Addressing Leadership Pitfalls in Africa (Feeding)

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“The elders which are among you I exhort … Feed the flock of God” (1 Pt 5:1 – 2a).

Want to hear the verse in context? 1 Peter 1:1 – 2a
What is this about?

Address Leadership Pitfalls in Africa Feeding 1 Peter 5:1 - 2

The Gospel isn’t complicated but it is so easily diluted instead of distilled. This photo was taken of a Rhema “Bible” Church’s signboard a few months ago (I’m not the photographer but the picture is in the public domain). It reads, “yes, YOU can___________*” with a sub caption of “*with a little help from GOD” It’s a play on the slogan popularised by Barak Obama and is inline with Prosperity Gospel teachings. Click image to enlarge.

It is a travesty that South African pastors are ill equipped to exposit the Word of the Lord and edify their flock. Pulpits around our country turn a blind eye to the proliferation of doctrinal inaccuracies and heresies. The Zion Christian Church, with “10-15 million members” (Wikipedia 2010a) 1, teaches that “senior officials in the ZCC … can use the power of the Holy Spirit to perform healing” (Anderson 1999) 2; Rhema Bible Church, with a “45,000 strong congregation” (Wikipedia 2010b) 3, continues to propagate the Prosperity Gospel (Carew 2001) 4; high profile pastors lobby for the recognition of same sex unions. Our pulpits are no longer anchored to God’s Word but rather the fleeting philosophies of the world.

For this reason our Shepherds need to feed their flock sound doctrine. Paul’s words to the young elder, Titus, echo in my head, “be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers” (Titus 1:9), and his commission to his protégé, Timothy, ring out, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ … Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Ti 4:1 – 2).

The early church converts were characterised by their unquenchable thirst for sound teaching. Luke records that they “continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship” (Acts 2:42a). It must be so with our congregations. Much of the focus of pastors needs to be spent in preparation for preaching and teaching so that when the church leads it will do so with the banner of our Lord Jesus Christ and the immutable, infallible, sure and trustworthy Word of Holy Scripture at the forefront of the procession.

Feel aggrieved? Imagine God’s dismay.

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Addressing Leadership Pitfalls in Africa (Leading)

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“Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow” (Heb 13:7).

Want to hear the verse in context? Hebrews 13:7
What is this about?

Address Leadership Pitfalls in Africa Leading Hebrews 13:7

Leading people isn’t an exact science never mind what the consultant told you in the 3 day crash course. Click image to enlarge.

John C Maxwell sums up the measure of leadership as “influence – nothing more, nothing less” (Maxwell 1998:IX). So, one could therefore surmise that the absence of influence would indicate weak leadership and negative influence would imply deficient leadership. Turning our gaze to leaders in Africa both absence and negative influence come sharply into focus and maybe more so as we centre our thoughts upon the church.

Yet the church is an organisation that must have leaders; God purposed and commissioned it so (Tit 1:5). According to Alexander Strauch (1995) biblical shepherds are to lead the church, teach and preach the Word, protect the church from false teachers, exhort and admonish the saints in sound doctrine, visit the sick, pray and judge doctrinal issues. Yet in so many of these spheres we can see major shortcomings and insufficiencies amongst those so tasked.

Churches in South Africa face a leadership crisis. This is evidenced by the high rate of church splits, internal strife, lack of meaningful ministry engagement and numerical decline. Time after time the axiom “so go the shepherds, so go the flock” is proved true. Capable men are in short supply and local churches lurch like rudderless ships out of want for competent captains. “Effective Leadership is the need of the hour, and for the church under mandate to evangelize the world, it is an indispensable requirement-indeed an urgent agenda” (MacArthur 1995:282).

The church cries out for qualified, committed shepherds. The Psalmist, painting a beautiful picture of the LORD as our shepherd, acclaims that God “leadeth [him] beside the still waters” (Ps 23:2b). Hebrew shepherds led the flock, walking in front of them, guiding them to green pastures. As under-shepherds of the church we’re, in like manner, to “Feed the flock … taking the oversight thereof … being ensamples to the flock” (1 Pt 5:2 – 3).

Christian leadership is a gifting, a calling and a humble service. “A church can call you to be a pastor because pastor is a title. The call does not make you a leader. Leader is not a title but a role. You only become a leader by functioning as one.” (Smith 1986:22) As we seek to function as overseers of the Great Shepherd’s (Heb 13:20) flock we do so relying on His power, his mandate and His strength praying that Paul’s words to Timothy may be true of us: “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine” (1Ti 5:17).

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Olievenhoutbosch outreach: Leadership Void (Part 5)

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In Olieven, Bible studies, Jesus Film showings and other outreaches are marked by a glaring absence of committed men.

In Titus Paul stresses the importance of appointing elders as protectors, feeders and leaders of the flock. He reserves this office for men. Therein lies a problem for this church plant. Biblically qualified male leadership is in short supply.

A spiral of social degradation has robbed the church of a generation of suitable male shepherds. If autonomy requires a plurality of elders then training followed by time is going to be needed.

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