Reblog: Whenever someone joins a church, re-appoint the ‘elders’

Paul’s instruction to Timothy; “appoint elders in every town”… do we do that any more – or was it just an early church thing?
Think about those early churches; Paul went and preached in a town, the gospel spread and fellowships of believers began to gather together. Paul saw a theologically based need for those fellowships to have leaders – theological leaders – put in place. The churches had none… so Paul needed to appoint one.
That doesn’t really happen that much does it? Sure, some churches might loose their senior pastor; but even then, there’s some sort of eldership body in place.
But this does still happen. Whenever someone joins a church, they re-appoint the elders – in their heart. They are joining a fellowship of people who are already under the authority of their pastor/elders/staff.
And you can’t separate the two; you can’t join the fellowship without considering the appointed pastor/staff/elders as your pastor/staff/elders.
So do you do it? Do you help new people to your church (who are Christians) to appoint the leaders as their “elders”? Do you help them get what that means?
My guess is that if you don’t help that happen, there’s a good chance it won’t.

Would you like the Apostle Paul’s church?

I often wonder how we’d go at being a member of one of Paul’s churches. Think about the list in 1Tim 5…

“No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord’s people, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds. As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list.”

That seems pretty harsh right? What about unique circumstances? What about if they’re 58yrs old? What if they haven’t done those good things and they’re just starting out in the Christian life?

Now I’m pretty certain Paul would have opened the door to exceptional circumstances, but that’s just a hunch, because he’s not hinting at that here to Timothy is he?

The point is that Paul endorses a structure, a church system for loving many people, rather than every person. Why? Why not just say, “Work out if being on the list is good for widows or not on a case by case basis?”

Think about that, remembering this is God’s word…

Structures are there to love people, many people. I’m sure that there would have been widows (and their friends) in Ephesus with Timothy who would have felt really hurt by where Paul drew the line. Some people would have felt it was unfair. Others would have found it difficult to understand his reasoning (which he describes only briefly). But how should they have responded to Paul’s widow-list system?

Are you happy to be in a church where Jesus appoints overseers to make decisions to love many people over the individuals? If you’re an overseer at a church (pastor, elder, minister, etc.) do you feel the weight of making decisions that try to love the most, even if some people won’t like it?

p.s. I’m not saying it’s bad to ever have “case-by-case” basis, but rather that “hard-and-fast” systems are not bad. There’s a tension to hold between saying both “every-member-matters” and “we do it this way to love more people”

Ministry Risk = Likelihood x Consequences

Ministry risks can be evaluated in the same way that other risk scenarios can be… likelihood multiplied by negative consequences.

If you’re renting some location for church, how much of a risk are you running?

First, consider the likelihood of the owners ending your contract in the next 12 months… if its a good relationship, it might be 10% chance. If it’s a bit shaky, it might be 30% or 40%.

Second, consider the consequences of being kicked out… financial costs, moving, goodwill, are there even any possible alternatives? You should also consider the positive outcomes; a new momentum for the church? It might get those fringe people more involved? It might end some traditionalism that’s crept into your culture.

Basically, if you’ve got a high-probability and grave negative consequences, you’re in a bad risk position. You need to act now.

We looked at this, and even tough the likelihood of being kick-out was pretty low, the consequences were terrible – there’s nowhere else for us to meet in the surrounding 10kms!! So we’ve already setup a fund for buying a building. We don’t need it – yet – but the risk analysis made it a wise move.