Wednesday, January 27, 2010


This is the third part of Gospel centered leadership. It is a study I did with our leaders @thegallery, with the community @thegathering, as well as with the pastors @Exploration. It is a study from Acts 20 when Paul calls for the elders from Ephesus to join him in Miletus. I have intentionally kept it as my notes rather than an article so they are easily usable for those who wish to teach it themselves:

  1. Paul’s four part address to the elders: Acts 20:28 - 31;
    1. "Keep watch over yourselves...":

i. Watch the barometer of our red hot devotion to Jesus [Piper]; – we are always lovers before we are laborers,

ii. Watch out for your devotion to the text; we are learners before we are teachers, when we stop learning we are in danger, danger, danger –

1. Our theology should be ever going deeper [mining specific texts, truths,]

2. higher [a higher view of God esp. his sovereignty]

3. wider [not limited to our prejudice & preferences]

4. longer [overview of the whole of scripture not selected portions]

iii. Watch out for the Holy Spirit presence; we are to lavish ourselves in his affection – for me that is not to be limited to his manifestations! Let the wells of worship, meditation, reflection, being quiet, tongues, exercising the gifts, all flow,

iv. Watch out never to lose sight of the magnificence of God’s grace; we are eunuch leaders of the bride

1. Deepest devotion to Jesus above all other loves,

2. Endless thirst for his texts,

3. Real and resilient affection for his bride,

4. Spurred on by the privilege to lay down our lives,

5. Keep ourselves rooted in relationships,

a. With our spouse,

b. With our families,

c. With apostles,

d. With peers,

e. With friends – new and old,

f. With ‘the sheep’

6. Keep an eye on our health

    1. I would like to make some observations from Paul’s life that may help the marketplace elder: [It is often rather challenging for marketplace [MP] guys to transition from one world to the next and to be able to check how they are doing. From a world of results, deadlines, and various forms of measurables, to the ministry with its people intensity but not defined,

i. “How I lived among you”- by the qualification of 1 Tim 3, the MP has already established that his life, home, relationships are of such a nature that other can take a read off him. This is in and of itself a high value – to show others how this Christian journey can be done…

ii. “With these hands of mine I have supplied my own needs and of my companions… we must help the weak…” The MP elder has a unique opportunity to keep the eldership team connected to the life’s challenges of those in the congregation. The freedom to do what they do, simply because they love the sheep and feel called to do so, is huge.

iii. “ I served the Lord with great humility and with tears, although I was severely tested…” MP’s are incredible gifts of love and sacrifice to the body. Whilst we do want to train with faith and grace, we cannot keep from them the weighty moments of pain and trauma –welcome to the ‘house of privilege and pain’.

iv. “I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God [NIV] attest to the good news…whole purpose, plan and counsel of God [Amp]” The MP elders have such a remarkable opportunity to take the gospel to their world, when most salaried pastors rarely have those moments. They invariably can help others find the will of God for their lives, using house-to-house moments as well as the public places. Very cool.

    1. All the flock: [It is all about THEM and not me or my ministry]

i. All:

1. As overseers, all the people,

2. No prejudice,

3. No preference, [Paul ministered to both Jew and Gentile, even though he was an apostle to the Gentiles]

4. All gifts, callings, giftings, ministries, ages, economic groupings…

ii. The: focus of Jesus’ affection, specific, set aside, by name, as opposed to a generic, general, vague, possible; … Eph 1:3 - 14

1. Blessed,

2. Chosen,

3. Predestined,

4. Grace given,

5. Redemption,

6. Purpose of his will,

7. Sealed with the promised Holy Spirit

iii. Flock:

1. He is the chief shepherd, [a study of John 10 is very helpful]

2. We are described here with these parts of a job description:

a. Elders – govern,

b. Bishops – oversee

c. Guardian – protect

d. Shepherd – lead

e. Pastor – nurture,

3. He chooses whom he sends us to lead and oversee. We are only relieved of this requirement when the chief shepherd releases us and not when they leave the church…

4. They will drift, but the true shepherd will keep pursuing them,

5. Shepherds know the number in their flock – this discipline is not to encourage or discourage but to hold to account,

6. Lambs are a natural, consistent, continuous part of flock life.

    1. Savage wolves:

i. This is very strong language Paul uses… not a matter to be taken lightly. The Exodus texts grant many examples of divine discipline. The elder needs to be acquainted with these passages, as obedience to the Spirit is needed in every unique situation.

ii. “Come in among you…”

1. Look like sheep,

2. Sound like sheep,

3. Act like sheep,

4. Under pressure they become wolves

iii. “Will not spare the flock…”

1. Solely preoccupied with their own agenda,

2. Are not bible people in their humble submission to the text,

3. Known by their open and clear Absalom-styled rebellion which they eventually strut as if ‘they own the place’,

4. They show no respect, honor, recognition for God appointed leaders,

5. They are not Jesus lovers, their spiritual language is either absent or very mystical and ethereal,

6. They will destroy the sheep, snarling, biting, scattering-it is truly all about them and they are so often injured form their fights!

  1. From your number:
    1. ‘Distort the truth…’

i. So often this group of folks have been embedded in the community, hiding their lack of true conversion, or their unresolved hurts, pains or disappointments,

ii. Academic gymnastics are now required to justify their own rebellion,

iii. True measures of exegesis and hermeneutics are forfeited to reach their own ‘theological’ ends,

iv. The end justifies the means,

v. They will be un-teachable and will intimidate with loud, brash accusations especially about the apparent fragile theology of the God appointed leaders,

    1. ‘Draw away disciples…’

i. Lack of the fear of God is evident to the discerning,

ii. Lack of respect nor recognition of God given authority,

iii. With use all means fair and foul… emails, phone calls, special meetings, even highjack legitimate meetings for their own ends,

iv. Especially use sentiment and emotion for most are not firstly founded on Jesus, the gospel and the full biblical text,

v. I am deeply saddened by the bible illiteracy. ...This has produced believers who have a very fragile foundation from which to process these challenges – and in a relational house, unfortunately, the emotion places a disproportionately high role – Jesus dealt with the sentimental when the 5000 followed him by the call to ‘eat of my flesh…’ – he just refused to let anything but truth claim our allegiance.

As leaders we need to love deeply, lead strongly, feed consistently. This is not the time to focus on the aggressors but on Jesus and his gospel - this gospel bears fruit and grows, not punch counter punch...

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