Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Closing Paul on Leadership

No fixed pattern of leadership seems to have been imposed on the Pauline churches. The policy of Paul and the churches he corresponded with seems to have been to wait until qualities of leadership emerged in certain members of a congregation and then to urge the others to acknowledge and respect those as leaders. One of the most obvious qualities of leadership was a readiness to serve the church and care for its needs. Some men and women were in an especially suitable position to care for the church, those who had the resources to provide a place to meet and the social standing to represent the congregation. That is not to say that wealth and position alone qualified an individual for leadership. Certain members of this class, gifted and called by the Holy Spirit, appointed themselves to use their position for the advantage of the church.

Ernst von Dobsch├╝tz identified ten ways in which provision was made for the church by those capable of making it. They were:
providing a meeting place, overseeing the worship service, leading in prayer, scripture reading and song, aiding itinerant missionaries, supporting the poor, providing bail, representing church members who had to appear in court on charges arising out of their faith and traveling on the church’s behalf.
F. F. Bruce feels that as the procedure became increasingly regularized, these services became the responsibility of the later office of the bishop but were originally undertaken voluntarily. There is no need, however, to suppose that it took years before a bishop would assume these duties. Those who had the position and money in the early churches could at an early date provide these services to the church and in Rome, Paul calls that person ho proistamenos (Romans 12:8).

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