21 February 2010

Membership, Leadership and Discipleship - Part 2

(Continued from yesterday's post. Part two in a series of posts defining Membership, Leadership and Discipleship in the local church introduced here.)

A review of the next verse in Ephesians 4 reveals that membership is not the only biblical mandate for life within the church.
But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” ... And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, (Ephesians 4.7-8, 11–12)
Paul goes on to say that within a membership, there are specific roles. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers exist to equip the saints for "the work of the ministry." God has given leaders to churches to ensure that the membership is working. Although each has a different contribution, they all are given responsibility to initiate "work." This leads to a number of implications:

1) Membership needs a push. Committed relationships have inherent value but they need purpose. Directionless relationships eventually become self-serving or tiresome. Leaders overcome inertia and protect members from merely forming a social club.

2) Leaders push by equipping. They help members be successful. This is unnatural. In man-made organizations, members exist to make leaders successful.

3) "But grace was given.." Leaders are a grace to any membership, not a necessary evil.

The author of Hebrews provides additional insight to the grace given to the membership through leaders.
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. (Hebrews 13.7)

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. (Hebrews 13.17)
4) Leaders keep watch over members' souls. They wake up in the morning with a sense of responsibility. Their responsibility is limited because the buck only truly stops with Christ and every member is a free agent, but they are the ones who will give an account for the direction of the membership.

5) When leaders lead joyfully it is an advantage to the membership.

6) Therefore God requires obedience to leaders because it benefits the entire membership.

7) Leaders teach the word of God while living in accordance with that teaching. This teaching penetrates the membership providing vision, vocabulary and the equipment necessary "for building up the body of Christ" (Eph. 4:12) "until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph 4.13). Leaders continue to push members in this direction; the direction of discipleship (to be discussed tomorrow).

Additional Resources
Obey your joyful leaders: Part 1 and Part 2
Workers with you for your joy
all by J.P.


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