Tag Archives: church leadership

Thoughts on “The Bigger Story Behind Jen Hatmaker”

Here’s a little info on “Jen Hatmaker situation“. This post is not about her, but a response to a recent Christianity Today article entitled, “The Bigger Story Behind Jen Hatmaker“. The other day on my Facebook page, I linked to that CT article with the following pull quote from Jen Wilkin, a minister at The Village Church in Texas:

The typical church organizational structure tends to segregate women’s ministry as an autonomous unit—a mysterious kingdom that operates according to its own set of rules.

Here are some thoughts on the CT article:

1- Church leadership has the responsibility of being aware of cultural trends and influences, especially those trends and influences that impact the churches that they lead. Jen Hatmaker has not been living under a rock- she has a platform as a speaker, blogger, writer, reality show “star” and spouse of a pastor.

  • I wonder, when is the last time that church leaders have looked at the bestseller list provided by the Association for Christian Retailers? Me? I NEVER have. Until today.
  • Forget the “Christian” market…how about the regular market? What music, movies, and television shows are those in our churches watching? How would we even know?
  • Ideas: Create a survey and ask what media people consume. Read books, watch a few episodes, give music a listen.

2- The pastor in your church will NEVER out-preach Francis Chan, John Piper, Matt Chandler, Alistair Beeg, Beth Moore, Andy Stanley, or any other pastor that you listen to through podcasting. As much as I enjoy listening to Matt Chandler, he is not my pastor. Doug White is. I belong to a local body of believers that I am called into to be an active member. And, one of the things I appreciate about Matt Chandler is that at the beginning of EVERY video from The Village Church, he basically says that TVC is not a replacement for a local church.

  • Idea: Stop comparing your pastor to these people. Instead, pray for him or her. Thank God for him or her. I read somewhere that God assembled the body as He saw fit. That “assembly” includes your pastor.

3- “The typical church organizational structure tends to segregate women’s ministry as an autonomous unit–a mysterious kingdom that operates according to its own set of rules.” This is 100%, absolute truth. It’s also not limited only to women’s ministry. This is a problem because church leadership bears the responsibility of knowing what is being taught in every single learning environment within the church. Why? They will be held to account for what has been taught.

  • Idea: Create a scope and sequence for curriculum and content to be used. Review everything. Is it biblical? Do we agree with the doctrine being taught? Ask “Why this?” and “Why now?” and have people defend their choices. Ask, “How does this fit with the rest of what we are doing?” Be willing to say “No”. Why? It’s your job, church leaders. Paul warned the leaders at Ephesus that not only would people sneak in as wolves, but that the wolves were already present.

4- Have an honest discussion about the role of men’s and women’s ministries within the church. Titus 2 is clear, it’s to make disciples. Yep, you can be friends, eat snacks, make a craft, shoot guns, go fishing or shopping. You can do all of those things and still make disciples. You know what else? You can do every one of those things and never make a single disciple. Just because someone says, “We ARE making disciples in our ministry” does not make it so. Look. At. The. Fruit. Are the people involved more like Jesus? Are they living Matthew 5-7 lives?

  • Idea: Sit down at your next ministry gathering and read Titus 2. Ask questions. Look at the fruit in the lives of those gathered. Challenge one another. Ask, “How?”. For every instruction given by Paul to Titus, ask specifically, “How is what we are doing in this ministry being faithful to Scripture?”

5- Know and understand that there were female leaders in the New Testament church. Priscilla. Junia. Mary. At least one of them, Phoebe, was a deacon. Yep. A girl was a deacon. We know this because in Romans 16:1, Paul writes, “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a deacon in the church in Cenchrea” (for those of you who feel compelled to argue- Paul uses the same Greek word here that he uses in 1 Timothy and Titus as well as the same word used by Luke in Acts 6- in verb form- for “deacon”). One of the roles of church leadership is to contextualize the scriptures- we read and study them, then teach and apply them to our specific contexts. The role of women serving is something that must be contextualized. How can we ensure that everyone within the church are utilizing their gifts for the good of the entire body?

  • Idea: Ask and answer these questions: How many women attend your church? How many single moms? How many widows? And the big question…who is advocating for them? How does “what you do” as a church take into account the various dynamics of those who attend? When is the last time that church leadership met with the leader of your church’s women’s ministry team to learn about the issues facing females within your church? (Which means, that discipleship MUST be the goal- see #4, above.) What roles can women hold in the church?

Clearly, many (if not all) of these issues can be traced back to a healthy and biblical leadership structure. Leaders are called to shepherd the flock, this requires us to know our flock. Leaders are called to teach sound doctrine, this requires us to know scripture. If it sounds like a lot of work, it is. Which is why James says, “Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly”.

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The Invitation

Friend Geoff Lawson recently posted these thoughts on Twitter (they were retweets from the music pastor at the church he serves):

“When we ‪#‎ownit‬, all who claim Christ enter the Kingdom through Him. We are then gathered together as His people.

When we #ownit, we understand that we are members of a flock. We belong to Jesus & are dedicated to those who also claim Him.

When we #ownit, we see the sheep make the flock. Everyone contributes to the whole, interconnected community.

When we #ownit, we take our part seriously in being healthy, active & participating. Everyone’s contribution matters.”

Here are my thoughts:

When we #ownit, we take joy in the invitations to participate in community with one another. We step outside of ourselves and our silos, out of our territorial selfishness because we anticipate learning and growing together. We understand that we have things to offer others, and they have things to offer us.

Paul’s instruction to the church in Romans and 1 Corinthians is clear. We are called to work together. And yet, these instructions are within the context of Jesus, whose instructions and call to both relationship and discipleship come in the form of INVITATION. Jesus invites us to join Him, then the church invites others to join us as we join Him.

One of the incredible things about this invitation is that if it is accepted, all benefit. The (so-called) individuals benefit because they take hold of God’s giftedness and truly live how they were meant to live. The Body of Christ, the church, benefits because we are many, yet one, focusing singularly on Jesus and others.

If the invitation is not accepted, then the church (lower-case) will simply degenerate into turf-wars and lines in the sand. Pride and arrogance will reign and others will see this, having their opinions, about the church, confirmed and also decline the invitation.

The church will grow, and Christ alone will be magnified, when we choose to leave behind our own desires and designs, both our pride AND our false humility accept His invitation to be part of the community that He offers and empowers. Jesus gives those in the church an open invitation to know Him and others in the body.

We decline at our peril, and accept to His glory.

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The Rule of Malignant Narcissism

The longer you have a single unchecked person in power, the revelation that they are a malignant narcissist approaches one. Continue reading

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Paul and Slavery in the New Testament- 1 Timothy 6:1-2

To see previous posts from this series: Chapter 1  Chapter 2  Chapter 3  Chapter 4 Chapter 5:1-16, and Chapter 5:17-25.

Slavery is a wicked evil that has been present on earth since the earliest of times. Continue reading

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On Elder Accusations- 1 Timothy 5:17-25

To see previous posts from this series: Chapter 1  Chapter 2  Chapter 3  Chapter 4 Chapter 5:1-16.

Paul has the understanding that character matters not only for all believers, but for the leadership within the church in particular. Paul writes to Timothy in Ephesus that he is to raise up men strong in Christian character for the roles and positions of elder and deacon. To make things clear, he outlines specifically what this character looks like. Paul returns to elders in 1 Timothy 5:17-25:

“The elders who direct the affairs of the church are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, ‘Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,’ and ‘The worker deserves his wages.’ Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others take warning. I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism. Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure. Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine for your stomach and your frequent illness. The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not cannot be hidden.”

This is a fairly straight forward text. Paul is stating that elders within the church are valuable and worthy of honor. This is not due to their position, but their character. Jesus talked about the difference between worldly and godly leaders in Matthew 20:25-28. Let’s bear in mind what Christians believe about scripture; scripture comes from God and is inspired. These are not just Paul’s words, but God’s- which is a bold statement. If, then, these are God’s instructions to the church, then the church needs to follow them in raising up proper leaders. Leaders who have been properly vetted, meeting the stringent qualifications laid out in 1 Timothy 3, are the ones worthy of double honor. Suppose someone has an accusation against elders. How are these to be handled? Continue reading

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Set an Example- 1 Timothy 4

Here’s Paul’s argument from 1 Timothy…

Chapter 1– There are false teachers, and the LORD chose Paul, who was one, by his grace to teach Timothy how to be faithful.

Chapter 2– Timothy must be faithful in teaching people what authentic, grace-filled worship looks like.

Chapter 3– Timothy then must raise up leaders, men of godly personal character, who are already living out personal transformation of the gospel.

The leaders in our churches must be men of godly and solid personal character, built on Christ, the pillar and foundation of truth. Why?

“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” (4:1, 2). These “hypocritical liars” are those within the church who teach “godless myths and old wives’ tales” (4:7), “false doctrines…myths and endless genealogies” (1:3&4), “meaningless talk” (1:6). Paul’s instruction to Timothy is clear, “a good minister” is the one who makes people aware of the false teachers. Paul tells Timothy that he will know who the false teachers are because Timothy can simply compare their teaching to “the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that he followed.” There are some in positional authority in the church who have told so many lies, have deceived and manipulated the truth to such an extent that their very consciences are seared. Therefore, everything that comes from their mouths should automatically be suspect. Sadly, they will be followed.

But this is not the way of Timothy, and ought not to be the way of leaders today. The way for Timothy is to set the personal example for the believers in his speech, life, live, faith and purity, to devote himself to the public reading of scripture and to preaching and teaching. This was and is about his gift; only by being alert and aware will people a) see his spiritual growth, and b) protect others, saving them.

Leaders in the church must be ever-alert for false teachers. These will come from within and can be identified as we compare the narrative of their personal lives with the truth and hope of the gospel. May we stand on the pillar and foundation of the truth.

 

 

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How should we worship?- 1 Timothy 2

Intro

Pastor as Historian

God cares how he is worshiped. A review of the book of Exodus tells us this as He was incredibly specific with the Israelites with instructions about first the tabernacle, and then the temple. Even down to the number of loops on curtains and the articles used.

As the gospel spread and Christianity went from simply a sect of Judaism to its own faith- this took place for 2 reasons: 1) many Jews refused to accept Jesus as the Christ and 2) because of this, the message of Jesus spread throughout the Gentile/pagan world- people still needed to know the “how” of worship. Should the people continue to worship in the Jewish synagogue? What elements of worship were the Gentiles/pagans bringing with them? How were these things informing/challenging/changing the worship of God?

Paul evidently had concern over these things or he would not have included them in his (what we call) first letter to Timothy. Ephesus was primarily a Greek city, and was the home of the Temple of Artemis/Diana, the goddess of the hunt and then childbirth. It is important to keep this background in mind as we read the words of Paul and consider their value for today.

Prayer:

Paul instructs Timothy, “first of all” that prayers ought to be offered “for everyone– for kings and those in authority.” Prayers are not just for believers, but for all, especially the leaders and authority in society. What should believers pray for? “…that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” Note that this is the prayer for all, that all might be saved and “come to a knowledge of the truth.” What is this “truth?” That Jesus, not Diana, nor any of the Greek/Roman gods or goddesses, was the mediator between God and men. This is Paul’s motivation, the proclamation of this truth over and above all else.

HOW should men pray? With hands lifted up…not in anger over “God being better” or even in disputing with Gentiles…but rather, in peace. Specifically (as noted above) that we’d live peaceful and quiet lives, in simple submission to God. This is important because Paul’s words came after the example that he himself modeled when he was in Ephesus, years earlier. In Acts 19, Paul was in Ephesus proclaiming the gospel of Jesus. There were many converts, and as a response, “a number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them.” Others stopped purchasing silver trinkets at the Temple of Artemis/Diana which impacted the economy of the silversmiths there. After a man named Demetrius got the silversmiths together, “they were furious and began shouting, ‘Great is the Artemis of the Ephesians.” As we read through this story, we see that not once did Paul act “in anger or disputing.” Paul is calling the men of Ephesus to follow his own example.

What about women? They were to “dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair of gold or pearls or expensive expensive clothes…” Again, Paul’s instruction here is to present a contrast from the pagan society of the day. The things that he lists were markers, (as they are today) of one’s place in society and a demonstration of one’s wealth. And, they simply had no place in the Christian faith. The way of Jesus is not division and separation, but unity. In Ephesus, you were either a “have” or a “have-not.” And evidences of conspicuous consumption had no place there. In Greek and Roman society, it was these external markers that demonstrated that you had “made the gods happy.” With Christianity, this is not the case. Outer beauty and the external things did not speak of one’s relationship with Christ; it was, and is, what happens on the INSIDE that ultimately mattered.

The Elephant: “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” Does Paul hate women? Not so fast..again, context matters. There are two schools of thought; the first being that females at the Temple of Artemis/Diana were temple prostitutes, so Paul wrote what he did to separate the Christian faith from the pagan worship practices of their time, and the second, per this interesting article, women were not prostitutes at the Temple of Artemis/Diana. Rather, they were, “compare[d] better with a Rose Bowl queen or with Miss Teen America.” By implication, their roles were ceremonial. If this is the case, Paul’s regulation against women was to communicate that the role of a leader in the church was not ceremonial. In either case, Paul’s default argument is to return to the original created order from Genesis, Adam first, then Eve.

What does all this mean to us?

  • We should pray for everyone, especially our leaders. For what should we pray? That all of our lives are marked with peace, quiet, holiness and godliness.
  • Men should pray not with anger or disputing, but with the above 4 things: peace, quiet, holiness and godliness.
  • Women should be adorned not outwardly with demonstrations of the perception of rewarded godliness, but with demonstrable fruit of what is happening on the inside, how they’ve been transformed by Christ.
  • And…yes, men have the authority role in teaching. I’m not going to dig into this one right now. Perhaps I’m being chicken, or maybe I’m at almost 900 words. Most likely, this is the kind of discussion one should have sitting across the table from one another. So, let’s chat.

 

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