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Here is a piece from 1994.

Church Leadership - Their Purpose

The purpose of church leadership stems from what we think is God's cosmic purpose.

If we believe there is no (effective) God, then the purpose of church leadership is to keep an organisation running that harnesses its members.

But God is.

If we believe that God is distant, and his only interest in us is to obtain worship and devotion and perhaps moral and doctrinal rectitude from us, the the purpose of church leadership is to educate people in what God requires and arrange the type of worship that he desires.

But God is loving and takes the initiative in saving us.

OK, salvation. Perhaps God's purpose is merely to populate heaven before he wipes out the earth. Then the purpose of church leadership is to stimulate its members to get outside people converted, and to arrange evangelistic activity.

But God sees us not just as potential heaven-dwellers; he involves us in his victory over evil.

If we see God's purpose as mainly to "destroy the works of the devil" then the purpose of church leadership is to be generals in God's army, to arm God's troops, seek God's battle instructions and then to implement them, to lead out in front. And to arrange activities in which people, members and outsiders, are wowed by God's power and glory and in which demons are defeated. (This can in practice edge back towards the idea of the distant God.)

But God has already defeated the Evil One. Rather, he is more interested in us "working with God" than fighting.

If we see God's purpose as one massive work campaign then the purpose of church leadership is to stimulate and organise its members into harder and more dedicated working for God. (Note how 'with him' so often becomes 'for him'.)

But God is not just interested in what we do; he is interested in who we are. He wants to make us holy, sanctified as well as justified.

If we believe that sanctification means just bringing out from the wicked world a small group of people special to God, then the purpose of church leadership will be to ensure proper teaching, and to prod the members to moral and holy living, and to good works.

But God is not just interested in changing our characters and personalities, he loves us too - as children.

If we believe God's purpose is to construct one large, loving family with himself as Father, then the purpose of church leadership is to educate the members in loving each other and getting on with each other, as well as evangelistic activity. There will also be a purpose in arranging healing for members since God, if is thought, obviously wants the 'best' for his children.

But God wants us to grow to be more than children. He wants maturity - fitting us to be both bride and stewards, bride for his Son and shepherds of his creation-kingdom.

If we believe that God's cosmic purpose is to assemble a people who are mature enough to be Christ's bride and to shepherd his creation with a heart like God's own, then the purpose of church leadership will be to assist and be channels in the process whereby members become mature. This will involve: doctrine, attitude, world view, behaviour, aims and desires, self control and character.

Conclusion

In fact, it will involve something of all the above. Most of the above have some validity and relevance, but they will no longer form the sole purposes of a limited and narrow church leadership; they will form part of a marvellous pattern of God's rich artistry found in church life as a maturing people are prepared for his eternal future.

Now look at my New View in Theology, which, since the above was written, has begun working out systematically the implications of a new understanding of the cosmic purpose of God that is suited to the era we are entering.


This page is offered to God as on-going work. Comments, queries welcome.

Copyright (c) Andrew Basden 2009. But you may use this material subject to certain conditions.

Part of his www.abxn.org pages, that open up discussion and exploration from a Christian ('xn') perspective. Written on the Amiga with Protext. Number of visitors to these pages: Counter.

Created: . Last updated: 7 June 1994 and 27 December 1997. Made into web page 20 May 2001. 5 January 2009 .end, .nav, link to NV. 6 June 2011 'shepherd' r.t. 'steward', new title.