Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Who's in Charge?

The point that Jesus is the Builder of His Church is the primary issue at hand.  While we give this much lip service, our everyday conversation betrays us often.  For example, think of a local church right now (could be the one you attend).  If someone in the community asked about the leader of that church, then what would the typical response be?  Most likely, it would be a pastor's name (or a key layman, worship leader, music minister, board member, etc.).  If I played a word association game with you, and asked you to give me a name when I mention a prominent church in America, then who would you say?
Saddleback.  (Rick Warren?)
Willow Creek.  (Bill Hybels?)
Lakewood Church in Houston.  (Joel Osteen?)

...Are these the names that came to your mind?  (You can do the same thing with churches in your city.)
This does NOT in any way make these men bad or anything like that!  Please don't miss my point.

But now let's continue the game with the first century churches in the New Testament...
Church at Ephesus?  Church of Galatia?  Church of Rome?  Church at Thessalonica?  Church at Philippi?  The seven churches mentioned in Revelation?
Well, who did you say?  Paul?  Apollos?  Timothy?  Peter?

As immediately as you might want to mention one of these names, you also realize that they weren't the key leaders in those churches.  Paul may have been responsible for "planting" many churches and visiting lots of them, but the leadership was always turned over to others.  Now, pick a couple of them and tell me who the pastor was.  Good luck!

The answer that sensibly surfaces very quickly is that the "key name" associated with any of those churches if you asked someone in the first century would have been, JESUS!  If it was meant to be any other way, I believe we would have better records of who was "in charge" of what.  But that organizational structure did not exist in the early churches of Christianity.

The most important question to ask of a church is not, "Who is the pastor?" or "Who heads up the music department?" or "Who leads the youth?", yet by default almost, these are the questions we're left with in our society because of how the institutional church is designed.  No, the critical question of any church group must be, "Who is the Head?"
And not in theory or on paper, but in practice!

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