Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Church Leadership

One of the pieces of bumper sticker wisdom  of the 1960’s was “Question Authority.”  It portrayed the options as mindlessly following human authority and never questioning it, or seeing all authority as arbitrary and tyrannical and an unreasonable imposition on the individual. The choices were totalitarianism and anarchy, with no reasonable middle ground. This attitude has sneaked into the Christian church. There are those who want to abolish any organized authority in the church. Others, who go to the opposite extreme of telling people not to ask any questions but simply do whatever the leadership says. What is the Scriptural position?

 Scripture says authorities are created by God and should be obeyed (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17; Matthew 22:15-22). It also says that leaders in the church are given by God and should be followed (Ephesians 4:11; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:12). Further, the purpose of the Christian church is to build people up in the faith, and this cannot be done if there is no relationship of trust between the people involved (Ephesians 4:12-16; Matthew 28:18-20; Colossians 1:28,29). But we have to oppose human authority when it conflicts with the truth of God (Acts 4:19,20; 5:29; Daniel 3:16-18). There is also a place to test the leadership in the church as to whether they are true to the teachings of Scripture (Acts 17:11; Galatians 2:11-16; 1:8,9). But neither of these should be undertaken easily or lightly, but only with careful and serious consideration. And we need to ask the question, “Am I doing this because this authority has violated what is right or just , and not merely because I personally do not happen to like it?” For this to happen there has to be a higher authority by which other authorities must be judged; this is the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16,17; John 17:17; Isaiah 8:20). This is important, because we should not oppose legitimate authority based on our personal preferences but based on principle.

This is crucial, because what we have developed out of the philosophy of the 60’s is a soft view of authority. “I will follow it if it does not conflict too much with what I want and if it is not too inconvenient.” Which is better than pure anarchy but creates serious problems. It makes it hard for any authority to function, because it has to only make the decisions people already endorse or try to find some way to entice people to go along. In the church we have the further complication that there are a multitude of other congregations out there, and if I do not like what this church is doing, I can go to the one down the road. What we need here is a change of attitude. An attitude that supports leadership until there is a clear Biblical reason not to. For it is hard to accomplish anything if we are just a batch of squabbling individuals, each wanting their own way.

No comments:

Post a Comment