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Re-Thinking Church
Part 9

Follow the Leader

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

Read Part 8

Welcome to the beginning of the Advent season. This is the first in a long time that we have not done the advent candle or recognition. There are just 4 weeks until Christmas, again. Can you believe it? Are you ready? I sincerely hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration. Does anyone have anything special about this Thanksgiving that we can rejoice with you, or pray with you about or that might encourage us?

We have just 4 sermons left in our Re-Thinking Church series (today and the 3 weeks before Christmas), we will celebrate Communion again on the 18th, the Sunday before Christmas; that will be a special Sunday. Iíll tell you more about it later. Not to embarrass anyone but just for preparation purposes. How many of you plan on being here Christmas morning? How many of you would like to attend a Christmas Eve service if we had it at a church close by here, on the day before the morning after? Thank you.

After Christmas we are going to shift gears. What we have gone over these last few months will become the basis of a New Members curriculum. We are going to begin in January, preaching several series that are designed to be educational for you and inviting to skeptics. In January we will start a series called; 10 questions that skeptics ask the most, as is outlined in your bulletin, followed by 6 weeks on Forgiveness, followed by a 6 week series called Death and the Life Hereafter. We want you to invite your skeptic and non-believing friends, to come and see what the Bible and science really tells us. We will also be starting our small groups after the first of the year.

For the last 9 weeks we have attempted to strip away the veneer of 2000 years of tradition from church and try to see what Jesus, our blessed Lord, had in mind when He said, "I will build my church," (Matt. 16:18).

I. A Look Back

A. A Definition Ė Church Ė A special unique group of people bonded together by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of ministering as Jesus Christ in this world.

  • A Special unique group of people Ė Jew and Gentile, of very nation, language, educational background, financial background, gender, age, etc, all brought together into one body by faith in Jesus Christ and their desire to follow Him. Then that group of people are adopted into the family of God as His children; Children of royalty, children of God.
  • Bonded together by the Holy Spirit, which has come to reside in and with every believer when they confess Jesus. There is no such thing as a believer without the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13).
  • For the purpose of ministering as Jesus Christ in the world. We are the hands and feet, the heart and mind of Jesus to reach and care about each other and the world. All of us, with out exception, has been gifted with Charisma, a unique ability to share Godís grace with others. Are you ministering as Jesus? Remember, you are entrusted with that Charisma to use it fir Him 1 Peter 4:10 tells us.

B. Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church. He leads and instructs us with His word-the Bible and with His Holy Spirit. Everything we do is to be based on this book, and again, there are no exceptions. Amen? Amen!

C. There are 3 distinct Commands that should govern everything we do.

  • The Great Commandment - Love God with all our hearts
  • The New Commandment - Love each other as Jesus loves us
  • The Great Commission - Love the lost that Jesus died to redeem.

II. A Look in the Book

It is here that we are really going to get interesting. For today we going to strip more finish from the church and look at how our Lord designed the church to be led. Before, I will marry anyone, I have a pre-requisite. The couple must go through 4-5 pre-marital counseling sessions during which, I go over Godís design for marriage in Genesis 2 and the Roles God designed for husbands and for wives in Eph. 5; Col. 3, & 1 Peter 3. Often those roles are far different than what they have seen modeled in their homes or on TV. They are different than what many modern counselors have declared them to be or what our culture has adopted. It is exactly the same with church leadership. Letís begin by looking at 2 familiar scripture texts.

A. 1 Peter 5:1-4

B. Acts 20:28 cp. 20:17

C. Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5; 1 Tim.5:17, & by implication Heb. 13:17

All of these refer to a group of men called elders who, by the commission of the Holy Spirit and the character of Jesus that they have modeled, have been appointed to lead the local churches.

D. By the way, the New Testament only mentions two church officers (Phil. 1:2) being Bishops (Elders) and Deacons which we will look at next week. Bishop, Elder, Pastor, Shepherd, all refer to the same men in the New Testament (Except in Luke 2).

Traditional Leadership Role Models that donít work well.

A. Pastor is in Charge Ė One man operation everyone does what the Pastor says. Even if there is a board, they do what the pastor says. The problem is that no pastor knows everything and can be led by pride and power.

B. The church staff is in charge led by the Senior Pastor. The church hires professional ministers and they do the ministry. Doesnít allow for the giftedness of the body.

C. The District run church. Here a Bishop or Board of Elders outside the local church set the direction of the local church which submits to this outside board.

D. The Deacon or Board led church. Often modeled by the Baptist churches, Deacons are elected not as servants (as we will see next week) but as leadership, that dominates the pastors and the church.

E. The Congregation led church. Many Non-denominational, and Baptist, and Congregationalist churches follow this model. This model gives the members the ability to vote on everything and set the direction of the church. Two main problems with this model.

  • Sheep are directing the shepherds. I was with someone recently and the subject of sheep came up and this person said, "One thing I know about sheep, they are dumb." And I said, "Isnít it interesting that of all the animals God could have used in the Bible to compare us to, He chose sheep. Know why? Cause we are dumb and prone to wander and stray. In the congregation model, all members, newly baptized, immature, and un-sanctified members can set the direction of the church. Too much of this mind set is because of our westernization of the church. We want a democracy. However:
  • The Church is not a democracy. It is part of a Kingdom. The King is Jesus and He has not entrusted the leadership of His flock, His Body, to popular vote, but to spiritually mature men whose perspective is eternity and whose concern is the health and maturity of Godís sheep. In my study and opinion, Congregational led church is not Biblical.

IV. Leadership of Design Ė is a Plurality of men called Elders of which the pastors and staff are part (see 1 Tim. 5:17). I want to spend the next few moments telling you about these men. Sometimes called Bishops, Pastors, Shepherds, or Elders, these all refer to the same men.

A. These are Mature Men. Elder may well refer to the older men that have experienced life and have tested the faithfulness of God as they endured trials. Like drill sergeants in the military who are usually combat experienced men who know the importance of following orders and staying alive. Elders are mature men. Though some pastors are young as was Timothy, they are mentored and subject to the wisdom of mature men, again as Timothy was.

B. These are Godly Men. Elders are men who by their trust in Jesus have followed Jesus and their character and conduct reflect Christís-likeness. That is the whole point of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. They are to be blameless, not perfect, but their reputation is of men that have Jesus Christ as their role model. Even when they mess up as Peter did, more than once; they recognize it and they clean up. They are quick to seek forgiveness or to make things right and quick to forgive. These are men who are not afraid to follow Jesus and His word.

C. These are Men who have Passion and Compassion for the 3 great commands of the New Testament. They live with eternity in view and they want others to as well. They Love God, love His people, and love the world that Jesus died for to redeem.

Leaders Who Lead.

So, what are elders to do? When Paul wrote to Timothy, He reminded him that there are two kinds of Elders. Those who rule or handle the administration of the local church and those who labor in the word, studying to teach it to the flock.

A. Elders should be able to teach Godís Word. Some Elders are given the Charisma of teaching. They study Godís word to teach it to the body of believers. Paul told Timothy to study and to stay in Godís word, to teach it in season and out of season (whole point of 2 Timothy). These are teaching pastors or teaching elders. But even if they donít have the spiritual gift of organizing and systematic teaching of the Bible, every elder should be able to use Godís word to teach its truths to others, whether it is to individuals or to groups of people as 1 Tim. 3:3 and Titus 1:9. Therefore, Elders should be able to use Godís word to (cp. 2 Tim. 3:15-17):

  • Teach doctrine
  • To admonish, reprove those in the wrong.
  • Show people how to correct that which is wrong
  • Teach people how to live righteously

B. Pray for the Church (James 5:14; Acts 6:4) and for the lost (Matt.9:38)

C. Steer the Church in accomplishing Godís Goals. Thatís the idea of ruling well and administration. Planning missions, and caring for the flock.

D. Set the example for people to follow. They practice what they preach and as they model their own lives after Jesusí, they encourage others to use them as examples of Godliness (1 Cor. 11:1; 1 Peter 5:3).

E. Look out for Interests of the Church. That includes warning the church of false teachers and legalists and sham artists that just want to fleece the flock as Paul says in Acts 20:28-31 and as Peter, John, and Jude also warn. And, as Overseers, they are concerned with the spiritual growth and/or lack of it in the church. Not necessarily the size of the church but the spiritual condition of its members. They know that in some way, they are responsible for the churchís spiritual condition (Hebrews 13:17).

F. They set the spiritual policies for the church. It was the Apostles and Elders that met to decide the circumcision issue in the early church. As such they are also responsible to exact Church Discipline when necessary as we will talk about in two weeks. That in a nut shell is what Elders are called to do.

Now Listen carefully,

Every man should have it as a goal to have the character and conduct of a follower of Christ that would cause others to say, "We want you to be one of our leaders." The character for Elders and Deacons in 1 Tim. 3 & Titus 1 are for every man who knows Jesus as his Savior and Lord.

Before we leave this subject, though, there are at least 4 things that we are to do for our Elders:

VI. Following the Leader

A. Pray for their Elders Ė (Eph. 6:18-19; Col. 4:2-4). Do you do that? I hope that you all pray for me everyday and the men that currently make our leadership team.

B. Obey them. (Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 2:13; 5:5-6). Remember this, they arenít perfect, but they are Godís men called to do their best to follow Him. Just as in the military there were some officers that just didnít have it all together. However my job was to follow them and to obey orders. Thatís what God is calling us to do. You will have to give account for your obedience and they will have to give account for how they led you. Letís make that a joyous occasion for everyone.

C. Imitate their lives Ė (1 Cor. 11:1; Hebrews 13:7) the word follow is the word mimic; that is, to use their lives as a model for your own. Look to them as mentors.

D. Treat them with Honor (1 Tim. 5:17; 1 Thess. 5:12-13) That includes giving them respect, recognition, and seeing that, if they get paid, that you treat them well. Make sure that you speak well of them at occasions when they arenít present. Donít choke on roast Elder or fried Pastor. Give them the benefit of the doubt when you arenít sure of what they are doing. In the long run, how you treat your leaders are in reality how you are treating Jesus. Itís His church, and these are His men. They need your encouragement, not your criticism.

VII. Conclusion.

The Church we are establishing will be an Elder run Church, because when all the traditional veneer is stripped away, that is the Biblical model.

A. Men are you striving to be men that imitate Jesus so that one day you will be His leader. That must be the goal of every man; ready to step up to the plate and lead Godís people. Will you commit to studying Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3? Mediate on them and find a good commentary and journal your discoveries of the text. Get Gene Getzís book, The Measure of a Man and study it.

B. Church, will you commit to praying and honoring and obeying and mimicking Godís men so that the church will be what Jesus designed it to be and all of us can stand before Jesus with joy someday? If so, say, Amen!

C. To all, are you ready to lead this church to accomplish Great things for God? If so, say Amen! I believe that we can.

D. It all begins with a commitment to know and follow Jesus. Have you made that commitment?

  • To know the forgiveness and peace of a saved man or women? Would you make it now?
  • To become the church that Jesus designed us to be. Say Amen!

Read Part 9

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman