A New Book…

I recently have been in contact with several people throughout the Mid-South who have been gathering in homes for quite some time. It is interesting to find that as we travel further down the proverbial “rabbit hole” away from institutional Christianity, that we are finding many who have been paving this road long before us. It is humbling and fascinating.

BTW, if you would like to read a good book concerning this phenomenon, you should check out “Revolution” by George Barna.

Anyway, a gentleman from Jackson, MS, who will remain nameless until I have his permission to use his name, sent me a book a couple of days ago entitled, “Corinthian Elders”. It is a very interesting look through the book of Corinthians concerning the role of elders in Scripture. He wrote this short book as an answer to questions from family and friends who did not understand why he left the main-stream church they were a part of. I am nearly through the book and will be speaking with the author about my thoughts. I hope to share in the near future my own thoughts on the role of elders within churches.

It will probably not come as a surprise that I think Jesus should have the preeminence among his Bride. However, that tends not to be the case these days….

What think ye?

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14 Responses

  1. Great blog and hope to have some time soon to come back and read more!

  2. Lol u got spammed from a Christian singles site, hehe.

  3. Brother Rhodes, I am interested in the book that you mention, “Corinthian Elders”. I found one on Amazon that I think might be the same one, since it is recommended by Steve Atkerson. But since you didn’t mention the author, I am afraid I might be purchasing the wrong book. Would you mind e-mailing me the author and possible ordering info? rl_vaughn -AT- yahoo.com

    Thanks.

  4. Thanks. I just ordered a copy. I look forward to reading it.

  5. I am glad that I heard about the “Corinthian Elders” book here. I received it yesterday and have already read it. I am looking forward to your thoughts on the role of elders within churches.

    I agree that there is a problem of Jesus not being the focus, and therefore man loving to have the preeminence in His church.

  6. I am glad you enjoyed the book. I am sure Jack would appreciate your comments. Might I also recommend the two books found here:

    http://www.reimaginingchurch.org/

    And also, a book I am currently reading found here:

    http://cmaresources.org/organicleadership

    Great books that discuss Biblical leadership and other issues as well.

    Thanx!

  7. I will try to remember to e-mail Bro. Fortenberry. The title Organic Leadership: Leading Naturally Right Where You Are intrigues me because I think men arising and leading in their own churches fits the biblical model and is quite practical as well.

    When I was a young preacher, Bro. J. W. Griffith mentioned in passing that he thought that was the way the elders in NT churches were raised up. Ever since that time, I have gradually moved toward accepting that as normative. I think that we have taken over the idea of missionaries and evangelists — itinerates who move around and need support — and pressed those ideas into what an elder in a NT church is supposed to be. I don’t have enough time to expand on what are probably incomplete thoughts above, but I believe you will get the idea.

  8. Wow! I think we could have some really productive conversations!

    I like what you said about missionaries and evangelists. I think leadership in the church is broken down very clear for us Ephesians 4:11-16. Paul listed five roles within the church: 1) apostles, 2) prophets, 3) evangelists, 4) pastors, and 5) teachers. Now, 4 and 5 I really think are two sides of the same coin.

    The word apostles “ones who are sent” is the exact same word as the latin based word “missionaries”. Missionaries are sent ones. They are sent by God to do what we see Paul, Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, Sothenes, Peter, John, and the rest of the apostles doing, planting churches, and visiting them for encouragement, edification, and correction. In other words, they were itinerant. They never stayed long in the same place, but rather went from city to city and church to church.

    Prophets seem to be those who have a peculiar sense of God’s Word. They have an anointing of the King to declare His thoughts to the body. They tended to point out error and warn of things coming. I am not sure if they were more itinerant, are stayed within on church.

    Evangelists seemed to always be outside of the church. They were out working to expand the Kingdom through proclaiming the Good News. It is interesting to note that the Roman Emperor also had evangelists, described with the same Greek word. They were responsible for traveling around the Empire declaring the various “Good News” decrees that Ceasar had issued. Paul used this word. They were obviously, at least somewhat, itinerant.

    Pastor/teachers were those with a Shepherds heart who were to care for the people and teach them God’s word. I fully beleive this teaching was more conversational in nature, rather than declaratory “preaching” or “sermonizing”.

    As far as elders, I don’t believe God ever envisioned positional “offices” within His churches. The word “office” never appears in the Greek. There were several words for “office” that Paul could have chosen from, but he chose non of them. Elders filled an age-old role of “fathering”. The very word assumes aged. While I think the relationship between actual age and maturity is quite subjective, it certainly implies “elders” were just that, “elder”. They were NEVER elected, but rather recognized by itinerant apostolic workers such as Paul, Timothy, and Titus.

    As far as deacons go, they were just that deacons. The word mean servant. They were specifically recognized servants within the churches. There is no positional attributes given or intended. In fact, the text in 1 Timothy clearly teaches about the women servants, often referred to as the deacons wives.

    That is my limited understanding on the issue of leadership. I will say this, leadership within the church was NEVER imported from outside of the church, except in the case of itinerant apostolic workers.

    What think ye?

  9. Oh, I left something out. If you read the whole context in Ephesians 4, you find that these “gifts” were given to the church for the perfecting or equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry or to do the work of ministry so that the body would be edified or built up in unity. This type of ministry described here was to continue until everyone was unified and mature in Jesus. In other words, the need for this type of ministry is STILL NEEDED TODAY!!!

    I would like to know how this was hi-jacked away from us!! Satan is cunning and clever. He has done lots to stunt the growth and effectiveness of the Kingdom.

    However, I see a fresh wind blowing in these latter days. I believe we are on the cusp of a great and mighty harvest, and this type of ministry will be needed to see it happen!!

  10. Well, I’m finally getting back around to this thread. I found your comments interesting, and that bring out some important points.

    I understand you to be saying that apostles and prophets are still relevant for today. My background makes me quick to draw back from anything called an apostle or prophet today. I have the impression that you may have this same general background. One thing that changes one’s perspective is when we realize there were more than 12 (or 14) men called apostles in the New Testament. Several others are clearly called apostles, and several more seem to be, though not as clearly so. So while we don’t have any apostle with the inspiration or “authority” of a Peter or Paul, we do still have “lesser” “ones sent” in this day. Some believe that “Till we all come in the unity of the faith…” in Ephesians 4 is talking about the completion of the Bible, but I don’t think that is likely.

    You mention that 4 and 5 (pastors and teachers) are two sides of the same coin. I think I generally agree with that, although it could also be two things that overlap (which might be slightly different than you mean). For example, there were apostles and there were prophets, but some (if not all) of the apostles were also prophets.

    It is good to see folks looking for apostolic or New Testament examples/patterns of how we ought to be the Lord’s churches today.

  11. BTW, if “Till we all come in the unity of the faith…” means the completion of the Bible, would it not follow that evangelists, pastors and teachers are also “done away”? All five of these were given “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till…” whatever that time is.

  12. Thanx for this discussion, RL. I would say we come from very similar backgrounds. I do shy away from calling people “apostles” and/or “prophets”. I also completely agree with your statement regarding the “overlapping” of roles. Paul was certainly an apostle, a prophet, an eveangelist, and I would think also a pastor and teacher.

    Actually, Jesus was all of these!

    My understanding of these, is that they were not “offices” or “positions”, but were rather “roles” or “functions”.

    There is a serious difference. A position or office exists whether a person is filling it or not. If it is vacant, then it must be filled. Someone or group must decide who fills it and a person must be chosen from others to fill it. This is what is generally accepted within most Christian contexts today regarding the position of pastor.

    Rather than this, these are actually functions within the body. There are some who function as apostles, some who function as prophets, some who function as evangelists, and some who function as pastors and teachers. They were never meant to be elected, but were recognized among the body by what they were doing with their particular gifting. In fact, Ephesians 4:7 seems to indicate that EVERYONE has at least one of these giftings!

    Also, Ephesians 4:12 clearly states that these gifts (functions) are given to the saints for their maturity, so they could accomplish the work of the ministry so that the body of Christ could be built up. So, apostles were to train apostles, prophets were to train other prophets, evangelists were to train more evangelists, and so on. So, when Paul wrote his letters to Timothy, who was called an apostle, he wasn’t writing a “Pastoral Epistle”, he was actually writing an “Apostolic Epistle”! He was training through written correspondence just like he did when Timothy was a part of his team.

    This should definitely change how we read 1 and 2 Timothy. I would also think the same would apply to Titus.

    Again, I will reiterate, that I do not think we have “official” Apostles working in and among churches today. Rather, we have those who have an apostolic gifting, and are functioning as apostles, and should be recognized as such. This recognition would of course require an enormous recalibration of everything we think of as church leadership.

    Which, btw, I think the book in this original post begins to illustrate.

  13. Jeff,

    I just found your blog & really am encouraged that you and RL find a similiar understanding in Scripture.

    After many uncomfortable conversations it is just joyful to find like-minded brothers. Our Father really is good.

    Thanks for holding to the NT alone.

    Blessings!

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