Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Elders & Deacons

The next big issue that has come out of 1 Timothy concerns leadership structures. I don't think the NT gives us a blueprint outlining the exact 'one size fits all' church leadership structure. A lot of the terms used in the NT were not yet formal roles. The classic one being 'Elder' which originally referred to the respect given to those who were older.

Nevertheless there are clear principles. The first one (which is expressed most clearly in Acts 6) concerns role delineation and delegation. Elders (or in Acts 6 the Apostles) have the role of prayer, teaching the word and pastoral oversight. Deacons are delegated authority to run ministries.

To my mind this has various implications:

  • one of the key words is 'responsibility'. Defining roles is important. This is especially important in our culture where people tend to eschew responsibility unless it is rewarded highly (e.g. paid).
  • ministry thrives when there is high accountability but low control. (That is when people are are held accountable but are given freedom to get on with their job without being micromanaged.)
  • according to Acts 6 we will always be fighting against the Elders being 'sucked' into administration. Administration is important, so important in fact, that others need to do it well.
  • However, in practice, the boundary between pastoral and administration is not always obvious and frequently overlaps. Therefore this issue is both important and difficult!


It seems from the NT, and especially 1 Timothy 2, that Paul sees the church led by Elders and that they lead primarily through teaching the Bible.

In 1 Timothy 2 Paul tells Timothy that this job is for men only. Further he seems to go out of his way to stress that this is not a culturally specific prohibition but one built in since creation. (He does that by referring back to Genesis 1-3.)

This raises all sorts of issues.


  • how do we react to this when it is clearly so out of touch with all that culture holds as good?
  • how do we handle it when people disagree over this issue? (Both in the local church and with other Christians.) In particular, how do we keep the bible central to our discussions when we disagree?
  • how do we encourage women to be involved in ministry while obeying the principle expressed in 1 Timothy 2?

1 Timothy

At last I've finally found time to post something about our recent series on 1 Timothy.

I will now try and endeavour to put up a few posts of key issues that arise by way of application.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Future Australian Leaders

Okay so this is probably a lot of sour grapes because neither of my daughters got to be School Captain. Oh reader, you will have to judge...

I'm really disturbed by the process of choosing Captains in Primary Schools here in Sydney. If our local primary school is typical of the public school system then it is basically a popularity contest.

Candidates promote themselves through a poster and a speech (apparently all candidates are uniquely qualified, caring, brilliant at public speaking etc.) and then the pupils decide via a straight ballot paper. I understand the teachers have a little influence but do we really appreciate children from (let's say) year 3 downwards to be able to make sensible choices over a poster and a speech?

It gets particularly frustrating when one person is elected who is famous throughout the school for their (note the non-gender specific language) bad behaviour in class. But they are well popular with the kids. Leadership is about being well known it has nothing to do with good character.

And then we wonder why our political system is in a mess?

I think this has a lot to do with confusion over consensus and consent, between popularity and leadership, and listening and representation.

Leaders who are appointed through a straight popularity contest will:

  1. Seek consensus rather consent all the time. Consensus is an ideal but people disagree most of the time about most things. Frequently consent to move ahead is what is required.
  2. regularly do what is popular rather than what is needed. It is built into the way we think about appointing leaders right from primary school.
  3. get confused about what representation means. Good leadership listens to all those who are represented. That does not mean that the leader has to present all possible views of those represented though.
What say ye?

(Although it has been so long since I posted anything maybe you've all gone to sleep!)

[PS Coincidently I've just noticed an article in the SMH complaining about awarding Dave Warner the man of the match instead of Kiwi Doug Bracewell - apparently it was decided by a vote from Australian viewers!?]

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Yay, Holiday

I'm off to the UK for most of September.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Under Valued Gifts (9)

9. The Gift of Giving

Did you know that the NT describes the ability of Christians to give money to their local church and to mission as itself a ‘gift’? In 2 Corinthians 8 verse 7 Paul talks about giving in the same way he speaks about other spiritual gifts:

“But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace [or gift] of giving.“

Therefore our financial giving to the church is as important as other gifts such as preaching, singing, or teaching kids about Jesus.

Most of us realise that our giving is part of our Christian faith but I think some of us have confused generosity with spontaneity. In other words, I think to myself, ‘I have the freedom to give generously to whatever needs come across my path.’

However, this is a common fallacy. Research has shown that, while disciplined givers often view their giving as modest and spontaneous givers as generous, regular givers are by far the most generous. Why do you think Street Chuggers (that is Charity Muggers who accost you with their clipboards) are so desperate to get you to sign up for monthly direct debits? They do this because they know full well that even if you only give $15 a month it will still add up to much more than a ‘generous’ donation of $100 once every few years.

Have a read of 2 Corinthians 8 & 9 - I’m preparing a Bible Study on it for BS groups. You will see that Christian giving is a gift, and it is meant to be done sacrificially, willingly and regularly.

  • Have you read 2 Corinthians 8 & 9?
  • How do you decide how much to give and how often?
  • Have you reviewed your giving to PBC?

“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9: 7)