Carpenters for Jesus
A student recently pulled me aside to tell me that his church had a plurality of co-equal elders who led by humble example. He was so excited to share that with me, and I was excited to hear it.
I would suggest that all of us can be moving toward a more biblical ecclesiology in our churches. In fact, I believe that if even only a few Christians begin to practice the every-member ministry of the New Testament church and begin to emphasize the 58 one-anothers of Scripture the Holy Spirit would move in a mighty way throughout the church.
But we cannot push and shove. Jesus knocks at the door of the church, He does not break it down. Giving biblical answers to honest questions is crucial, but without a spirit of humility nothing can be accomplished. In a day when pastors are leaving churches for all the wrong reasons, it must be stressed that the basic problem is the total lack of spirituality among many of our people. If we do not know Jesus Christ in a personal way – if we do not live in the reality of His power and love – obedience to His commands is an utter impossibility.
But I dare not point the finger at others. I am constantly reminded of my own frailty and need, for often my veneer is also cracking. I do not want you to think that I consider elder-led congregations to be “better” than those that are not. What a wonderful thing it is to see biblical reforms taking place in our churches, but it is just as wonderful to see men and women faithfully working in our traditional churches under His full direction and in His love and power. The Lord Jesus does not exist for our gratification. He will not be used, no matter how often we pray the prayer of Jabez. We exist to glorify Him, not the other way around. And nothing is more important to Him than our working together for the faith of the Gospel.
Is Gospel-growth the passion of our lives? In our praying, our sending, our giving, our going? Are we making the best use of our time, money, resources, and abilities? I am convinced that church reformation is necessary, but it is only one principle. Others are to be practiced as well. The command to love one another should mean something, especially for those of us who insist that ecclesiology matters.
Thankfully, God is raising up a new generation of reformers who love both the Word and people at the same time. I call such people carpenters for Jesus. They’re relentless in their commitment to building up the saints. They are willing to make a sacrifice – no, they are begging to make a sacrifice for Him. All they need to know is where and when. Have I learned this perfectly? No, but I wouldn’t exchange what I’ve learned about loving the saints for all the paper-perfect churches in the world.
For those who are leaders in the church, Jesus had a word. He said to seek the lower seats. God willing, I will do just that.
August 31, 2006
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.