Bishops presbyters- deacons- doctors-saints notes


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Sermon preached at Mountainview Presbyterian Church

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Bishops presbyters- deacons- doctors-saints notes

  1. 1. 1
  2. 2. Since Presbyterians don’t have Bishops, I can cross that out and end up with ashorter sermon. 2
  3. 3. Back in 1972, I was the Minister of Music in First Presbyterian Church, NewWestminster. We had this Musical by Jimmie and Carol Owens, a tongue in cheeksatire on stuffy churches that were uncomfortable with the hippie’s culture. 3
  4. 4. They wrote this humorous song about how young people view Church Boards. 4
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  10. 10. Amusing yes, but in my experience this caricature is all too common an image ofchurch Boards. 10
  11. 11. 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 isindependent. (Typical of Mennonite and Baptist) 11
  12. 12. from the bottom up (Congregation elects elders & deacons)Congregation appoints representative elders to Presbytery (i.e. Conference ofPastors and elders)flows both from the top down (Synods & Presbyteries instead of a lone BishopGive direction to congregations) 12
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  14. 14. When all these positions were in different institutions, they didn’t have to worryabout getting on each other’s nerves.On the other hand there was the “silo” effect: they didn’t communicate very mucheither. 14
  15. 15. All on the CITY PAYROLL? Maybe that worked in Geneva, or Glasgow, where everyonebelonged 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 the60’s when I was the music director of a Canadian Presbyterian Church that had beeninfiltrated by the charismatic movement. Neither the church session nor the WestminsterPresbytery 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 manyof the congregation as they could in four days. The following Sunday, the Lead Doctor readout their report that they would be submitting to the National assembly. They rejected thecessationist view of John Calvin who taught that the gifts of the Holy Spirit, including thegifts of tongues had ceased after New Testament times. They gave their blessing to theexercise of spiritual gifts, including speaking in tongues because it was biblical & they hadmet people who they believed were genuinely exercising spiritual gifts.I will never forget that Sunday, because the elderly Doctor who had been a Army chaplainin both World Wars had a whole row of medals across the breast of his Geneva Gown. Hesaid that their recommendations made him sadder than any funeral he had officiated overduring 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 theChurch were recommending that due to the schismatic spirit of many members and in theinterest of church peace, the Pastor had to be dismissed from this church. I admit that Iwas impressed with their wisdom and tact. They were able to assist with a severe problemwhen the local church didn’t have the resources to solve it. 15
  16. 16. Since the 60’s there has been a rising tide of anti-clericalism, resulting in a popularopinion among North American Christians that there is only ONE class of Presbyteror elder and therefore only TWO offices: that of Elder and Deacon. At the sametime more and more demands are being put on the teaching elders to master newtechnology, keep abreast of an avalanche of new theological speculations as wemove into a post modern world. Furthermore, they are being expected to be vision-casting Chief Executive officers of Churches. This has resulted in an unprecedentedincrease in clergy burnout and moral failure.Dr. Robert S. Rayburn a noted scholar of the Presbyterian Church in America andpastor of Faith Presbyterian Church, Tacoma, WA believes that there is a specialcalling of God to be a minister of God’s Word, and this is call is diminished when aPastor is merely considered a ruling elder with the additional responsibility ofteaching. He has called for a renewed examination of the role of elders. He believesthat Pastors should concentrate on exclusive devotion to prayer and study of theWord of God and its public and private proclamation. 16
  17. 17. 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) 17
  18. 18. 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. 18
  19. 19. Elders 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 19
  20. 20. praying for the sick13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them singsongs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the churchto pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. --James 5:13-14 20
  21. 21. [dee-kuhn]The word deacon is derived from the Greek word diakonos (διάκονος), which is astandard ancient Greek word meaning "servant", "waiter," "minister" or"messenger." 1. (in hierarchical churches) a member of the clerical order next below that of apriest.2. (in other churches) an appointed or elected officer having variously definedduties. 21
  22. 22. The office of deacon has different meanings among different Presbyterianchurches. In some churches, deacons exercise responsibility for practical matters offinance and fabric, either separately or together with the elders. In some casesdeacons administer the welfare matters of the congregation, while a separateboard of management or trustees administers the other material business of thecongregation, such as its endowments, salaries and buildings. 22
  23. 23. 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 atPhilippi, together with the overseers and deacons (Philippians 1:1).Calvin and the Genevan reformers believed that the session of elders had the dutyof overseeing. 23
  24. 24. Women served as deacons (or deaconesses)I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. I ask youto receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help shemay 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, themost literal interpretation of the word is as a servant which is what all deacons ordeaconesses should be.The Greek of Romans 16:2 uses the term prostatis (for benefactor) which mayindicate that she was Pauls patroness.Some scholars believe Phoebe was responsible for delivering Pauls epistle to theChurch in Rome.She is commemorated with Lydia of Thyatira and Dorcas in the Calendar of Saintsof the Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran Churches. 24
  25. 25. 1 Tim. 3:8-128 In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging inmuch 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 themserve as deacons.11 In the same way, the women [deacons or deacons wives] are to be worthy ofrespect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything12 A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and hishousehold well. 25
  26. 26. 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 wordamongst many other tasks.So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right forus to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothersand sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of theSpirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give ourattention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” - Acts 6:2-4 26
  27. 27. 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, butalso theology: they must be life time learners.BUT!!! Ruling elders also need to have a good grasp of what is going on in theculture around them: the unique needs of their community.What makes serving on a church board so unique is that the board members try tocreate 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 theyknow 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 waspart of my organization.I had the privilege of learning good governance skills from experienced and wisepeople.So along with their knowledge of the Bible, I believe that church elders always beseeking to improve their skills in:1. Communication2. Ethical business practises3. Collaborative problem solving4. Conflict resolution5. Accountability systems6. Fiscal responsibility7. Compliance with Federal law and regulations for Charitable organizations 27
  28. 28. I can’t imagine enjoying a worship service led by a Worship team who neverbothered to learn the rudiments of music. They must stay in rhythm with eachother and in harmony. Musicians know they can’t just get up and make a joyfulnoise without any training or practice. Many musicians who serve the lord havelearned their technical skills from teachers who had no interest in Christianity. Butthey have learned to play skillfully as unto the Lord in the same rhythm andharmony.In exactly the same way church boards must seek knowledge and skill in the art ofgovernance as well as depend upon the Holy Spirit and the Word of God to showthem how to rule God’s People. They must play in harmony with each other andstay in rhythm too.There are plenty of resources to assist Church elders or Board members to increasetheir skills:Their denominational Headquarters is the first place to look but also--the Canadian Council of Christian Charities--Building Church 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. 28
  29. 29. Here is the traditional schematic of how churches used to operate.The Church leadership, headed by the Pastor, or teaching elder comes up with avision 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 carryit 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 atthe top.: followed by the elders, then the deacons and at the bottom, the commonfolk. But whenever we yield to the temptation to establish rank and esteemedprivilege within the Body of Christ, we promote disunity and envy of place.Korea is perhaps the most “presbyterian” country in the world—even more thanScotland. But the church there is having terrible problems according to Jung-SookLee academic dean and church history professor at Torch Trinity Graduate School ofTheology, Seoul, Korea.Frequently, when serious problems arise in the Korean Presbyterian church, therelationship between pastors and elders is the problem . In such cases, pastors tendto capitalize on the pulpit to deliver self-serving messages. Elders in a fury take thecase to the secular courts instead of church presbyteries because they believe thatpresbyteries are biased toward pastors. When things get worse, some churches donot mind using forceful intervention of the local police even during the worshipservice. Obviously, Pauls advice to the Corinthians (1 Cor 6:1-6) is ignored in suchcases. 29
  30. 30. Here is a different model of Church leadership, perhaps best described by SueMallory, 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 nota traditional top down pyramid, but in the shape of a diamond. This representswhat Jesus said to the sons of Zebedee:Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoeverwants to be first must be slave of all. Mark 10: 43-44In Mallory’s book, “The Equipping Church” she describes how a slow process ofapplying the principle of the priesthood of all believers caused the church tosteadily grow in the midst of megachurches like Rick Warren’s Saddle BackCommunity Church and the troubled congregations at the Crystal Cathedral, andCalvary Chapel. 30
  31. 31. 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 andteachers, toEQUIP HIS PEOPLE FOR WORKS OF SERVICE,so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faithand in the knowledge of the Son of God andBECOME MATURE, ATTAINING TO THE WHOLE MEASURE OF THE FULLNESS OFCHRIST.We are all to be headed on the road to the heavenly kingdom. This is the way thatthe people of God mature, and become like Christ. 31
  32. 32. 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 himwho 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 notreceived mercy, but now you have received mercy. --1 Peter 2:8-10 32
  33. 33. So if all the people of God are to be ministers and priests, what is the function ofthe leadership? Where do they lead?The leaders must keep the final goal in mind. Not only to facilitate the formation ofthe Kingdom of Heaven in each believers heart, but also to remember the finaldestination of all history:The Glorious Second coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as King of Kings andLord of Lords.Revelation 21 1 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the firstearth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, thenew Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bridebeautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the thronesaying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwellwith them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be theirGod. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ ormourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”THAT IS OUR DESTINATION! 33
  34. 34. 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 inorder 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?” 34
  35. 35. Here is a Fireman who has been trained and equipped with fireproof clothing andtools 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 untrainedfireman 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 bycorrupted flesh.Jude 1:22-23 35
  36. 36. Here is a surgical team in an operating suite with thousands of dollars ofequipment.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 hasmany years of experience.We also expect that he has considerable practice before we submit our bodies tohis scalpel.Anyone who has witnessed an operation is amazed at the careful coordination andteamwork involved.We as Christians need to be equipped to heal not only bodies, but souls.After he had taught them, Jesus commanded his disciples that8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. 9 Heal thesick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 36
  37. 37. Here is a carpenter with specialized precision tools and safety equipment. To builda proper house, he has to know all the building codes, follow the blueprint andcoordinate his tasks with other trades.--Hebrews 3:3-43 Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of ahouse has greater honor than the house itself. 4 For every house is built bysomeone, but God is the builder of everything. 37
  38. 38. This shack in a garbage dump in Eastern Africa plagued with AIDS. Whoever built itwas 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 intopractice 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 thathouse, and it fell with a great crash.” 38
  39. 39. Equipping for Pastoral CareHere is a church Secretary in what is obviously the communication center of achurch.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 theyaspire to become ministers of the Gospel. Only a very small percentage of willingvolunteers 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 andsinews, grows as God causes it to grow.Noe one should fall through the cracks in the Church’s ministry. The leaders mustmake sure there are SINEWS that connect the various facets of life in the Body ofChrist, so no one’s needs are overlooked. 39
  40. 40. Eugene Peterson expresses Ephesians 4:11-13 beautifully when he describes thechurch moving rythmically and easily.Christ himself handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacherto train Christs followers in skilled servant work, working within Christs body, thechurch, until were all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient andgraceful in response to Gods Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within andwithout, fully alive like Christ. 40
  41. 41. I was raised to believe that dancing was sin, but I never cease to me amazed at thegrace and beauty of Ballroom dancing.It is a perfect example of human beings acting as one. 41
  42. 42. Jürgen Moltmann the German Reformed theologian noted for his “Theology ofHope” has some stimulating thoughts about the meaning of equipping Christians todo Kingdom Work. He turns things around and says:"What the church must learn is that the church does not have a mission, but thevery reverse:that the mission of Christ creates its own church." 42
  43. 43. 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 chairsSunday 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 howYOU 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 toundertake God’s mission in Agassiz and the world. 43