5 Ways to Topple a Church Regime

503Church

1. Obliterate and repent of all semblances of an ecclesiastical caste system.

Any distinction, either by action or thought which conveys that there is a clergy class and a laity class must be questioned, challenged, disturbed, provoked, captured, and killed. If this sounds too violent, revolutionary, or subversive, then consider it more like a mercy killing, an assisted suicide, or a qualitative end of life issue. I suppose we can let the system die with dignity, but that assumes there was any ever dignity in it. Notice I never said that any person should be assaulted or abused in any way. Extending mercy, being at peace, and esteeming others higher than ourselves should always prevail. (James 2:13) (Romans 12:18) (Philippians 2:1-7) If however, a “captain” wants to go down with his ship, then there’s little that anyone can do but to toss a life-preserver or head up a rescue operation afterwards. Congregations are complicit too. Church committees and congregations come up with astronomical job descriptions for super-professionals to fill. They’re looking for the best and most qualified people to do what they don’t want to do and relieve themselves of the responsibility and freedom. The clergy class can only take the power that the laity class sacrifices to them on their man-made altars.

[Tweet “Any distinction, by thought or action action that conveys a clergy class and a laity class must be questioned”]

2. Stop facing front and face each other.

First things first. Detonate, destroy, and disassemble the pulpit. When all eyes are focused towards the front, they’re not focused on Jesus or His people. How many ‘church’ hours of a Christian’s life is spent looking at the back of another’s head instead of into one another’s eyes? How are you suppose to weep with those who weep if you’re not willing to face those with faces? Jesus looks on people with compassion. 

Tear down the stage and any other platforms that separate the body of Christ. Put the worship bands and choirs in another room where no one can see them and pipe the music in. Better yet create environments for spontaneous flash mob worship events. Why do you need a “show” in order to collectively worship God? Take the big screen down from the right hand side of the church and begin extending the right hand of fellowship.

Change the church’s shape. Get rid of squares and rectangles and sharp corners. Round out its edges. Form circles and spheres so that people can see one another, share with one another, and truly be amongst one another. Color outside the lines. Establish circular frameworks instead of boxy containments. Make “the front of the church” indistinguishable from the rest of it.  Design the gathering place where the church (the people) are all equally accessible and approachable. “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…” (1 Timothy 2:5), and yet we keep building physical structures and furniture to suggest that there are myriads of mediators. 

[Tweet “Design gathering places where all people are equally accessible and approachable.”]

3. Go on Sabbatical. Fast from Church

Stop going to church! Yes, you read that right. Just stop. Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves (Hebrews 10:25), but stop being corralled, lined up, controlled and inoculated. Find some local people, you know, like your neighbors, the ones you’re supposed to be loving, and live life with them. Be salt and light. Take the Gospel to go instead of eating in. Take a short, or long sabbatical from the ‘it’ of what you call church and seek the who of ‘it.’ Take others with you. Don’t go it alone. Take this sabbatical with two or more. Never leave a person behind. Be polite and leave quietly.

Don’t become a sage or guru while you’re on sabbatical. Don’t isolate yourselves. You’ve had enough of that in the system. Seek out others who are also on sabbatical. Discover your gifts. Exercise them! Don’t feed grudges, forget them. Heal those chips on shoulders and bury those axes to grind. God’s got your back. Go to a land that He will show you. Take what He tells you. Don’t take a sabbatical from being a disciple of Jesus. Take a sabbatical from the system that wants to make you a disciple of it. ‘Church’ is supposed to be a bunch of already made disciples taking a break from mission and gathering together for worship, encouragement, and the equipping for more mission (Ephesians 4:12), not more ‘church.’

[Tweet “Don’t take a sabbatical from being a disciple of Jesus, but from the system that wants to make you a disciple of it.”] 

4. Learn a new language.

Unlearn your clichés. Ask yourself what is “The Gospel?” What is “The Kingdom?” What does it mean to “Make Disciples?” Put away your ‘normal’ bible and read a different version. Listen much and talk little. (James 1:19) Learn the language of quietness. Listen to yourself and change your theological accent. Work on your vocabulary. Go to where people speak differently. Immerse yourself in them. Learn the language of other generations like the elderly and the young. Tell others stories. Tell yourself new stories. Be ready, as much as you are able, to speak to the 5 year olds and the Stephen Hawkings of the world. Listen to new music, read poetry, and familiarize yourself with the language of those politically opposed to you. Look around you and see what creation has to say. Consider the ants and the stars, and the homeless. Speak the gospel to yourself in the mirror and see if you believe it. Do your facial expressions match your message? Keep a journal of words you hear whose definitions you’re not sure of. Be honest with yourself.

[Tweet “Be ready to speak the gospel to the 5 year olds and the Stephen Hawkings of the world. “]

5. Do Justice /Mission

Only those with the luxury of having little to do can sit around and contemplate concepts such as social justice verses evangelism. Life lived in and amongst people within the sphere of your influence. Seek out those blurry places where the lines between “us & them” are unclear. Stay in motion. Keep moving until the Lord has you take a seat or a knee, or even a stand. Go and explore, as much as you are able the fringes of society. Embrace your sent-ness. (John 20:21) Find every opportunity to do church as you are going, on the way, and while you’re already in motion.  Don’t be anarchists without also being strategists. 

[Tweet “Don’t be church anarchists without also being mission strategists. “]

These 5 things can be done behind the scenes, but not likely. Those who seek to topple church regimes will often be counted as heretics, hurtful, or just heinous. Not everyone can pursue these paths. If your church isn’t a regime, then great! But if it is, then wait, watch and listen. There will be others who are ready to join you. Strengthen and encourage one another. God will repeatedly destroy Jerusalems that do not serve Him. He will remove their lamp stands. He will raze them in order to raise them again.

 

 

39 thoughts on “5 Ways to Topple a Church Regime

  1. Carlos says:

    Howdy again Miguel.

    Hope you don’t mind me commenting again…I am on the computer all day and take a break once in a while and well…you give me lots to comment on that is also on my heart so here is another one…

    Instead of seeking to topple church regimes (don’t think such will succeed at all but rather will lead to resentment, hurt feelings, and be counter productive) it seems to be that a more scriptural approach is to…well…start something new alongside the old. Let both exist.

    The new will grow to attract those in the old willing to go where few Christians (at least in our day) have gone before while the old who are simply content with the old and don’t want to follow Jesus all the way will die a slow but sure death. I say let them die out.

    Stick to the new. Don’t try and reform the old.

    Doesn’t work.

    New wine in new wine skins is the way Jesus said it.

    Try and reform the old by putting new practices into it and you will ruin both the old and the new. Those who like the old won’t want to do the new and those who want to do the new will be all frustrated because those content with the old won’t let the new happen fully.

    Carlos

    • laurence King says:

      Hi,
      as someone who has left a church that was hierarchical and somewhat dictatorial, I would agree that trying to change such a church is mission impossible. At least from the inside. Jesus’ reply to the religious leaders of His day was, ‘if you don’t want to listen to my words, look at what I do’. The reality for Christ was that even then, many religious leaders would not move from their position.
      Also, the vast majority of ministers mean well, and indeed many of these churches are fruitful to an extent. We have to be very careful not to cause greater problems than we set out to solve.
      We are to be witnesses and that primarily is about role modeling. And that has got to be truth in love always.

    • I agree with you on this Carlos. The typical Institutional Church goer only knows that system. They are even told that any other approach is not from God. So, as you said, resentment will arise.
      Let us continue to be the salt. I will continue to spread the word of freedom when I can.

  2. Marc Winter says:

    Miguel,
    I highly respect every one of your points! I agree with Carlos, if churches WANTED to change they would, the truth is they do not want you to rock their boat. Pastors love the praise of men, the hierarchical church system has been in place since Paul’s death. Pastors will not give up control, and those happy with a social club will not suddenly risk ostracization to suddenly find a love interest in Jesus.
    The New Wine Skins (which are really very very old) the Kingdom of God, has nothing in common with the Old. The church system is of this world system, and the Kingdom is of another order all together.
    I know people are confused on this point because they THINK church was God’s idea, that it just grew cold. Nothing could be further from the truth, the church system was the product of the fierce spiritual wolves Paul said would come in after his death.
    Live the kingdom, live the demonstration of the Spirit of God, let the dead bury the dead.

  3. Kirk Stephens says:

    Since this is saved in your archives, I’ll leave it here for present. Not ready to create any wounds or throw salt on them. I have to keep reminding my youngest son who just graduated from Bible College, who did Jesus hang out with? Thank you for reminding people to go beyond their comfort zone. Inside the church buildings there is a lot of hurt, but nothing compared to what is out there. We need to get off the reservation and share the Good News. Who is God, Jesus Christ, Christ in you? Love beyond our capacity to even understand it. Quite simple, share the love, be community, be intentional, be missional, be open to a new adventure. God has one waiting for us every day. Miguel, I love this post. I’m just not ready to share it with all my friends, some who may have made the church their mistress, rather than being married to Christ.

  4. This is so hard not to comment on but I shall resist. There are so many false dichotomies in here I don’t know where to start. Also, I know I mentioned this a number of times, but I have yet to see an interaction with Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus and how you reconcile that with tossing out leadership.

    • Marc Winter says:

      Lisa,

      Fortunately for us Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus are forgeries written in the name of Paul by others some time after Paul’s death. After Paul dies, just as Paul predicted, fierce spiritual wolves came in and did not spare the flock.

      Authors writing in Paul’s name sought to establish religious hierarchical structures, and marginalize women. So it is with the imposter institutional church system today.

      http://houstonproblem.wordpress.com/2012/08/04/on-bart-ehrman-on-the-pastoral-epistles/

      • Carlos says:

        Timothy and Titus are forgeries? I beg to differ.

        With all due respect what you say is pure conjecture and by no means certain even to those inclined to believe so. If it were we would find unanimity on this issue across the biblical world which there most certainly is not.

        There is no definite and incontrovertible proof to back up your statement whatever.

        Carlos

  5. Marc, fortunately for us all scripture is God breathed including Paul’s letters. Also keep in mind that Peter makes similar references to leadership in his epistle (especially 1 Peter 5). Oh and then there’s James and his reference to teachers (3:1) instruction to call in the elders to pray over the sick (5:14). The elimination of leadership cannot be justified.

    • Carlos says:

      Lisa,

      I agree that the elimination of leadership cannot be justified biblically but I don’t think that is what Miguel is saying.

      What I personally find objectionable and not in line with the Lord’s heart is the exaltation of ONE man (well it’s usually a man though these days you never know) as THE gift given to the church to equip all the rest of us with something so crucial (to be equipped to do ministry) that one would think that without the shepherd (pastor in Latin) we couldn’t be effective as Christians at all .

      The system of today’s church leadership is about the exaltation of ONE man above his fellows. Something Christ spoke against!

      Carlos

  6. David Woods says:

    These are very good suggestions that everyone should do at one point or another in their lives.

    Within their own mind that is. These, to me, are suggestions for us to take personally. Carlos wisely stated the obvious here concerning actually DOING these things (unless the Lord leads, of course), but rather, I think these are attitudes that each of us must take for ourselves in order to break free of, or avoid becoming part of, these wrong systems.

    As far as what can actually, and effectively BE done, should the Lord lead one to do so, I think it is pretty much a one-step process. Agree with the leadership to follow God, and ONLY God, putting aside all teachings of men, until proven to be true, by taking the Bible AS A WHOLE. Anyone who wants to claim their pastor is “The man of power for the hour” or hold the congregation to any doctrine, etc. should first be made to prove not ONLY that their idea is clearly stated in the Bible, but also that there are no passages in the Bible that seem to contradict the idea. There are plenty of passages in the Bible that say one thing, and somewhere else in the Bible, someone is told, by God, to do the opposite because of the circumstance.

    Once this discussion is started, churchwide, about what is actually absolute and what’s not–about what’s expected of us as Christians, and what’s not–about what we can and cannot expect from the Lord–about what’s right and what’s wrong concerning the generally accepted teachings of man, and a million other topics, then it seems to me that the institution would naturally begin to merge into the kind of Church Jesus expected us to have. Pruning of those who won’t budge concerning things that should be budged on would naturally happen, along with relationships being formed as ideas are bantered about, and people who the Lord is actually speaking to being allowed to use the gifts the Lord gave unto them. Ultimately, with the leading of the Lord, of course, church would begin to look more like what you describe here, Miguel, and people would eventually realize that it’s more about the two most important relationships in the world (our relationship with God, and our relationships with each other) than it is about coming up with a perfect, extra-Biblical written doctrine that all can agree on.

    This seems to be the goal of any church leadership body, and only works to split churches, and cause disunity among the body of Christ. When we focus on the two most important relationships, instead of perfect doctrine (which the Bible already IS), then unity between “denominations” can happen, relationships can flourish, church will begin to look more like a bunch of Christians fellowshipping together–than a collegiate lecture, and the messages God has for His body can get through to those it was intended for, and all done in the humility that was so focused on in the NT.

    That’s the way I figure it anyway. That’s my dollar and two cents worth!

  7. Alan Knox says:

    Lisa,

    I’ve interacted with Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus many times. We’ve studied them together. Which parts do you think need to be reconciled with what Miguel has written?

    -Alan

  8. Alan Knox says:

    Miguel,

    I can tell you from experience that your 5 steps work. Plus, they can be learned and applied in stages as people grow in their understanding of who they are in Jesus Christ and how they live among one another as followers of Jesus Christ.

    -Alan

  9. Hi Alan, that’s great. Please know that I’m not trying to be combative but only seeking an honest reconciliation of the concepts to the text. With that said, the very premise of Paul’s instruction to Timothy and Titus should be considered, that they were put in charge, for lack of better terminology, of the affairs of the church. The instruction is rife with qualifications and responsibilities as those who are put in a leadership capacity and furthermore told to select qualified men. What is an overseer/bishop/presbyter if not those who have the responsibility of shepherding the flock?

    I’ll also expand on my initial comment on false dichotomies. Lord knows the church of our Lord Jesus Christ has seen its fair share of abuses of those who Lord over he flock rather than shepherd it (cf 1 Peter 5:2-3). But I find it strange to say if any leadership exists that necessarily means a lack of shepherding, which is what Miguel’s first point implies. Of course, the priesthood of the believer means that we all have the responsibility of ministering to one another and I do believe that gifts are given to the body for that purpose. But that does not mean effective ministry cannot happen where leadership is present. In fact, I’d argue that ministry to each thrives where honest leadership is present from those who take this responsibility serious, with love and humility.

    There are other false dichotomies as well, but I’ll let this suffice.

    • Carlos says:

      Lisa,

      At the risk of revealing a less than intelligent understanding of what you are saying may I ask what a “false dichotomy” is?

      Carlos

  10. Alan Knox says:

    Lisa,

    Instead of answering all of your questions, could I ask a question? What if Paul’s instructions to Timothy/Titus were not about selecting people to serve in a leadership capacity, but were instead to point out who were already serving others in a way that all of them should have been serving others? In this way, the church knew who to look to as an example, or counsel, etc. Today, we tend to think of leadership as making decisions for the church, but that’s something that’s missing in scriptural descriptions of leaders (even in 1 Timothy and Titus). For example, I don’t think Paul’s description of elders in Titus 1 should be separated from his description of “sound doctrine” in Titus 2. As you can see, these mature believers are not making decisions for others, but are helping them learn how to live based on their own experiences and wisdom in the Lord.

    Teaching, shepherding (caring), serving, even overseeing are the responsibility of all believers toward one another. The “elders” are the ones who are actually doing what all are called to do.

    -Alan

  11. Alan Knox says:

    By the way, as a short addition, I do not think there is anything (teaching-wise) in 1 Timothy or Titus that is not also found in other New Testament letters. The only difference is that Paul did not write these letters directly to churches. Instead, he wrote these letters to specific people who were also his apostolic co-workers (not elders).

    -Alan

  12. Carlos says:

    You know as I read the further comments I am struck by how a simple application of 1 Corinthians 14:26 would solve so much.

    If every one of the members of a Body could bring a teaching (and everything else) to the Body during a meeting of the church and if public judgement was made and expressed of what was brought by the Body so much junk would be cleaned out of the church through a process of expression and correction.

    Humility would abound instead of pride as any pride would quickly be exposed and brought down.

    False doctrine…same thing (the idea of ONE man being able to protect the church from false doctrine has been wholly discredited by experience in that today…there is more false doctrine flying around than ever in the church’s history I think).

    But what happens?

    The church through the present leadership of mainly ONE man rule PREVENTS and comes out against PUBLIC and open presentation of truth to the whole Body by anyone prompted by God to speak out.

    The result?

    Division and a insular adhesion to falsehood with the sheep passively sitting and taking in whatever they are taught. Never seriously questioning any modern day practice of church in the presence of God. Nor taking up the mantle of responsibility as a Christian to see to it that what is written is applied by ALL including shepherds (that’s pastors in Latin).

    For all the truth that there are those given a responsibility to shepherd a flock as leaders I find it incredibly striking and instructive that MOST of Paul’s many letters are addressed not to leaders but to the average Christian.

    The ONLY chapter in the entire New Testament that deals with how a meeting of the church should be conducted (1 Corinthians 14) doesn’t even mention leaders at all. Not a leader in sight!

    Yet there they are. Being instructed by Paul on how to meet and let the Holy Spirit (NOT, NOT the shepherds) lead the meeting.

    How do we reconcile the present day style of church leaders managing a meeting of the church with the Holy Spirit’s leading in the life of every believer? We don’t!

    How is it that our meetings are led by the Holy Spirit when in fact the very leading of the Holy Spirit within the life of every Christian is not even allowed to be expressed?

    We need to get back to allowing God to speak into our meetings whatever is on HIS heart through whomever He wills to speak.

    That is for sure, in my estimation, the surest way to restore the church to what the Lord meant it to be.

    It doesn’t fall on the leaders to affect change. It falls on every one of us to speak truth as God leads us to understand it for the well being and edification of all (unfortunately anyone trying to do that today will be met with derision, accusations of rebelliousness, and what have you).

    We call them leaders and think of them in a worldly sense in the common understanding of what leaders are but God’s shepherds are NOT to lead that way.

    There is something at work in the church that is not present in ANY other leadership structure anywhere in the world.

    The Lord Jesus as Head is present through His Spirit in EVERY single believer. Leading them.

    Church leaders (so called) are not to get in the way of His Spirit or usurp His role as Head. A practical Head.

    They are to get out of the way unless they need to step in to keep the sheep from harming themselves or the flock. Oversight from a position of watchfulness not overbearing control.

    Sadly most church leaders today seem more inclined to not even recognize or respect the role of Jesus Christ as Head or the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of ALL believers and act as if God can only speak and work through themselves.

    Carlos

  13. Eli says:

    wholeheartedly agree with the spirit and attitude of your 5 points. I don’t think the details are that important. We could get caught up debating details ad nauseam but that misses the point of moving forward and learning along the way in actual practice not just theory and idealism.
    That said some people are feelers, some doers, some thinkers in terms of disposition, we need all types. I spent some years in a ‘missions’ organisation that seemed to be full of ‘doers’ and so often i wished more of them would stop and take the time to think and evaluate.
    Busyness which manifests in many ways drains us of energy to change. Admittedly sometimes that busyness is more so a state of mind than external activity.
    The church show feeds into that, keeping people busy and distracted so they can’t slow down and re-evaluate… lest they start to question fundamentals.

    Honestly though this is not a path for everyone… but I do hope its a path for a lot more believers. Institutional church and parachurch and how shall we say capitalist ministry needs to be put in its rightful place… an abnormal exception rather than the goal.

  14. Tom Schultz says:

    Wow, one day and I,m late to the party!
    I can’t speak to the theological points, but I found Miguel’s 5 points very encouraging to one who has been under VERY authoritative leaders several times and wondered what to do. The Sabbatical idea was one we ended up practicing for about a year, and it was freeing to discover that God did not destroy us with lightning for not being present whenever the church door was open!

  15. Alan, I do think there is a responsibility to minister to one another. But I don’t think that means dismiss the need for pastors/elders who take responsibility for serving the body in that capacity. The fact that Timothy was told to select men who would oversee the flock kinda suggests that local assemblies should have this type of structure.

    Carlos, a false dichotomy is when we say if something is one way, it can’t be another way; if it’s this, then, it can’t be that. For instance, in point #2, Miguel suggests that if we listen to a sermon delivered from the pulpit, then we can’t minister to one another. If we’re facing the back of someone’s head, then we’re really not being ministered to but only when we look at each other. Of course, that is absurd. The whole point of preaching is exhortation and instruction to the body and it doesn’t negate the one-anothering that we should be doing. We need both/and NOT either/or.

    This is my overall problem with the post. It’s not that there aren’t good points being made here but that it suggests we must destroy one thing to build another and something of value is being tossed out in the process. I think what needs to be addressed are the abuses and not the systems itself. But maybe that’s just me.

    Anyways, I was reluctant to engage in this post 1) because I’d knew I’d be the lone dissenter and 2) I’m buried with school work. Please excuse my brevity and lack of active engagement.

  16. Alan Knox says:

    Lisa,

    Was Timothy told “to select men”? Was he told that their responsibility was “to take responsibility for serving the body in that capacity”? I don’t think we actually find those ideas in 1 Timothy or Titus. In fact, when the early church selected elders, it was the church as a whole who worked together to recognize who were elders. It was only later that the practice of one person (or a small group) getting together to choose or recognize elders came into practice.

    By the way, did you know the verb “oversee” is used of all believers in Hebrews 12:15?

    -Alan

  17. Tobie says:

    Thanks Miguel. I think this is your best post yet.

  18. Alan, Paul instructed both Timothy and Titus to appoint elders who met specific criteria and were tasked with exhorting the body of Christ in sound doctrine. Whether they were already engaged in the task is irrelevant. I do agree with you regarding the church’s recognition for qualifications as it should exist today. But the fact that individuals are selected for specific responsibilities within the local assembly separates them as having responsibilities related to the affairs of that assembly. You can call them whatever you wish but it does not take away the fact that this select group has responsibilities related to the how the local assembly is conducted that others do not share. However it developed in the early church does not negate Paul’s instruction.

    • Alan Knox says:

      Lisa,

      Can you give me a passage in Scripture where Paul instructs Timothy to “appoint elders who met specific criteria”? Can you share a passage that teaches that elders “are selected for specific responsibilities (not given to others) within the local assembly”? Can you give me a passage of Scripture that teaches that elders have “responsibilities related to the affairs of the assembly”?

      (By the way, I know that this is what is typically taught among the church today. This is what I was taught as well. I’d love some answers from Scripture to the questions above.)

      Since I believe that all Christians are tasked with “exhorting the body of Christ in sound doctrine” (see Colossians 3:16 and Hebrews 3:13 for example), then this would include elders. However, if you’re saying that only elders are “tasked with exhorting the body of Christ in sound doctrine,” I’d again ask you to share a passage where that task is for elders only.

      It’s not about what we “call them.” I prefer the term elders, since that’s what we find in Scripture.

      My concern is that many assume that only elders are to perform certain tasks or functions among the body of Christ. However, I do not think we find this distinction in Scripture. Everything said of elders is also said of all believers at some point in Scripture. Elders are not special Christians with special roles and special responsibilities and special callings; elders are simply believers who are actually living (consistently – though not perfectly) the way that all Christians should live.

      -Alan

  19. AV says:

    Good post!
    Who wrote Titus, Timothy and the Hebrews? Recent scholarly research suggests it wasn’t Paul, he (and Titus and Timothy!) had probably been dead for a hundred years when they were written.
    If so, who did write them and what was their (church) agenda!
    If scripture is God breathed (as opposed to inspired), why did He dictate four different versions of the gospel narrative with the obvious differences if He expected us to accept it verbatim without discussion and intellectual interpretation for our age?
    The more we seek to argue our position from our particular interpretation of scripture, with all the translational, cultural and contextual difficulties, the further apart we will all end up.
    Who’s version is true?
    Is Jesus bothered?
    There is a big world out their watching and growing more disinterested in our ‘housekeeping’ each day!

    .

    • Miguel says:

      AV, Thanks for commenting. Do you have references regarding the “recent scholarly research?” Could you provide some links?

      • AV says:

        Miguel, new you were going to say that! Now, buried somewhere in my bookmarks……. 🙂

        • AV says:

          Miguel, I do have other references, but they evade me for the moment. I have also read some very interesting work done by none other than Sir Isaac Newton on this subject. Obviously, a little earlier than billed!

          Anyway, some bedtime reading….. Not entirely conclusive, but interesting food for thought and further honest discussion. The fact that modern day scholars still do not agree on whether Paul did or did not write the pastoral letters, is interesting on its own.

          Bart Ehrman;The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. Oxford University Press. 2003. p. 393 ISBN 0-19-515462-2

          Raymond Collins; 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus: A Commentary. Westminster John Knox Press. 2004. p. 4 ISBN 0-664-22247-1

          Enjoy your work and your insight.

          AV

  20. Carlos says:

    Alan,

    I hope you don’t mind me joining the interaction between you and Lisa with a question.

    What about the special role given by the Holy Spirit to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20?

    Acts 20:28 talks about the elders having been made overseers.

    1 Peter 5:2 also talks about this referring to the role of elders in shepherding the flock AS overseers.

    Carlos

    • Alan Knox says:

      Carlos,

      In Hebrews 12:15, all believers are to oversee each other. The terms “oversee” and “shepherd” are not terms of authority or office. They are terms related to caring. In fact, in 1 Peter 5, Peter specifically says NOT to exercise authority over others, so we know he doesn’t mean that with the terms “oversee” and “shepherd.”

      I believe that elders should oversee and shepherd. But, I also believe that God intends for ALL of his children to oversee and shepherd each other.

      -Alan

  21. Alan, you are right there is nothing directly in 1 Timothy where Paul directly says appoint elders. But there is an appointment of elders in Acts 14:23 and he tells Titus to appoint elders and gives him a list of the same qualification he gives to Timothy. And he specifically says “if someone does not know how to manage their own household well, how will he care for the church of God.” (3:5). Also, he must not be a new convert. Question, if this is meant for everyone why does Paul mention taking care of the flock and not being a new convert? Certainly that does not apply to everyone since there will be new converts. When read as a whole, the letter provides instructions for how God’s household should be managed. Why would only some need specific qualifications? And he says “if anyone desires the office of an overseer (episcopos). What is the office of the overseer? Does everyone share this? And how is it that you are translating episcopos? (sorry my transliteration is not good)

    Also, let’s make sure we’re not committing exegetical fallacies by transporting meaning to another author in another context. The fact that the same words are used elsewhere is not evidence that Paul is describing the same thing.

    • Alan Knox says:

      Lisa,

      Remember, I agree that the church should recognize elders and that they should be mature believers who consistently demonstrate a life that all believers should be living. So, the passages you bring out reflect that. Those are not passages about responsibilities or functions, but about maturity. What specific tasks (I think that’s the phrase you used earlier) are only given to elders? For example, elders should be able to teach, right? But, then, all believers are told to teach. Elders are told to oversee… but then all believers are told to oversee. So, what tasks are only for elders?

      I agree that Paul is writing to Timothy about how the church should live together. Which parts of Paul’s letter for Timothy is only for elders? I actually don’t think any of the letter is only for elders.

      There are only 2 passages in Scripture written specifically to elders: Acts 20:18-35 and 1 Peter 5:1-4. (Although, the 1 Peter passage may be to “older people” not “elders”, since the next verse is addressed to “young people.”)

      I think that 1 Thessalonians 5:11-14 is a great example of what I’m suggesting here. Are there “leaders” (elders) among the church? Yes. Do they work hard among the church and teach and lead, etc? Absolutely. But, others (brothers and sisters) are also responsible for admonishing, encouraging, helping, etc.

      In 1 Timothy 3:1, the term often translated “office of the overseer” is simply the abstract noun form of the verb “to oversee.” The Greek term for “office” is not in the text. (In fact, the term “office” is never used in relation to the church.)

      -Alan

    • Alan Knox says:

      Lisa,

      By the way, I appreciate the warning about exegetical fallacies. When I’ve studied this topic, I usually find a different exegetical fallacy in play: suppressed/incomplete evidence.

      -Alan

  22. Carlos says:

    Alan,

    I am curious. Where is there a verse that says that all believers are to oversee the way elders are attached to that word?

    Carlos

    • Alan Knox says:

      The verb to oversee is used of elders in Acts 20 and 1 Peter 5, and it’s used of all believers in Hebrews 12:15. The context of that section of Hebrews 12 shows that the author (Paul?) is talking about the same kind of spiritual “oversight” as the use of the verb when related to elders (by Luke – relating Paul’s speech – and Peter).

      -Alan

  23. […] From Miguel Labrador’s  5 Ways to Topple a Church Regime […]

  24. Carlos says:

    Alan,

    Thanks for your patience in explaining what you did. I didn’t get it at first in part because I only took a cursory look at things and since the English word “oversee” was nowhere in sight in Hebrews 12:15…well.

    But looking at the Greek your observation is very insightful I think. I mean I don’t buy into it quite yet but the connection between Heb 12:15 and 1 Peter 5:2 with respect to both using the Greek word episkopéō (Strong’s 1983) is very interesting indeed.

    That requires a bit more careful study and prayer.

    Which God willing I will do.

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

    Carlos

  25. Another home run Bro. Miguel. Love your heart & views! (Could it be that I agree with them so readily?)
    Iron sharpens iron!

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