Monterey Baptist Church
Tuesday, August 11, 2020
Pastor Daryl L. Poe

Workshop #1   Lesson #1

Church Leadership:
The Deacon, A Servant Leader
 
Church Leadership Structure
 
Biblical Servant Leadership

We are going to begin by examining the biblical foundations for cultivating a model pastor-deacon ministry. Scripture presents servant leadership as God’s design and the pastor as God’s primary instrument for developing others for ministry work and building up the body of Christ. 

The Servant Leadership philosophy expressly belongs to The Imago Dei (Christ). Philippians 2:1-12 provides clear evidence of Jesus Christ as the model servant-leader for all believers to follow. All believers enter servanthood through unity in Christ and are commanded to imitate His selfless love and humble obedience in serving.

Shared leadership follows a godly pattern. Exodus 18 provides evidence that effective servant leadership is committed to a shared ministry founded upon godly character. Sharing leadership God’s way requires choosing godly men who are mature, capable and honest. Having demonstrated spiritual qualities of fearing God and reliability, leaders must be the selected representatives of the people. In sharing leadership, conflict resolution becomes more effective through efficient resource allocation.

The pastoral responsibility is to serve as a Godly mentor and teacher. Ephesians 4:11-16 provides the most apparent evidence of the pastor as the primary instrument in developing ministry leaders within the church. The pastor is a gift of Christ to His church and is gifted in teaching the Word of God. His responsibility is to train the saints, beginning with the Deacons for the ministry of service, for the purpose of building up the church. The desire is to bring the church to maturity in the full knowledge of Christ. In so doing, unity and love strengthen the church.

The team ministry is a godly strategy. 1Timothy 3:1-13 provides evidence that the scriptural officers of the church are pastor and deacon, and each has a specified duty to manage his household well while complementing one another in the ministry. The Pastor leads the church primarily through the teaching of the Word, while the Deacon provides leadership primarily through service. 

Together, the team ministry can best meet the spiritual, emotional, and physical needs of the church. Their unified approach strengthens unity in the church, which is mandatory for revitalization. As the only two scriptural offices, a restriction is to male leadership following the creative order. The fitness for serving in either office requires the man manage his household well.

The complementarian home is a godly design. Ephesians 5: 22-33 provides clear evidence of complementarianism as the biblical standard for the marital relationship.  A view of the historical context of Ephesus uncovers a society not at all unlike ours today. The postmodern progressive argument that “times have changed” is thoroughly debunked. God does not change, and neither does his divine design for marriage. The Christian marriage while complementary, is anchored in mutual submission and Christlike love.

 Marriage is a picture of Christ’s relationship to His church and is, therefore, to be a proclamation of the Gospel. The Christian marriage is in continual conflict with an evil world. It is the responsibility of the Pastor-Deacon Ministry Team to teach and model biblical manhood and womanhood to the church. It is from the home all future church leaders come. Husbands are to be intentionally instructed in the Servant-Leadership Philosophy and manage their homes accordingly. In so doing, they prepare themselves for further service and partner with church leadership in church revitalization.

 
Principled Leadership

Servant-leadership is purposefully convictional, confident, consistent, and compassionate. A convictional leader inspires passionate obedience to God’s will. A confident leader invests in leadership development that supports revitalization. A consistent leader encourages competent kingdom building. A compassionate leader empowers family-oriented, community-targeted discipleship.

Convictional Leaders Inspire

Key point: Convictional pastors inspire exemplary leaders who concentrate on the central doctrines of the Christian faith.

 

Scrutinizing our current culture exposes a disunity that influences every level, from marriages to nations. The fracture and division within relational units is our world’s most besetting darkness. The prevalent lack of cohesiveness is in direct correlation to the misunderstanding, misapplication, and mistreatment of God’s design for male leadership. Tragically, the hunger for leadership has reached every sector of our society including the church.

An unbiblical perception of leadership has led too many church members to see their pastor as the person who does all the ministry, instead of the one who equips the members to do the work of the ministry. Simultaneously, many pastors look around and see lukewarm, declining, and even dead churches. They are thrilled by the opportunity to lead. They talk leadership wherever they go and are masters of motivation, vision, strategy, and execution. Regrettably, prevalent perceptions of secular leadership have misled pastors to become masters of change and organizational transformation, while lacking a center of gravity in biblical truth.

The current church in America needs godly servant-leaders who will be consistent in what they believe and honorable in how they live. Our churches need leaders who consistently allow God’s Holy Spirit to control mind, emotions, and will. The church needs leaders who are more desirous of the fruit of the Holy Spirit than the achievements of the flesh.

There are two essential elements for church renewal. The primary need is the right pastor. The second factor is a willing congregation. When these two dynamics come together, vibrant revitalization is the outcome.

There are foundational, uncompromising issues the church must hold true. The Bible is the Word of God. Jesus died for sinners. He defeated death with His resurrection from the grave. Christ is the only way of salvation. God is the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Eternity is a reality.  Immersing oneself in Scripture is how the Spirit reminds believers of the things of God and His kingdom that one is called to live out daily.

One of the most important roles of a revitalization pastor is to help see the difference between the mission of God in Scripture—which does not change—and the forms we use which can and often must change.  United in the mission of God, a pastor can lead a healthy revitalization, because the church has joined him in God’s mission. They are working with the pastor. They are doing ministry with the pastor. They are praying for the church and the pastor.

“The leadership that matters most is convictional—deeply convictional”. At the center of the true leader’s heart and mind you will find convictions that drive and determine everything else.  Pastors need to possess and develop many qualities, but the one element that drives them to the front is passion.

Truly, Pastors cannot lead without a passionate conviction that must be at the level where he cannot be silent, even in the face of threats and opposition. Biblical leaders lead out of authenticity. Convictional leadership allows them to face the facts, lean into the truth (Scripture), apply the right principles, acknowledge the alternatives, and, finally, make the right decision. The Pastor must lead by biblical conviction.

The first principle of leadership is being trustworthy. If trust is broken, it is the hardest thing to restore. Primarily, Pastors build trust not in themselves, but in the Word of God. Scripture is the Pastor’s sole authority. As he rightly handles the Word of Truth, trust is built in his leadership (2 Timothy 2:15).

A Christian leader is first and foremost a follower. Pastors are fellow bearers of God’s image with the people they lead, and Christ himself unites pastor and congregation. Followership and accountability in community are essential foundations for effective leadership. Pastors as leaders never cease to be servants to Christ and the souls entrusted to him.

Pastoral leadership means followership in submission to the One who has purchased the sheep at the cost of His own blood. “To be a shepherd is to be both responsible for the flock and responsible to the Owner.” The starting point for such leadership is to become a pastor who fears and follows God.

Pastors are under-shepherds whose calling is to equip the flock to follow Christ by understanding the Scriptures and so discern the Spirit’s guidance as he applies the Word of God in their lives (Ephesians 4:11-16; John 16:13-15).   The pastor who wants to thrive, personally and organizationally, builds a team by exhibiting a servant’s heart.

The goal of unified leadership should not be lost on the pastor. He is to raise up other men who are convinced of the truth seen in Scripture. Unity in any local church starts with its leadership.  An excellent unifying principle is the understanding that the biblical offices of Pastor and Deacon are servant offices. 

As biblical leaders, Pastors and Deacons can and should be united by compatible attitudes and spiritual passion for the Christian faith. They should have similar attitudes about their spiritual growth, about their marriages, family, and careers and about Bible study, prayer, worship, giving and witnessing. They should view ministry the same way God views ministry. Wherever Christian leaders serve, their leadership should be driven by distinctively Christian conviction.

 The goal of these men is to first and foremost always “love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.” (1 Timothy. 1:5). They see themselves living together, growing together, and serving together. God-like love embedded in the heart and demonstrated through the life of a Deacon or Pastor can only result in unity. 

When church members are seen as gifts, leaders’ attitudes change—there is more patience, more care, more valuing of the individual. When Pastors and Deacons develop an intimate knowledge of God’s people trust is built, and members experience a growing confidence that the leadership will not lead them into danger.

Confident Leaders Invest

Key Point: Confident pastors listen to and invest in transformational leaders who are mission driven.

 

The leaders who are highly transformative and effective are those who believe most confidently in what they are doing. “If you have the wrong people, however, it does not matter whether you discover the right direction; you still won’t have a great company. Great vision without great people is irrelevant.”

The paradigm of professional clergy must yield to the priesthood of all believers. Pastors are to equip and encourage members to minister! Team-based ministry is the most effective model for leading and organizing Christian ministry for the twenty-first century.

Church revitalization is a team activity. A team is an environment in which collaboration, mutual dependence, and consensus in decision making are the norm. Leaders recognize the unique and complementary gifts each team member contributes. Real teams do not emerge unless the members take risks involving conflict, trust, interdependence, and hard work. 

An effective ministry team does not form overnight. Deacons do not become genuine teammates at the simple selection of the pastor. It takes time to develop a deep understanding of each other’s unique abilities.

Neither the Pastor nor the Deacon is a “lone ranger” but instead they are to be a “team player” in ministry. They are of equal value to all other servants in the church, and superior to none. Church ministry is sure to be more effective when done in collaboration with the Pastors and Deacons. Regardless of the number, Pastors and Deacons function better and minister more effectively as part of an empowered team.

The church needs change to be effective in the twenty-first century. The mission and the message cannot change, but methods must. The good news is that in many areas, the changes that are required, work to reform the church to a more biblical model. And one of those areas is leadership, where a higher value must be placed today on participatory, collaborative, team ministry.

Although diverse, a deacon team cannot function well when all the members do not subscribe to the same philosophy of ministry. A philosophy of ministry describes the manner in which ministry is to be carried out and should be closely related to the culture of the congregation. Ministry teams are most effective when they create new church cultures by building the new on the base of the old, on the congregation’s existing traditions, symbols, language, and history.

 It is crucial to note that Spirit-led revitalization will not be disruptive or destructive. Such behavior is against Christ’s expressed will of unity for His church (John 17:20-23). The Spirit’s nature as seen noticeably throughout Scripture is creative and constructive.

A godly Deacon is to be treasured by the congregation, but more importantly, the church must acknowledge the office of Deacon as biblical (1 Timothy 3:8-14). Consequently, no man nor institution has the authority to abolish or diminish the Deacon’s God-ordained leadership responsibility in the life of Christ’s church. Likewise, Pastors and Deacons cannot escape their accountability to the Lord and to His church for how they fulfill their responsibility to lead.

For the church to experience true revitalization, a new wave of second chair leaders is essential. Deacons who work in concert with their Pastors to accomplish the mission that God has placed jointly before them will deliver the leadership so desperately needed in today’s church. Visionary leadership is focused on the future. Failure to identify, train and develop a new generation of leaders will bring certain death to any organization, including the church.

Any man being considered as a Deacon candidate should not be self-seeking or self-serving. He serves faithfully and waits for others in the church to recognize his service. His humility is obvious to his fellow believers.  He is a godly servant to people, many of whom will follow his example and become servants in their own right. He leads by personal example as well as precept. He teaches others how to serve and then show others how to serve. 

Deacons must be instructed so they know what is needed in order to be effective leaders. They cannot be faithful in making their leadership contribution to the church if they lack the necessary knowledge. Effective Deacon training must be the revitalization pastor’s teaching priority.  

Pastors are given the special assignment of equipping the Deacons and the entire church (Ephesians 4:11-13). He begins with the Deacons or Deacon candidates in hopes of multiplying the impact—discipling Deacons who can soon disciple others. Both the Pastor and Deacons should unite for this purpose. They will equip the church membership to disciple each other, build up one another and motivate as many as possible to obey the Great Commission as stated by Christ in Matthew 28:18-20.

What the twenty-first century church needs is meaningful membership. This is possible whenever members confidently see themselves alongside their leaders, as a holy priesthood of believers. When the church—pastor and deacon included—live as followers of God with their identities secure in Christ, their great High Priest, the priesthood of all the believers will be revitalized and mission driven.

Consistent Leaders Encourage

Key Point: Consistent pastors encourage faithful, visionary leaders to act urgently with a focus on tomorrow.

 

The confident and consistent Pastor knows how to lead out of the power of the metanarrative that frames the identity and mission of the people he will lead. He is a vision amplifier, having a clear understanding of the vision first. Deacons as second chair leaders need to be fully committed to the vision and how the organization is trying to follow it. Together as a visionary team, they must be proactive in helping other members understand and implement God’s vision for His church.

The truth that empowers godly leadership is not a vision for the future that is developed in human power; it is wisdom that comes through the gracious revelation and the sovereign power of God. Visionary team leaders are an effective means of accomplishing God’s purposes because they are trustworthy being both focused and goal oriented biblically. 

Visionary teams are prayerful teams because they know that they can overcome the obstacles in their path only through the power of the Spirit who is guiding and directing them by the way of Scripture. They have the steadfast assurance of God’s vision for His church as they act urgently in obedience to His revealed will.

Visionary leaders are reliable as they cast God’s vision for workers to follow by sharing Scripture. The vision gives a context for the ministry that goes beyond the mere doing of it. Trustworthy leaders inspire others with the power and excitement of God’s vision and give people a sense of purpose and pride in their life work.

Visionary leaders share with others how their particular ministry area is working to fulfill the larger vision. By thus sharing, a unified team-based, vision-driven church is pulled together by a strong focused purpose or mission.  Building a visionary leadership team cannot be separated from building a visionary congregation.

Simply knowing God’s vision for the church is not enough. The key ingredient is a leadership team that lives the vision, breathes it, models it, tells its story any chance it gets, sleeps, and eats it, and otherwise calls people together around it.  Together, the principal leaders and the main core of the congregation know the vision is from God and worthy of their full commitment.  The team-based church is one that is motivated to act urgently by the leadership team on the basis of a uniting vision and mission.  Churches may be called at times to undertake tasks that contribute to a vision that cannot yet be imagined and that may not even find its fulfillment in the members’ own lifetimes. 

When team-based churches are led with the future in mind, they can take a multigenerational perspective on God’s plan for the entire congregation. Accordingly, it is imperative that when making changes, the leadership team be patient and structure the changes incrementally.  Remember, Christian leaders never possess the freedom to make independent decisions about how to lead. Christian leaders are first and foremost followers of Christ the King.

In our culture, it may appear difficult for the church to thrive, if not impossible to just survive. Effective ministry teams are those that cast a vision that unites people around a God-given cause. Visionary teams are motivated by a strong sense of mission and purpose knowing postmodern individuals respond better to churches with a cause than to churches that have no clarity of mission. Leaders are trustworthy whenever the vision articulated is consistent with God’s expressed mission for His church; disciples making disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).

Compassionate Leaders Empower

Key Point: Compassionate pastors empower team leaders to fulfill the Great Commission to make disciples who resolve conflict.

 

The remaining question for the twenty-first century church is, “Why is there a need for revitalization?” “Thriving churches have the Great Commission as the centerpiece of their vision, while dying churches have forgotten the clear command of Christ.”

 “The Bible elevates teaching to the first mark of the church and the church’s primary responsibility. The Great Commission is a command to go and make disciples of the nations, “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). 

 “The Christ-following leader—living as a bearer of God’s image in union with Christ and his people—develops a diverse community of fellow laborers who are equipped and empowered to pursue shared goals that fulfill the creation mandate and the Great Commission in submission to the Word of God.”

Godly Preachers see the problem of a local church in decline from a spiritual perspective. Spiritual men believe that the conversion of the lost and the sanctification of the saints are the primary goals of the ministry, and of preaching, and concern of the church.

A purpose for which Pastors and Deacons unite is to Equip the Saints to Work (i.e. to make disciples). The apostle made this clear to the Deacons at Philippi, “For it is God who is working in you enabling you both to will and to act for His good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13). Every Deacon is a disciple. Deacons are disciple-makers.

It would appear that meaningful membership has been removed from the Church’s DNA. The state of our postmodern world should remind church leaders that church membership is not a passive thing but rather an enlistment for a mission and ministry that has ultimate significance. The church is to make disciples rather than passive pew sitters.

Membership is not having your name on a roll. Ultimately, membership is about belonging and contributing. We are expected to be a contributing and serving part of that community. Membership has meaning. Membership means sacrificing for the greater good of the body.  Biblical membership is about giving instead of receiving, serving instead of being served.

Leaders of revived churches do their best to determine if they are really making disciples. Disciples gather for worship. Disciples come together in community. Disciples reach others with the gospel. Disciples are involved in the ministry. Church leadership must determine how best to engage its membership in the disciple making process. 

Now is the time for leaders to seize the opportunity to restart discipleship; not as a program or church function, but as a Christian lifestyle that is begun and nurtured in the home. Family oriented discipleship is biblical, convictional, confident, consistent, and compassionate. This framework will help the church lead the parents from abdication to active engagement in cosmic combat for their children souls.

It is advantageous for the church to invest in training the Deacons in biblical counseling. There is always potential for conflict. By employing biblical counseling, the resolution is not merely the Deacon siding with the Pastor and what he thinks, nor is it the Pastor siding with the Deacon and what he thinks. It is both Pastor and Deacon siding with what God says about a particular subject.

Pastors and Deacons unite to lead the evangelistic witness of the church. The church must evangelize the lost through our personal and collective witness. The central purpose of the church is making disciples and the Pastor and Deacon must agree on its importance, focus on its mandate, and engage in its undertaking. As a united front, the servant-leaders in the church will bring the gospel of Christ to bear upon the community.

Conclusion

Church revitalization is a long-term process. It is plodding. It rarely happens overnight. Nevertheless, revitalization moves church membership from insignificance to meaningful.  It is God’s work and He begins the revitalization process with church leadership. Pastors and Deacons best serve the Lord and the church when they do it together. They should be spiritually and theologically compatible—thinking and believing the same things Jesus thought and believed.

The great aim of leadership is to lead followers continually into a deeper and more comprehensive love for what is most real, most true, most right and most important. Godly leadership must move from the church into the member’s homes before godly leadership can move from our homes into our churches.

This transition is not quick or easy; it can be messy and will take time; think years. Think about gradually changing the culture of a ministry so that parental discipleship of children becomes the norm instead of the exception.

This transition far exceeds a paradigm shift, it is counter cultural. Worldly wisdom will say it is impossible. But in the end, it is only impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life. And it is exceedingly difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work.” Working in the kingdom ministry of strengthening family-oriented discipleship will produce eternal rewards.

God calls His church to lovingly bring reconciliation and restoration. A revitalized Pastor-Deacon ministry focused on discipling families will strengthen a vibrant church to impact the community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. All for the glory of God. 

 

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