According to Paul, Jesus Christ has the preeminent place in the church:
And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. (Colossians 1:18 ESV)
But, at times, when you look at the various church meetings around the country (and perhaps the world), there are others who seem to be preeminent… that is, they seem to have the most significance. How can we as the church ensure that Jesus Christ has the preeminence?
Last week, Dave Black said this on his blog (Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 11:25 am):
What will enhance His preeminence?
Some time ago I began a list of ways I feel we can help our local churches become more consistent with the Scripture’s emphasis upon the supremacy of Christ. If we take Col. 1:18 seriously, its ramifications in any local church will become creative and exciting. But we must be willing to follow the Scriptures into the nitty-gritty, day-by-day workings of our churches. Rigid, harsh, legalistic measures have no place in this process. But perhaps there are some practical steps we can take as the Holy Spirit leads us.
1) Work to implement a biblical pattern of plural eldership.
2) Acknowledge Jesus as your church’s only “Senior Pastor” (1 Pet. 5:4).
3) Substitute the name “Jesus Christ” for your pastor’s name on your church’s marquee.
4) Begin calling each other “brother” and “sister” in accordance with Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 23. This includes leadership.
5) Follow Paul’s injunction in 1 Cor. 14 and allow several people to teach during the assembly while others weigh their teaching. This can be accomplished even if you retain the traditional homily/monologue by allowing others to have a “word” either before or after the sermon.
6) Encourage the priesthood of all believers by allowing greater participation in your gatherings.
7) Observe the Lord’s Supper regularly (weekly if possible) as a full meal in which you celebrate the presence and soon return of Jesus. Remember, many evangelicals are converting to Catholicism and the Orthodox Church today partly because they have grown weary of the anthropocentricity of the typical evangelical church, where the pastor is central.
8 ) Leaders can avoid giving the impression that they are “above” or “apart from” the congregation by speaking from the floor (instead of from the platform) and by foregoing the use of a pulpit.
9) Put missions first in all you do. Your church can’t come first. If you’re occupied with its life and function, you’ll think inwardly. What sets a true evangelical church apart is its commitment to the Gospel.
10) Accordingly, adjust your church budget to reflect a commitment to outreach rather than inreach. No more of the mindset of “God bless us four and no more”! In prayer, in strategy, in cooperation — become intentional about reaching out. We do this by working in social concern within our communities, by planting new churches, by encouraging sister churches, by eating and drinking with the lost and even attending their parties (as Jesus did). We do this by folding the new lambs into the flock. We do this by growing through world missions and by developing a plan to infiltrate and influence it for Jesus Christ. We do this by keeping the Great Commission before the people both in knowledge and in practice. We do this by supporting missionaries — not just those sent out by a denominational board but real flesh-and-blood church members. Elders themselves must lead by giving and going. Let your church reach and reach and reach — in all directions!
11) Teach your people that every Christian is a minister and a missionary and that all of us together are necessary if the Body of Christ is to grow. Then, as the bond of love with Christ and others is secured, we can go out into the world and do great exploits for God.
Is he correct? What would you add to or subtract from his list?