Road 101: Session 3: Leaders
Topic: Gospel Passage: 1 Timothy 3:1–3:7
Christopher Rich – January 29, 2017
Wk #3 The Leaders: |1 Timothy 3:1-7
Good Morning! Welcome to Damascus Road Church where we are Saved by Jesus Work. Changed by Jesus Grace. Living on Jesus Mission. Today we continue our Road 101 sermon series covering who we are, why we exist, what we do, and why we do it. This is a time to reinforce for those who have been a part of our church and integrate for those who are new so we can be 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 and the members 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 also cannot simply import models of leadership and governance from our culture into the church and expect different results from the world. We need to reset and return to a 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) 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 on how to do that.
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. 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. You can have 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—where the buck stops.
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: 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. 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 their role which we’ll discuss more in two weeks when we cover membership. The gospel-centered family is a God-given model for the Church family. Therefore, Damascus Road Church believes that building strong families with godly men, women, husbands, wives, mothers, fathers and children is essential to the health of the church and the effectiveness of our mission.
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). Most scholars refer to the narrative at the beginning of Acts 6 as the appointment of the first deacons, though the word itself is never used there. The Acts 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 text of Acts 6 does not explicitly mention “deacons”, therefore, we must be careful to use these verses as a model and not as dogmatic principles. 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, recognizing that at times they will be given special tasks of meeting community-wide needs and finding solutions to problems. This demands character, faithfulness, and not being double-tongued (1Tim. 3.8-13; Acts 6.1-6). Deacons are an example to the church and heralds of the mission, possessing a clear understanding of the faith, living consistently with the truths, especially in ordering their lives and families in accordance with God’s principles. Deacon manage and execute various ministires and church functions. 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. The contemporary, church-board concept of eldership is irreconcilably at odds with the New Testament’s definition of eldership. The 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.
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 character 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 leader Above reproach – without any character defect Not a new convert – mature in the faith Holding Firm to the Word – knows doctrine, able to refute false truth
Relation to Family Husband of one wife – a one-woman man; sexually pure Has obedient children – successful father as prophet, priest, and king Manages family well – provides for, leads, organizes, loves
Relation to Self Temperate – mentally and emotionally stable Self-controlled – not quick tempered but measured, sound in decision-making Sober-minded – able to communicate Disciplined – lives an ordered life emotionally, physically, spiritually Not given to drunkenness – without addictions Not a lover of money – Financially content, responsible, and upright
Relation to Others Respectable – worth following and imitating Hospitable – welcomes strangers, non- Christians for evangelism Not Violent – even tempered Gentle – kind, gracious, loving Not Contentious – peaceable, not quarrelsome or divisive Good reputation with others – respected by non-Christians
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. 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.
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. 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.
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. Chemistry is also essential because they are to be culture keepers. You may be gifted and feel called but may not a fit for a certain team at a certain time. 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 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.
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. Within the team, we believe that the lead pastor is a ‘leader among leaders’ or a ‘first among equals’. 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 NOT authority. 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.
How do the elders make decisions? The principle of philosophical purity guides the decisions of the elder board. This principle refers to an agreement, especially among elders, but extending to the congregation, concerning: 1) The purposes, goals, and products of the church, 2) The priority of certain ministries over others, 3) The methods used to reach those objectives. Philosophical purity means oneness-of-mind—a harmonious agreement. It is an agreement founded on the principle of consensus, but it is not necessarily unanimity Practically speaking, this means there is no voting other than what is required by the state to fulfill our legal obligations to function as a non-profit. Since all elders are all in agreement with the mission, vision, core values, and doctrines of the church, this model works well when deciding more practical issues.
All elders, including the lead pastor, submit to each other to make decisions. If the group cannot come to an exact agreement on an issue, then it is the role of the Lead Pastor to decide whether the issue is tabled at that time, or whether the church should go forward in a specific direction. After any decision is made, whether by the group or (if needed) the Lead Pastor alone, the elders unite around the decision and support it privately and publicly. For all practical purposes and with few exceptions, our goal is consensus, not necessarily unanimity. As leaders in the church, hard decisions have to be made. There are not always clear biblical passages to define what the best decision is. However, there are some basic convictions of thought that are laced in every decision that we make concerning the church. Here are some of the philosophical priorities that the leadership uses in its decision making.
Everything preaches: We believe that everything we do communicates something about our understanding of who God is and His salvation. From the sermon, to the music, to the chairs, to the bulletin, to our ads, everything either preaches truth about God or falsehood. Our first question, in all decisions, is how well or poorly it reflects the truth of the Gospel.
Faith over Fear: Calculated risks are necessary. Big risk does not necessarily demonstrate big faith. But too little risk, often in the guise of “wisdom”, can often demonstrate too little faith. Ours is a spiritual endeavor dependent upon the grace of God, not our abilities to “figure it out.”
Progress over Programs: When you are no longer willing to change, you are no longer willing to grow. We never do anything because “everyone else is” or because “we always have.” We do not fear change; we fear stagnation and dogmatic attachment to routine. A growing church makes changes, even difficult ones at times. Change in direction is good if we find ourselves misaligned with what God has called us to. We avoid making changes for the wrong reasons. Change is never made based on the personal preferences. We know we cannot please everyone, so the leadership must determine a particular direction and act, praying for wisdom and, in faith, believing God has given it (Phil 3.14, James 1.5).
Quality over Complacency: We believe there are very few “have to’s”. We do not start programs, have activities, or begin other ministries because there is a need if we can’t satisfy that need with quality. Having an abundance of “church stuff” to put on a church bulletin does little to minister to those who need it if their sole motivation is so that we feel better that we offer XYZ. Mediocrity is not acceptable. Everything we do, we do to the glory of Jesus with excellence. We would rather have two songs sung with quality than 10 songs brutalized. We would rather have no children’s programs than an inadequate one.
Reaching over Keeping: Quite simply, if a church focuses on keeping people happy, it will always fall short. The emphasis of the great commission is to GO into the world and make disciples, not make disciples happy. We believe that leadership decisions should prioritize ways to reach the lost people in the community for Jesus OVER making existing members comfortable or happy.
Approval of God over Approval of Men: We aim to ensure our decisions are God-directed as opposed to man-directed. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Prov 1.7). God’s will for the individual and the church is discerned by His word, prayer, other believer’s circumstances, and the Holy Spirit. Decisions driven by the approval of men do little than appease the personal preferences of a person or people who happen to dislike some aspect of the church. Our responsibility is not to determine what a majority, target audience, or an individual would like, rather, what God would have us do. This is discovered by walking in the Spirit that we might be led by the Spirit.
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.