Over these past weeks, as we’ve worked our way through the letter of 1 Peter, we’ve spent some time looking at the concept of the “priesthood of all believers”. We’ve seen how God gave and anointed prophets, priests and kings to serve and lead His Old Testament people, Israel. We’ve seen how these three roles find their ultimate fulfillment in Jesus, and how His Body, the church, is a prophetic, priestly, kingly people.
The type of leadership appropriate to His Old Testament people is not what He has deemed necessary for His New Testament people. Now, we all work out the prophetic, priestly, kingly role in the world as His representatives.
Jesus is the great Shepherd, and we are all His sheep. We all respond to His voice, and the voice of a stranger we won’t follow. We all have a relationship with Him, we don’t need an intermediary.
But that doesn’t mean that His people don’t need leaders to equip, lead and care for His Body. God has given leadership to His Church, under-shepherds who bring security, who lead with faith, and equip the Church. The focus on leadership in the New Testament is servant-leaders.
God doesn’t just give gifts to His Church, He gives people who are gifts. In Eph 4 Paul lists ‘gifts’ of the ascended Christ who are given to the church: apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastor teachers. These gifts, he says, are given to equip the Church for ministry and to bring the Church to unity.
As we read the book of Acts we see how these gifts work together, involved in planting local churches in new cities, and bringing them to maturity. As each local church is started and grows, elders are raised up, recognised and appointed to lead, govern, care for, and release ministry in that church. Deacons, also servant leaders, serve alongside the elders, giving them capacity to focus on what is most important.
Elders weren’t voted on; they were anointed by the Spirit, recognised by the church and appointed by the apostolic team. Working as a team together they were responsible to God for the church He had given them authority over.
Over these next four weeks we’re going to be exploring a number of passages that give us Biblical principles for eldership. In due course we’re looking forward to seeing a team of elders leading Trinity Central, working out what it means to carry this responsibility together as a team, and equipping and releasing the church to be all that God wants for it to be!