Tag Archives: alan knox

Who appoints leaders in the church?

I have said that this year I want to learn more about leadership and authority structure in the church. Alan Knox intrigued me this past week with his republished post “The Holy Spirit has made you overseers“. Here’s an excerpt:

According to Acts 20:28 (above), it is the Holy Spirit who makes someone a pastor. Does the Holy Spirit do this as a response to the actions of a church? I don’t think so. Instead, I believe that the Holy Spirit makes someone an overseer regardless of the actions or lack of actions of the church itself.

In other words, the Holy Spirit places someone in a group of believers and subsequently gives that person the responsibility of “caring for” (that is, being an overseer for) that group of believers. The church is then supposed to respond to the work of the Holy Spirit and to recognize that individual as an overseer.

This is an interesting thought, one that has some scriptural support, and one that goes against a lot of our actual practice in the church. Alan’s post caught my attention because I was thinking about similar things this past week.

Last Tuesday, at our weekly church planting team meeting, a couple members of our team were relating challenges they’ve been facing with a budding home fellowship. This fellowship has two couples who meet together semi-regularly for Bible study, prayer, etc. One man is viewed by the four adults involved as the leader of the group, though he has not officially been given that position. Some holes in his leadership, possibly rooted in some sin issues, were concerning our team because of the negative effect they could have on the fellowship. They asked my advice.

Though this man is not an “official” leader in the fellowship, I focused on the fact that the rest of the group views him as a leader. They are placing themselves under his authority. God has driven home to me recently that (without arguing technicalities) the only time to disobey someone in authority over us is if that person tells us to sin. The leader in question was not telling others to sin.

Some might say this man shouldn’t be in leadership or doesn’t actually have any authority. Maybe the other members of the fellowship should resist him if he’s not leading in a good way. Whether or not humans have formally placed this man in authority, though, I could not see advising other members of the flock to step out from under his covering if they have submitted themselves already to his spiritual authority. It seems that they have given him authority. And maybe their submission to him is actually an extension of the Holy Spirit giving him authority.

If this man is not in leadership, the only other choices are the other man in the group (who is great but doesn’t seem cut out for leadership), the two wives in the group (we won’t raise those questions here), or members of our expatriate church planting team (we are trying to empower local leaders and work ourselves out of a job). I advised our team to instruct the rest of the group to continue to submit to this leader’s authority and then pray that God would bring about any needed changes in his life.

Our conversation took place Tuesday morning. By Saturday morning, our two church planters who raised the issue already had a great testimony of a noticeable change taking place in the life of their disciple.

This post is more just a “thinking out loud” regarding a situation, rather than a tidy box of something I feel like I’ve figured out. I welcome any perspectives or additional thoughts you, my readers, would like to contribute in the comments.

What do you think of my advice to our church planting team? Can the Holy Spirit place someone in a position of authority in a church without it ever being formally recognized by the people?

Alan Knox on what discipleship is and isn’t

Thanks to Alan Knox over at The Assembling of the Church for linking my post ‘What discipleship is not‘. In the comments, Alan adds these three thoughts to the discussion:

  • It is not education (information).
  • It is not one-sided.
  • It is not accidental.

In his post, Alan shifts the discussion to what discipleship is, and he asks the following questions:

What is discipleship? What role does God play in discipleship? What role does the disciple-maker play in discipleship? What role does the one being discipled play in discipleship? Can there be a blurring between the disciple-maker and the discipler? Is that type of blurring good or bad?

What is the goal of discipleship? Do certain activities lead to that goal? Are certain settings more conducive to reaching that goal? Is discipleship only one-on-one or can someone disciple a small group or a large group? What role does teaching play in discipleship? How is education related to discipleship? What about other spiritual gifts?

These are good questions; important ones for us to be asking if we are to effectively disciple others. In the comments on Alan’s post, I shared the following thoughts in response to his questions and the comments of other readers:

I’ve become a big fan of life-on-life discipleship (though other modes exist), and I think that one important type of discipleship relationship is that of a believer helping a less mature believer grow in obedience to Christ. I also like the thought about blurring the lines between discipler and disciplee, though.

Something I have been thinking about lately I’ve been calling the “round table of discipleship” for lack of a better term. I serve with a team of missionaries, several of whom are older than me. One man, the oldest, has probably the most life experience and overall spiritual maturity. He can teach the rest of us a lot. The leader of our team, much younger than this man, can learn from him but can also teach him some things about effective cross-cultural mission work. Everyone around me, younger or older, can teach me things in various areas, and in certain areas I can help even those who have more experience than me with a thing or two. So there is a lot of give and take, not a clear-cut hierarchy.

Do you have any thoughts about what discipleship is and/or what discipleship is not that you would add to this discussion?

We need some clear idea of what discipleship is (even if we have different ideas) in order to effectively make disciples, thus fulfilling the Great Commission.

Scripture as we live it

Alan Knox, who is an excellent blogger in my opinion, has been doing a series entitled “Scripture…As We Live It”. You can find the entire series here. Is it as convicting to you as it is to me? Here’s one example of a passage of Scripture he has “remixed”:

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind unless they’re wrong, having the same love unless they’re wrong, being in full accord and of one mind unless they’re wrong. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit unless they’re wrong, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves unless they’re wrong.
(Philippians 2:1-3 remix)

Won’t get fooled again

I’m learning that one of the jobs of an effective blogger is to point my readers to good material that others are producing.  Accordingly, I would like to direct you to a very thought-provoking post by Alan Knox, entitled Won’t Get Fooled Again.  Here is an excerpt:

Once upon a time, God used pagan prophets and philosophers. How foolish! Not today. Nothing good can come from culture. Today, God wants his people to read Christian books, watch Christian movies, and listen to Christian music. If God has something to say, he would never be so foolish as to speak through a pagan.

Once upon a time, God ate with prostitutes, drunks, thieves, and other malcontents. How foolish! Not today. God has enough good people now that he doesn’t need to hang out with that sort anymore. It would be foolish for God to be found among the dregs of society today.

I don’t want to take away from Alan’s blog traffic, so that’s all I’m going to give you here.  But if you have read this far, I strongly encourage you to take a couple of minutes to click over to his site and read the entire post.