Vision Leadership

Vision Leadership Theology provides a framework for the direction of everything from large churches and ministries to the single Christian.

1) Prov 29:18

There are two possible readings of this verse:

Where there is no vision the people perish
Where there is no vision the people are unrestrained.

I prefer the second reading. The role of vision in this verse is to define the context of the activity of the people of God. It defines what they are to do, what they are not to do and who they are to be.The role of vision is both positive and negative - it tells people what to do and what not to do. It defines direction by defining that framework. The verse doesn't define the source of the vision explicitly but implicitly the vision comes from God.

2) Mt 28:18-20 - The Great Commission

The term breadth in this context indicates that the vision impacts many people i.e. little breadth is few people, great breadth is many people. The term depth indicates how greatly individual people were affected i.e. to what extent were the people aligned with the vision after it was stated - a little indicates little depth, life change to the extent of martyrdom to achieve it is great depth.

The terms calling, vision, commission, ordination/ordained, mission and ministry are all to a greater or lesser extent related and can be interchanged on occasion depending on the context and the specific nuances that are being stressed. They all talk about how God is stating a plan or direction, handing the plan to the people and them running with it.

Vision take up is always patchy. Those who best take up the vision become leaders by definition because they get excited and begin pushing or even just acting as though the vision is the defining direction. Others don't take up the vision.

Jesus made the statement reflected in the commission. Being the vision leader par extraordinaire, the vision gained both depth and breadth and still does today. As soon as the vision leader speaks the vision, they lose control of it. Hopefully it gets internalized by the hearers according to their imperatives and understanding and thus changed in many subtle ways. It then becomes their vision and is equally valid. I believe that this passage is a statement of what the New Testament church believed their calling to be as they journeyed the original words in God. I don't believe that the pretty poetry came from Jesus' mouth all of which in no way invalidates the passage.

3) 2Chr 30:1-11 - Reinstatement of Temple Worship under Hezekiah

Hezekiah puts forth the visionary call to return to the temple worship at passover. How effective was this vision leadership? According to the text it was markably effective in that any of the members of the nation of Israel heard and acted.

The vision gained depth in that it caused some of the members of the northern kingdom to drop everything and come. There were significant barriers to people coming. Would you drop everything at short notice to travel to another country to attend worship?

In addition to the difficulty of actually travelling, there were barriers to the vision itself. There were long standing cultural and religious differences between the two nations in addition to patriotic differences. The equivalent would be for the Israelis to call the Palestinians in to celebrate passover today.

And yet some Israelites came. They must have seen something of God in the visionary call they they wanted. It is clear from Vs 18 that they really didn't understand the full depth of what was being said. They saw it, it was wonderful, they responded and the details would sort themselves out.

4) 1Chr 28:2-6,11-18,29:1-9 - David's Preparation to Build the Temple

This vision leadership was extremely effective. 29:7ff shows a huge response to the vision of building the temple. The vision gained both Depth and Breadth. Breadth as all the leaders were involved down to the leaders of hundreds, and depth as people gave beyond reason. As a result of the stated vision of building "God's House", there was provision made sufficient for Solomon to build the temple.

5) Joshua 1 (cf Num 13:25ff, Ex 23:20-26 also) - Advance into the Promised Land

All legitimate christian vision arises from God. In this passage, God speaks directly to Joshua, commisioning him to lead the Children of  Israel.

Vision has a tendency to develop and gain texture over time. This statement to Joshua is not the first time this vision has been stated, however it is more developed than previously. You can trace the development of this visionary understanding from the time of Abraham onwards. The very first statement to Abraham (Gen 12:1ff) included the understanding that the house of Abraham would dwell and own this land.

The barriers to vision would have been in terms of fear and uncertainty. Fear of the nations and stepping into their territory. fear of actually beginning to achieve this thing they had lived with for many years, and fear of failure. Over against that fear was the long history in the wilderness of seeing God at work and experiencing both blessing and judgement. The response was an orderly advance into the land ( Josh 3).

Due to the long preparation, the vision gained great depth. Unlike 40 years previously, they were now prepared to achieve the vision. The vision also gained breadth. It spread to the edges of the culture group that was the Israelite people. Because of the ghetto factor, the vision found fertile ground in that group.

6) Acts 13:1-5 - Commisioning of Paul (Saul) and Barnabas

One of the fascinating things about this passage is the context. Usually the making of ministers is by a church organisation. Here we find a very small group of christians - say a home group in our terms - commissioning a couple of ministers. The legitimisation of that action was because the Holy Spirit directed them. In that position, I would expect Paul and Barnabas' response to be "Who me?".

Both men instead left on a life that was guaranteed to be hard, dangerous and often unrewarding (consider the sentiments in the Epistle to the Galatians). And yet both men left pretty well immediately to carry out the vision. This indicates good depth. The breadth of the vision take up was largely in that group. Some of the concerns that Paul later related and caused him to check back with the Jerusalem church  (Gal 2:1,2) could well indicate a lack of breadth beyond that small group..

Paul and Barnabas' initial ministry was in the Synagogues of the Diaspora. They travelled through various towns and initially they preached to the Jews (13:5). This could indicate that the initial vision was one to the Jews rather than the Gentiles. Soon they found that their ministry and thus the vision was more to the Jewish proselytes and the Gentiles.

7) Acts 6:1-6 then Acts 6:8, 8:5,6 - The appointing of the Seven

This passage is very important for an understanding of vision leadership. The vision here is about the continued ministry of teaching and prayer and thus the life of the church. The seven were chosen to enable that vision i.e. they were there to release the apostles to fulfill the vision and calling of the ministry of word and prayer. Rather than having a relatively minor role in a support ministry, the seven themselves become key in achieving the vision. Their activity was also very different to the Apostles initial understanding of the vision and their activity. This shows some of the dilemmas of vision leadership: once spoken the vision becomes the property of the hearers and is changed subtly by their personal imperatives. In addition the control of the ministry resulting from the vision is controlled by the vision and not the initial vision leader. It can result in outcomes that are very different from the outcomes expected by the initial vision leader. Only Stephen and Philip rate another mention, the other five are only mentioned in this passage. Does this demonstrate some of the issue of depth and breadth?


1) Vision should come from God

2) Vision should be lived with, restated, internalised, applied until we get it.

3) As soon as a vision is stated, the vision leader loses control of the vision as others take ownership of the vision.

4) Vision defines:

  • Who we are
  • What we are to do
  • How we are to do it

5) Vision develops, gains texture and changes over time.

6) Successful vision leadership will result in Depth and Breadth of vision takeup.

Leadership of the Spirit

Liberal mission theology talks about the church or Christians taking part in the mission of God. They shift the common emphasis of the ministry or mission of the church to an emphasis on the activity of God and the role of the church is subordinate and almost an add-on to the activity of God. The role of the christian or church in this model is to figure out what God is doing and then join in. This is an important re-discovery for the church. However there is then a tendency to fail to re-ground this model into the concept that the mission of God is about the extension of the kingdom and making disciples.

With these two emphasis: taking part in the mission of God and that the mission is about extending the kingdom, we have a very different model of church governance and leadership. I feel, in my reading of Acts, that this is very close to the understanding that Luke presents as the driving force for the expansion of the church.

1) Acts 2:1-4, 14,41

· What was the ministry of the disciples like before and after Pentecost: hidden, mouse like, courageous, lion like?

· What was planned?

· Whose ministry or mission got the success?

2) Acts 3:1-10, 11-12

· Who orchestrated this event?

· What was planned?

· Whose ministry or mission got the success?

3) Acts 4:23-31

· Who empowered and motivated the disciples?

4) Acts 5:17-25

· Who planned this episode?

· What was planned?

· Whose ministry or mission got the success?

5) Acts 8:4-8

· Who planned this missionary trip?

· What preparation was made?

· Whose ministry or mission got the success?

6) Acts 8:26-40

· Who was planning Philip's itinerary?

· What preparation was made?

· Whose ministry or mission got the success?

Legend has it that the Ethiopian went on to found the Ethiopian church. That kind of flow on from ministry can only be planned by one person.

7) Acts 10:1-6, 9-16,24,28-29,44-48

· Who planned this missionary trip?

· What preparation was made?

· Would it have happened if the Holy Spirit hadn't intervened?

· Whose ministry or mission got the success?

8) Acts 13:1-4

· Who planned this missionary trip?

· What preparation was made?

· Whose ministry or mission got the success?

· What was the result of commissioning Paul?

I could add more. It seems like the people of the early church could achieve more simply walking down the street than we can with a full-blown missionary program. I find this teaching confronting. I am convicted to spend more time in prayer and less time in organizing.

Governance Models for the Covenant Community

It is sometimes easy to think that the way we do things in our church is the only way and that our way is the God given way from the bible. Looking the period from Adam and Eve to the 2nd century AD, I can count at least 10 different governance models for the covenant community.

1) Adam and Eve - Gen 1:26-31, Gen 2:15-17, 3:8-9

This model of governance is something that the covenant community has aspired to since the fall. Here there is direct interaction between God and the people and a closeness of relationship. The people rule under God in harmony by delegation from God. God regularly visits with them and walks with them.

2) Patriarchs - Gen 11:31, 14:13-16, Gen 22:1-14

The patriarchs controlled everything within their, often extensive, family grouping. The extended family unit was a survival characteristic at the time. Extensive wealth and the ability to protect that wealth required a fairly large group of people working together. The group was a self-contained culture and the norms of the group were developed within the family.

3) Elders/Foremen - Ex 4:29-31, 5:15,16

The two key aims of this governance were to survive the impositions of the Egyptians who held the power of life and death over the children of Israel and to maintain their culture within that context. Their governance model evolved from the patriarchal model to meet the requirements of the new context.

4) Crisis/War Leaders -

The role of Moses and Joshua were unique and extended well beyond crisis/war leader, however I am struggling to find a better term in this context.

Moses (Ex 14:13-14, 15:22, 25-26, 18:13, 32:19-28):


How would you describe Moses' leadership?

· What are the things that required this form of leadership/governance?

· Were there still elders? (cf Num 11:16,24)

I get the feeling that in this interim period, Moses replaced the Egyptians in the dynamics of leadership and governance.

Joshua (Jos 1:10-15, 6:6,7, 7:16-19):


How would you describe Joshua's leadership?

· What are the things that required this form of leadership/governance?

· Were there still elders? (cf Jos 8:10)

Under God, Joshua and Moses, led a rabble into the place where God wanted them. The role of the elders is very passive at this time. For the people to achieve what God wanted they needed firm and dictatorial leadership. Things working against that leadership were the apathy of the people, the many peoples fighting them, the conditions of wilderness and the lack of real relationship with their God.

5) Judge, priest and prophet -Jud 4:4-10, 1Sam 7:15-8:5

This was supposed to be theocracy in action rather anarchy prevailed - Jud 19ff. The authority of the Judges was a hit or miss affair. If they were well respected, as in Samuel's case and no doubt Deborah after the defeat of the Canaanites, then they had broad sway. There was a strong element of charismatic leadership or referent power. However their day to day leadership was very much limited to the act of judging cases. They certainly became the hub of crisis management in Israel but their influence outside a crisis was limited. The other two offices that had a role were that of prophet and priest. 1Sam 3:1 shows a general lack of the prophetic: "And word from the Lord was rare in those days, visions were infrequent". For an appreciation of the failure of the priests consider Eli's sons in 1Sam 2:12ff or the story of Micah (Jud 17). The most successful all round judge was Samuel who combined all three roles and did all three roles to a high standard. The governance of his time only failed with the appointment of his sons.

6) King, priest and prophet - 2Sam 12:1-15, 2K 11:1-21

Under David, Israel achieved the largest kingdom in their history. He dealt with the Philistines and the remainder of the traditional enemies of Israel. Partly this was because both Egypt and the Hittite empires were in decline but also because he brought strong central government that tended to focus Israel's attention on the important things. In his reign we saw the beginning of literacy that resulted in the written bible and the preparation for the building of the Temple which was the center of Israelite religion until 70AD. Other kings were not so successful. A bad king meant Israel fell away from God.

The prophet and priest tended to balance and safeguard the throne among other things. It is important to realize in the 2Sam 12 passage,  that Nathan was the court prophet and employed by David. He risked somewhere between his job and his head.

There is some resilience in this model in that if one part fails then the others can pick up the pieces. However if all fail then there is nothing to redeem them. During the history of Israel all three regularly failed.

7) Persian Hierarchy - Ezra 9:1-4, 10:1-6, Neh 2:17-3:, 5:14-19

In this model, all secular government is controlled by the Persian Satraps. We still have priests but they have mixed effect between negative (Neh 13:4-11) and very positive in the case of Ezra. There are also prophets fairly active during the period: Haggai, Zechariah.

The main movers and shakers are Jewish officials of the Persian court: Nehemiah and Ezra the priest. The basis of the leadership of these two seems to have a large amount of leadership by example. They both have very high moral standards.

8) High Priest and Sanhedrin

Things stayed pretty much the same for a while. The Persian Empire was replaced firstly by the rule of Alexander the Great and then the Seleucids and the Ptolemies on his death. Under these, especially the Seleucids, there was a positive discrimination for Greek culture. This resulted in the originally orthodox Macabaean revolt. The corruption over time of the Macabees led to a governance model of King, High Priest and Sanhedrin (Saducees only) and the beginning of the Pharisaical movement in reaction to their corruption. The Pharisees were eventually included in the Sanhedrin as a way of appeasing Orthodox Judaism and Rome replaced the Seleucids and Ptolemies.

9) Apostolic - Acts 5:1-12, Acts 6:1-6

I have to be very careful in using this term - it means many different things to many different people. It seems very clear to me that as Apostles, the Apostles governed the church for a very short period of time during the initial establishment phase. This is true of the 12 - by the time of the council of Jerusalem there are a large number called Elders - and James the brother of Jesus is leading - and Paul who appointed elders over all his churches. Rather than concentrating on governance, the Apostles appear to be concentrating on being Apostles. They are thus influencing by operating in the central core of their ministries - keeping the tradition, modeling, preaching etc.

10) Elders -  Acts 15:6-14, 19-22, 20:17,28-38

The Elders were appointed by the Apostles to govern the churches that they formed in their ministries. My feeling is that for each church there was a small number of elders - say 1 or 2 - and they exercised the role we normally associate with the terms "minister" or "pastor".

It was James who drove the first council of Jerusalem and Peter influenced the direction by the respect that others had for him. The council decided by consensus. The "council" became a central way the church decided things until at least the reformation. The elders were responsible for the safety and continuity of the churches. They were on equal footing at this stage with Paul.

11) Monarchical Bishops

We can trace the importance of the elders throughout the first century AD. However early in the second century we find a different model of governance that of the monarchical bishop. These men ruled and controlled the churches in each town. There is no evidence extant to show how the elders transformed into the bishop.

The aim of this page was to show the variety of different ways the covenant community was governed. To a certain extent the governance of the church, in my mind, is pragmatic. The structures are not hallowed however the attitudes and ways of leadership are. If a church structure doesn't enable the extension of the kingdom of God then it should be removed. However the character and maturity of the leader and the way they should lead are not optional.

Case Study

The following Case Study was developed to tie together a number of concepts on the development of leaders for a course that I developed.



1) Mt 4:18-20

· How would you describe Peter: ordinary, exceptional, brainy, rich, poor....

The fishermen of Galilee have been described as anything from lower working class to upper middle class in terms of wealth and stature in the community. Certainly in the way of brains and insight, Peter could not be described as exceptional - he continually makes serious mistakes. What is clear is that his heart attitude and his willingness to work out of that attitude made him exceptional and at the end of this process leave him as the head of the church.

2) Mt 14:22-33

· What was the challenge of this verse?

· Who got out of the boat?

· Who stayed in the boat?

· Who was rebuked for lack of faith?

· Why?

Peter seems to get a bum rap here. Jesus responds to Peter in the context of Peter and not the context of the other disciples. Peter is well out in front of the other disciples but he could have done better and both Jesus and Peter knew this. This was a change point - Jesus' expression of their shared disappointment is aimed to help Peter move on and grow.

3) Mt 16:13-23

· Who had the clearest understanding of who Jesus was?

· How significant/marvelous etc is this understanding?

· How much risk was Peter taking in expressing that Jesus was the Christ?

· How much risk was Peter taking in saying Jesus wouldn't suffer?

· Was he right?

· How clear was his understanding at this point?

· How could he go from blessed to being the incarnation of Satan in 10 verses?

Peter is not yet mature and he has made a simple mistake but with huge consequences. He has seen and understood a little but has yet to get to the point where he understands and has the maturity to operate in all circumstances.

4) Mt 17:1-6

There is a lot of evidence for 4 levels of intimacy between Jesus and his disciples: at the outer edge are the huge crowds that followed him, then the general disciples such as the 70 sent out to minister, then the 12 and finally the three - Peter, James and John.

· Why do you think that Peter has moved from the general disciples, to the 12 (Mt 10) to one of the three?

· What are the important attitudes and insights you have seen so far?

· How well did Peter understand what was happening?

· How serious was his input - did it cause problems? Did it improve things?

5) Mt 26:36-45

· Why did Jesus choose the three to accompany him?

· How mature was Peter's response?

· Did Peter not understand what Jesus was going through or did he just not care?

· What does the answer to the previous say about Peter?

6) Mt 26:33,34;69-75

· How would you rate Peter's actions?

· What would you do in his place?

7) Jn 21:15-19

· What was happening here?

· Why did Jesus repeat himself?

Underneath this passage is a pretty play on words in the greek moving from Agape to Phileo as the word for love. Many exegetes have suggested that this was Jesus asking Peter to love him as God loved him, while Peter only promised to love Jesus as a brother. Finally on the last time, Jesus also uses Phileo i.e. love like a brother. An alternative reading is the link in the number three between the questions here and the number of times Peter denied knowing Jesus.

Release and Ministry:

1) Acts 2:14

· What happened before this?

· Why is Peter now able to stand and lead with authority now?

Peter has been on a long journey of formation. Sometime between the resurrection and Pentecost he has become a "finished" minister - ie someone ready to take up their ministry in the fullest sense. Anointing theology and pneumatology would suggest that a key part of this was the coming  of the Holy Spirit or anointing that Peter received at Pentecost. While Pentecost had a large part I would also like to stress the journey Peter had been on since being called by Jesus from his nets.

2) Acts 2:37-41

· How like the old Peter seen in the formation section is this Peter?

· What aspects of leadership do you see?

· What aspects of character do you see?

3) Acts 4:7-13

· How like the old Peter seen in the formation section is this Peter?

· What aspects of leadership do you see?

· What aspects of character do you see?

· Who were in the position of authority?

4) Acts 5:1-10

· What type of leadership is Peter using here?

· What power bases is he working from?

· Why? How is it appropriate?

Peter is operating out of legitimate power. His leadership is very hierarchical. The context though is dealing with an immature church and immature Christians.

5) Acts 8:14-24

· How like the old Peter seen in the formation section is this Peter?

· What type of leadership is Peter using here?

· What power bases is he working from?

· Why? How is it appropriate?

6) Acts 10:9-14,17-20, 44-48

· What aspects of leadership do you see?

· What aspects of character do you see?

· Were there others in the story demonstrating leadership?

· What is Peter's position?

As much as anyone, Peter is operating as the head of the church at this time.

7) Acts 11:1-5,11-18

· What aspects of leadership do you see?

· What aspects of character do you see?

· Were there others in the story demonstrating leadership?

· What is Peter's position?

· Why did he have to report back?

· Who was he accountable to?

Every leader is accountable to others in a variety of ways. In this story Peter demonstrates that he is accountable to the general church despite being the head of that church.

8) Acts 15:6-14, 19-22

· What aspects of leadership do you see?

· What aspects of character do you see?

· Were there others in the story demonstrating leadership?

· What is Peter's position?

9) Gal 2:11-14

· What aspects of leadership do you see or fail to see?

· What aspects of character do you see or fail to see?

· Were there others in the story demonstrating leadership?

· What did he get wrong?

I find this story very comforting. If a leader of Peter's caliber and stature can stuff up this badly then there is definitely hope for me.

From Gift Ministry to Church Structure

NationsHeart's Spring Conference - August 1999


1) Axioms of gift and mission Theology:


  1. Every Christian has one or more gifts.
  2. Every Christian is called to exercise their gifts in the mission of God.
  3. The Ministry of every christian is required in the ministry and mission of the church
  4. Every gifting is equally important in the life of the church
  5. Gifts and ministry labels identified in the New Testament are not exhaustive. Other gifts and other ministries are equally possible.
  6. The Church exists only to achieve the vision and mission that God has given her.

2) Gifts in the New Testament: The New Testament lists a number of gifts throughout. They are in the terms: this "gift" minister did this or that. Most common are probably the Apostles and the Prophets. The Apostles clearly because of the high regard and the ground taking nature of the gifting. Apart from these references there are four lists:

  1. Romans 12 which is in the context of how we are to minister. In other words the burden of the passage is the spirit in which gifts are exercised.
  2. 1Cor 12:1ff which is the beginning of a long (3 chapters or 20% of the book) discussion on gift ministry. These gifts are clearly different in tone and quality to other giftings in other lists. In my theology I refer to them as the power gifts simply indicating that they are more difficult to fake than the others. They are offered in the context of body ministry.
  3. 1Cor 12:28ff which describes ministries in the church in the context of body ministry. This is the only list which specifies a hierarchy of gifts. Considering the Sitz and the context, care should be taken before pushing this hierarchy too far.
  4. Eph 4:11,12 This list is a list of ministries in terms of what Christ has given to the church for correct operation of the church.

3) The Hierarchy of Gifts I stated above that only one of the four gift lists has a hierarchy. 1Cor 12:28 reads: And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. It is important to read this verse in the context and consider the Sitz im Lieben. The Sitz or life setting of the passage is a church that is ruled by the spectacular. Specifically those with the gift of tongues were held in the highest regard. This is in direct contrast to the qualities for leadership outlined in 1Timothy. In the context Paul goes to great pains to emphasize two things. Firstly he emphasizes that despite the spectacular nature of tongues, in the broader strategic sense it doesn't achieve much (1Cor 14:5). Secondly he emphasizes the equality of giftings in the body. Paul writes in 1Cor 12:13: For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. (see also vss 14-27) Once we place 1Cor 12:28 into this context and this Sitz the meaning becomes different to what it may appear at first reading. Paul is not describing a hierarchy within the church rather he is describing a hierarchy of usefulness to the strategic mission of the church. He is specifically countering the navel gazing attitude in the Corinthian's exaltation of tongues with the list of the most outlooking giftings and telling them to move on and seek the more outlooking gifts (1Cor 12:29 - 31a): All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? But earnestly desire the greater gifts.

4) The problem of Measuring Gifts The last line of this quotation brings us to the next question: are the giftings static? Continuously through chapters 12 to 14, Paul encourages the reader to seek after and desire the "higher" giftings. This implies one of several things. It could imply that giftings are given by God on a non-permanent basis. In other words the gifting is something that can be given and taken away based on the specific direction of God and prayer of the person. Alternatively it could mean that giftings are something that the christian matures into. In other words as the christian matures, they exercise more gifts. I believe that the key is that they are giftings from the Spirit for the specific calling, ministry and mission of the person. As such both the above are to a certain extent true. The group of gifts that are exhibited by any one christian at any one time are dependent on their calling and the outworking of that calling in their ministry and their part of the mission. Callings tend to be relatively static - although they may not be - and for this reason giftings tend to be static apart from the maturity factor. It is well accepted that spirituality and operation of gifts ie skill in operation of gifts develops in exercise, for example people's sensitivity to the Spirit develops as they listen. This leads to the issue of how to measure the giftings of people. NationsHeart has used two methods: the gift survey (Hush) and secondly the Network process (Bugbee, Cousins and Hybels). Both identify giftings based on a series of questions about the abilities and passion of the person in various gift areas. While I believe in and applaud this approach to releasing people into ministry we must be aware of the problems inherent in this approach.

  1. They can only measure the point at which people are. There is the question of changing calling and changing maturity.
  2. They can only measure giftings that are being exercised or that a person has passion about. I exercise some gifts that I am not passionate about. I have developed passion and I exercise gifts that I didn't have two years ago.
  3. The survey is only as good as the understanding of the person that wrote it. I would be the first to state that any claim to total understanding belongs only to God.
  4. The survey is only as good as the person who interprets it.

These gift identification methods are very good tools in the process of ministry formation. We should continue to use them in this sphere. However we must remember that like all our creations they are flawed in various areas. I would suggest that any gift identification process will suffer from sampling error. It will suffer from snapshot effect - what is true today may not be true tomorrow - and the limitations of the process outlined above.

5) Five Fold Ministries of the Church (Eph 4:11):

Apostle: the apostle is a primary vision leader. They are the keeper of the tradition and a church planter. Their leadership style is a modelling leadership, a ground breaking leadership and a vision achieving leadership. They tend to fill gaps within the church to achieve the vision. While the vision defines direction and shape of the church, their role is vision formulation and expression.

Prophet: primarily the prophet is someone who re-points the church back to God. They are an identifier of issues, a messenger of God. They continually compare the church to the vision and also the standard of the Bible. They are called more than any other office to be independent and to be God's representative.

Pastor: the pastor is the christian healer. They soften the harsh edges of the world, and they support the christian in need.

Teacher: the teacher is an analyst. They are a keeper of the tradition. They apply and analyse the tradition to shape the church and the activities within the church. The teacher is also a keeper of the vision. Whereas the apostle and the Prophet hold the vision from the direction of the spirit, the teacher critiques the vision on the basis of the tradition.

Evangelist: the Evangelist has a heart to win souls for God. They point the church outwards to the needy world. They lay before the church the crying need of the sinner.

6) The fivefold ministries as Vision Leadership. The ministries in Eph 4:11 have traditionally been called the five fold Ministries of the church. It is important to realise there are a number of other Ministries, some defined in New Testament and some unknown, that are equally important. Each to a certain extent holds the vision. Each defines the vision to the Church. They each act in a different ways on the vision and have a different imperative when attempting to achieve the vision. It is the total viewpoint, across the five ministries, that defines the church's viewpoint. Attempting to structure the church, or achieve the vision without the viewpoint of each of the five fold Ministries will result in a church that is less than it should be.

7) Accountability, authority, and issues for leadership: Each of the five fold Ministries has a role in shaping the life of the church. Each is responsible for the out working of the vision based upon the imperative of their ministry. Because there are at least five different viewpoints within the Ministry of the church, the immediate result, at the two extremes is either dominance and a power struggle at one end or non- accountability and error at the other end. In between these two extremes is the place the Church has to find itself. The New Testament model is clear, no leader acted in a vacuum. Local churches were led by a group of one or more leaders accountable to the other christian leaders or churches. They were also accountable to the congregation. This is implicit in the strictures that Paul places on the choosing of leaders and also their discipline. In the Pauline model, Paul acted more as mentor. Paul rarely exerted his authority unless the churches that he mentored had strayed into serious error. Paul himself, as an itinerant apostle, was the closest thing to ministry that wasn't accountable. However he made himself accountable to the Council of Jerusalem . The New Testament model avoids the two problems at either extreme mentioned above, by giving autonomy to each leader while at the same time requiring accountability to the other leaders as a group and ultimately the rest of the Church.The accountability in this context does not mean a critique of activities or tasks but rather a critique of vision, Theology, maturity and righteousness. In practice this largely means a mentorial and supportive role between leaders.

8) Ministry Positions vs The Five fold ministries Paul's description of his process of choosing leaders in 1Timothy 3 is important for the understanding of the distinction between gift ministry and positional leaders in the church. In this passage Paul describes two key ministries in his churches that of Bishop or overseer and that of Deacon. In Chapter 5 he continues to describe a third office that of Widow. From careful reading of Paul's epistles it seems that he had a team of workers such as Timothy, Titus and John Mark who were sent to specific churches to lead at specific times or to deal with specific problems. Paul himself split his time between church planting ie staying in a town or city until a church could stand alone and itinerating around his growing flock of churches. In each of his churches, Paul appointed a leadership structure presumably based on the roles of bishop, deacon and widow. It is clear that the key leadership role was that of overseer or bishop. The other two roles were a caring, charity, practical love role within the church body and externally. It is interesting to note that the qualifications for leadership of the church are not based on giftedness but rather on maturity and upright character. When we examine the Judean church we find a similar structure. The Judean apostles were split between itinerating much as Paul did and ministering at home. The development of a leadership structure begins in Acts 6 with the choosing of the seven. At this point the twelve make very clear their calling. They were to be the keepers of the tradition ie the Gospel rather than administrators of churches. At the time of the first council at Jerusalem (Acts 15) there was a clear distinction between the role of Apostle and the presbuteros or elder. The church is being led not by the pre-eminent Apostle - Peter - but by the relatively unknown James the brother of Jesus who was presumably an elder. By the time of Paul's second visit to Jerusalem in Acts 21, there is no mention of Apostles at all, only the presbuteros or elders.

9) Leadership We come to a key question of this paper: "What is the relationship between leadership of the church and gifting?" It is clear from the cursory reading presented here in the section headed "Ministry Positions vs the five fold ministries" that leadership was not based in any one gifting in either the Jerusalem Church or in Paul's churches. Positional leadership of the churches was based in the roles of the elder and the bishop. These roles in turn were based in the maturity of the christian rather than their gift mix. Further if we identify the seven in Acts 6 as the beginning of the diaconate, then we find that their ministry beyond their commissioned roles can be described in the categories of Eph 4:11 & 12. Stephen, for example, appears to be operating in the gifting of evangelist (Acts 6:8ff) as does Philip (Acts 8:4ff). At the same time as identifying that in the early church there is no discernible relationship between positional leadership and gifting, I identify the generic issue that must be addressed. The issue is that the role of positional leadership in the church in the past 2000 years has ranged from abused, incompetent to highly effective. In our experience it appears that it is not enough to simply identify christian maturity and award the mantle of positional leadership. I would suggest that, despite it not being recorded, the basis of choice of overseers went beyond the lists in 1Timothy. Paul chose those people, who together with basic leadership qualities, demonstrated an understanding of the vision and ability to hold the vision. To support in this, he and his fellow workers regularly visited to cultivate the vision. I would suggest that this cultivation was a two way process between Paul and his itinerant teams and the churches. The qualities of vision leadership identified above are supported by what we know of the Jerusalem church. If we accept the thesis of the extra qualities in the choosing of elders and bishops, then the choice of James the brother of Jesus as the key positional leader becomes more plausible. On conversion, James had the opportunity to reinterpret his intimate knowledge of his brother in the context of the vision of the Jerusalem church. The vision of the Jerusalem church was keeper of the tradition expressed as the Gospel. A vision that had as its clear complement the missionary vision of Paul and others. I have made a clear distinction between positional leadership and gift ministry. Those chosen for positional leadership would be gifted leaders whatever other things were in their gifting. They would hold the vision, but beyond this there is no distinction. So where is the connection to gift ministry? If we return to the Jerusalem church, we can begin to understand. In the development of the Jerusalem church we have seen a slow but sure devolution of positional leadership from the apostles to the elders. In chapter 6 they appointed the 7 to do church administration to allow them to minister in their gifting. In the council of Jerusalem in chapter 15 it becomes even more clear that the only positional leaders are the elders. The question can be answered by closely considering how the Apostles were leading in these two incidents in the Jerusalem church. They were leading by ministering in their gifts. Whether an Apostle is in positional leadership or not, they effectively lead by shaping the vision. An apostle by the exercising of their gifting will be heard, will shape the church and will redirect the church in the way it will go unless the church totally rejects God's vision. Each gifting has a role to play in vision formation. They each critique and add to the vision based on the imperative of their giftings. This is what we see happening in the interplay between Peter and James in Acts 15. This is also, I would suggest, together with the outworking of the giftings, what Paul was getting at in Ephesians 4 when he described these ministries as gifts from Christ to the church. Once we have this understanding, we have the basis of how a council or college based leadership structure would work.

10) The Council or College The concept of a Council of mature leaders gifted in various ways in the Ministries of the church, implies that the leadership of the Church as a whole rests with a large number of people. The clear danger with a council is the number of people that have to agree for the Church to do anything. The role of the vision is to clearly define the direction of the church. The mature leaders, as the council, take the vision and implement it. A key part in this process is the role of the apostle. The apostle is the primary visionary leader within the church. It is the apostle's role to form and shape the vision, to articulate the vision and to cause the mature leaders of the council to internalize the vision. As the members of the council internalize the vision, they critique it, they re- mold it, they re- emphasise it in terms of the imperatives of their own ministry. They then proceed to implement their part of the vision. Having stated this process in this manner, it is easy to get the feeling that this is a one-way process, that it is a single cycle. This is a continuing process where the internalization and re- articulation of the vision by the council members adds further impetus to the vision definition process by the apostle. Equally true, is that while the Apostle is the primary vision leader, any christian can add to the vision of the Church. It is imperative that both the council and indeed the Church is open to the vision coming from someone unexpected.

11) Succession: If all the authority, the vision process and ultimately the Ministry of the Church is to be based within the council, then that council itself has to be accountable for the succession. There has to be a clearly defined process under which people become members of the council. The basis on which someone becomes a member of the council has to be transparent, objective and defensible. The rules have to be clearly articulated and the process formal. The reason for rules have to be clearly articulated is so that any person can look at an appointment to the council and say "yes that person fits those rules". Equally true, the process has to be formal enough so that in the memory of the church, people can say "yes that person went through the process". When I say rules, I mean that the Church should state that members will be released into ministry, which is what the council actually is, when they are mature, when they are trained, when they are responsible. I do not mean the kind of rules that generally surround these kinds of processes. When I say process I mean a preparation for ministry that includes a high profile within the church and at the end formal commissioning. The concept is two fold: firstly the members of the council are mature, trained, finished, ministers, secondly they have been recognised and perhaps even trained by the Church for that role. This is a variation of the master:disciple role that is so familiar from Jesus' ministry and others in the Bible. It is desirable that each person can demonstrate that they have gone through this process in this Church or another.

12) Redefining the term "Elder" It is unclear to me the basis on which the role of elder is defined in many churches. The New Testament uses the term Elder to refer to those ministers who have responsibility for the oversight of a church. This is subtly different to the role of elders on an elders council. When the New Testament says elder they essentially mean the kind of role that we pay ministers to perform. Thus the distinction between Elder and other ministers such as Paul or other apostles is and that they are not connected to a single church in an oversight role.

13) Redefining the term "Minister" In gift theology the term Minister, where it is used, identifies a person exercising a gift. In many churches, the term minister or its co- term pastor, identifies someone who is paid to exercise a strictly defined role. Payment appears to be inextricably linked with authority and position within the church. In the New Testament few, if any, ministers were regularly paid. Paul relied on either gifts from the various churches or on his trade of tent making. The practise of the payment of a stipend was the response to the practical issue of needing to release ministers from the burden of bread winning and allow them to concentrate on their Ministries. There is no link between payment and work on the one hand and payment and authority on the other. The authority is linked to position. It is just as the valid to have a paid position for the senior church leader as to have a tent maker position. I would suggest that any church's ministry team could easily be made up of both paid and unpaid ministers with identified positions, roles and responsibilities. It could also include ministers with no position, role or responsibility within the church, but rather were released to minister within their gifts in ways that were not directly affecting the church. This is coming back close to the concept of the council or college.

14) Accountability in a gift ministry and New Testament church ethos. It is important to realise that leadership within the church goes beyond those traditionally called elders and ministers. Because of the methodology of vision leadership, the attempt to cause everyone in the church to own the vision, they are not the only holders of the vision. To the extent that vision leadership has been successful, the Church as a whole will own the vision. In this context the leadership structure has to be accountable to the global ownership of the vision. It should also be noted that any vision is larger than one small group of people. As such we have to build structures to vision across the traditional divide between the pulpit and the pews.

15) Throwback thinking In moving forward into a gift ministry structure, we must be aware of the problem of throwback thinking. In this direction, you will be moving from a traditional hierarchical structure in which direction and authority is from the top down, to a structure in which everyone is empowered. Leadership is defined in terms of articulating vision and mentoring. This all takes time as it is a huge paradigm shift.

16) A Possible Structure: While we are wedded to concept of gift ministry, which includes the concept that everyone is a minister and ministering within their gifts, it is equally clear that there will be always some people within the church that are not moving into the leadership role. In this model, there is a council made up of those ministers who belong the church who are recognised as mature, finished ministers. There is no distinction between the Ministries currently described as eldership and those described as ministry team. There is also no distinction between paid and unpaid ministry. There is a clear method of succession via the ministers in training to the council. This process has two parts to it: training, which may be apprenticeship or formal training, and recognition and Commissioning to the ministers council. Within the council, there will be distinction based on role and responsibility and also maturity. However each minister is accountable to the others and also the congregation. Structures will have to be put in place to ensure this accountability and to ensure cross fertilization of vision.

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