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Posts Tagged ‘style’


Lay leaders are often very busy. They can often work long hours and have kids to raise. This can make on-going training difficult. This can be frustrating for the pastor, and the elders and other leaders. They often want to learn more but find the realities of life an obstacle.

“In any group of any size, a leader will emerge. Someone who takes initiative, assumes responsibility for the activity and direction of that group. … But in the end, I have a deep and enduring conviction that it is the gospel that should shape my attitude to and practice of leadership.”

Steve Timmis’ new book, Gospel Centered Leadership, is an answer to some of that frustration. It is a short book with short chapters on important subjects that encourage and challenged leaders new and old. He includes questions to help you think through the implications of the material. His fundamental position is that church leaders lead from an on-going faith and repentance. Apart from this, their hearts become hardened by sin and they will inevitably be unable to counsel, guide and direct the sheep.

Leadership doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens in the context of Jesus as the Head of the Church. Gospel centered leaders submit to His authority and recognize that they are merely under-shepherds. It also happens in the context of culture. Each culture has definite ideas about leadership. The church will usually follow that style of leadership, but should repent of unbiblical notions of leadership within that culture. For instance, Korean churches in the US often have a more autocratic style of leadership then other churches in the U.S. This is not a problem as long as they don’t “lord it over” the people.

“In simple terms, headship is all about creating an environment in which those in our care are able to flourish and thrive.”

Christ rules through His Word, and thru fallible, sinful people. Timmis notes the numerous failures of biblical leaders. They all anticipated Christ in what they did right and in their failures. We will also fail at times. The gospel enables us to receive forgiveness, get back up again and keep leading. It keeps us humble regarding our skills and abilities, and confident in God’s love and provision to us in Christ. While he recognizes that all Christians should minister to others, he does hold that the office of elder is restricted to men.

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Bryan Chapell’s Christ-Centered Preaching is one of the better books on preaching.  It would be easy to get worn down in the nuts and bolts of that book and miss the big picture that Chapell is trying to convey.

The same could be said for his newest book, Christ-Centered Worship.  It is not a nuts and bolts book (unlike his book on preaching).  It focuses on the big picture of worship, which is becoming quite rare these days.  His goal is not to advocate any particular form of worship- but rather to communicate that the gospel should shape our worship so that it shapes us.  If the gospel is not shaping our worship, then our worship (which really won’t be worship after all) is shaping us into something it should not.

“We consider the history because God does not give all of his wisdom to any one time or people.  Slavish loyalty to traditions will keep us from ministering effectively to our generation, but trashing the past entirely denies God’s purposes for the church on which we must build.”

So, Chapell tries to walk that fine line of being instructed by not enslaved by the past.   Chapell begins by comparing the liturgies of the Western Church to show how alike they tend to be.  He doesn’t want to ignore the differences between them, but focuses on the big picture- that the liturgies themselves are designed to present the gospel each week.  It is because we have forgotten that the gospel is to shape our worship that we have some many problems with worship.

“Because they have not been taught to think of the worship service as having gospel purposes, people instinctively think of its elements only in terms of personal preference: what makes me feel good, comfortable, or respectful.”

The particular liturgies he examines are that of Rome (pre-1570), Luther’s, Calvin’s, the Westminster liturgy and one proposed by Robert Rayburn in the late 20th century.  To most American evangelicals, these will seem quite foreign because we have mostly abandoned liturgies of the past.  We have done this not realizing they were intended to communicate the gospel.  As a result, worship in America is often devoid of the gospel.  It becomes more about styles and preferences.

The pattern they had in common is one of Adoration => Call to Worship=> Confession of Sin => Scripture Reading=> Sermon=> Singing of a Creed, Psalm or Hymn=> Offering=> Communion => Song of Response=> Benediction.

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