FIVE FOLD MINISTRIES
There are five-fold ministries in the Church of Jesus Christ. Ephesians 4:11-16
The ministry of the Apostles
The ministry of the Prophets
The ministry of the Evangelist
The ministry of the Pastors
The ministry of the Teachers
These ministries as it is manifesting in our time are exclusive gifts from God in the life of the believers that are truly ministering at the table of the Living God. It is evidenced from the perfect will of God that Jesus Christ possessed the authority and sovereignty to assign the spiritual gifts to those he has called into service in the Church. He does not just give out gift to anyone rather He gave the gifts to gifted brethren. The dictionary meaning of the word ‘gifted’ include, endowment with great natural ability, intelligence, or talent: a gifted child; a gifted pianist, or a revealing special talent. For example, the apostles of Jesus Christ were chosen not by their educational proven ability, not by any connection as a relative of Jesus Christ or by any special favor that any of the apostles have done to Jesus Christ. Again, the apostles did not know and did not recognize that they possessed any attributes that was worthy of being called into the high office in the church of Jesus Christ. These revealing natural talents were evidenced in the life of each apostles of Jesus Christ for the purpose of their exclusive calling.
APOSTLES OF JESUS CHRIST
There are two types of apostles, namely, the apostles of Christ and the apostles of the Church. The apostles of Jesus Christ were directly chosen by Jesus Christ and Mathias (Acts 1:22) that replaced Judas Iscariot after he committed suicide. Mathias was not chosen by Jesus Christ. It was the proven natural ability that singled him and Joseph called Barsabas out among the 120 brethren. The criteria for chosen them were clearly stated in the Bible, “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” (Acts 1:21-22) The brethren lifted up the two in their prayer after which they cast their lot and the lot fell of Matthias. Paul was also numbered among the apostles of Jesus Christ because he miraculously encountered Jesus Christ at his conversion on Damascus road where he was going to expand the scope of his persecution against the church of Jesus Christ. These apostles were the instruments that God had prepared from the beginning of the world to fulfill the catalogues of prophecies of the prophets in the Old Testament. The prophets revealed salvation through Jesus Christ from the realm of the spirit but the apostles implemented what was revealed, by testifying to the word of life that proceeded out the mouth of Jesus Christ, and testifying to the power of God that manifested through the miraculous deeds of Jesus Christ. No true church was build upon another foundation apart from the foundation that apostles of Jesus Christ laid down.
These apostles have three basic responsibilities: namely,
• to lay foundation of the church “having been build on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief corner stone.” (Ephesians 2:20)
• to receive the mystery of God and declare their first hand experience of the activities of Jesus Christ in preaching among people and document their understanding of God’s words in writing as they were inspired by Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 3:1-12) The mystery about the word of God was that not a single chapter of the Bible was credited to God Almighty or Jesus Christ the main star of the entire Bible. All the chapters were credited to the prophets of God in the Old Testament and the Apostles of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, with exception of few chapters credited to the early righteous judges and kings in Israel.
• to give confirmation of that word through signs, wonders and miraculous deeds. “Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance in signs and wonders and mighty deeds.” (II Corinthians 12:12)
APOSTLES OF THE CHURCH
The term apostles are generally used to describe the enormous activities of some early leaders in the church for their recognized activities in the church. Barnabas (Acts 14:4), Silas and Timothy (I Thessalonians 2:6) and others (Romans 16:7) Through the power of Holy Spirit these brethren went through perilous risks and danger to bring the message of Christ to people and establish churches in strategic cities as the Spirit of the Lord directed them. The people in these churches could not call these blessed brethren anything less than Apostles because of the important pivot position they held in the Church. They did not coin the office for themselves because these brethren were noted for their humility and they put the thing of the Spirit first in their activities.
Prophets are not ordinary believers who have the gift of prophecy but they were specially commissioned men in the early church. To shed more light on this, all the prophets that featured in the Old Testament were called for a specific assignment. Their activities today became point of reference even in the Christian age. Again during the early New Testament church, no matter the knowledge the apostles possessed about our Lord Jesus Christ in those three years they walked with Christ, they still need the touch of Holy Spirit. Therefore during the transitional stage, that is, from the prophetic age of Old Testament to the Christian age of the New Testament, the activities of the prophets were still needed because the foundation of Christianity was build on apostles and prophets and Jesus Christ Himself is the chief corner stone. (Ephesians 2:20-22) Contrary to the belief of many, the office of the prophet is not ordained to predict what the future holds for the church and the prophets are not church fortune tellers. The prophets in the Old Testament were not predicting the future events; rather, they were declaring the word of the Lord prophetically as they were opened to the divine understanding through the visitation of Holy Spirit upon them. They were the spokesman of God. They were the voice of judgment upon the erring nations; they were the instrument of correction unto the kings and nations. Their prophetic declarations mainly constituted the Old Testament scriptures precepts the same way the physical knowledge and direct witness of the twelve apostles about Jesus Christ and their subsequent activities and that of Paul experience and activities constituted the word of God in the New Testament. Again the activities of the true prophets of God in the New Testament church were limited to their local church. In our Christian age, if a professed prophet is prophesying contrary to the scripture, he or she must be watched closely.
The office of Evangelist is very important in the New Testament Church. The Evangelists at this time work alongside with the Apostles in the dissemination of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Their activities were not only for the local church. They evangelized in the local church as well as wherever opportunity opened for them. They did not soldier the responsibilities of the church like the pastors because they were always on the move following the direction of the Holy Spirit in other to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, they always hover around the established church principally to bring in the converts to add to the church. They were very versed in the knowledge of the gospel. They were like farmers that are sowing seed with the hope that the seed will germinate and bear fruit. They can turn any discussion into the gospel of Jesus Christ and make it meaningful and convincing to the individual or collection of people they were discussing with. The scarcity of evangelists in the church of this age is one of the reasons for the slow spreading of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Today there are so many pastors but few evangelists. Even people with the calling of evangelist abandoned the honorable calling and crave for another.
In Acts 21:8, Philip the evangelist was the only one called the evangelist in the scripture. He was one of the seven chosen in Act 6:5 and ordained to serve the table of the Lord. Again this point to the fact that one person may hold two offices in the church if he is evidently called to serve in the offices. Again the first missionary named in the scripture was the same Evangelist Philip who preached in the city of Samaria. (Acts 8:4-8) The angel of the Lord spoke to the same Evangelist Philip to go towards south on a road from Jerusalem to Gaza. (Acts 8:26-40) On his way he saw the chariot of Ethiopian Eunuch of a great authority. The Spirit directed him to go near the chariot. He entered into conversation with eunuch and the conversation led him to Christ. Philip baptized the eunuch in the water after which the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away.
PASTORS AND TEACHERS
The two offices above have similar functions. The Pastor is a shepherd of the flock of God in the church. The Pastor is the spiritual father figure of the Church. Teaching of the precepts of the Bible is paramount in the two offices but the teacher is more incline to the teaching of the word of God to set the required Bible standard. Whether the leaders are preaching, giving sermon or teaching in the Sunday school, they are all teaching in the church. Sermonizing and preaching are all elaborate teaching of the word of God. In order to know the difference between sermon and teaching, consider the sermon of Peter in Acts of Apostles Chapter 2 that brought in 3000 souls to the kingdom of God with the teaching of Stephen in the Acts of Apostle Chapter 7 that led to his death. The sermon of Peter was although forceful but with human face and provided a way out of the sinful jam of the people but the teaching of Stephen was fierce, fearless and deep into the history of the Israelites and was strictly upon the law of God revealing the error of the people and the ultimate consequence. The people could not bear the truth because the truth was bitter and therefore they killed him because the standard of his teaching was spiritually too high for the type people that lived in a deep level of sinful and worldly life they were living then. The pastors emphasize proclamation, along with exhortation and admonition and calls for a heart response to the Lord. On the other hand, the teachers are essentially about spiritual fortification of the church, building a wall of defense round about the believers against heresy and put more stress on instruction because the greatest disease in the church today is spiritual ignorance.
BISHOP AND ELDERS
The word bishop means “overseer” and it only identifies the men who are responsible to lead the church and upon whom the responsibilities of the church falls. Another word for bishop is ‘elder.’ The title of an elder is not offered unto men in the church as a result of an advanced age. The scripture was not silent about the qualification of a bishop, (overseer, elder and pastor) it was emphatically stated in (I Timothy 3:1-7) Again, bishop is not a hierarchical title in the church and it does not connote any superiority over other office of its equivalent in the church. If there is any superiority to be observed in the church concerning the offices it should be the level of individual spiritual input in service of the Lord, his obvious exemplary spiritual relationship with God and the length of his faithful walk with the Lord. In the prophetic ministry in the Old Testament, there were prophets and also the sons of prophets.
Interestingly in the New Testament Church, the title ‘bishop,’ ‘elders’ and ‘overseer’ are all variation titles of offices of pastor and teacher that were interchangeably used. (Acts 20:17, 28; Titus 1:5-9; I Peter 5:1-4) In our days we have apportioned hierarchy and superiority to each of these variations in order to create class, power and authority among the servants of God.
The activities of Deacon in the church arose as a result of necessity. Welfare of the church falls on the shepherds which is the pastoral office. Originally it is part of the responsibility of the shepherd but due to the increase of their spiritual activities, the welfare activity of the church was spinned off to create the office of Deacon in the church. (Acts 6:1-4) Although the Deacons are subject to the leadership of the Shepherd of the church, they are serving the table of our Lord Jesus Christ in the church. They should not be looked down upon as a subservient unto man, but rather, as an important position in the organizational structure of the church. A deacon should not only be an energetic person that possesses a lot of energy to run around, he must also be spiritually qualified before one can be appointed in the church. (I Timothy 3:8-13)
BEHIND THE CURTAIN LEADERSHIP MINISTRY
The Prayer Warriors in the church did not see themselves as leaders due to humility that had characterized their lives; rather they see their activities as a sacred obligation unto God. They know that they have an appointment with God concerning the needs of the brethren in the church. If they do not open their mouths to tell you that they have a prayer calling for the church you will not know that they were engaging in fasting and prayer, lifting everybody unto the Lord in intercessory prayer.
There are people with exceptional talents or gifts manifesting for the glory of God to meet the needs of the Church. Songs in the church is a powerful instrument of ministration to people. It is amazing how people turn a piece of word of God to instrument of evangelism and praises. These blessed children of God are in other word saying that, if you cannot express your life and your situation with the heart of praises in the church there is no other better place you can praise God in the atmosphere of righteousness. Their edifying praise worship will take you to the highest pinnacle of spiritual height whereby you can reach out to God with heart of praises while at the same time you present your petition before God in your prayer. These blessed children of God also prepare your heart as a good ground for the message of God from the minister. I have never been to the church whereby songs of praises do not precede and buttress the sermon. Have we ever thought of the input of these blessed people, in terms of (setting a quality time for practicing, coordinating, arranging songs, voice training and lastly prayer) in to the art of music before their efforts delivers the message of blessing to the people of God?
In the Old Testament, David was the only king in the Bible that set up a ministry of praises unto God. He appointed Asaph to be their chief. You notice that most chapters in the book of Psalm are connected to Asaph the chief musician. “He appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the Lord, to make petition, to give thanks, and to praise the Lord, the God of Israel: Asaph was the chief, Zechariah second, the Jeiel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithah, Eliab, Benaiah, Obed-Edom and Jeiel. They were to play the lyres and harps, Asaph was to sound the cymbals, and Benaiah and Jahaziel the priests were to blow the trumpets regularly before the ark of the covenant of God) He appointed Asaph to be their chief.” (I Chronicle 16:4-6) There is no change in the importance of music ministry, it is still very important in the Christian age as it was in Old Testament.
There various workers in the church that cannot be analyzed in this study. This is not suggesting that their activities are not important to the church. In fact their activities are so much important to the church that the scripture demanded in the Old Testament that anybody serving in the temple of God must be sanctified before their services in the temple. That is the level of importance of the activities of all the workers in the church of Jesus Christ. Their duties must not be rendered in sinfulness, diligence and commitment is expected at all time, and it must be done cheerfully too.
THE PLACE OF WOMEN IN THE CHURCH
I Timothy 2:10-15
If the scriptures were like the human law that is subjected to amendment when necessary, there would have been an amendment to the way that women were more or less virtually relegated to the background in the New Testament Church. Thinking in line with Paul’s inspired wisdom, Paul established his reasons from the beginning of the creation of man and woman and pointed out that Adam was created first, and because of the needs of Adam, God created Eve to be his help meet. Therefore, responsibility of dominion of earth and all the spiritual activities of the earth squarely falls on the shoulder of man and not the woman.
Secondly, Adam was given the law not to eat from the tree of know of good and evil and not Eve. However, Eve was not ignorant of this law, perhaps through her husband, but she still set aside the law of God and followed a strange voice and became deceived. Paul emphasized here that, “Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived.” The question is, “Who made Adam fall into sin?” Obviously, it was the persuasive power of Eve his wife that made him fall into sin. Paul was pointing out two key phrases here, susceptible to deceit and persuasive power about women. The weakness of women is susceptibility to deceit and the strength of women is persuasive power. If women are allowed to freely teach the word of God, because of their vulnerability to deceit, there is tendency for them to unwittingly incorporate fallacies and heresies in their dissemination of the word of God as the way they perceived life around them, by not correctly instruct people in the wisdom of God and not strictly adhering to the standard of the doctrine. That was the reason why Paul, the inspired apostles of Jesus Christ, insisted that women should learn under the auspices of man in order to suppress their weakness which could be injurious to the church and at the same time harnessed their positive persuasive power to foster growth and unity in the church. As they operated under the righteous guidance of men, their weakness turned around to become a dynamic source of power. Their natural tendencies of believing others made them believed in the divine source of wisdom, and turned them around to become faithful women. That is why we have larger percentage of women in the church today than men.
On the other hand, when the culture of the Middle-East countries as a whole is taking into consideration, civilization had not changed what was predominant in the subjective culture of women that had been in existence in the region over 2000 years ago.Digging deep into the positive reasons of the controversial but inspired thought of Paul, if women had began teaching since the beginning of the church age, what happened in Corinth when some said, “I belong to Peter, and some said I belong to Paul or to Apollos” (I Corinthians 1:10-13) would have happened long ago between men and women. Perhaps women would be going to women churches and men to men churches especially for the chastity and purity purposes, and the people with perverted sexual orientation in our society will also be going to a single sex church) as against the expected unity of brethren that the church represented.
Notwithstanding, the Christian women still have powerful offices in the church. Although, they may not be leading extensively in the spiritual offices of the church, their activities are still remarkable. They are not limited to homemaking activities alone in their matrimonial homes, they are the moral role model for their children, and they are co-spiritual leaders of their family. Each unit of Christian family is a church of Jesus Christ. When each of the Christian families in the church are well groomed through the help of their mothers, the Pastors and other church leaders will not have much to do in molding and shaping these children in the Church of Jesus Christ.
Women are powerful instrument of change. Satan recognized this secret in them and used the persuasive power of women against the destruction of humanity. God used the same precious resources of change in women, through Mary, to bring salvation to mankind. Far from the narrow thought that women are not to be heard in the church, wherever woman displayed an exceptional wisdom of God, they attained spiritual leadership. Deborah became a Prophetess and a Judge in Israel the office that had been predominantly occupied by men. (Judges 4:4) Queen Esther became spiritual leader among the Israelites in captivity; she directed the spiritual procedure that led to the salvation of the Jews. (Esther 4:16) Anna the daughter of Phanuel was a prophetess and the first preacher of Old Testament in the transitional period of New Testament among the Jews. (Luke 2:36-38) The wealth of understanding of women in the word of God can still be shared in so many Christian gatherings, like Women Christian conventions, women prayer meetings, Marriage counseling, children Sunday School and lastly in the supportive ministry of their spouses, because behind every successful man of God, there is a faithful woman working behind the curtain.
PURPOSES OF THE OFFICES
His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), that they should do the work of ministering toward building up Christ’s body (the church), [that it mighty develop] until we all attain oneness in the faith of the Son of God; that [we might arrive] at really mature manhood – the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ’s own perfection – the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ, and the completeness found in Him. (Ephesians 4:12-13 AMP)
The main purpose of the offices in the church is for the edification of brethren. The meaning of the word ‘edification’ includes — teaching, learning, instruction and culture. Among other things, if edification is about teaching, learning and instructing, it means the spiritual teachers are existing in the church because of the needs of the spiritual students, so that as the leaders are teaching and instructing, the brethren will be learning about the wisdom of God. The ultimate purpose is that the understanding of the word of God may equip each brethren in spiritual wisdom that none will be operating in ignorance. As we all know, knowledge is power. The knowledge in the wisdom of God will bring forth development that will in turn lead to the culture of righteousness among the children of God. This will in turn bring the brethren to the state of maturity that is revealed in the fullness of Christ.
We are all raw materials in the hand of God with catalogues of unbelievable spiritual potentials. We have to be cleansed and shaped in the wisdom of the word of God in order to become the exceptional final product of righteousness that God intended for each of us. The level of our responses to the instruction of wisdom of God in the school of Holy Spirit will determine our growth and maturity in the Lord. That is why self must be emptied in the presence of God so that the Spirit of God may fill the empty vacuum of our heart. Now that you understand the purpose of the offices in the church, you will not be surprise why the leaders are always under the attack of enemy, and I believe you will not need any admonition to pray for the spiritual leaders so that they will not fall. The target of enemy is that the leaders may fall so that the brethren will not be able to attain the fullness of Christ.
QUALIFICATION OF A LEADER IN THE CHURCH
Timothy 3:1-7; 3:8-12
Spiritual profile of the leader
Able to teach–verse 2
He must not be a recent convert (novice) v 6
Personal profile of the leader
Self control–verse 2
Good behavior–verse 2
Given to hospitality – generous–verse 2
Not a drunkard–verse 3
Not a violent person but a gentle individual–verse 3
Not a quarrelsome person–verse 3
Not a lover of money–verse 3
Marital/family profile of the leader
Husband of one wife–verse 2
He must have managed his own family well–verse 4
His children must be obedient and respectful–verse 4
Image-making profile of the leader
He must also have a good reputation with outsiders–verse 7
There are four categories of the qualifications that a spiritual leader in the church must meet before they can rightly fit into the pivot position of leadership in the church. Their spiritual profile must be excellent, the personal profile impeccable, marital/family profile a brilliant example in the church and their image-making profile should be bacon in the society. It is the sum total of all these profile that determines the honor of a leader.
Education may help the leader and point him to the standards in the scripture but it is the Spirit of God that can set the required standard for a leader and impact spiritual wisdom and understanding in him to the flock of the Lord and be able to perfectly fit in to the standard of God in the Lord’s vineyard.
The essence of spiritual qualification of a leader before their appointment is to determine that the appointed leaders will live up to the expectation of honor that God expected of the leaders in the church and that they will not bring reproaches to the name of God. Again, it is also a yardstick to measure how well the leaders will perform in the Lord, because, it is out of the abundance of their inherent attributes they will be able to render their services in the church. If any part of the profiles is lacking, no doubt there will be a resultant effect in the leadership in the church. It would be sad if somebody from outside a certain congregation says, “If Mr. Doremi Fasolatido is the pastor of your church, I will rather go to hell fire than to be a member of your church.” That type of statement connoted that Mr. D. F. is having an image-making problem. The spiritual leaders in the church are the public relation officers of the church and their characters would, if it is positive, depict the attributes of God and sound doctrine they imparted unto the congregation as a whole. But if they possess negative attribute, it will bring reproaches unto the name of God and a shame to the congregation as a whole.
HOW THE LEADERS ARE CHOSEN OR APPOINTED
Leaders should be appointed in the church if their services are required in the church to feed the lambs of the Lord. Apart from the directive of Holy Spirit guidance in choosing the leaders, the revealing proven ability that is evident in the spiritual gifts of the leader-to-be, among others qualities, should guide the church in their nomination. Leaders must be appointed strictly in line with the lay down qualification of the spiritual leaders in the scripture. Although he may not be fully qualified for the leadership position due to inherent imperfection of man; but if the lacking qualifications are not the primary prerequisites of spiritual and image-making profile and that there is a strong indication that along the line in his office, the leader will be able to improve upon his personal characters to overcome the lacking personal profile, therefore, the brother may be considered for the position if no one qualified more than him in the church. A spiritually endowed single brother who had not married can become a leader and a promising spiritually endowed brother who had married and have little kids that could attain spiritual leadership in the church.
Honoring undeserving people with spiritual titles in the church simply because of their position in the society or financial contribution as against the spiritual merit principles of chosen leaders in the church is not righteous. Honoring people with undeserved title is not the right way of expressing the church appreciativeness. Everything lay bare before Almighty God this include every good works of these beloved brethren in the Church. God is not a consumer; rather, He is a multiplier of blessing. Every good deed of a child of God is a spiritual investment and stays in the memorial altar before God which will surely be rewarded at the appointed time of God. Therefore, the beloved brethren in this category that are aspiring for spiritual titles in the church should go a step further, by equipping themselves with the knowledge of the word of God to the extent of sharing it with brethren in the church or in their community for the purpose of admonition, correction and reproof. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (II Timothy 2:15)
Tying down person with spiritual title in the church to retain his membership is a selfish method of man to choose a spiritual leader. Collusion in the church to edge out a righteous person from becoming a spiritual leader in the church due to his previous controversial but righteous stand over an issue in the church earlier is not only unrighteous it is also sinful. Having one glaring calling but abandon it and being unduly craving greedily upon another calling is not right. It is Almighty God alone that elevate. Any one in this situation should be patient and wait for divine indication that the Spirit of God will reveal.
NATURE OF SERVICE OF A LEADER IN THE CHURCH
The nature of the service of a leader in the church of Jesus Christ is of servant. Every office in the Church is to bring out the spirit of servant in each of the leaders for the demonstration of love of Jesus Christ as an example unto all. (John 13:3-17) Any service of the leaders that made him to be a “lord” instead of a shepherd over the Lord’s flock is not of God. The leaders in the church must not only meet the spiritual needs of the brethren but also go a step further to see to their welfare. The essence of duty of the leaders in the church of Jesus Christ is service. The leaders, like every Christians are saved to serve. When one of the lambs is down, it is the duty of the shepherd to lift it up to determine what is wrong with the sheep and apply necessary care. The leaders must apply every care within their power and ability, in terms of encouragement, in terms of advice, in terms of lifting up their spirit and assure the flock with the wealth of the knowledge of truth that they have possessed that God is in control in the day of their despair, in terms of making the connections they have to the outside world available to the advantage of the flock that God had made them a shepherd so that their life positive dreams will becomes a reality. Above all the leaders should realize that whatever may be their input in the church, they are serving the flock in the vineyard of God.
ATTITUDES OF THE CHURCH TOWARDS THE LEADERS
The church should endeavor by scriptural directive to honor their spiritual leaders. There are two type of honor that can be given to the leaders in the church. The first is the honor that relates to their office and secondly, their personal honor as a result of anointing of God upon them. Please note that honoring leaders is not equal to worshiping them. You can honor your spiritual leaders by working cooperatively with them and follow their instructions. When they stand before you as an oracle of God sharing the wisdom of God and praying, honor God Almighty in their lives that had made him His mouth piece among you, and do according to their inspirational admonition. “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.” (I Timothy 5:17) This is an honor that relates to their office.
The protective honor of the servant of God is expressly stated, “Do not touch my anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm.” (I Chronicle 16:22) These are the servants that stay and operate in the anointing upon them and those that identified themselves in righteousness with God. Anyone that messed up with anointed of God will not go scot-free. “But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him; for who can stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless?” (I Samuel 26:9)
Steps of bringing a case against and discipline of a leader in the church
Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear. (I Timothy 5:19-20) No one should jump into conclusion and blame leaders concerning any accusation about them. “Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people’s sins; keep yourself pure.” (I Timothy 5:22) Any serious accusation against a leader must be carefully investigated and confirmed with at least two or three witnesses. “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:15-17) When the facts are confirmed and the accusation is true, it does not give anybody any right whatsoever, to tongue-lash the leader. The ultimate aim of establishing the truth is not to destroy the erring leader but rather to restore him. The steps of restoration are stated in the bible passage above. First of all approach him with his error and give him an opportunity to repent and seek for peace. But if the leader bluffs, approach him with two witnesses so that they may witness his reactions. If they were able to resolve the matter, to God be the glory but if they failed, bring the matter to the presence of the whole congregation. If the elders in the congregation can resolve the issue and restore peace within, fine; but if not, the erring person or leader should be treated like pagan. Please note, in the process of restoration of the erring one, no issue in the church should be swept under the carpet because unresolved conflict in the church fester until it ultimately becomes a chaotic explosion of grievances.
CHALLENGE TO ALL
Which type of leader are you, right now, in the church? Leadership in the church is not a political office that requires campaigning and of course, your manifesto if you can pinpoint any at all, is not in any way different from the path that Jesus Christ our example and his apostles have trodden. Your services in the church transcend your earthly imaginations because every step you take in the services of the church are under the spiritual scrutiny of the host of heaven which must be measure by the yardstick of holiness and righteousness. And by implication of the nature of selfless services in the church, you are indirectly saying, “If Jesus Christ can go an extra mile to the Cross of Calvary for my salvation, it means I am not at all close to the standard of His sacrifice.” If he had washed the feet of the disciples as an example of His humility in service, it means, at least I have feet to wash with my humble spirit and attitudes in the vineyard of God in order to be an example of loving kindness of Jesus Christ. When you are stepping into leadership position in the church, ask your self a soul searching question, “What type of leader do I want to become?” Whatever seed you are planting in the life of others in terms of your services will germinate and bear fruit. Which fruit do you expect the future generation to reap as a result of your services in the vine yard of the Lord? What legacy of excellence in the service of the Lord are you leaving behind? If the twelve apostles that started the Christian journey handled their calling lackadaisically, salvation would not have reached our own part of the world. The type of seed you sow into the life of others will determine your crown, and that is if your service deserve any. That is why your services must be honest, honorable and holy for the glory of God. May the Lord help us all, in Jesus name, Amen.