Some Reservations About TED Talk Christianity By A Luddite Who Doesn’t Own A Cell Phone Joe Hellerman, Ph.D. Just this week I sat over lunch with a missionary friend of mine. We chatted about how often our churches naively accommodate the norms of the dominant culture in our structure and programming. I am an armchair cultural analyst. I have to be content critiquing American evangelical church culture from within. My buddy’s years on the mission field give his perspective a good bit more credibility. Both of us find ourselves [...]
Have you ever put together a relational biography? A relational biography describes the special people that God has used in your life over the years to get you where you are today. Try it. You’ll be amazed to discover just how much you owe to the influence of others over the years. As it turns out, I owe them just about everything! What follows is a list of but a few of my creditors, past and present. NATURAL FAMILY For better or worse, our parents, more than anyone else, set [...]
This concludes our series on plurality leadership. Next week we will begin a number of posts dealing with various other issues in our lives as followers of Jesus. People who are used to a lead-pastor model often wonder just how plurality leadership cashes out, when it comes to making hard decisions and leading the church. What follows is a behind-the-scenes look at our meetings, our relationships with one another, and the decision-making process. I have slightly edited several pages from the last chapter of Embracing Shared Ministry. Except for the fact [...]
So far in our series, we have focused primarily upon ways in which a team of pastors benefits a church as whole. In today’s post I will reflect on a key advantage enjoyed by pastors who minister as a team. Pastoral depression and burnout have become hot topics of conversation. The increasing demands of the job, along with the relational isolation that often characterizes a pastor’s life, have generated some highly troubling trends. The following statistics come from H.B. London and Neil B. Wiseman. Pastors at Greater Risk (Regal, 2003): 40 percent [...]
This is our sixth blog post discussing the topic of plurality leadership in the local church. The first three entries surveyed the biblical datathat favors the model. What follows is our third installment addressing the practical benefits of having a team of pastors at OCF. People get attached to their spiritual leaders, especially when that leader is the head pastor of their church. Indeed, whole congregations often take on the personality of a senior leader who instructs and inspires them, Sunday after Sunday, through the teaching of God’s Word. What happens when that [...]
We take a break this week from the theme of plurality leadership to set the stage for our upcoming preaching series at OCF. This fall we will shift our attention on Sundays from the Old Testament to the New Testament. Our messages—and sermon-based small groups—will focus on the Gospel of Luke for the rest of 2018 and the better part of 2019. Jesus! Yay! Luke is a big book. It is not only the longest Gospel. Luke is the longest book in the New Testament. A Bible book of this size can [...]
More than a decade ago Oceanside Christian Fellowship terminated “Bill,” one of our paid pastors. Bill’s poor use of time and his lack of productivity had generated not a little frustration among others at the church, who were carrying more than their weight in their respective areas of ministry. A move to a new facility, which called for sacrifice and a servant’s attitude on everyone’s part, sharply accentuated the latent resentment that had been building among the staff. We knew that something was seriously wrong when another staff person—one of [...]
Our first three posts surveyed the biblical data supporting plurality leadership: 1. The churches in the New Testament were each led by a team of pastors. 2. Jesus’ teachings about divine Fatherhood and natural fatherhood most naturally support the plurality approach. 3. Team leadership best reflects (and models to the congregation) the relational heart of the Christian faith. We turn now to consider some practical reasons for having a plurality of pastors at OCF. Even if the Bible supported a variety of approaches, I would still opt for a team [...]
This is our third and final post examining the biblical evidence for plurality leadership in the local church. The first post surveyed the numerous descriptions of team-led churches in the New Testament. In the second installment, we traced the model to the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels. Today we turn away from specific passages about leadership, in order to consider how plurality leadership fits with the broader scriptural contours of Christian life and ministry. As it turns out, the very essence of our faith in the God of the [...]
I ended the previous post with a question: What led the apostles to adopt plurality leadership as the preferred option for church structure? The model is radically counter-cultural, given the universal preference for one-man leadership across the empire. So, where did it come from? Did Jesus instruct his disciples to organize the early Christian congregations like this? We really don’t know for sure. But we can tease some hints out of the Gospels, where we see Jesus preparing his disciples for their future role as church planters. Jesus had a whole [...]
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