2016—leadership in God’s people over history
My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute. In the Old Testament, after Joshua led the chosen people into
, the Bible tells us that for about 200 years, God Himself was the leader, with persons called judges as the human leaders. These persons had wider responsibility than what we think of a judge today as having. For one thing, having responsibility for people before God did and still does have a spiritual element. Still, as it says in Judges chapter 21 verse 25, “In those days, there was no king in Israel , everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” There were threats by enemies in various directions, and the people, who were the chosen people not by faith but by to whom they were born, eventually demanded a king, the story of which is in First Samuel chapter 8 and following. Israel
In the time of the New Covenant, God raised up a new chosen people by faith, not ethnicity. They were opposed by both the Old Covenant status quo supporters and the government who heard that believers in Jesus saw Him, not the emperor, as king. The church had no buildings to destroy, and leadership was by gifting, not to which family you were born to or under what person or group you were trained by. As an underground group that wasn’t a true organization, there was no need to collect money, except to help the poor, both from within and neighbors in need nearby AND also to assist fellow mature believers who were constrained by the Spirit to travel to areas where people had not heard the message of Jesus. Even then, the apostle we know the most about is Paul, who had a skill by which he didn’t have to depend on others as he spoke about Jesus in his travels around the northern
Whether it was intentional or accidental, when the Roman Empire made faith in Jesus officially legal, it forced the trappings of religions of the world it was familiar with onto Christianity—buildings, paid staff, regular collection of money to pay for the buildings and paid staff, and tax-favored status for the now formal organizations. History shows that if something is forced onto a culture for a period of time long enough that no one remembers the thing not being around, everyone treats it as normal. For instance, in this culture, no one remembers not having radio, and almost everyone doesn’t remember not having TV, and with them, news from around the world being whipped to us almost immediately.
I grew up with it assumed that a church was a building and a pastor held a job that one went to school for years to be able to do. When I was in high school, I learned that there were some pastors and people who taught them or were their overseers who did not believe the standard beliefs of faith in Jesus. Years later, I learned about spiritual gifts, but where I was, most of the talk was about speaking in tongues, not about who was the one who appointed the leaders. About this same time, I met persons who didn’t have a church leadership title, but did have a special ability to teach about faith in Jesus in a way that spoke to both my mind and into my spirit, or at least the latter. Some of these people did normal, everyday jobs. Only in the past couple of years did I learn that the title “pastor” was not used as a title for a leader until after the Reformation, and that that word’s appearance uniquely in Ephesians chapter 4 verse 11 in our English Bibles does not reflect a unique word in the original written language, but was a translation decision by persons who reflected their experience of church—whether accidentally or intentionally, only they knew. Leadership in the true church, the believers desiring to follow Jesus, is not a title for any person or group to hand out, but a responsibility accepted by a believer in Jesus who cannot do other than whatever the Spirit guides, AND if that includes sharing with other believers or not yet believers what he or she has learned about following Jesus rightly AND if that falls into one or more of the categories of leaders mentioned in God’s Word, so be it.
I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 757-735-xxxx. To see a transcript of what I just said, my blog is tevyebird.blogspot.com, and this is the posting of September 14, 2011.To find out more about simple church internationally, visit www.simplechurch.com, and in the local area, at, www.hrscn.org.