About Us (Part VI)
When one looks at the the New Testament churches, we see that the apostle Paul never considered that the job of church planting was done until its leadership was put in place. He did not think that the job was complete when an evangelist was a permanent or semi-permanent teacher of the Word, such as a Timothy or Titus. It may be hard to believe, but a church was not complete when the Holy Spirit came as it did to Samaria in Acts 8, Damascus in Acts 9, Caesarea in 10, and Corinth in chapter 19. At the beginning of Paul’s instructions to Titus on elders he says “This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you.” Among the finishing touches Paul had in mind for Titus was that elders be appointed in every town.
One of the amazing things about our work for God, is that he blesses despite our efforts to serve him. You don’t have to have the absolute best Bible translation to grow in faith or teach others. Churches can grow when there is only a single man leading a church. In many places, a single leader is necessary. No doubt as Pastor Michael went out into unreached areas of Botswana, only one man carried the message to those who have never heard, and he must remain until a few men grow to the point that they have been prepared and are mature enough to move past the single-leader model and assume leadership of the church together. Obviously, it is not essential to the salvation of others to have multiple leaders in the church, but don’t we want God’s best for us? Will we be satisfied if we have not yet had His finishing touches put on our own church?
This is borne out in multiple places throughout the New Testament. There is no mention of a mature church in Paul’s day as being led by only one man, only one shepherd. Elders form a plurality in the churches of Jerusalem (Ac. 11:30), Derbe (Ac. 14:20), Lystra, Iconium and Antioch (Ac. 14:21), Ephesus (Ac. 20:17), and Philippi (Ph. 1:1). Timothy had hands laid on him by the council of elders (1 Ti. 4:14). With all this scriptural evidence, you can see that the biblical model of church leadership is one which brings the gifts, life experience, time, energy, and knowledge of two or more men to bear on the spiritual life of a church. To place the burden of oversight and care of so many on a single man besides Jesus the Christ, who is “the shepherd and overseer of your souls” - the true head of The Church, is unwise and is settling for less than God’s best.
A single-leader model does bring efficiencies with it, and many business and other organizations profit by it. They may not be slowed down by having anyone second-guess decisions or having to consider alternative perspectives. They do not struggle for consensus or deal with unique personalities. But Jesus’ business is always different from ours. "The first shall be last." "When I am weak, then I am strong." Shared leadership is from this same vein. It is not always the easiest, when progress is judged by worldly standards. However, it is in the process of elders being that microcosm of the church, working together to discern, decide, disciple, and develop that elders come to understand what real church leadership looks like, and is on the job training for shepherding the rest of the flock. It is all about the people; not the program.