6 Principles of “Those Who Turned the World Upside Down” part 2

1 06 2010

This is part two in a series on the topic, “New Testament Principles on Leadership Structure.” Enjoy. If you want to catch up on the previous part, scroll down and find part one.

Principle #2: Team Leadership

Jesus modeled team leadership in organizing twelve men into an itinerate ministry that shook the Jewish world (see the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). After Jesus’ ascension into heaven, the eleven apostles immediately set out to elect a twelfth (Matthias) and reorganize team leadership for the days ahead (see Act 1:15-26). Even as it appears from Luke’s account that Peter and John quickly emerged as the strongest leaders among the twelve apostles (see Acts 1-5), the team leadership structure remained intact. With the structural problems that arose with the feeding of widows, the apostles chose a shared leadership structure by naming seven men who were appointed to distribute food (see Acts 6:3-6).

Even as the early church grew into the thousands with multiple locations, team leadership continued to be a hallmark of church polity. One of the earliest churches outside of Jerusalem, the church at Antioch, developed a leadership team built around Barnabas, Saul, and “the elders” (Acts 11:30). With the first missionary outreach came the expansion of the Jerusalem fellowship into church planting throughout the Mediterranean (see Acts 13-14). Paul and Barnabas realized the need for leadership structure through team ministry as they “appointed elders in every church” (Acts 14:23). In Acts 15:6 we observe that “the apostles and the elders came to together” to make a theological decision.

Paul provides more insight as he writes Titus about the need for leadership structure: “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you” (Titus 1:5). Paul, in his instruction to Timothy writes, “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine” (1 Timothy 5:17). James instructs the “elders” to come and pray over those who are sick (see James 5:14). In Paul’s final farewell to the church in Ephesus, he called “the elders of the church” together (see Acts 20:17, 28). Paul in writing the church in Philippi addressed, “the overseers (plural) and deacons” (Philippians 1:1, emphasis added). Peter instructed the “elders” to shepherd the flock in Asia Minor (see 1 Peter 5:1). In each of these passages we observe team leadership in the churches. A more through study would exhibit more evidence of this principle. (See also Acts 13:1; 15:35; 1 Corinthians 16:15, 16; 1 Thessalonians 5:12, 13; Hebrews 13:7, 17, and 24)

Alexander Strauch writes in his book, Biblical Eldership, “The New Testament reveals that the pastoral oversight of many of the first churches was committed to a plurality of elders. This was true of the earliest Jewish Christian churches in Jerusalem, Judea, and neighboring countries, as well as many of the first gentile churches” (p. 36). Thus, we observe that the New Testament is a testimonial of shared leadership through a plurality of elders. From Jesus to the establishment of the church, the pages of scripture model a structure of leadership that is collegiate and collective in a team approach.

Benefits of Team Leadership:

• Team leadership covers and balances the weaknesses of the individual members

• Team leadership provides the synergy of different gifts and talents working together for the common good

• Team leadership holds each member accountable in his character and in his work

• Team leadership lightens the load of ministry duties and responsibilities

• Team leadership models a collegiate and loving group to the church

• Team leadership provides a group of men to relate to and work with, who become friends and brothers that make the ministry fun and joyful

In Practicum:

MSC has an elder team leadership approach. We have a “Pastoral Elder Team” made up of the staff pastors. The pastoral team leads the church in all matters related to the spiritual and pastoral direction of the church. We also have a “Board Elder Team” that guides the church in all matters related to legal matters, financial policies and procedures. As the Senior Pastor I am accountable to and reviewed annually by this Board Elder Team. The Board Elder Team is consulted and utilized in all hiring, firing, and disciplinary actions related to the Pastoral Elder Team.


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