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Elders: Who they are, and what they do

These are not the Elders we are looking for....

WHAT ELDERS ARE & what they DO:

Acts 20:17-30 From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. …  28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.

Keeping watch over the flock. Savage wolves will come.

1 Peter 5:1-4   To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers-not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

Eager to Serve

Eph 4:11   It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,

From Strongs Concordance:  4166  Greek : poimen (poy-mane’);  a shepherd (literally or figuratively)

1 Tim 4:14   Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.

James 5:14   Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.

Acts 11:27-30   During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) 29 The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. 30 This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.

Acts 21:17-19   When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers received us warmly. 18 The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present. 19 Paul greeted them and reported in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.

1 Tim 5:17-20   The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching *. 18 For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.” 19 Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. 20 Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.

* – some must not have had this particular work.  Some obviously were paid wages for their work.

Qualifications of Elders:

1 Timothy 3, (NIV Readers Version)

1 Here is a saying you can trust.  If anyone wants to be a leader (elder) in the church, he wants to do a good work for God and people.

 2 A leader (elder) must be free from blame. He must be faithful to his wife. In anything he does, he must not go too far. He must control himself. He must be worthy of respect. He must welcome people into his home. He must be able to teach.

3He must not get drunk. He must not push people around. He must be gentle. He must not be a person who likes to argue. He must not love money.

 4 He must manage his own family well. He must make sure that his children obey him and show him proper respect.

5Suppose someone doesn’t know how to manage his own family. Then how can he take care of God’s church?

 6The leader (elder) must not be a new believer. If he is, he might become proud. Then he would be judged just like the devil.

 7The leader (elder)  must also be respected by those who are outside the church. Then he will not be put to shame. He will not fall into the devil’s trap.

 8 Deacons also must be worthy of respect. They must be honest and true. They must not drink too much wine. They must not try to get money by cheating people. 9 They must hold on to the deep truths of the faith. Even their own minds tell them to do that. 10First they must be tested. Then let them serve as deacons if there is nothing against them.

 11In the same way, their wives must be worthy of respect. They must not say things that harm others. In anything they do, they must not go too far. They must be worthy of trust in everything.

 12 A deacon must be faithful to his wife. He must manage his children and family well. 13 Those who have served well earn the full respect of others. They also become more sure of their faith in Christ Jesus.


Divisions or Distinctives, Jesus only has 1 church

And just as in Luther’s day, there are many other things that divide the body besides Institutional Church and Organic Church.   There is only one church, but multiplicity of expressions of that same body.

Distinctives seem to divide, but they also provide safety and homogeneity.

Overemphasis of anything usually is corrective, such as the tithing issue that has floated around certain Facebook Groups, the last few weeks.

It will be Jesus that in the end pulls it all together. We will all know in an instant what things to drop, and what things to embrace possibly for the first time.

Only the Spirit of Christ can bring the true unity we all desire, and that day we all long for, his return.   God is good at doing the impossible, we lean in that direction, as best we can.

Jesus Is Building His Church

There is really no such thing as Institutional Church and Organic Church. These are just terms we humans came up with to describe the church. Jesus said I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. There is only one church, and it’s HIS. …
When men tweak it in such a way as to emphasize one thing or another, we see walls go up. These are denominational walls, man made walls. Those walls can be so compromised as to become a cult, even separate false religions. We just have to continue to go back to scripture and consult the Holy Spirit the teacher of the church.
The gospel message is simple. I responded to it at five years of age at a baptist vacation bible school, down the dirt street from my house. My family attended church of christ for decades, again, those are just labels. Jesus is building his church, and he will continue to do so if there is only one believer left on the earth.
So, what is so important as to come up with a new term and call it organic?  Church has not evolved, it has had it’s purpose changed by men over the centuries.  Love God and Love People seems like such a simple command.  And likewise the mission statement of the church:  Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of Jesus Christ.  Then a bunch of stuff got in the way.  Middlemen have taken over the 21st Century church of Jesus Christ.  Organic is a natural reversion to the ancient ways, the simple ways, without the middlemen.  It’s a return to first century church.
Popes, Archbishops, Senior Pastors, Youth Pastors, Worship Leaders, all gone.  Gone is the tendency to worship or idolize any man that would be an intermediary between us and the Lord Jesus.  Jesus said if you have seen me, you have seen the father.  Jesus also said he would be with us always, and would not leave us orphans.  He said tarry until the promised Holy Spirit came to endue us with power.  So we have everything we need.  The command to love others as he did, and the command to GO to the nations.  It’s his church, we just get to be a little part.

You May Be Institutionalized If:

You may be institutionalized if:

  1. You think tithing pleases God,
  2. you think the pastor is the leader of the Church,
  3. You pay someone to be under their spiritual authority,
  4. You think you need a covering,
  5. You think you need a 501(c)(3) IRS status to be a real church,
  6. you think becoming a christian will make you financially prosperous,
  7. you think worship leaders and or singing songs brings God into your presence,
  8. You dont trust the Spirit of God within you or within others,
  9. You think going to church is going to God’s house.
  10.  You think bible school is essential for hearing from God for others,
  11. (You think) all (of) this is irritating, upset(ting) or making you angry.

(by Brad Nelson, a post on Organic Church Movements)  public post

What else could be an indicator that you may be intitutionalized?

Bruce Who

Bruce Dickey, follower of Jesus, age 59, born in Russellville, Arkansas, reared in the dust bowl of Lubbock ,Texas.  Led to Jesus by some little ladies at the VBS down the dirt street from my house.  Those Baptists knew their bible.  I raised my five year old hand and went down front to meet Jesus, only to have my Church of Christ mom, grab my arm and drag me to the back of the room while whispering, “Not here!”  Jesus took notice, and the rest is history.  After a lifetime in institutions called church, I had to leave.  Men had usurped authority over the church.  Their rules took precedence over scripture.  The big shots, budgets, and buildings dictated finance and much of what occurred in any particular institution.  Yes, “there are good people in every church,” says my mom.  Jesus led me out the door and I’ve been following him on a grand adventure ever since.  Are you “fed up” with church?  You, brother and sister, are not alone.  There is a mass exodus underway.  For me it started in January 2008.  Like Paul, the Lord encourages us not to build on other men’s foundations, Romans 15:20.  We are the called out ones, called out of the world first, and called out of man’s religious structures that interfere with the taking of the gospel to the masses.  How so?  It preempts ‘every member participation’.  The best evangelists on the planet are those plucked fresh from the world.  Connect them to Jesus and give other members of the body “their head” and they will blow doors off accomplishing taking the gospel to every nation of the world.  I’m looking for others with Like Mind, to continue on the journey to which Jesus calls us.  Life is too short to be little.  We must put our hands to the plow, and not look back.  Greetings in the mighty name of our Lord Jesus, Bruce Dickey – out of Russellville Arkansas and headed in all directions…..  Believers are like seeds, they contain within them the DNA to produce a harvest, as soon as they fall to the ground and die, bringing forth a plant that produces fruit… and if you think about it….  that’s organic and that is where organic church really comes from.  Not an institution, but from a family on mission together with Jesus.

Organic Church definitions and abbreviations

OC, organic church

IC, institutional church

Organic Church, here are two:  1 Neil Cole’s definition: 

I have come to understand church as this: the presence of Jesus among His people called out as a spiritual family to pursue His mission on this planet. 1.footnote

2Frank Viola’s definition:

By “organic church,” I mean a non-traditional church that is born out of spiritual life instead of constructed by human institutions and held together by religious programs. Organic church life is a grass roots experience that is marked by face-to-face community, every-member functioning, open-participatory meetings (opposed to pastor-to-pew services), non-hierarchical leadership, and the centrality and supremacy of Jesus Christ as the functional Leader and Head of the gathering. 2. footnote

Institutional Church:  any church headed primarily by one man (it can be a woman), usually a pastor of the congregation and is considered as clergy,  and usually in total control (if not told what to do by a elder or deacon board).  Typically there are few others who participate in the meetings.  A worship leader is usually viewed as a second tier clergy.

Organic Scripture most often quoted:  1 Cor. 14:26  What shall we say brothers:  When you come together, EVERYONE (this means you and me) has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.  ALL OF THESE must be done for the strengthening of the CHURCH (ekklesia).  CAPS and (paranthetical) emphasis mine, bd.

2nd Organic Scripture most often quoted:  1 Pet. 2:9  But you are a chosen people, a ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that YOU MAY DECLARE the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  CAPS emphasis mine, bd.

T. Austin Sparks – Often quoted minister of the gospel who coined the phrase, “organic expression of the church”, hence organic church. 3. footnote




Jesus Gets Organic

“Jesus Gets Organic,”  this phrase came from a facebook group post I made on 19 Sep 2011.  It came out of the blue as I typed the message.  Immediately I recognized it as a foundation on which to build, “a cornerstone.”  Having left institutional church at the end of January 2008, I have been on a lonely journey.  It’s one I feel the Lord Jesus wanted me to take.  It was risky, it was challenging, and it was life-giving.  Burden’s lifted, wounds healed, mind cleared, forgiveness flowed, and Jesus finally had someone he could use again.  In a way, I’ve been rejuvenated.   It occurs to me there are many more out there like myself, full of toxins due to burdens never meant to be carried alone.  The ideas behind organic church eliminate problems that the institutional church has enjoyed as baggage for hundreds and even thousands of years.