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Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Bible and Leadership - Gnats and Camels.

Start with the Bible's big story - from creation to new creation - and its central subject and character - Jesus - and its big themes, e.g. the kingdom of God, the gospel of grace, heaven coming to earth, God dwelling among people, God revealed as Father, redemption (freedom), restoration etc. Let those shape your thinking and practice and you are in a far better place to understand specific texts of Scripture which people - often with a genuine desire to be 'faithful to the Word' - actually use to perpetuate structures and models of leadership that are restrictive and archaic. We end up holding on to early church patterns and practices that were actually attempts to work out in its first century cultural context what it meant to be church community, many of them borrowed from its Jewish roots.

The church is of course one of those big themes and chief actors in God's redemption story; it is God's chosen and called out people, those who had been transformed from slaves to sons, living as a covenant community in an always alien and often hostile environment, as a prophetic sign pointing to God's new order that has broken in on the world. As long as we do not violate essential principles to do with the identity and nature of this community e.g. its organic and charismatic nature, the priesthood of all believers in the new covenant, its identity as the family of God, its function as a body with all contributing their spiritual gifts, the serving and empowering nature of its leadership, its destiny to reflect the fullness of Christ etc. then we are free to develop patterns of leadership appropriate to the cultural context we are in (as long as they are true to the different kingdom in its cross-centred spirit of service).

Sadly we have often strained at gnats and swallowed camels. We have strained at gnats of biblical exegesis of passages in order to insist our practice or model is the true biblical one, and totally missed the point of what the church is all about by dividing over the ensuing arguments. Tomorrow, I will get a little more specific on what patterns might violate principles and what things were mainly culturally determined.

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