A Biblical Theology And Pastor Survey On Local Church Leadership -- By: W. Rodman MacIlvaine III
JMAT 20:2 (Fall 2016) p. 125
A Biblical Theology And Pastor Survey On Local Church Leadership
William C. Stewart
D. Scott Barfoot
Jesus inaugurated a fresh move in God’s mission on the day of Pentecost, bringing the church into existence by the power of his Holy Spirit.1 The gospel took the world by storm in the first century, and in the 2,000 years since, the church has steadily grown around the world. Today vibrant expressions of the body of Christ can be seen in each of the 194 countries across the planet.2 The church is especially vital to the Global South and in
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Pacific Rim countries.3 Lamin Sanneh claims the explosion of the Christ-movement in the non-Western world amounts to a third great awakening.4 Truly, Jesus’ prophetic word about the church, “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” has come true when viewed at the macro level (Matt 16:18).
At the same time, demographers and pollsters in America have increasingly sounded the alarm that church attendance in the West is declining and in some places precipitously.5 While different pollsters offer different reasons, increasingly observers
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of the Western church, point to the quality of the leaders.6 Are local churches producing leaders with the vision to lead as Jesus commanded in the Great Commission? And if so, are they building leadership structures that promote consistent disciple-making?
This article examines the leadership structure of churches led by 223 graduates of a conservative theological seminary (Dallas Theological Seminary, henceforth DTS) and how they assess the health of their own churches, especially their elder and deacon boards. In this article we will (1) review the biblical theology of local church leadership, a theology that is broadly consistent with historical-grammatical approach to interpreting New Testament passages, (2) report the results of a recent survey of DTS graduates conducted by the authors about the health of their church leadership structures, and (3) offer specific suggestions for how pastors can better equip church leaders in post-Christian America.
A Biblical Theology Of Leadership
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