Who is supposed to LEAD a Church?

This is an important question and I preach on this very issue in our Ekklesia Series (June 09). In summarising my answer the following things need to be kept in mind.

Firstly, Jesus Christ is the Senior Pastor of every Christian Church.

Every church is built on the cornerstone of Jesus Christ (Eph 2:20). Jesus is the head of the church and in all things Christ is to be preeminent (Eph 5:23; Col 1:17-18). Jesus is the Apostle who plants a church and builds a church and the Chief Shepherd who rules over the church (Heb 3:1; Mt 16:18; 1 Pt 5:4). Jesus is to be consulted as central to the church and not peripheral to what the church is doing (Col 3:16). Serving under Jesus authority are elders, deacons and members.

Elders are qualified Christians leading the church under Jesus authority.

Elders are not some special forces unit that is better than everyone else but they have been appointed by God to perform certain functions and carry out specific responsibilities on behalf of Christ and for the church. Elders are biblically qualified, theologically informed and spiritually mature Christians.  1 Tim 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9 inform us of the qualifications of an elder.

Biblically qualified elders are supposed to lead the church.

Read 1 Tim 3:1-7 for a thorough understanding of the elders qualifications and role. Some models of eldership promote the idea of a separate board of lay people leading the church but this isn’t a biblical model. The church is not to be staff led and elder protected by a separate board of people who meet once a month to hold the pastor accountable. The church is to be elder led, elder fed, elder protected, elder disciplining, elder vision setting, elder shepherding and elder example setting. 1 Peter 5:1-3 gives a detailed description of how the elders are to lead.

What about women as elders?

There are 3 basic positions on women as elders. They are egalitarian (liberal), complementarian (moderate) and hierarchical (conservative). We take a mild complementarian (moderate) view on eldership which says that all church ministries are open to qualified men and women, with the singular exception of lead elder-pastor, which is only open to qualified men. Women can be associate elders, deacons, teach, lead worship, serve communion, oversee ministries and be in full time paid ministry. Scriptural texts supporting our position are: Gen 1:27; 2:18; 3:16-17; 1 Cor 11:3, 8-9; 1 Tim 2:11-3:13; Rom 16:1-2; 1 Cor 12:11.

Eldership is not to be taken lightly and should maintain the centrality of Christ as the chief shepherd, engage a plurality of elders providing leadership for the church and the lead elder-pastor should be a male in alignment with 1 Tim 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. Keeping in mind Hebrews 13:7 & 12 as a church member.

Lead the Change!

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