Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Where leaders come from
Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty.
This passage is the origin of New Testament local church leadership. Traditionally, these seven men are thought of as the first deacons since the issue at stake in this conflict had to do with a service ministry. The apostles statement in Acts 6:2 indicates that administrating a service ministry was the ongoing reason for their appointment and the initial task assigned to them. But it was quickly not just the only thing they did.
To me it is also clear that their leadership was something more to the church than just feeding widows. They were required by the apostles to be men of exceptional spiritual maturity. Their reputations were sound and they demonstrated wisdom and the Holy Spirit's fullness in their lives. They were definitely mature disciples and leaders. It would seem to me that they quickly progressed to more leadership responsibility rather quickly.
Stephen seemed exceptionally gifted as the first among equals. He did wonders and signs, perhaps just as the apostles had been doing in Jerusalem (Acts 6:8). He was a persuasive evangelist and public speaker (Acts 6:9-10) who engaged thinkers and religious leaders with the truth of the gospel. He was much more than an administrative deacon at that point.
These men, elected by the church, were appointed by the apostles into church ministry and leadership. I think they were they first body of leaders meant to focus exclusively on the local church and its community, as the apostles broadened their efforts to expansion of the gospel beyond its present Jerusalem context. I think they became (from a practical standard) elders in the local church. They set the pattern for later development of both the offices of deacon for service and elder for leadership... the offices that still make the local church thrive, grow, and expand the gospel into our generation. Spiritual leaders still come from the local church. It is not just seminaries or colleges or parachurch ministries that make them. They must come from within the context of gospel ministry in the local church setting.
- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.