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Members and leaders

OPINION by Pastor Chuck DeVane, Special to The Sentinel-Record | March 5, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.

"These all continued with one accord."

-- Acts 1:14

In the Gospel of Luke, the author records the advent of Christ. In the book of Acts, Luke records the advent of the church. The Gospel tells of how Christ took upon Himself a body and gave it for the church. Acts tells of how the church became a body and gave itself for Christ.

Just as every person ought to know something of their ancestry, and every American ought to know about the founding of our country, so every Christian should have a vital interest in the beginnings of the church.

Though the word "church" does not appear in this paragraph, we find our forbearers being what the church is and doing what the church does. We are an assembly, assembling together, not forsaking the assembly (ref. Hebrews 10:25).

To repeat one of my oft-used observations, success in life is owed about 90% to just showing up. You want to be a good spouse, parent, friend, student, employee, church member? Then be present, not absent, give your best effort, and don't quit. Spell l-o-v-e with t-i-m-e, and the love you give will become effectual with the people with whom you spend time.

If you spend one hour each at a worship service, a small group Bible Study, and a prayer meeting, that's three. Add three more hours of personal Bible study and prayer (30 minutes a day, six days a week), that's six. Then, spend the other two hours, one hour each, a visit or a meal or a lengthy conversation, with a person already in your church and another person who needs to be in your church. The early church members gave much more, but can we give less than eight ours a week for Christ and His church?

Christianity and ecclesiology are synonymous, and one cannot consider himself a genuine Christian if he is not a good church member, like these originals. Together they prayed, putting on public display their faith in God. They preached, on this day taking a specific text for a certain need, of which we will say more in a moment. Subsequent texts in Acts will show them singing and praising God, reading Scripture, taking offerings, and sharing in communion and baptisms. The church today should strive to be unoriginal, just copying these regulative principles.

And, we find the first Christians in "one accord," which mean they shared the same passions, the same Spirit-inspired desires. They are the glory of God, the glad obedience to His word, and the getting out of the gospel to all the world. If you have any other agenda, you will do harm, not good, to your church.

Good leaders are called by God and God's people, by the invisible presence of the Holy Spirit and the visible church. Persons must know when they are being called by God to serve as a leader in the church, and the church must know based on their experience and observation of the person's character and gifts.

Good leaders are given authority to lead, but their authority is limited by plurality and democracy. Yes, the church virtually invented shared leadership and participatory decision-making in an age ruled by autocrats and iron fists. Peter was no Pope, but rather first among equal Apostles and Elders in the early church, whose major decisions needed to be ratified by the congregation at large, a practice continued to this day.

Good leaders must be able to speak scripturally, accurately, and boldly. Eloquence is overrated, but a Pastor who cannot preach is like a quarterback who cannot pass. There are other things to be done, for sure, but the main thing a Pastor does is speak for God, according to the word of God, to the people of God.

To any potential leaders out there, I give the advice Spurgeon gave to his students. If you can do anything else, do it! But if God compels you, preach, pastor, lead, serve. Just remember proven character and obvious ability are required. In other words, make sure you can drive, lawfully, before you get the keys to "one accord."

Then, in "one accord," let the members and leaders of Christ's church glorify God, give our glad obedience to the word of God, and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ in Hot Springs, Arkansas, America, and the world.

Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church, 5963 Central Ave. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected].

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