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Bishops presbyters- deacons- doctors-saints

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Sermon Preached at Mouhntainvew Community Church

Sermon Preached at Mouhntainvew Community Church


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  • Since Presbyterians don’t have Bishops, I can cross that out and end up with a shorter sermon.
  • Back in 1972, I was the Minister of Music in First Presbyterian Church, New Westminster. We had this Musical by Jimmie and Carol Owens, a tongue in cheek satire on stuffy churches that were uncomfortable with the hippie’s culture.
  • They wrote this humorous song about how young people view Church Boards.
  • Amusing yes, but in my experience this caricature is all too common an image of church Boards.
  • Presbyterian polityIs a rejection of governance by hierarchies of single bishops (episcopal polity i.e. Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican), differs from the Congregationalist polity in which each congregation is independent. (Typical of Mennonite and Baptist)
  • from the bottom up (Congregation elects elders & deacons)Congregation appoints representative elders to Presbytery (i.e. Conference of Pastors and elders) flows both from the top down (Synods & Presbyteries instead of a lone BishopGive direction to congregations)
  • When all these positions were in different institutions, they didn’t have to worry about getting on each other’s nerves. On the other hand there was the “silo” effect: they didn’t communicate very much either.
  • All on the CITY PAYROLL? Maybe that worked in Geneva, or Glasgow, where everyone belonged to the church, but in North America, it simply doesn’t fit. Nevertheless, I had the opportunity to witness the function of Doctors of the Church in the 60’s when I was the music director of a Canadian Presbyterian Church that had been infiltrated by the charismatic movement. Neither the church session nor the Westminster Presbytery could agree what was to be done, so they called in “The Doctors of the Church.” Four learned theologians flew out from Knox Seminary in Toronto and interviewed as many of the congregation as they could in four days. The following Sunday, the Lead Doctor read out their report that they would be submitting to the National assembly. They rejected the cessationist view of John Calvin who taught that the gifts of the Holy Spirit, including the gifts of tongues had ceased after New Testament times. They gave their blessing to the exercise of spiritual gifts, including speaking in tongues because it was biblical & they had met people who they believed were genuinely exercising spiritual gifts. I will never forget that Sunday, because the elderly Doctor who had been a Army chaplain in both World Wars had a whole row of medals across the breast of his Geneva Gown. He said that their recommendations made him sadder than any funeral he had officiated over during the war. He said that sometimes when a body is sick, it can be cured by medicine. But sometimes, the body is so ill that surgery is the only cure. Therefore, the Doctors of the Church were recommending that due to the schismatic spirit of many members and in the interest of church peace, the Pastor had to be dismissed from this church. I admit that I was impressed with their wisdom and tact. They were able to assist with a severe problem when the local church didn’t have the resources to solve it.
  • Since the 60’s there has been a rising tide of anti-clericalism, resulting in a popular opinion among North American Christians that there is only ONE class of Presbyter or elder and therefore only TWO offices: that of Elder and Deacon. At the same time more and more demands are being put on the teaching elders to master new technology, keep abreast of an avalanche of new theological speculations as we move into a post modern world. Furthermore, they are being expected to be vision-casting Chief Executive officers of Churches. This has resulted in an unprecedented increase in clergy burnout and moral failure. Dr. Robert S. Rayburn a noted scholar of the Presbyterian Church in America and pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church, Tacoma, WA believes that there is a special calling of God to be a minister of God’s Word, and this is call is diminished when a Pastor is merely considered a ruling elder with the additional responsibility of teaching. He has called for a renewed examination of the role of elders. He believes that Pastors should concentrate on exclusive devotion to prayer and study of the Word of God and its public and private proclamation.
  • What does the Dictionary Say? [prez-bi-ter] 1. (in the early Christian church) an office bearer who exercised teaching, priestly, and administrative functions. 2. (in hierarchical churches: i.e. Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican) -- a priest. 3. in a Presbyterian church -- an ELDER. (And in most Evangelical churches) Dictionary.com
  • What does the Bible Say?In practice elders lead the overall direction of the church 17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.--1 Timothy 5:17.
  • Elders lead through preaching and teaching and an exemplary life Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach --1 Timothy 3:2
  • praying for the sick 13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. --James 5:13-14
  • [dee-kuhn] The word deacon is derived from the Greek word diakonos (διάκονος), which is a standard ancient Greek word meaning "servant", "waiter," "minister" or "messenger." 1. (in hierarchical churches) a member of the clerical order next below that of a priest. 2. (in other churches) an appointed or elected officer having variously defined duties.
  • The office of deacon has different meanings among different Presbyterian churches. In some churches, deacons exercise responsibility for practical matters of finance and fabric, either separately or together with the elders. In some cases deacons administer the welfare matters of the congregation, while a separate board of management or trustees administers the other material business of the congregation, such as its endowments, salaries and buildings.
  • Deacons are greeted by St. Paul as church leaders who work closely with the eldersPaul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons (Philippians 1:1).Calvin and the Genevan reformers believed that the session of elders had the duty of overseeing.
  • Women served as deacons (or deaconesses)I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me. Romans 16:1-2Some have interpreted the Greek "diakonos" to relate Phoebe as a deaconess, the most literal interpretation of the word is as a servant which is what all deacons or deaconesses should be. The Greek of Romans 16:2 uses the term prostatis (for benefactor) which may indicate that she was Paul's patroness.Some scholars believe Phoebe was responsible for delivering Paul's epistle to the Church in Rome. She is commemorated with Lydia of Thyatira and Dorcas in the Calendar of Saints of the Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran Churches.
  • 1 Tim. 3:8-128 In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. 11 In the same way, the women [deacons or deacon's wives] are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything12 A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well.
  • So why was the position of deacon created in the Early Church? To enable the disciples and elders to focus on prayer and ministry of the word amongst many other tasks.So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” - Acts 6:2-4
  • Ruling a church is not like running a service club or governing a school district. Elders must have spiritual maturity and a good knowledge of not only scripture, but also theology: they must be life time learners. BUT!!! Ruling elders also need to have a good grasp of what is going on in the culture around them: the unique needs of their community. What makes serving on a church board so unique is that the board members try to create a ministry or service that will also minister to them. This makes objective thinking difficult. People get very emotionally attached to their church and everyone thinks they know best how a church should be run. When I was a school trustee, I didn’t have to sit in a class with a teacher who was part of my organization. I had the privilege of learning good governance skills from experienced and wise people.So along with their knowledge of the Bible, I believe that church elders always be seeking to improve their skills in:CommunicationEthical business practisesCollaborative problem solvingConflict resolutionAccountability systemsFiscal responsibilityCompliance with Federal law and regulations for Charitable organizations
  • I can’t imagine enjoying a worship service led by a Worship team who never bothered to learn the rudiments of music. They must stay in rhythm with each other and in harmony. Musicians know they can’t just get up and make a joyful noise without any training or practice. Many musicians who serve the lord have learned their technical skills from teachers who had no interest in Christianity. But they have learned to play skillfully as unto the Lord in the same rhythm and harmony. In exactly the same way church boards must seek knowledge and skill in the art of governance as well as depend upon the Holy Spirit and the Word of God to show them how to rule God’s People. They must play in harmony with each other and stay in rhythm too. There are plenty of resources to assist Church elders or Board members to increase their skills:Their denominational Headquarters is the first place to look but also--the Canadian Council of Christian Charities--Building Church Leaders.com--The Alban Institute, Many non-religious organizations have excellent “professional development” training in their local community that church leaders would greatly benefit from.--Service Clubs--United Way, --Community Services, --Volunteer bureau, --Restorative Justice Associations, etc.
  • Here is the traditional schematic of how churches used to operate.The Church leadership, headed by the Pastor, or teaching elder comes up with a vision that they hope will inspire the people in the church. Next, the people plan activities and work that fits into that vision, and as they carry it out, they assume that the wider community and other individuals will have a “blessing” experience. This is obviously a very hierarchical system with the Pastor in a powerful position at the top.: followed by the elders, then the deacons and at the bottom, the common folk. But whenever we yield to the temptation to establish rank and esteemed privilege within the Body of Christ, we promote disunity and envy of place.Korea is perhaps the most “presbyterian” country in the world—even more than Scotland. But the church there is having terrible problems according to Jung-Sook Lee academic dean and church history professor at Torch Trinity Graduate School of Theology, Seoul, Korea.Frequently, when serious problems arise in the Korean Presbyterian church, the relationship between pastors and elders is the problem . In such cases, pastors tend to capitalize on the pulpit to deliver self-serving messages. Elders in a fury take the case to the secular courts instead of church presbyteries because they believe that presbyteries are biased toward pastors. When things get worse, some churches do not mind using forceful intervention of the local police even during the worship service. Obviously, Paul's advice to the Corinthians (1 Cor 6:1-6) is ignored in such cases.
  • Here is a different model of Church leadership, perhaps best described by Sue Mallory, Pastor of Lay Ministries at Brentwood Presbyterian Church in California. Notice there is a two way feedback between the people and the leadership. It is not a traditional top down pyramid, but in the shape of a diamond. This represents what Jesus said to the sons of Zebedee:Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. Mark 10: 43-44In Mallory’s book, “The Equipping Church” she describes how a slow process of applying the principle of the priesthood of all believers caused the church to steadily grow in the midst of megachurches like Rick Warren’s Saddle Back Community Church and the troubled congregations at the Crystal Cathedral, and Calvary Chapel.
  • Ministry is a calling of all believers, not just ministers of the Word.--Ephesians 4:11-13So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to EQUIP HIS PEOPLE FOR WORKS OF SERVICE, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and BECOME MATURE, ATTAINING TO THE WHOLE MEASURE OF THE FULLNESS OF CHRIST. We are all to be headed on the road to the heavenly kingdom. This is the way that the people of God mature, and become like Christ.
  • Priesthood is the calling of all believers, not just ministers of the Word.But you are a chosen people, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD,a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness intoHIS WONDERFUL LIGHT. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. --1 Peter 2:8-10
  • So if all the people of God are to be ministers and priests, what is the function of the leadership? Where do they lead? The leaders must keep the final goal in mind. Not only to facilitate the formation of the Kingdom of Heaven in each believer's heart, but also to remember the final destination of all history: The Glorious Second coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.Revelation 21 1 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” THAT IS OUR DESTINATION!
  • What does it mean to “Equip”? Here is an example of Search and rescue officers. They have had intensive training and have been issued specialized equipment in order to seek and find lost persons. What a perfect analogy of our task as Christians. They need leadership, strategy, and above all teamwork to do an extremely difficult job.In the words of the old Hymn: are we not called to “Rescue the Perishing?”
  • Here is a Fireman who has been trained and equipped with fireproof clothing and tools to save lives and go into dangerous places at all hours of the day and night. There is a massive infrastructure of support system behind him. An untrained fireman with no equipment would be helpless and perish in a fire like this. Yet we as Christians are All commanded to:22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. Jude 1:22-23
  • Here is a surgical team in an operating suite with thousands of dollars of equipment. The surgical suite is in a hospital built with taxpayers money and private funds. We expect that a surgeon has had years of training from a skilled professor who has many years of experience. We also expect that he has considerable practice before we submit our bodies to his scalpel. Anyone who has witnessed an operation is amazed at the careful coordination and teamwork involved. We as Christians need to be equipped to heal not only bodies, but souls.After he had taught them, Jesus commanded his disciples that 8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. 9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’
  • Here is a carpenter with specialized precision tools and safety equipment. To build a proper house, he has to know all the building codes, follow the blueprint and coordinate his tasks with other trades. --Hebrews 3:3-43 Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. 4 For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.
  • This shack in a garbage dump in Eastern Africa plagued with AIDS. Whoever built it was poorly equipped and didn’t know much about building a house. --Matthew 7:2626 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
  • Equipping for Pastoral CareHere is a church Secretary in what is obviously the communication center of a church. Note the equipment necessary to do the ministry of the Gospel. Note her elaborate filing system, a library of manuals and hymn books, Gifts of love, boxes of Birthday and Get Well cards, a certificate of appreciation, chairs suitable for little folk. These are not the tools of the professional paid Pastor or “teaching elder.” These represent the equipment that all church members need access to if they aspire to become ministers of the Gospel. Only a very small percentage of willing volunteers can succeed without specific training and clear direction. Sadly, many churches offer neither. Colossians 2:18 the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.Noe one should fall through the cracks in the Church’s ministry. The leaders must make sure there are SINEWS that connect the various facets of life in the Body of Christ, so no one’s needs are overlooked.
  • Eugene Peterson expresses Ephesians 4:11-13 beautifully when he describes the church moving rythmically and easily. Christ himself handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ's followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ's body, the church, until we're all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God's Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.
  • I was raised to believe that dancing was sin, but I never cease to me amazed at the grace and beauty of Ballroom dancing.It is a perfect example of human beings acting as one.
  • JürgenMoltmann the German Reformed theologian noted for his “Theology of Hope” has some stimulating thoughts about the meaning of equipping Christians to do Kingdom Work. He turns things around and says: "What the church must learn is that the church does not have a mission, but the very reverse:that the mission of Christ creates its own church."
  • As you finalize your plans to call a new pastor, may I make a suggestion? I am sure you already have a job description that he has looked at. But would you please go one step farther?Make a list of things you DON’T expect him to do. For example, I am sure you don’t expect him to set up the stage and set out chairs Sunday morning. But what about:Counseling? Marriage preparation? Parenting classes? Addictions? Visitation? Ministering to the Poor?Free him up to concentrate on --Prayer, --Studying God’s Word, --preparing sermons, and --equipping ALL MEMBERS OF THE CONGREGATION to be the ministers. That will be an interesting exercise. You will discover how many things need doing. Then as congregation decide how YOU will start doing those things -- BEFORE he arrives. The equippers, the equipped and the yet to be equipped are all around you. Some are hidden, some are misused, some are tired and some are abused. Identify leaders -- materials and training necessary to equip your volunteers to undertake God’s mission in Agassiz and the world.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Mountainview Community Church July 3, 2011 Ministers in the churchBishops, Presbyters,Deacons, Doctors, Saints
    • 2. Mountainview Community Church July 3, 2011 Ministers in the churchBishops, Presbyters,Deacons, Doctors, Saints
    • 3. Presbyterian polity a rejection of governance by hierarchies of single bishops (episcopal polity), differs from the congregationalist polity in which each congregation is independent. .
    • 4. Synod PresbyteryLocal Congregations
    • 5. Presbyterian polityThis theory of government developed in Geneva under John Calvin and was introduced to Scotland by John Knox after his period of exile in Geneva. It is strongly associated with Swiss and Scottish Reformation movements, and with the Reformed and Presbyterian churches (and many evangelical denominations).
    • 6. Calvin’s fourfold ministry1536 edition of the “Institutes” In Geneva there were: Ruling Presbyters – chosen from the publicly elected consistory (town council) Teaching presbyters (pastors) – preach & teach in the churches Doctors – who taught and studied in the schools & academy Deacons – who served in the Genevan hospital
    • 7. Calvin’s fourfold ministryFour Offices, all working in different institutions andALL on the City payroll!
    • 8. Pastoral Burnout
    • 9. Pres·by·ter[prez-bi-ter]1. (in the early Christian church) an office bearer who exercised teaching, priestly, and administrative functions.2. (in hierarchical churches: i.e. Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican) -- a priest.3. in a Presbyterian church -- an ELDER. (And in most Evangelical churches) Dictionary.com
    • 10. Pres·by·terIn practice elders lead the overall direction of the church 17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. --1 Timothy 5:17.
    • 11. Pres·by·terElders lead through preaching and teaching and an exemplary lifeNow the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self- controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach --1 Timothy 3:2
    • 12. Pres·by·terPraying for the sick in body and soulIs anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make them well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. -- James 5:13-15
    • 13. Dea·con[dee-kuhn] The word deacon is derived from the Greek word diakonos (διάκονος), which is a standard ancient Greek word meaning "servant", "waiter," "minister" or "messenger." 1. (in hierarchical churches) a member of the clerical order next below that of a priest.2. (in other churches) an appointed or elected church officer having variously defined duties.Dictionary.com
    • 14. Dea·conThe office of deacon has different meanings among different Presbyterian churches. In some churches, deacons exercise responsibility for practical matters of finance and fabric, either separately or together with the elders. In some cases deacons administer the welfare matters of the congregation, while a separate board of management or trustees administers the other material business of the congregation, such as its endowments, salaries and buildings.
    • 15. Dea·conDeacons are greeted by St. Paul as church leaders who work closely with the eldersPaul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons . --Philippians 1:1
    • 16. Dea·conWomen served as deacons (or deaconesses)I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me.Romans 16:1-2
    • 17. Dea·con8 In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain.9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.11 In the same way, the women [deacons or deacons wives] are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything12 A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well. 1 Tim. 3:8-12
    • 18. Pres·by·ter vs. Dea·conprayer and ministry of the word amongst many other tasks.So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” - Acts 6:2-4
    • 19. Board of Elders skills
    • 20. Worship Team skills
    • 21. Board of Elders skills
    • 22. Board of Elders skills
    • 23. The Saints (or laity)Ministry as a calling of all believers, not just ministers of the Word.So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and --Ephesians 4:11-13
    • 24. The Saints (or laity)Priesthood is the calling of all believers, not just ministers of the Word.But you are a chosen people, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into . Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. --1 Peter 2:8-10
    • 25. Lead Where? The Kingdom of God Here (within us) Not Yet -- the New Heaven and New Earth
    • 26. Equipping Search and Rescue
    • 27. Equipping Fireman
    • 28. Equipping Surgeon
    • 29. Equipping Carpenter
    • 30. Poorly equipped -- Carpenter
    • 31. Equipping Pastoral Care
    • 32. When the Church is healthy, she dances!
    • 33. When the Church is healthy, she dances! Christ himself handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christs followers in skilled servant work, working within Christs body, the church, until were all with each other, efficient and graceful in response to Gods Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ. --Ephesians 4:11-13 The Message
    • 34. Missional, Equipping Church"What the church must learn is that the church does not have a mission, but the very reverse:that the mission of Christ creates its own church." ---Jürgen Moltmann
    • 35. Missional, Equipping Church The focus of our Polity should be on equipping Gods people for Gods mission in Gods world