Reforming church, culture and our city

Reforming church, culture and our city

Posts Tagged ‘church leadership

What Do You Do When You Disagree With Your Church Leaders?

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Every so often I get asked by people about what they should do if they disagree with their church’s leadership (or deacons or elders whatever tradition you come out from). One very useful way to approach this is to take an open hand/closed hand approach.

You have to work out what is an open hand issue and a closed hand issue for yourself. Open hand issues are those things which are negotiable and are a matter of style, preference and wisdom. Closed hand issues are those things which are not negotiable and are issues of biblical authority. That being said, whether an issue falls into one of these categories also depends on a church’s leadership and beliefs (even tradition in some churches) … and also an individual believers beliefs. In our church, there are several things which we consider closed hand issues which you’ll see below – which under God we believe is Biblically faithful. Whether those who church with us accept that is another matter – but as I have been saying these days in our baptism/confirmation/membership class – this is where our English senior leadership sits Biblically on these issues, so if people want to church with us, serve with us, then they have to at the very least be comfortable with our leaderships position on these closed hand issues, which we believe are faithful Biblically (if you can’t agree with it, then you’re better of churching in another place where you’re more comfortable).

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That being said, in our church we allow for differences in how we give expression to what we believe to be the Biblical teaching on issues such as women in leadership e.g. we affirm male headship and we believe that Jesus’ senior leaders/elders should be men, but that doesn’t mean that women cannot publicly teach or lead, because even as they do that, they are doing this under the visible headship of those of us in senior leadership consistent with 1 Cor.11.

We are a church governed by the Word, united/centered on Jesus & his atoning work, led by Jesus’’ senior leaders who are men, equipping all God’s people for His ministry and mission. Some matters for me are closed hand issues and others are open hand issues in leading our church. But as believers we also need to work out personally under God as we study the Scriptures what are closed/open hand issues for ourselves.

So in answering the question, I think whether a person stays and continues in ministry with a church would depend on whether having studied the Scriptures themselves and sought counsel on an issue, they can agree with their church’s position on the issue or issues in question. If you are wondering whether you should leave your church, you have to work out whether you consider it a closed hand or an open hand issue. My take is that if it’s a closed hand issue for you, then it’s highly unlikely you should stay as it will lead to you working against your conscience Biblically, and it will also eventually lead to a disrespect for your church’s leadership. Instead of working with them, you’ll end up working against them.

Luther at the Diet of Worms

Luther at the Diet of Worms

As Luther would say when confronted and challenged – “Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason — I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other — my conscience is captive to the word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand. I can do nothing else. God help me.” Ultimately our supreme standard and authority is the Word of God – and I would ask nothing more of believers than their obedience to it, which means that after carefully study of the issues in question they have to decide whether it will be a closed hand or open hand issue for them, and act accordingly. Submission to a church’s leadership does not mean by passing the authority of the Scriptures because ultimately a church’s leadership is to be submitted to as long as they are faithful to the Scriptures.

It’s always important to remember that our unity must be around God’’s revealed truth: closed hand vs. open hand; some issues are a matter of conscience and preference, so we need to be discerning and generous in our relationships; we need to always let the Scriptures speak and inform our decision making when it comes to issues at church and how we do church.

Following The Right Kind Of Leaders

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It’s crucial that we understand the Bible’s teaching on leadership rather than take our cues from our culture. Firstly, we must recognize that the church is not a company or a business. It’s not even an organization. The church is the body of Jesus where He is the head; the bride of Christ where He is the groom; a building of living stones where He is the cornerstone. The church is the gathering that Jesus died for and gathered (Acts 20:28). We are people who belong to Jesus, and set apart for Jesus in our city. As such we must take our cues on leadership not from our culture, but from God’s Word as a church. We are a Bible believing, Word-driven church. And the predominant criteria for leadership in the church is their character and ability to teach God’s word – leadership that is built on truth and godliness as exemplified in their home, in their relationships inside and outside the church, and in their teaching (Titus 1:5-9; 1 Timothy 3:1-7). Good leaders know their Bibles, are able to teach it to others, and live out what they believe and teach. It is evident to all around them.

Secondly, if we are to build a church that will fulfill the mission of Jesus in our city and world – it will take the right kind of leadership. It’s important that we grow the right kind of leaders, but it’s also important that we follow the right kind of leaders. It’s important that we model our lives on the good leaders. Because ultimately in the church what you see in your leaders is what we should all aspire to – because leaders are supposed to be models of what it means love and follow Jesus in life. As Paul said to the church in Corinth, ‘follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ’ (1 Cor.11:1). Who do you model your life of in our church community? Who do you follow as examples in the way you make decisions, and in the way you think of your career or study? Who impresses you as a leader? Are you looking to and following the right kind of leaders?

If you’re a father – who models for you what it means to manage your home or love your children as a Christian father? If you’re a wife – who models for you what it means to love your husband as a Christian wife? If you’re a working professional – who models for you what it means to be a Christian in the marketplace or how you should view your career? If you’re a student – who models for you what it means to be a Christian at university or how you should view your studies? The more important questions is – are the people you’re following or modeling your life after, the right kind of leaders?

It is absolutely crucial that we build our lives on the right kind of leadership – good leadership … Biblical leadership. To do anything less is to build our Christian lives on sinking sand. In 1 Tim.4:11, Paul tells Timothy to set an example to those at church in his speech, life, love, faith and purity. Why? Because the way Timothy leads in what he teaches and how he lives has eternal significance. He will either be a bad example leading people away from Jesus, or a good and faithful one leading people to Jesus (1 Tim.4:15-16). We need both good leaders to teach us and model the Christian life for us, but we also need to be discerning in making sure that we are actually following the right kind of leaders as well. Who are you following?

Written by eugenehor

June 1, 2008 at 2:36 pm