Part Two - Summoned and Equipped by God: Chapter 6 - Ministry - Transcending Clericalism
Leadership in the Bible
"While the New Testament has no place for clergy as a separate category of believer, the Scripture has many references to leaders within God’s laos." (145) Stevens notes that “leadership” is described in several ways in the New Testament:
- Proistemi – “The one who goes before.” (Rom. 12:28) He notes it is a verb not a noun.
- Kybernesis – “Administrators.” (1 Corinthians 12:28)
- Episkopoi – “Overseers” (Philippians 1:1, Acts 20:28, 1 Timothy 3:1) Stevens remarks that this is “a term for minor responsibility” without elaborating.
- Diakonos – “Servant” (1 Timothy 3:8) Position of lower status.
- Presbyteroi – “Elders, or older wiser people” (Titus 1:5)
- Poimenes – “Pastors or shepherds.” (Ephesians 4:11)
Stevens then makes this critical observation:
Conspicuously missing from the list of leadership words is ‘priest’ (hiereus), a word which until the end of the second century was reserved for Christ and the whole believing community. (146)
The dilemma for the church is the need for both charisma and institutionalization. Ministry without charisma becomes dead and wooden institutionalism focused on power and institutional preservation. Charisma without institution is ever in danger of spilling over into fanaticism and subjectivity.
Some believe they see an evolving distinction between official leaders and charismatic service in the New Testament in response to these pressures. However, Stevens, referring to Gordon Fee, shows that the growing distinction was not between official and charismatic leaders but between itinerate and resident leaders. The local leadership configuration varied from location to location but with always had a plurality of leaders. There was no uniform system of government with official offices and titles. What we do see, is a uniform effort to devise leadership strategies that best equipped the whole laos of God in their many contexts to be ministers in the world! “Rather than having the church assist them to do the work of ministry, leaders are assistants to the rest of the body to empower them for their service in church and world.” (149)
And that brings us to a very large elephant in the room. Is there a special call to professional ministry? Stay tuned for that discussion but what do you think about Steven’s assessment of leadership so far?