The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.” –1 Peter 5:1-3
“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” – Acts 20:28
Both Peter and Paul expressed their deep desire that the elders of the church take proper care of that for which Jesus gave His own life. There is just nothing quite so precious in God’s sight as a healthy church. And according to His plan, there are strict boundaries of responsibility and authority that must be observed. These boundaries include both authority exercised by the elders of the Church, and the obedience and submission to such authority by all the membership. We read in Hebrews 13:17, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” What a deep submission is spoken of here, but also what a tremendous responsibility. The elders are to stand guard and be vigilant regarding the souls of the saints. They will give an account of their leadership concerning whether or not it contributed to the salvation of those over which they were placed in spiritual authority. Such a responsibility requires a means by which we can hold ourselves accountable, long before God brings us before His judgment seat! We would do well to find a way by which we can know of a certainty that we are properly watching over the flock of God, which He purchased with such a dear price.
The six principles of revival that we will study in the following chapters can help in this “self-judgment.” Hopefully, they will help the reader and the church leader in taking an honest look at the present and past, and then to formulate a plan for the future. The goal, as we saw in the preceding chapters, is the spiritual health of each and every saint in every congregation. And, as was brought out in the last chapter, church leadership must make a regular assessment of this health. To ignore, or be willingly ignorant of this necessary function of church leadership will only contribute to a poorly equipped membership trapped in spiritual lethargy. Even worse, it might lead us to substitute the efforts of the flesh for the fruit of the Spirit in order to appear genuinely Christian, when in actual fact, we are simply descending further and further into hypocrisy. As Paul put it in Romans 8:8, “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”
Another objective in presenting these six principles of revival is to help us in creating the environment that is conducive to spiritual health in the membership. Like the way that Jesus used four types of ground to symbolize the four kinds of humanity that hears the Word in His parable of the sower and the seed, we can focus our efforts on providing good ground in our local and national churches in which the saints can be rooted, nourished, cared for, and in which they can spring up to spiritual fruitfulness. To fail in this nearly guarantees underdeveloped church membership and stunted spiritual growth. Even when certain saints strive for more, they will not have the proper climate in which to grow as they should. Desire on the part of church members is certainly something we long for, but they must be given the tools and the opportunities through which they may discover their own usefulness in God’s building program.
Another area we will target in these six principles is realizing that these can and should be applied at every level of Christian leadership. No matter where we serve in church responsibility and authority, we can use these principles to gauge whether or not we are personally fulfilling our roles in furnishing those with whom we work that which is necessary for true church growth and development. We will see that there will remain a continual need for re-assessment as we work toward more and more revival and harvest. National leaders will be able to look at their churches, and by using these six principles, determine if they are on course, or deviating from the true goals. Hopefully, local church pastors will find these principles invaluable in helping to ensure that they are adhering to the pattern for reaching and discipling the saints outlined in the New Testament. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:33-11:1, “Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” Church leadership needs this kind of revelation and this kind of burden. It’s a revelation in the sense that this is truly our mission: seeking the profit of many; and this is the burden: follow us as we follow Christ. In other words, senior church leaders must show that they are committed to the development of the next level under them.
We can also use these principles of revival to ensure that we are working in harmony with the four unchanging laws of leadership:
- Leaders produce leaders
- Spiritual leadership is not automatic
- Real leadership is based upon spiritual qualification and training, not on position
- Leadership in action = revival
- Taking Ownership Of the Vision - March 17, 2017
- Clearly Communicate The Vision - March 10, 2017
- Joining The Vision - March 3, 2017
- The Scriptural Vision - February 26, 2017
- It Is Possible To Have The Wrong Vision - February 19, 2017
- Vision - February 12, 2017
- Principles Don’t Change - February 5, 2017
- Passing It On - January 29, 2017
- The Big Picture - January 22, 2017
- Checklists - January 15, 2017