Sunday, February 16, 2014

Rethinking Modern Church Practice, Part 2

I recently finished reading the Bible, Genesis through Revelation. One of the things that struck me was in 2 Timothy 2:2. Here, Paul instructs Timothy to train/appoint mature leaders who will, in turn, train and raise up the net generation of leaders in their congregations. Obviously, Paul was not committed to the idea that Jesus would return in his lifetime. Aside from that, note the leadership training process. Congregations were not to send of their brightest and best to a seminary tens or hundreds or thousands of miles away, and then receive as new leaders men or women who were chosen after brief acquaintance or appointed by some regional leader. Congregations were to train - in Scripture and in hands-on service (= ministry) - and develop their own leaders from within, and send out people to service elsewhere as the Holy Spirit led.

While there is significant value in learning the languages of Scripture and the teachings of Christians throughout history, I think much of value is sacrificed and lost in the farm-'em out model of leadership development. Churches, thereby, sidestep their responsibility to make disciples, leaving it to others. Potential leaders who cannot afford seminary (or whose gifts do not fit in a seminary) do not become what they could be. Leaders being developed in seminaries do not have the accountability they need and would get from a church whose members know them well. And churches select, or have imposed on them, leaders they don;'t know and who do not know them. Much vulnerability can come from that lack of knowledge, from incompatibilities and understandings to fraud and various sorts of abuse.

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