Monday, August 1, 2011

Bible Study 1 Timothy 3 Roles in A Church

Are you a good leader in the Church and how can you tell? If not, are you a good server in Church and how can you tell?If not, what is church anyway and who is this Jesus?
Q1  What are the main roles in a church? What are differences from Ephesians 4:11 five fold ministries?
There are two main leadership roles covered in this chapter. They are:
  1. Overseers/Bishops/Elders - Overseeing Leadership - Mission, Vision, Values, Strategies, Doctrines, Judges etc. Ensuring things are done according to God's will and methods.
  2. Deacons/Servers/Operations - Execution and Operational Leadership. Ensuring smooth operations and working of the church.
However, it does not mean that God only speak through the Overseers and the Deacons are mere followers. Everyone has the Holy Spirit and is guided by the Holy Spirit. God speak through everyone. Overseers have the facilitating roles and guardian roles. Their roles are made clearer in the following question about the qualities or requirements needed. Paul in Eph 4 pointed out clearly that all roles are to be submitting to one another and not one dominating over another. Jesus Christ teaches us about servant leadership and he who is first must be the servant of all. The leaders' interests must the growth and maturity of his members into the image of Christ and not for personal glory or gains as discussed in the next question.
Eph 4:11  And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,
Here we have the five fold ministries, comparable to the present organizational functional roles of CEOs, Corporate Planning, Marketing/Business Development, Human Resources and Training Managers. These are the domain or area of expertise. Withing each domain, we can still have the broadly two levels of Overseer and Deacons.

Let me also add that the eternal rewards given to us is not about the 'ranking' of the roles we play but more importantly our faithfulness to the roles. The stewards with the ten talents and and the five talents are proportionally rewarded. Jobs are not divided into spiritual and secular. It is the way we do the jobs that differentiate it as spiritual or secular. See  Secular vs Spiritual Jobs.

Q2 What are the requirements for the roles? What and why for the differences?

Here is the table that show the requirements for the two leadership roles:

We can see that the demands on the Overseers are higher than those for the Deacons. The asterisks highlight the extra requirements for being Overseers. Overseers are to care for others. Deacons are to make sure they manage themselves and their households well. Here are the highlights:

  1. Internally, within the church, he must be someone above reproach. Externally, to outsiders, he must have good reputation (well thought of by outsiders).
  2. Self-controlled - being is a position where people are watching, the examples shown by the Overseers influence many. They must exercise extreme care not to show the wrong examples.
  3. Hospitable - Overseers are to welcome and care for many people, the new members and visitors.
  4. Able to Teach and to lead is implied. Deacons only need to be faithful.
  5. Not violent but gentle. Being in a high position, our flesh of pride may get the better of us and we may throw our weight around. Hence, Paul has this extra warning. Power has the ability to corrupts one character!
The Common Requirements for Leadership in Church
  1. One wife.... faithful to her.
  2. Sober-minded - Clear, fair, righteous, knowing God's will.
  3. Respectable & Dignified. Take care of how we behave.
  4. Faithfulness and Faithful to the Truth - a clear conscience. Living out the truth and not just talk about it.
  5. Not quarrelsome, and not double-tongued to incite divisions and quarrels.
  6. Not a lover of money and not greedy for dishonest gain. It is tempting and easy to make use of the highly regarded position of leadership in church for personal gains and glory. How often we find people being misused and abused by the leadership in church in the name of God and threatening with verses like "touch not God's anointed"?
  7. Not a recent convert even though he may be holding senior positions outside of church. He must be tested and proven faithful to the truth. The worst case is a smart person with a bad character.
  8. Managing the household well. Not getting into financial debts and other troubles on his household.
  9. A wife that is dignified, not slanderers (gossiping), sober-minded as her husband and faithful.
  10. Children that are dignified and obedient (vs rebellious).
Q3 What was the purpose of this letter? What is a Church?
Paul reiterated the purpose of his letter in v3:15 - 'how one ought to behave in the household of God.  More interesting is the definition of the Church. It is the household of God, a pillar and buttress of truth. The believers must live out the truth.

Q4 What is the Mystery of Godliness?
The Bible uses the word 'Mystery' not as something you don't understand but is actually the opposite. A mystery is a hidden truth in the past now make known.
The mystery of Godliness is now made known, revealed, in Jesus Christ the man in the flesh, vindicated by the Holy Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on the world and taken up in glory.
Simply, Jesus Christ is Son of God whom we bear witness. He who receives and believes in Him is saved. (Son represents Jesus God, coming as a man into this world)

Lim Liat copyrighted 2 Aug 2011

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