Monday, January 29, 2007


It's clear that all [men and women] are given gifts to be used for the good of the Body of Christ. It is also apparent that some women did this exceptionally well in the New Testament. [See Romans 16:1-2 as only one example of many Paul gives.]

I've also come to appreciate the emphasis on the "laying on of hands" [Hebrews 6:2] which seems to have indicated the blessings of a fellowship on a person and their ministry. It may well be that this is the ONLY kind/form of ordination that you will find in the scriptures. Be that as it may, I don't believe you will find the system of ordination that we have put together in Holy Writ, especially the idea of licensing prior to ordination so that you wind of with many having a license to preach but no evidence of a call that qualifies them for ordination. I know and sympathize with the need for a church to say something that allows a potential pastor/preacher student a reduction of cost when entering a Baptist school but I wonder if something other than a license would not be better. Remember the Government recognizes the license to be equal with an ordination for tax purposes, in fact, all purposes.

I'm not saying what we're doing is evil. In fact, it could be argued that it is needed. Ordination/licensing is demanded by government officials for those who marry the living and bury the dead.[Certainly if this is done with regularity or in the name of a church.] At the very least, one or the other, it doesn't matter which, ordination or license, is necessary when you start talking tax exemptions.

So...I was faced, as were our seven Elders, at my last pastorate, ten years ago, with how to recognize women in ministry and fit it into the "laying on of hands" and the "ordination" required by the government. Do we "ordain" them to the gospel ministry? [That would make them pastors in the eyes of the government.] Do we make the "laying on of hands" a meaningless gesture? What do we do?

We devised a system. Notice I call it "frail" in the title so I readily admit it's fallibility. We dropped licensing and designed two tiers [yes, tiers] of ordination. One tier was for the ordination of Pastors and Deacons. [Tier one] The other was for all other ministers [men and women] such as youth, children, counseling, and the myriad of ministeries that are legitimate and needed in the Body of Christ. The first tier was specifically for Pastors. [We saw this including Elders/Bishops since we view all three terms refering to the same person.] That tier was also for Deacons as mentioned.

The second tier was specifically for a ministry named, such as counseling or youth, and did not go beyond that specified call/ministry. We laid hands on them and appropriately gave to them a certificate of ordination [tier two] that reflected their being set aside for that work of ministry.

The first tier was reserved for men though I'm not saying I personally totally agreed with that then or now. But it was a major step in the right direction for our local felloship. [By this I mean I don't reserve the ministry of deacon to men. But I was one of seven Elders and we were seven of a whole congregation and it seemed best by almost all at the time. I embraced that position and lived by it while a part of that group, while at the same time having a bit of a different opinion personally.]

It worked well and there are people [men and women] working under that ordination method [one couple on the east coast in a counseling ministry where both are ordained] and are able to operate in ministry with the blessings of both their local fellowship and their government.

This was an attempt to handle a local congregation's desire to create an effective way of recognizing women as a legitimate part of the Body of Christ and for them to be qualified to minister in the eyes of our culture. Perfect? Absolutely not. In violation of scripture? Show me where. A tool for working effectively in our culture. I think so. The final answer on the complex issue of ordination and need for rethinking it? Hardly. One church's effort to meet a need? Yes.


Monday, January 22, 2007


If you are one of those who might not be interested in personal stuff, you can skip my little post today because, I assure you, there is nothing of weight or significance other than just some comments on the mundane. I don't do this often and am not sure why I'm doing it now. But here goes.

It's monday morning and I've awakened to another day on the road. That, in and of itself, is not unusual at all, but, considering the circumstances, it is a bit unusual for me in the following ways...

One is the trip here. I'm in Charlotte North Carolina having begun a meeting yesterday in a baptist church that is new to me. But the getting here proved to be quite a chore within itself. Oklahoma was predicting 7 to 12 inches of snow for itself and succeeded in many areas. My flight was cancelled and they rescheduled me for a 5:15 pm flight, but it was on American Eagle which is a MUCH smaller jet than was the original flight. No problem...I thought. After loading late we were then held up for de-iceing. I've never experienced that and must confess to a sort of weird feeling watching the whole thing happen. I was a little like the guy who was scared of flying but was known for his belief in the sovereignty of God. Someone asked him "you believe you won't go til your number comes up, so why worry?" His response was " What if I'm up there and that pilot's number comes up?" [That's a joke]

Then, as we took off, it became obvious the storm was reaching all the way to Chicago and we followed it...right in the middle of the whole thing. I've never had a worse ride.

Another thing different was I have invited my 15 year old grandson, Cody Lenox, to travel with me and man my tape table at the end of the services. I've done this with other grandchildren and it is a blast. Except his eyes were as big as mine on that horrendous ride to Chicago. But we made it and actually got ino our motel room about 1: 00 am and into bed about 2:00 am. I got up for the first of two services that morning but didn't have the heart to wake Cody up. When I returned at noon to get him for lunch, he had not MOVED. But a couple of hours later he awaken and we went to get him a bite to eat. We BOTH have recovered now. We are going to check out a movie this after noon or maybe do a little bowling or maybe even both. Along the way we'll get some ministry accomplished too. He's a fun guy to have around.

Finally, the young pastor I'm with is Kevin Bussey. I met Kevin over the internet and was invited to do this meeting. If the people I've read and heard from on blogs are all of this caliber, we're in good shape. Kevin, his wife Cassandra and their two children are new in the work here and it is a real pleasure to share the assignment with them in this fellowship. We will be having evening services, noonday services, [doing a Tabernacle study with charts] a meeting with the staff for a couple of hours this morning, a senior adult group in the morning, as well as the regular services yesterday [two morning and one evening] and a great time during Sunday school with some fine young married couples. All in all, a great time is on it's way and we'll trust The Spirit to do what only He can do with the Word in the lives of people.

I've accomplished the "personal" part of the title of this post, but sure did miss the "little" part of it. Thoughts of a more theological nature will be forthcoming. [But maybe this is what theology is all about...LIFE and that abundantly.]


Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Authority in a local church is a much debated and, as I've discovered of late, a much misunderstood concept. I want to make several personal observations about the biblical understanding of authority in a local fellowship as I see it.

A. There is only one head of the Church/churches and all authority has been given to Him. If anyone ever assumes authority because of their person or position they are usurping the authority of the Head. [Eph. 4:5,15]

B. The Head of the Body has given an authoritative Word to the members of the Body. [Universal or local] The Old and New Testaments are that inspired Word with New Covenant people inparticularly bound to the New Testament writings. [Heb. 1:2, Acts 18:28]

C. All believers are responsible to the Head individually and have a responsibility to each other. [Rom. 14:4, Eph. 5:21]

D. All believers are priests and are gifted. Therefore all must take their place among the body members to minister for the good of all. [1 Corinth. 12-14]

E. There are certain ones [both men and women] who are gifted as all members are, but, then become a gift to the body in a unique way. The purpose of these people/gifts is to equip all for ministry. [Eph. 4:11-12]

F. There is no emphasis in the New Testament on "authority" that is derived from an "office." The King James version translates the word "office" in Rom. 11:13, 12:4, and 1Tim 3:1. But in Rom. 11:13 it is the word "diakonia" or "service." In 12:4 it is "praxis" or "action/function." While in 1 Tim. 3:1 "office" is not in the text at all. The verse simply says in the original "if anyone aspires to oversight."[Episkope]

Authority is to be experienced in the assembly because of the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit obvious through people. In one sense, the entire body shares authority. [Eph. 5:21, 1Peter 5:5] This means we recognize one another's gifts, knowledge, or experience in the Lord and we choose to serve/submit because the Holy Spirit has placed some as gifts and has annointed the ministries of those gifts. That is the key to understanding Pastors/Elders and their function. No one has authority BECAUSE they have a stronger personality, knows more Bible, or they hold an office. That is foreign to the New Testament. Paul the Apostle had to defend his Apostleship by virtue of it being the work of the Spirit setting him aside for it. 1Tim. 5:17 speaks of those Elders that "give oversight well"...."are worthy of double honor." It is that "give oversight well" that is the soure of authority. They defined it as Holy Spirit annointing. In other words, the annointing of the Spirit makes clear the authority that rests on a ministry done well, not the office holder.


I think we can conclude in all of this that a "one man show" is foreign to the New Testament.

Further, submission to authority is to be given to those who "serve" the body well, whatever area of "service" that might be and regardless of "gender." [Some people believe that the Spirit will never place a woman in the ministry of Pastor/Elder and the BF@M concurs with that. But whether that is true or not, and I have my own views about it, "authority" and "submission" are not "gender based" in the New covenant but "Holy Spirit ministry" based. No one is to be a leader by saying "I'm the Pastor/Elder" or "I have a Seminary degree" or I'm a man."]

Finally, servanthood is the "badge" of christian living and is to be the overriding characterstic of body-life. If God's people are to ever reflect the biblical relationship of Body/local body to Head and members to members servanthood is essential.

So the rule of church life is really to be the Headship of Christ, the priesthood of all believers, and each member contributing with giftedness and edifying each other in the process. Set up any system, any format, any procedure to carry out business, but function under the annointing of the Spirit. and serve one another. This must not be theory but practice if we are to reflect the reality of Christ to a lost world in need of the gospel. Check any leadership by this standard if you want to be biblical in church life.

Monday, January 15, 2007


I'm trying to correct some problems on my blog and haven't been able to do so yet. I'll be posting soon and my comments will be abled also. Right now I've having to depend on 2partners which is the joint blog that is shared by Mary and me. We're iced in and have been for four days now. Cabin fever is setting in a bit, but both of us have enjoyed things. Lot's of rented movies, food, books, inter-net, [when it works] and each other. [Have I just described heaven?] Have a great week.