I have studied a number of Scriptures and read several books on church governance. I listened with great interest recently to a local GTA pastor advocate for plurality of elders as evidence of a healthy church. I didn’t ask the questions forming in my mind – e.g. How does plurality of elders really guarantee a healthy church? Take a look at the church in Ephesus, established by the Apostle Paul, led by Timothy, and yet Paul warns the elders in this ‘healthy church’ that “Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20) Church leaders are not infallible, in fact as Galatians 2 demonstrates even some of the best (e.g. Peter) demonstrate blatant hypocrisy which must be addressed.
In Acts 1 as part of a prolonged season of constant prayer, Peter stands up and addresses the 120 believers gathered together in obedience to the Lord’s command. He has the topic of leadership transitions on his mind, particularly the death of Judas.
What does he cite and what leadership lessons may be learned from his instruction?
- Address leadership issues publicly. There was no ‘us’ and ‘them’ conversation. The conduct of Judas had been observed by the group. Everyone knew at least part of the account and probably had a multitude of questions.
- Teach the entire congregation the leadership principles involved. He addresses the entire group when he says, “Brothers.”
- Root your leadership instruction in Scripture. There are all kinds of leadership courses, books and training modules on leadership. The evangelical church has its leadership ‘experts’ who have penned a multitude of words, host seminars and press their model of leadership on others. Peter begins with Scripture and looks to it as the foundation for addressing the issue at hand.
- Identify specifically the leadership issues involved.
- Judas had been a guide for the arresters of Jesus. How was this possible? What motivated him?
- Judas was one of our number. There was no denying this fact.
- Judas shared in this ministry.
- One of the Twelve had failed. One of the privileged leaders who saw, heard, touched and even served Jesus had turned away in an ultimate act of betrayal.
- Peter did not whitewash the subject or try to sweep it under the carpet. Why had Judas done this? Where was Judas now? Should he be replaced? By what process? The balance of the chapter outlines the process of searching Scriptures, identifying the decisions to be made and taking action. We’ll pick this up in our next post!