Paraklesis [‘encouragement’, ‘exhortation’, for life and ministry]
I love multifaceted human existence: the wonderful combination of physical awareness, visual awareness, aural awareness, relational awareness, memory, possible futures, morality, values and ideals, fears and hopes. And as a believer, awareness of God, of existing as God’s person, existing in God’s world, and loving and serving God in everything.
I ponder the fact that my dog Bertie leads a simpler life: but what a privilege to be a human, and a believer!
As Christian human existence is multi-faceted, ‘many-splendoured’, so is gospel ministry, and so is gospel ministry leadership.
Leaders of churches, leaders of gospel organisations, are called by God to exercise the following four facets of leadership.
- Leadership in Bible ministry. Preaching and teaching and encouraging people from the Bible enables God to set the style and agenda and activities of the church or organisation. And this enables healthy theological leadership, which reflects on what ‘lived theology’ is present in style and activities of the organisation, its life and ministries; and corrects and enriches these from the Bible.
- Leadership in prayer. This includes personal and public prayer for every member of the church and their ministries, and not just prayer for your ministry to them. It also includes encouraging and training leaders and people to pray.
- Leadership in personal qualities. These include: faith, love, and hope, the fruit of the Spirit, holiness, humility, generosity, self-sacrifice, servant-heartedness, good relationships, willingness to be corrected and to welcome advice and rebukes, and health of body and mind.
- Leadership in ministry. Cooperation with others, teamwork, encouragement of others and their gifts, good relationships, training and nurturing those with responsibilities, helping to set vision, planning, and organisation; and caring for the flock, caring for those in need, evangelism, and relating well to outsiders. Helping the church or organisation to achieve its goals, under God’s direction.
[You will find all four of these in Jesus’ teaching, and in Acts 6 and 18, Ephesians 4, 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1, 1 Peter 5, and James].
Notice how these aspects of leadership reinforce and enrich each other.
Notice as well how each facet of leadership is inadequate without the others.
- Leadership in Bible ministry without leadership in prayer, in ministry, and in personal qualities is inadequate.
- Leadership in prayer without Bible ministry, personal qualities, and ministry is inadequate.
- Leadership in ministry without with Bible ministry, prayer and personal qualities is inadequate.
- And leadership in personal qualities without prayer, ministry and Bible is inadequate.
Notice the significance of each.
- Without Bible ministry, ministry may go well, but will lack God’s direction.
- Without prayer, ministry will lack godliness and God’s power.
- Without personal qualities, ministry will lack authenticity, and may collapse.
- Without leadership in ministry, the church will lack purpose and direction.
It would be good for you to reflect on what aspects of leadership are your strengths, praise God for them, and ask him to help you to use them for his glory.
And it would be good for you to reflect on what aspects of leadership are not your strengths, and resolve to pray about these and work on these next year. [And remember that God’s power is shown in our weaknesses, as well as in our gifts!]
[As a matter of fact, we can use the same analysis about our lives in general, or about any daily work we are called to do. Our Christian lives need Bible, prayer, personal qualities, and purposeful activities: and Christians should bring the same four-faceted leadership to their jobs.]
I recently gave the Anglican Institute Lecture at Ridley College on The Reformation and Renewal of Anglicanism.
Here is the link to for the Lecture
And here is a link to a recent post on The Gospel Coalition Australia website, on our need to rethink our church websites:
Time to Rethink your Church Website?
This is my last Paraklesis for 2022, as I take my holidays in December. The next edition will be in January, DV.
With warmest good wishes and prayers.