A Guide to Christian Theology - Lesson 45
Roles in Church Leadership
From this lesson, you will gain insights into Gary's principles of local church leadership. He believes that leadership in the congregation should focus on equipping, inspiring, empowering, unifying, exemplifying, caring for, overseeing, and watching over members rather than commanding or making decisions. This perspective is rooted in biblical teachings that emphasize servant leadership and shepherding. Gary discusses the role of the congregation in decision-making, referencing Acts 15 as an example of how disputes were resolved by the entire church. Additionally, he presents three positions on the topic of women in church leadership roles: egalitarian, male elder, and male teacher, encouraging respectful dialogue and understanding of differing views. Overall, this lesson provides a comprehensive understanding of local church leadership principles based on Gary's perspective.
Roles in Church Leadership
I. Authority and Leadership in the Congregation
A. Leadership's Role: Equip, Inspire, Empower, Unify, Exemplify, Care, Oversee
B. Jesus' Teaching on Authority
II. Nature of Leadership Offices in the Local Church
A. Permanent Leadership Offices: Elders and Deacons
B. Other Leadership Roles and Responsibilities
III. Controversy Regarding Women in Leadership Roles
A. Three Positions on Women in Leadership
B. Interpretation of Key Bible Passages
IV. Leadership Responsibilities and Character
A. Responsibilities of Church Leaders
B. Emphasis on Character in Leadership Requirements
C. The Role of Voice in Leadership
A. Summary of Leadership Principles
B. Emphasis on Equipping and Empowering in Leadership
C. Addressing Controversial Issues with Respect and Understanding
D. The Significance of Character in Leadership
- In this lesson, explore the significance of systematic theology, blending academic insight with personal devotion. Learn to interpret biblical texts, understand how theology shapes beliefs, and fortify your faith against deception. This study fosters personal, biblical, and responsible theological growth, vital for spiritual development and discipleship.
- Learn diverse ways to tackle theological questions, focusing on Holy Spirit baptism. Understand deductive, inductive, and retro-abductive methods. Acts 17:11 and Acts 15 show how community perspectives contribute to nuanced theological discussions, promoting unity amidst differing viewpoints.
- This lesson provides insights into theological certainty levels, categorizing beliefs into "die for," "divide for," "debate for," and "decide for," highlighting essential doctrines, divisive issues, passionate debates, and less crucial matters, while underscoring the significance of understanding diverse perspectives and theological terms across different Christian tribes.
- Explore general revelation through creation and conscience (Psalm 19, Romans 1). Responding leads to God, though not salvation alone. Special revelation possible. Diverse salvation views, favoring knowing Jesus. Seared consciences don't always void salvation.
- Gain deep understanding of special revelation: history, divine acts, and communication revealing God's character and redemptive plan via Messiah. Lesson highlights Bible's key role, conveying God's nature, guidance, and transformative power, emphasizing ongoing divine-human communication.
- This lesson delves into the concept of divine inspiration in Scripture, citing 2 Timothy 3:15-16 and 2 Peter 1:16-21. It explains "God-breathed" as a term highlighting God's creative influence on words, rejecting mere concepts or dictation. Inspiration involves human authors, their personalities, and styles, conveying God's message to the entire church.
- In this lesson, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of the characteristics of God, including their definitions, biblical support, and implications and applications.
- In this lesson you will gain insight into the Bible's clarity, sufficiency, and authority, and the Canon.
- In this lesson, you'll grasp a deep understanding of God's character. His foremost quality is compassion, like a mother's love. He's gracious, patient, loving, faithful, and forgiving, extending favor even to the undeserving. Yet, He's just, not sparing the persistently rebellious. This lesson dispels misconceptions, urging contemplation of God's profound blend of love and justice.
- This lesson delves into holiness via Isaiah 6, emphasizing dedication over separation from sin. It challenges misconceptions and calls for church reform.
- This lesson delves into the fundamental characteristics of God, particularly the Trinity, emphasizing God's essential relational nature within Himself and its biblical implications, while also addressing theological controversies and highlighting the complexity of the Trinity.
- This lesson explores different approaches to knowing God, inspired by Thomas Aquinas, discusses the doctrine of immutability, and highlights how God can change in his attitude and actions based on biblical evidence, emphasizing the value of in-depth Bible study and open dialogue in understanding God's nature.
- This lesson covers key theological concepts: sovereignty, election, and free will. It explores differences between Calvinist and Wesleyan-Arminian views on God's sovereignty, impacting God's plan and human responsibility. Emphasis on defining terms to prevent disputes. Speaker is a "Calminian," blending Calvinism and Arminianism for a balanced perspective. Valuable insights into theological complexities and scripture interpretation.
- Exploring various theological views and problematic issues surrounding the concept of providence, we will gain a comprehensive understanding of the role of prayer in providence, as well as the compatibility of God's sovereignty and human responsibility.
- You will gain knowledge about anthropology and its biblical foundations, creation of human beings and the image of God in humans, fall and sin and their implications on human nature, redemption and sanctification, and human destiny and eschatology, including views on heaven and hell and the return of Christ.
- This lesson offers valuable insights into the multifaceted nature of providence and its profound implications for our comprehension of God's role in the world.
- The lesson touches upon various types of suffering, categorizing them into six different types: moral evil (e.g., rape), natural evil (e.g., cancer), persecution, sharing the suffering of another, punishment for sin, and suffering caused by the devil.
- Learn to discern God's will by cultivating a Christ-like character, living by moral principles, seeking counsel, embracing uniqueness, and praying. It's about aligning with your long-term happiness and godly desires, offering a balanced approach to life decisions.
- Explore Jesus' nature and incarnation. Learn how He balanced divine and human attributes, challenging traditional views. Reflect on His mission and ours, empowered by the Holy Spirit, bridging divinity and humanity.
- This lesson delves into the incarnation of Jesus, explaining his dual nature as both God and man during his earthly mission, supported by Old Testament, Gospel, and epistle references. It acknowledges the complexity of his divinity and humanity, even after his ascension.
- This lesson explores Jesus' dual nature, divine and human, delving into emotions, knowledge, sin, and his role as the Second Adam, offering theological insights.
- Learn about Jesus' life and mission, challenging traditional beliefs like the virgin birth. Explore his spiritual journey, resurrection, and more, fostering critical thinking and alternative perspectives.
- This lesson provides a comprehensive examination of atonement, its various dimensions, and the theological concepts surrounding it.
- Learn about the Holy Spirit, baptism, and its role in Christian faith. Understand diverse perspectives on its workings in believers' lives, emphasizing its incorporation at conversion and empowering influence, supported by biblical insights.
- Gain insight into the relationship between spirit baptism and conversion, the various terms used in Scripture, and the importance of ongoing fillings with the Holy Spirit for special ministry tasks, character, and as a command for all believers.
- This lesson explores the role of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. It challenges traditional definitions, proposing that any ability empowered by the Holy Spirit and used in ministry is a spiritual gift. The primary gift is the Holy Spirit himself.
- Learn about the theological debate on spiritual gifts like prophecy and miracles. Explore four perspectives: cessationism, continuationism, functional cessationism, and word of faith. The instructor, a continuationist, emphasizes discernment and scripture while promoting respectful dialogue among believers with differing views.
- This lesson explores the Bible's view of humanity, emphasizing humans as God's unique creation, made from dust and breath, in His image. It delves into human origins, our role as covenant partners, and the interaction between spirit and body, supported by biblical passages, offering a holistic perspective on being human in God's eyes.
- This lesson redefines humans as image-bearers of God, emphasizing the role of reflecting divine attributes in all work, gender equality, and growth in Christ-likeness. It promotes dignity for all, with potential for deeper reflection as faith matures.
- In this lesson you will explore the origin of sin, rejecting dualism in favor of a Christian perspective where sin arises from the choices of morally responsible creatures. The lesson introduces the idea of a pre-creation rebellion by Satan, emphasizing that humans are called to engage in spiritual warfare by doing good and promoting Shalom in the world.
- You will gain knowledge and insight into the nature, marks, purpose, structure, and sacraments of the Church and learn about the different views and definitions used to define it.
- This lecture discusses the leadership offices of a church, including eldership, deacons, and church members, and how they function according to biblical principles of polity, which prioritize following what the Bible prescribes, closely following what it describes, and using wisdom and being Spirit-led in matters it is silent about, all with the aim of effectively sharing the Gospel and achieving unity and focus.
- In this lesson, you will explore baptism's significance, modes, and theological perspectives, and learn its role in church membership, unity, discipleship, and spiritual growth.
- This lesson provides an overview of the historical, biblical, and theological aspects of Communion, including practical considerations for its practice.
- You will gain a good understanding of death and its theological implications, including the biblical view of death, consequences of death, and resurrection and the afterlife. The lesson covers the definition of death, cultural views, and the portrayal of death in the Old and New Testaments. You will also learn about the physical and spiritual consequences of death, as well as the Bible's teachings on resurrection and the afterlife.
- From this lesson, you gain insight into the biblical concept of God's Kingdom, its significance in Christian theology, and its impact on eschatology, social justice, and the Church's role.
- In this lesson, you gain insight into eschatology, examine biblical perspectives, explore key events like the Rapture, Tribulation, Millennium, and Final Judgment, and learn the significance of eschatology for today's believers.
- By studying the eternal state, you gain insights into the new heaven and earth, resurrection, judgment, and eternal life, deepening your understanding of Christian hope and assurance.
- Through this lesson, you gain insight into the crucial role of church leaders, their essential qualities, and the challenges they face, while discovering the importance of support and encouragement for their growth and effectiveness in ministry.
- In this lesson, you gain an understanding of the nature of Scripture and learn to interpret the Bible within its historical, literary, and canonical contexts while addressing challenges in biblical interpretation.
- This lesson delves into the structure and authority of a church, examining different leadership models and emphasizing the overarching role of scripture as the final authority, while also highlighting the need for congregational involvement in decision-making processes and the unique nature of the apostles in early church leadership.
- Learn Dr. Breshears' local church leadership principles: focus on equipping, inspiring, empowering, unifying, exemplifying, caring for, overseeing, and shepherding members. Rooted in biblical teachings, emphasizes servant leadership. The lesson discusses congregational decision-making, women in church leadership roles with respect for differing views.
- Learn about church leadership principles, roles of elders and deacons, active membership, mutual commitment, gift utilization, and clear processes in this comprehensive lesson.
- This lesson explores sacraments, focusing on baptism and diverse theological views. Baptism signifies a profound commitment to Christ within a believer community, emphasizing understanding and promptness post-conversion.
- In this lesson, you'll grasp the essence of baptism, its questions, and debates. Discover belief's role, its confession, and the link to repentance and faith. Explore diverse views on baptism performers, methods, and locations. Gain insights and wisdom for informed baptism decisions in your faith community.
- From this lesson, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of Communion, also known as the Lord's Supper or Eucharist. It will provide you with insights into the controversy surrounding its terminology and the theological background of Communion, primarily focusing on 1 Corinthians Chapters 10 and 11. You will learn about various theological perspectives on the real presence of Christ in the Communion elements and explore different viewpoints on the frequency, leadership, eligibility, and practical aspects of Communion. Overall, this lesson will equip you with the knowledge to better understand and participate in the Communion meal.
- This lesson delves into two ends: individual death and the end of the age. It explores human death, material and immaterial aspects (Ecclesiastes 12:7, Genesis 3), fear, loss of autonomy, cremation, death determination, rewards, and urges preparation to meet Jesus, facing the undeniable reality of death.
- Learn about the Kingdom of God, its aspects, Christ's return interpretations, and key concepts like inaugurated, Messianic, and millennium kingdoms. Emphasizing humility and mission in theological debates, it prepares you for insightful discussions on Christ's return and tribulation.
- Learn about Christian views on heaven and hell. Hell is punishment for those who reject Jesus; heaven is eternal bliss with Him on a renewed Earth. Explore differing views respectfully.
Understand the core topics of systematic theology, from what we know about God to the future state of humankind. Special emphasis is given to such topics as Christ, salvation, the church, and the future.
A Guide to Christian Theology
Dr. Gerry Breshears
Roles in Church Leadership
You see, the next heading here is called Gary's Principle of Local Church Leadership. And I just laugh. Of course, I got an opinion on everything. And I'll quickly admit, some really good people don't come at the same place I'm at. But I'm going to deal with some of these things are really controversial. Some are just, I think it's a better way to do it and other people have different judgment. We could do much more than we're going to here, but let's do what we can do.
First of all, I think that authority resides in the congregation as a whole. There's a place for leadership, but in my understanding, biblically, leadership is to equip, inspire, empower, unify, exemplify, care, oversee, watching over, those kinds of verbs, rather than commanding or decision-making.
Now, there is a place of decision-making, but in the commanding type of thing, Jesus, in Matthew chapter 20 made it very clear, I can't do it. I was going to do it without turning the Bible. You can't do it, it's impossible. Matthew chapter 20, starting in verse 20, Matthew 20:20. It's actually kind of a funny story, and it's in the others as well. Zebedee's sons came to Jesus.
Mommy came to ask on behalf of her boys, "We want my two sons to sit in your right and your left." What is she asking for? Power and privilege in the coming kingdom, we all say. He said, "You know what you're asking, can you drink the cup I'm going to drink?" "Oh, sure," they say. What is the cup he's talking about? It's a cup of suffering and death. I don't think, by the way, is a cup of God's wrath. It's a cup of suffering. And He says, "You are going to drink my cup." That's why I don't think it's a cup of God's wrath, because they're not going to drink the cup of God's wrath. They're going to drink the cup of suffering and death.
"But to my right and left is not for me to grant. Those are being prepared by my Father." And then you ask, "Who is going to be on his right and left?" Well, it's going to be two terrorists, to use a phrase, that are going to be crucified beside him. And the guys didn't want that anyway. They turned around, they're upset. Jesus said, and here's the phrase, "You know the rulers, the Gentiles lorded over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. And seek to that," that's Jesus saying, "in so many words, do not be known for commanding other people." That is not the heart of biblical authority. What is the heart? Once you become great, it must be your servant. If you are going to be first, become your slave.
So, here Jesus himself is saying, "Don't be the person trying to come up to command power over others." Ministry is about serving. So, 1 Peter, chapter 5, "To those among you," he says, "I appeal as a fellow elder and witness of Christ's suffering, who also share in the glory that will be revealed. " And here's where He said, "Be shepherds of God's flock under your care." So, you're shepherding people under your care, watching over them because you're willing. Not pursuing dishonesty but eager to serve, not lording over those entrusted to you, but being examples of the flock. And that will get you a crown of glory.
So, you see Peter and Jesus echoing. In Ephesians 4, he talks about leaders or the equippers. So, this is where I think that we find the nature of authority in the Bible is about equipping, inspiring, empowering, unifying, exemplifying, carrying, overseeing. Those kinds of things.
And I think that's really, really super important. If I go to Acts 15, so you have this big, big, big dispute. Unless you're circumcised, you cannot be saved. Sharp dispute, debate. Paul and Barnabas come back to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about the question.
They've come to Jerusalem, welcomed by the church apostles, elders. And in verse 5, some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, "The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses." What are they doing? I believe in front of everybody, and they're arguing for the Bible.
They opened Genesis 17 and passages like that and make their argument. The apostles are meant to consider the question after much discussion. Peter got up, and what Peter does, verses 7 through 11, is he argues on the basis of experience, "We have seen the Holy Spirit poured out on Gentiles, Cornelius and his crowd."
Verse 12, "The whole assembly became silent." So, it says these guys are speaking to the whole assembly, they listened to Barnabas and Paul, and they talked from experience, citing that God got it done among the Gentiles. When they finished, James spoke up, "Brothers, listen to me," and he now is speaking here from a brilliant interpretation of Amos and the new covenant. There's some other passage as well. And therefore, he makes a proposal.
So, the apostles, elders with the whole church. See, this is, I think the authorities, finally, in the whole church, decided to choose some of their own. They write a letter and when they're done with the letter, in the heart of letter verse 28, "It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us." So, what I see happening, is people are standing up in front of the entire congregation and there's a leadership role for apostles and elders to be sure.
But the deciding is done by the entire group in interaction. So in my principles of polity, where I'm going to come out, as authority resides in the congregation as a whole. There's an absolute role for leaders, but it's more in exemplifying, unifying, those kinds of things.
I think there are certain officers in the local church. So, I think an office is a responsibility and authority, and empowerment given to the body of certain ones for the common good. When I think of police officers for example, there's an office of policemen and you have to have a badge and a gun in order to do it. Somebody who says, I want to be a cop, can't be lawyer, psychologist, doctor.
There are number of things where there's an official spot you can come in and out of. And I think there are officers in the local church, and that's a responsibility bigger than the individual. It's got authority and empowerment given by the body to certain people, for the common good. And I think the permanent leadership offices in scripture are elders and deacons. But I also think there's an office of congregation.
So, I think there's a membership is an office that you can come into or go out of. Again, my view of things, so I think the permanent offices are elders and deacons, but there can be many others as well.
Worship leader, second grade, Sunday school teacher, home group leader. There can be a lot of different things, responsibilities, offices, responsibilities that people can come in and out of. So, in my case, I've been an elder at Grace Community Church for about 25 years and there will come a time when I will step out of that office for one reason or another.
In fact, my resignation's been on the table for over a year just because I'm so busy. I left it up to the group to decide, should I continue as an elder, knowing that I will miss some meetings because of my travel schedule and such. And what the group as a whole has said, "We really appreciate your involvement. We want you to stay on the board." So, I serve at the bequest of the team, but if I were to step off, my character wouldn't change.
My role in the congregation would not change, specifically, but I would no longer have that responsibility of being an elder. And that's a significant change. So, tomorrow night I'll be at an elder meeting and we're carrying some pretty heavy load right now for some things that are going on in the church. So, that's where it is.
Now, elders, let me fill in some blanks for you and then they'll come back and pick up some details. Elders, and this is a biblical term. A local church may use a different term. I'm going to use the biblical term no matter whether you call them the counselor, whether you call them overseers or whatever you call them.
And I think this, elders is a team of men, my view, so that's the [inaudible] men, and I'll explain that in a bit. Responsible of oversight of ministry of the church as a whole.
And in my understanding, it's the team that carries authority, not an individual. So I'm an individual elder at Grace Community Church. There's nothing I can do to walk up and say, "I'm elder Gary, therefore do this." I don't have the authority. The authority rests in the team as a whole, not me as an individual. So when we meet tomorrow night and make decisions, you'll be the team speaking, not the individual speaking.
So, the responsibility is pastoral care and then guide and guard the body of the life and teaching of the church. Pastoral care is equip members for ministry, oversee the ministry of the church and just help people grow. The base thing is to speak. We guide and guard the life and teaching of the church.
The authority for elders comes from respective character and wisdom. And so when we select elders at Grace, it's not because you're a good businessman, it's not because you're a big giver, it's not because you've got a loud voice.
It's that the congregation as a whole respects the wisdom and the character that you have. So we just recently onboarded three new elders. We had two people step off and when we did the installation service, those three men were selected and they all come with huge respect because the people at the church as a whole know them and trust them already. So we installed them and they've been now on the board for about three months as I speak here. They already came with that.
We have a time when we have elder candidates sit with our team for at least three months or six months and just see how it goes. And then, at that time they say, "I believe I can work with this group. I see how you're doing things. I can fit into this." And then the older team as a whole says, "We believe this is working." And it doesn't always come out that way. Sometimes people know this isn't place for me to be. And sometimes we say, "We really don't think it's your spot after all." And then the congregation votes on them as a whole.
So, they lead the body in decision making versus directing their body by making decisions in my view as I talked about earlier. Now, big question. Can we speak of controversy? Should we have women on the elder board? I was at a Evangelical theological society meeting, I think it was like 1986. The Evangelical Theological Society is a seminary OF profs and teachers and such.
We're now about 4,500 members at that point. Were probably a couple thousand. We were meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, and we had the battle of [inaudible], Kathy Crager and Wayne Gruden going after each other. Egalitarian and complimentarian though we didn't call it complimentarian in those days, and they literally had piles of [inaudible] in because we didn't have electronic stuff in that day and they're battling or the mean of Kephalē, the Greek term for head. Were you there, bill? Yeah.
And I was sitting at the table with Wayne and Kathy's right was behind me. I'm buddies with both of them, and they're going after each other. And when we got done, it was done respectfully. I mean it was an ETS discussion, but sharp difference and we're done.
I said, okay, now we can relax. We've settled that in as much as they were going to be settled, we can go into more important stuff. Boy, my profit hat got shredded because the women in leadership is a sharper controversy today than it was in 1985, 1986.
I wish it weren't so, but it is. So, where I come out on this is, I see three different positions, not two, three different positions. So on one side, as you see on the student guide, egalitarian is every office in the church is open to any person, gender, ethnicity, social status notwithstanding.
That's basic egalitarian. And that's sometimes called mutualist, which I actually think is a better term. Men and women are made to serve together in partnership in all ministries, including leadership of the church.
The position I hold is male elder. That is, elders are to be husband of one wife. And that's the limitation on elder. That is the only office that has a gender limitation on it is the office of elder. Deacon does not, prophet does not, evangelist does not, but elder does, in this specific restriction, there is husband of one wife. That's in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus chapter 1. The other view, is what I call a male teacher view or male leader.
And the idea is there is 1 Timothy 2-12 said, "I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man." And that becomes the definitive passage, that women should not teach or have authority over men in the life and teaching of the church. So, I would say that anybody who serves in any role the function of the office, the function of authority, is limited to men if it's over other men. Now, women can have authority of children, one can obviously have authority of other women.
Titus chapter two makes that really clear, but women should not have authority over men. So, this is male teacher or male leader view. And sometimes my view is called soft complimentarian in this other view, oh, Patrick Shriner would be a good example or Andreas Kostenberger, there are many who would've that view that is called hard complimentarian.
But hard and soft complimentarian don't define anything. So I prefer a male elder and male teacher. What's the difference? So, in my view, male elder view, let's look at a couple of scripture things here. Take it. My view first because it's correct.
1 Timothy chapter 3. So I'm looking here at the NIV, overseers to be above reproach. NIV says, "Faithful to his wife," you know, they say husband of one wife, but same meaning. And in my view, this makes it very clear that Paul, speaking to people in Ephesus said, that an elder should be a married man.
Now, I think a widower could do this because you could be safe with your wife, if your wife is dead, but I think 'faithful to his wife is, and then it goes on with other things. Nothing else in that list is disputable except the male thing.
And I think it's married male and well, you don't believe elders have to be married, do you? Yeah, I actually do. That's what it says right here. Why's something wonky in Ephesus, and Paul's doing it in Ephesus, but it wouldn't be true maybe in Ephesus 90 AD or some other place? Well look at Titus chapter one again, I'm giving my view and lots of good and godly people disagree.
Titus 1:6, same thing. Elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife. There it is again. Children believe not [inaudible] , wild and disobedient. If he can't manage his own household, can he manage God's household? Again, the key thing is they're married men. And the [inaudible] Ephesus as a cosmopolitan educational religious center, one of the four great center cities of the Roman Empire and Crete, which is anything but cosmopolitan and educated.
In fact, a little bit later, they're talking about cretins or liars, evil brutes and lazy gluttons. If Ephesus is the cosmopolitan big city political center of the world, Crete is the redneck. I don't even know what else to say without getting too gross.
But the requirements are exactly the same for both places. So to me, this rolls out the idea that's something unique about 60 AD and something unique about Ephesus. So, in my view, what the Bible prescribes, and this is requirements to the job description for elders, is married men.
And I can't change the job description. My job is to get as close to it as we can. At my church we have more than enough men who fully qualify for this role. What happens if you don't have enough? Well, then you need the best you can. And male is not the only requirement here.
Egalitarian. Our mutualist basic argument is women can be prophets. Nobody debates. In Romans 16:7, Junia is an apostle. In Mark chapter 16, the angel commissions the women who come to the tomb to go teach the other apostles that Jesus has risen. And if they're appointed to teach apostles, why can't they be elders?
Galatians 3:28, either Jew or Greek ethnic, slave nor free, economic, male nor female in the life of the church. Those distinctions are irrelevant to the life of the church. Now, they're not irrelevant because male female [inaudible] slavery are absolutely realities, but as far as the church is concerned, they're not disqualifying in any direction. That'd be the mutualist type of argument.
And if women can be prophets and apostles, why can't they be elders? So something wonky is going on. Typically, they never look at Titus, I respond. So, that's the argument from there. The best arguments I know for the egalitarian position would be Craig Keener and Linda Bellville, and the two views of women ministry. So, both a man and a woman making very similar arguments make it and make it well. I think Cynthia West Falls, Paul [inaudible] gender, is well-made arguments.
Cindy and I have been friends for a long time and when she was finished her book, she said, "Gary, read my book. It'll tip you over the edge." Well, I read her book and it didn't tip me over the edge. We had some friendly disagreements on some of her interpretations, but it's well done from the male teacher perspective.
The key argument of course is 1 Timothy 2, which is really clear. Woman should not teach her authority over man. So, how do you look at Galatians 3 28 for example? There it's saying that Galatians 3:28 is talking about access to the Abrahamic covenant, that is, to the fellowship of the church. It says nothing about the leadership of the church.
So, the argument would be there in Galatians 3:28 is not the key. It doesn't say anything about leadership. It says fellowship in the church. And we all agree that the church should not make distinctions in terms of fellowship with ethnicity or economic or gender issues.
Coming from my perspective, I would see 1 Timothy 2:12 as a problem passage, but frankly, as a problem for everybody, because you take that literally, a woman should not teach a man. So if you have a children's ministry with a woman overseeing the children's ministry, that mean no man could work in the entire children's ministry. Can I be candid and say that's the stupidest thing ever to rule men out from dealing with children? Children need male leadership, especially the boys.
But if you have a woman supervising it, does that say? This is a kind of conflict you get in. Or worse yet, can a woman who is an expert in bookkeeping teach a man how to use Excel spreadsheet in the church office? And I can get pretty sarcastic about things. So, I don't think it's as helpful.
I don't think it's absolutely determinative. And then I look at a passage like Acts 18, which is definitive for me. Acts 18:24 and following, Apollos, good man, instructing the way the Lord gratefully, taught Jesus accurately, but only knew the baptism of John.
And in verse 26, when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained him the way of God more adequately. So he got Priscilla and Aquila teaching Apollos to correct his doctrine, his ignorance. And that's the place where it's not Aquila teaching and Priscilla making some nice scones. It's they explain the way of God.
So, I think, this is my view is what view accounts for the most status, the fewest difficulties. So, I come out with male elder, I don't like it. Without any question egalitarian at heart.
Dina [inaudible] , would be on the elder board so fast in my church except that I can't change the job description. So, for me, the question for leadership is responsibility. So, as an elder, I'm a part of a team of nine, currently nine married men with exemplary character who have the responsibility for the affairs of Grace Community church. And we do it legally because we're officially the directors for the corporate board of Oregon.
But voice, that's a much larger group, and we have a number of people who have voice in decision-making. And Dina, who I talked about, who's one of my heroes, she's full-time church staff. Her title is women's ministry, but she does a lot more than that.
She's an amazing woman and she's not the only one. She just happened to be the only thing of at the moment. She has voice. She's often in our meetings because we ask her to be there. Her wisdom is well known, but she's not carried the responsibility of being an elder. And frankly, she doesn't want it.
So, these are messy things. Messy, messy, messy, messy. And see, my thing is whatever you take, you do it, where you don't make women feel like the best grade they can get on the exam is a B plus. And if you come out on the more egalitarian mutualist society, don't just dismiss 1 Timothy 3 or Titus 1. Give a cogent response to it and admit, yeah, there's some difficulties to our position. And what you must not do is demean the people who disagree with you, which I find way too common.
People look at the other one and say, 'well, if you do this,' then kind of stuff. Let's be respectful to each other. There are good and godly people who take all of these things. If you're going to do it, do it well. Where people feel led well and voices are heard, it says authority is much more than just making decisions. And where voice comes in is important.
What about deacons? Well, 1 Timothy 3, where its talking about elders down through verse eight Sorry, through verse seven. Then verse eight, deacons, everybody agrees that elders have a higher level in the church. Deacons are worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging, that kind of stuff. Down through verse 10, talking about deacons. And then verse 11, in the same way, the women are very respectful and non-malicious talkers and so on.
If you read other translation, it'll be in the same way, wives, in the word there is, "Gune," can be wife or woman depending on the context. That's the same words as you get in 1 Timothy 2:12. I don't let a "gune," a woman, teach authority over a man. Here it's the same word. Let the women, and I think that's women deacons. So eight through 10 is deacons in general. 11 are women deacons and 12 are male deacons.
A male deacon must be faithful to his wife and treat your children and household well. And then 13, probably talking about deacons in general. Those have served well and gained excellent standing.
So I think he's making a distinction here between women deacons and men deacons between 11 and 12. If you say these are wives of deacons, why in the world do you have a limitation on wives of deacons and not have a limitations on wives of elders?
I mean, it makes no sense. Why would you have a limitation on wives of deacons and not have limitation on wives of elders? So, that's where I come ou.t much more to be said, but not today. Comments from the hoi polloi?
I like how you have a way of expressing how leaders lead.
That's the critical point.
Yeah. Can you say those again?
The critical thing for leaders is, biblical leadership is by equipping, inspiring, empowering, unifying, exemplifying, caring, overseeing, watching over, not commanding, making decisions and handed down to be obeyed. And that's the role of leaders in the New Testament. And to me, much of the problem disappears when you say your job is to equip, empower and such.
It's not to have the position of prominence or to give commands that other people must obey or disobey. And then, voice is much bigger than who has the responsibility. And so, voice vote, I mean, in our team, we virtually never vote. Sometimes we do, but voice is powerful. So, the role of leadership is to equip, inspire, empower, those things. That's the heart of it.
I like that because the vast majority of the requirements for leaders of 1 Timothy is through your Character.
Oh, they're all characters.
And so that lines up with how you say that. You briefly addressed this whole issue of the use of the word pastor.
Can you say just-
How about pastor?
Okay, how about pastor.
How about pastor? Well, funny, Gary has an opinion. The word, well, let me use an example. 1 Timothy chapter 3. We see here in 1 Timothy chapter 3 that an elder must be able to teach.
So, an elder must be a teacher. Are all teachers elders? And clearly not, because Titus chapter 2 has women teachers who are not elders. So, women, you can have teachers that are not elders, but all elders must be teachers. So now look over to 1 Peter chapter 5. And what I find here is in verse two, "Be shepherds." Now that's the verb that's you must pastor God's flock. So, my take on it is all elders must pastor be soul care type people, but not all soul care people have to be elders. So my example would be, first would be Ephesians 4:11.
Christ gave himself apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to equip his people. Now at this spot you've got apostles. Apostle, not always elders for sure. Prophets are not always elders. Evangelists are not always elders.
Pastors I think are not always elders either. So here its talking about pastors, which is the leaders who are to equip the people for service. And I would think there can be teachers who are not elders. There can be pastors who are elders.
The problem is, in American, pastor means a guy who runs the church, and that would be an elder. But as churches have gotten larger, we have soul care people and often full-time staff soul care people who are not elders. Can you call them pastors? I think you can. Now, in my church, I'm an elder, I'm a pastor, since our recent discussion, but I'm not paid by the church.
In fact, I pay the church for the privilege of being a part of, I don't actually pray, but I do contribute regularly. So, I'm not a staff member, but I am an elder and the pastor, we have other pastors who are not pastors, sorry, we have other pastors who are not elders or staff members.
So, we see soul care, and they have an official role. They're identified as a pastor, and they have responsibilities associated with that. But there may or may not be paid for it. And I think those can be women, but we have to be careful to define it so people understand that we are people who are put in a role in leadership in the church to do soul care and our church was equipping and developing people to do soul care. So I think pastor is something that all elders must do, but I don't think all pastors have to be elders.
Other churches say no, pastor, elders, same thing. I don't think you can prove that biblically. But if you do that, then you have to limit pastors to the elders of the church. The funny thing is, at Grace Community Church, we had, Jerry Smith, was the staff guy in charge of pastoral care, but was not a pastor. So, he's not Pastor Jerry, but he's responsible for pastoral care in the church. That was a, are you kidding me? But according to our definition, he's not an elder, so therefore he's not a pastor. And we've changed that. But funny.
How do you communicate a complimentarian position that requires elders to be a husband of one wife, to a woman, that when you say that it communicates to them that there's something that they can't do in the church and that inherently makes them feel less valued?
Well, boy, that's a crucial question, a really important one. First of all, I'd respond by saying that in my ecclesiology, elder is not the highest office in the church. It's one of several offices at the top of the church. So a woman can be a prophet, women can be evangelist, women can be a teacher, but not an elder.
So, I would say yes, that one is restricted to women. I don't like it, but God said that's the way it needs to be. And then what I'd say is yes, but I would say frankly, Jesus could not be an elder in my church either. Does that mean I'm devaluing him? No, he can be Messiah, but he can't be an elder because he's not a married man.
So I'd put it in that kind of context, and I'd make a big point out of, we have voice involved in decision making that's much broader than elders. And it's not a matter of who is in command, who is responsible, and for this large scale responsibility that is limited to married men. And I just say very frankly, I don't like it, but I want you very much involved.
Your voice is critically important and we want you to step up and be a prophet, to be an evangelist, to be a teacher, and do these other roles and no elders limited to married men. And there it is. So you're with Jesus.