I must chose to make my family priority. So these priorities can sometimes come into play within Priority Two.
1.†††††††† The Brothers in the Body at large, horizontally committed to one another in the service of Christ, come before my task of ministry. The local team of elders are on the same plane with these Brothers, but may take priority because they are like my immediate family. (I Pet. 5:1 a fellow elder)
2.†††††††† The Leadership Team in the local church, called elders/overseers/pastors in the Bible (I Tim. 3, Tit. 1, I Pet. 5, Acts 20), are to be horizontally committed to one another first, before ministering to those God has given them in the church.
3.†††††††† Leaders and workers who are not elders, called deacons (servants) in I Tim. 3 & Titus 1. If I am an elder, these are part of my ministry task in a vertical relationship. While I love them as fellow believers, my relationship with fellow elders comes first.
4.†††††††† The rest of the Membership is horizontally and mutually united, yet defined as my ministry task when an elder. I am a servant to fellow members and love them unreservedly, yet my priority is to my elder relationships. For out of that unity comes effective ministry.
So as I order my schedule, the demands of my local church ministry may require a lot of me and a lot of time, but because of my commitment to the Body of Christ and fellow elders within it, I make some time with those brothers a priority. Whenever life flows from Christ, everything down stream will benefit. My ministry as a pastor will benefit from the horizontal relationship we can have as brothers in Christís service together. I may have to explore those relationships to see if they are elders committed to a Biblical ministry (though with some different views) before I commit to them. And I will have to develop those relationships in order for them to be productive. But is that not our mission? How can we say we havenít time?
Your Evaluation Would Be Greatly Appreciated.
Personal Response? Suggestions to Improve Writing?
Name (optional): _________________
Please send to: Pastor Rich Reid, 245 Monee Road, Park Forest, IL
No one authors anything alone.
My parents pointed me to Christ,
Billy Graham preached the gospel to me on TV,
Obe and Mary Ann Hokanson discipled, cared for and challenged me,
Tommy and Sue Adkins pointed me to confidence in the indwelling
Christ and modeled parenting and witnessing,
Elven and Joyce Smith modeled ministry in the home,
Dr. Ray Ortlund, Sr., challenged me to vocational ministry,
Dr. Chuck Miller modeled discipling ministry and body life fellowship
in the local church setting and taught me many of these concepts.
Dr. Ray Stedman wrote the book on Body Life and demonstrated how
to lead a body life service,
Three local churches provided the opportunity to pastor, in Minnesota,
Montana and Illinois, My wife, WandaŪs, prayer, support and
got me through and Dr. Lois LeBar prayed for me, before her promotion to glory.
Thanks to all!
Copyright © 1999, NPPN - Permission granted for duplication or distribution among facilitators and intercessors who are committed to gathering pastors for prayer.
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