the weblog of Alan Knox

The Preeminence of Christ in the Church

Posted by on Sep 1, 2009 in blog links, gathering | 6 comments

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?


6 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 9-1-2009

    there’s some stuff here that i really like and other stuff that i just don’t see happening.
    working toward plural eldership works for me on many levels and it takes away some of the hierarchical issues that are present in many churches.
    acknowledging Jesus as the head of the church is good study but changing the marquee … probably ain’t happening.
    referring to one another as “brother” might just be viewed as a cultural anachronism and i see the concept dying an embarrassing death in many communities.
    i think that if you open the door to having multiple people “react” to the homily you’ll end up with a lot of fluff reaction and very little teaching. now having said that i’m not at all opposed to multiple lay leadership in the local church, in fact that’s how our community does it and you get a flavour for various opinion throughout the church year. this idea plays out more in the “priesthood of all believers” concept that i’m absolutely in favour of.
    observing the eucharist regularly (we do it weekly) is incredibly valuable and i think that too many churches take the wrong focus by getting away from the sacramental nature of the eucharist. post-modern folks value tradition and appreciate ritual so i think that we just need to build MORE ritual into our church lives.
    moving leaders away from the places of power removes more concepts of hierarchy so i’m perfectly fine with leaders viewing themselves more as servants than as bishops.
    everything about becoming more outwardly focused resonated huge for me and i couldnt agree more. we should be more focused on the world and i loved the bit about “attending the lost’s parties”.
    there was a lot that i agreed with there, and some of it … just wasn’t my taste. good stuff though.

  2. 9-1-2009

    shallowfozenwater,

    Thank you for the comment and for sharing your thoughts about Dave Black’s list.

    You said that opening it up for people to react to the “homily” would result in “a lot of fluff reaction and very little teaching”. Actually, I’ve found just the opposite to be true, especially when the people understand that they are responsible for teaching one another.

    Also, I’ve found its very easy to call someone “brother” or “sister” when you actually think of that person as your brother or sister.

    -Alan

  3. 9-1-2009

    Alan – Quite a list.

    Certainly a good beginning to recognize what is; ain’t.
    The religious system or The ekklesia of God?

    1- Plural eldership. Sounds like a good idea. But?
    The Bible talks about elders and qualifications for elders.
    Can you have one with out the other?
    Why did Paul give qualifications if not important?
    Ever meet anyone who fulfills the qualifications?

    An overseer, elder, “Must be”…

    blameless — unrebukeable, without fault.
    husband of one wife — married, male.
    rules well his own house — have a family, children.
    not greedy of filthy lucre — Not greedy for money.
    vigilant — no excessive wine, calm in spirit.
    sober — of a sound mind, self controlled.
    of good behavior — modest, unassuming, reserved.
    no striker — not quarrelsome, contentious.
    not a brawler — abstaining from fighting.
    not self willed — not self pleasing, not arrogant.
    not soon angry — not prone to anger.
    temperate — having power over, restraining.
    holy — undefiled by sin, free from wickedness.
    just — righteous, virtuous, innocent, faultless.

    “having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly”

    faithful — believing, one who trusts in God’s promises.
    not accused of riot — Strongs – asotia — unsavedness.
    an abandoned dissolute life, lost to principle.
    unruly — disobedient.

    if someone thinks they qualify?
    Is that pride and thus not without fault?

    The Bible talks about elders and qualifications for elders.
    Can you have one with out the other?

    5 – Yes, christianity is to be a participatory lifestyle
    and not a spectator lifestyle.

    “How is it then, brethren? when ye come together,
    every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine,
    hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.”

    Could the “Traditions of men” have deceived us?
    Could pastors in pulpits, preaching to people in pews,
    have made “the word of God” of non-effect?
    Has “the system” robbed “the ekklesia” of their
    born again birthright to speak and share
    what God has taught them and made real to them?
    Is there a living Christ within us and can Jesus speak
    to us and teach us all truth?

    It is written in the prophets,
    And they shall be all taught of God.
    John 6:45

    Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice,
    that he might instruct thee.
    Deuteronomy 4:36

    And other sheep I have,
    which are not of this fold: them also I must bring,
    and they shall hear my voice;
    and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice.
    If Not Now, When

  4. 9-1-2009

    Alan

    I liked a lot of what Dave had to say here. I think a lot of it is necessary in the body. The one thought I had that struck me after reading was that much of the steps listed here seem to be aimed at taking power away from the one (typically a pastor) and putting it into the hands of the many (plurality of elders, end of clergy/laity division, etc.). Moving the leadership of a body away from one man into the hands of many is certainly a step in the right direction, but it seems to be only one step. In my experience God doesn’t begin to supernaturally fix our hearts on Jesus as the leader of the church, then all we get a flesh-based decentralization of power. Obviously it’s not what Dave is trying to describe nor is anyone trying to advocate, but I think it’s important to make the distinction.

    That said, it becomes very important for us all to engage the Lord as the Lord of the Church. As we do this, He seems to be pretty good at orchestrating the flow of gifting and ministry within the body.

    Good thoughts all around, though.
    Travis

  5. 9-2-2009

    A. Amos Love,

    Thanks again for the comment.

    Travis,

    I agree. It does no good to replace one authority with a group authority. You might appreciate a post I wrote a few days ago called “People’s Church“.

    -Alan

  6. 4-20-2012

    When I grew up, we called each other brothers and sisters but our life was not about going to church we were the church every single day, every time when we were gathering.

    Many years passed by , iron curtain was taking down, and now , we all Go to church and we are getting called guys, folks… parishioners…