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The Permanent Revolution, by Hirsch & Catchim

With by Skye Jethani. - Reimagining the way you relate to God.

Cracking Your Church's Culture Code, by Samuel Chand

The 21 Most Powerful Minutes in a Leader's Day, by John C. Maxwell

The Forgotten Ways Handbook, by Alan Hirsch

The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations, by Brafman & Becksrom

Untamed, by Alan Hirsch

Church 3.0, by Neil Cole

The Shaping of Things to Come, by Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost

Monthly Archives: April 2012

Up to this point in Acts, the witness of the Scriptures about leadership in the early Ecclesia has really only described the selection of an “apostle” to replace Judas. The criteria for that selection was clear – it related to one being an eye witness of the life of Jesus, from His baptism to His resurrection. (Acts 1:21-22) The number of those who fit this description was limited in time and geography. Those who could be this kind of witness would only be around for so long. And while you could draw fair implications – there was no mention of any character qualifications for that position.

Now in Chapter 6, there is a need for a specific kind of service:  to see that the Greek widows were provided for in the food distribution. We noticed that at this point there were at least 5000 in the company of the disciples (4:4), and Jesus had earlier set the precedent of serving food to this number with the twelve near the  Jordan River (Mark 6:41, Matt 15:29-39); But now the twelve find they cannot give the attention needed to avoid overlooking the Greek widows among the disciples, and still continue giving witness to the life of Jesus (serving up the “Word”). They need to delegate this “ministry” to others.

Two things struck us about this passage:

1. Here is the first time that character qualifications are mentioned in selecting disciples for a specific task – Seven who were:

  • of good reputation,
  • full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom.

The requirement of being full of the Holy Spirit is impressive to us – this was not mentioned in the selection of an apostle to replace Judas in the work. We think of this Acts 6 passage as the selection of “deacons” – people who would “wait on tables”. Today if we thought that someone was “full of the Holy Spirit”, we would more likely make him Pope, or at least a pastor of a very large church…but they were selecting table waiters. What the heck?!

2. The other thing we noticed actually helped us make sense of this. When we studied through the life of Christ, we noticed that He dramatically opposed hierarchical leadership. He made a point of contrasting it with His own way of leading when He taught the disciples in Matthew 20:24-27, and when He showed the disciples in the washing of their feet (John 13). The reality was, the Twelve didn’t think of this as a “lesser ministry”!! The selection of the seven was not an appointment of a spiritual “B-Team” as we suppose, but a recognition and delegation of disciples to carry the apostolic mission to the Greek widows. The text bears this out not only in the qualifications stated, but in how it refers to the two tasks. Both the “serving of the Word” and the “serving of tables” (6:2 and 6:4), though translated “ministry” and “serving”, respectively, are described with the same Greek word: diakonai. The point of this is that the twelve eye witnesses of Jesus’ life and resurrection did not think of themselves as superior to the seven – That’s OUR bias, not theirs!

For our part, I think we need to repent of our hierarchical view of leadership in the Kingdom of God, and return to Jesus’ teaching on this. It has corrupted our reading of Paul’s instruction to Timothy about appointing leaders (1Timothy 3), and so our whole view of leadership in the Church.

May the Lord restore us to simple, servant leadership.  Amen


AS THE JOURNEY COMMUNITY was walking through the book of Acts, we stumbled over something I had suspected, but never noticed before. It had already become clear to us that the constant theme of the testimony of this book was the Witness of Jesus as Messiah. This was the purpose of receiving the “power” mentioned in Acts 1:8, and so also the reason for all the gifts of the Spirit (this brought to our community an amazing unity around the issue of gifts). But it was Chapter 5, verse 32, that really rocked my world on the meaning of “apostolic”, and the place of this influence in the church.

Peter said, “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross.  He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.” (emphasis added)

Now, we had read in the first Chapter of Acts how the eleven Apostles chose Judas’ replacement as an eye witness of the life of Jesus – This was a requirement for those who were considered: that he had witnessed Jesus’ life from His baptism to His resurrection – He had to be a qualified eye witness!  (by the way, this position of apostleship was referred to as a diakonias in 1:17, 25; 6:4; They were humbly serving as witnesses) This is the strictest sense of “apostle” used in Scripture, but not the only sense.  The point is that the eye witnesses of the physical life of Christ here on earth did not all die!

According to Peter’s statement in 5:32, the Holy Spirit of God is an eye witness – and an “apostle” in the same sense of the original twelve! AND, He is given to everyone who obeys God. How does one “obey God” – Jesus taught that to do the work of God is to believe in the One He has sent (John 6:29). It is the witness of the Holy Spirit Himself, as an eye witness of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, that brings us to faith in the first place; Then that same “Witness” comes to live in us who believe – bringing into our lives the same “apostolic” witness that the original twelve were commissioned with.

The punch line is that we cannot really “witness” to Christ from ourselves – this is why it is so uncomfortable when we are trying to convince people by logic or some other proof. Our witness of Jesus Christ is our treasure, and it is connected to the way we finally heard the Spirit of God and believed Him – we believed HIS witness! Our “testimony” is not what we ourselves know about Jesus, it is what the Spirit of God Himself is saying to us about Jesus… when we are listening.  So, when we speak by the prompting of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we speak from an eye witness authority of “these things” as Peter said it. This is the true power of  the Church…it always has been.