Monday, July 20, 2009

The Difference Between Criticism and Charges

I'm currently reading Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears book VINTAGE CHURCH. Much to my surprise, at least after reading 120 pages of it, I am finding it to be the best book on Church I have ever read, and would highly recommend it. I hope I don't run across something in the second half of it to make me regret saying that.

Especially relevant for me today are some key statements in the book about church leadership.

"An elder is not a helper that does a lot of work for the church, because that is the definition of a deacon. Rather, an elder is a leader who trains other leaders to lead various aspects of the church. ... To do his job, that man (the pastor/elder) must not be offered blind obedience or given complete unaccountable authority. Rather, he must have the freedom, trust, authority, respect, honor, and support of the elders and other church leaders to actually lead the church. If not, there can be no leadership; leaders will no longer lead the entire church working on behalf of the best interests of the gospel but will become representatives of various agendas, departments, factions, and programs in the church. Without a senior leader, dissention will come as people fight over resources; there will not be decisions but compromises, which are the death of the church. As a general rule, the best person to hold the position of first among equals is the primary preaching pastor. Indeed, 1 Timothy 5:17 says, 'Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.' While all elders deserve respect and honor, the primary preaching pastor is worthy of double honor. The pulpit is the most visible place of exercised authority in the church and is where most criticism and opposition is focused." (pp 71 - 74)

"Paul the preacher has many things to say about preachers in 1 Timothy 5:17-19:
'Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. ... Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.'
" ... it is imperative that this honoring includes protecting them from the pain of critics. Indeed, the preaching pastor, along with every other church member, should be held accountable for charges of sin. Nevertheless, a church and its leaders must learn to distinguish between charges and criticisms. Charges of actual sin or false doctrine should be investigated biblically and thoroughly. Criticisms are to be dismissed and not given the same level of attention as a charge. Every preacher will be criticized, and the pain of criticism is one of the great struggles of every preacher." (pp 89 - 90)

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