the weblog of Alan Knox

How leaders work WITH the church

Posted by on Jun 5, 2011 in blog links, discipleship, edification, elders | 3 comments

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In response to another blog post, Dave Black commented on leadership among the church. (See Friday, June 3, 2011 at 1:58 p.m.)

When speaking about leaders, he referred to a passage that is often overlooked. I mean, 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 is not as sexy (from a leader’s perspective) as some of the other preferred passages. However, I think this passage is very important if we want to understand how leaders work WITH the church.

Yes, I said WITH the church, not for the church.

First, this is what Dave said:

Some, of course, will ask, “How could a man possibly work fulltime and pastor a church effectively? One or the other will have to suffer!” This is a perfectly reasonable objection. It is obvious to every non-professional minister that the average layperson spends most of his or her time weekly providing for their families. Since they spend an enormous amount of time working for a living, their “church time” can only be a fraction of their ministry. Of course, the solution to this problem is obvious. Simply put, Jesus Christ never entrusted leadership in a local church to a single individual. Leadership in the New Testament was shared. Not surprisingly, therefore, when Paul refers to church leaders (e.g., 1 Thess. 5:12-13) the reference is to a plurality of leadership. In order to be an equipping environment, then, the local church must be structured for shared leadership — what Michael Green wonderfully refers to as a “fellowship of leadership.”

Now, this is the passage he referred to:

We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you [lead you] in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 ESV – except the part I translated)

Now, you may wonder what this has to do with leaders working WITH the church. You have to read just before and just after that passage to see that part:

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV)

And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. (1 Thessalonians 5:14 ESV)

You see, the work of leaders (“those who lead you”) is simply part of the work of all the “brothers and sisters” to encourage one another, build one another up, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, and be patient with all. All believers are instructed (commanded actually) to do this work. Leaders are doing this also, of course.

But, what if the leaders are doing this work while the church is not doing it also? Big problems… big, big problems.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 6-5-2011


    Well said! Love the picture ! 🙂

  2. 6-5-2011

    Thanks for sharing Dave’s post. This is an aspect of the topic that launched the Plymouth Brethren movement some 170 or so years ago.

    Assuming (as most of the church does today) that a NT church is properly led by a professional clergy class, we would expect to find some things in the scriptures that are glaringly missing. Generally, we don’t even ask these questions. We just assume that positive answers would exist for questions such as:

    1. What are elders (pastors) told to do that is not the responsibility of every saint?

    2. What qualification of elders (pastors) are not expected of all saints?

    3. Which problems addressed to churches in the NT epistles were described as the responsibility of elders (pastors) to resolve?

    4. Which problems were the elders (pastors) called to task for the failures of any NT church?

    5. Where in the scriptures are elders (pastors) described as having any role at all to play or any particular involvement in matters of church discipline?

    Elders (pastors) are recognized by the saints and do function among the saints, providing examples for us to follow as we also do the same work and service they do. But elders (pastors) are not professional Christians doing things that “only professionals should attempt at home.”

  3. 6-5-2011

    Aussie John,

    Thanks. It’s one of my favorite pastoral pictures. 🙂


    Exactly. Those are great questions, and I’ve been asking them as well.