Dr. J. R. Miller has written a book that directly challenges an average American evangelical status quo: the supposed office of pastor. In Elders Lead a Healthy Family, the popular “CEO” church-leadership model is directly, yet respectfully, critiqued and contrasted with a shared elder-leadership structure more faithful to New Testament ecclesiology. No more “senior pastors,” “associate pastors,” and the like, for church polity—a model that more closely resembles Western corporate business structures than the plurality of elders portrayed in Acts and Paul’s pastoral epistles. Rather, Jesus alone is the “Senior Pastor” (1 Peter 5:4), and all those serving as leaders in the church are His equal under-shepherds. With this in mind, Miller promotes a structure where the local church resembles a family fellowship rather than assuming a leadership model with one man on top followed by lower-tiered clergy (which effectively returns us to the pre-Reformation clergy / laity divide). Far from being a free-flowing, leader-less frenzy, however, the author takes us back to how the NT defines and describes the office of elder, and a plurality of elders–who serve more as “big brothers” than a special class of ordained clergy.
Because Dr. Miller actually practices what he preaches—a shared leadership model with a plurality of elders all bearing the burden (…even the weekly preaching!)—I cannot recommend this book enough. Here is a true practitioner of elder-led churches with a wealth of pastoral and academic experience that only adds undoubted credentials to the book. And, for those interested in the perspective of a real-life working “elder’s wife” (contra. “pastor’s wife”), Dr. Miller’s wife, Suzanne, adds a priceless chapter of her own which is itself worth the price of the book. Rather than merely talking about “shared leadership” or a “plurality of elders,” which are common buzz-words with today’s non-denominational pastoral teams, Dr. Miller’s Elders Lead a Healthy Family actually outline’s what it looks like–and how the church functions better by it to the glory of her Chief Shepherd.
Dr. Miller’s article,”The Unity of Brotherhood in the African Church: Establishing a Biblical self-Identity in the Shared Leadership of Elders,” was peer reviewed and selected for publication in Renewal: Journal of West Africa Theological Seminary 3, no. 1 (October 2016): 49-73.
The Continent of Africa has an enduring Christian legacy; both in what has been penned in the annals of history, and in the future that has yet to be written. Writing as an observer from the West, it is my hope that the Church in Africa can build on recent progress and overcome the errors of history to build a strong church on the foundation of the historic biblical faith She helped foster in the early centuries of Christianity. The African Church can grow stronger through the establishment of local congregations founded on shared leadership (more than one man leading the church), the equality of every believer functioning as spiritual-siblings, and a plurality of Elders—which is the tradition given to us in the Scripture. Embracing a shared leadership structures using multiple Elders in local churches can help the African Church reach two important goals. First, embracing biblical shared leadership will help each congregation overcome the abuse of power reflected in the “Pastor as CEO” model, where the church is run more like a business, and replace it with a biblical model of Family-leadership. Second, building local churches on a family-model of shared leadership will position the African Church as a world influencer.
Steelers and Cowboys Post-Season Suffering Together #NotMySuperBowl #GivePeaceAChance
As I did with President Obama, today on inauguration day I am lifting up a prayer for my President Donald J. Trump. I must admit, these are words that I never imagined I would write. Like most Americans, I never thought Trump stood a chance of winning, but here we are in 2017 looking toward the unknown of the next four years.
Today, my biggest prayer is for healing. The rhetoric of the 2016 campaign was extremely divisive from leaders in both parties. In 2008, one of my biggest prayers was that Obama’s Presidency would increase racial unity in America. I wrote at that time,
Now, less than 50 years [after the civil rights movement of the 1960’s], we stand at the edge of a new era when the fullness of our constitutional promise that “All Men are created equal” will be achieved. On January 20th, 2009, Barack Obama will be sworn in is as the first non-white President of the United States of America.
To be certain, this does not mean the end of all racial problems. As noted in the February 2001 article in Time, there are some who say “Obama Is Not Black Enough.” For others, Obama is not white enough. In a country of this size, with a great diversity of cultures, there will always be some racial hatred and bigotry. But look how far we have come!
Sadly, the last 8 years our leaders have helped foment racial division, weakened traditional institutions of moral strength, and fractured many once strong relationships.
- I pray against any leader who tries to advance the culture of fear as a way to keep their power and wealth.
- To those who chose violent protest and riots as their path of dissent, I pray they would abandon these immoral tactics.
- My prayer for President Trump is that he would elevate his rhetoric, lead with integrity, appoint godly people, and be a source for reconciliation in American politics.
1 Timothy 2:1–6 (ESV)
2 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
I do not share Trump’s underlying value system. I will wait and see what policies he actually proposes, but I do not have high expectations for the Trump Presidency. I have a feeling it will be an unpredictable bag of some positive and some disastrous policies. That being said, one major reason Trump won the Presidency in 2016 is people do not know what “news” to trust so they end up picking the news that fits their preferred worldview.
This is a dangerous situation when ideology trumps truth in reporting. It is simply the classic Aesop’s Fable of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf;” too many false alarms and the people don’t know when the alarm is real. Below is my retelling of this fable for our modern world.
The Reporter Who Cried Trump
There once was a reporter who was bored as she sat in front of her computer checking her social media rankings. To increase her followers she took a great breath and typed out, “Trump! Trump! Trump is a racist!”
The American people took to twitter to help the reporter spread the fearful message and drive Tump away. But no sooner did they reshare the warning, they found the news was fake. The reporter laughed at the sight of their angry faces.
“Don’t cry ‘Trump’, reporter,” said the American people, “when there’s no evidence of your charge!” They went grumbling and complaining back to their Facebook accounts.
Later, the reporter cried out again,”Trump! Trump! Trump is a Russin stooge!” To her naughty delight, she watched the American people take to twitter to help spread the fearful message and drive Tump away
When the American people saw the news was fake they sternly said, “Save your frightened tweets for when there is really something wrong! Don’t cry ‘Tump’ when the news is fake!”
But the reporter just grinned as her twitter shares soared and watched the people go grumbling and complaining on Facebook.
Later, she saw a real danger when Trump proposed a terrible law. Alarmed, the reporter jumped on twitter and cried out as loudly as she could, “Trump! Trump!”
But the American people thought the reporter was trying to fool them again, and so they didn’t reshare and many more unfollowed her.
During the next 24-hour news cycle, some people wondered why the reporter hadn’t returned to twitter to share more salacious news. They scoured social media to find the reporter’s latest news. They found her unemployed.
“There really was a Trump scare this time! But, the American people have scattered! I cried out, “Trump!” Why didn’t you reshare?”
An old man tried to comfort the reporter as they walked to the unemployment office.
“We’ll help you look for a new job in the morning,” he said, putting his arm around the reporter, “Nobody believes a liar…even when she is telling the truth!”
A DAY OF FASTING & HUMILIATION 1798
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, JOHN ADAMS
A PROCLAMATION As the safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and the blessing of Almighty God, and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which the people owe to Him, but a duty whose natural influence is favorable to the promotion of that morality and piety without which social happiness can not exist nor the blessings of a free government be enjoyed; and as this duty, at all times incumbent, is so especially in seasons of difficulty or of danger, when existing or threatening calamities, the just judgments of God against prevalent iniquity, are a loud call to repentance and reformation; and as the United States of America are at present placed in a hazardous and afflictive situation by the unfriendly disposition, conduct, and demands of a foreign power, evinced by repeated refusals to receive our messengers of reconciliation and peace, by depredations on our commerce, and the infliction of injuries on very many of our fellow-citizens while engaged in their lawful business on the seas – under these considerations it has appeared to me that the duty of imploring the mercy and benediction of Heaven on our country demands at this time a special attention from its inhabitants.
I have therefore thought fit to recommend, and I do hereby recommend, that Wednesday, the 9th day of May next, be observed throughout the United States as a day of solemn humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that the citizens of these States, abstaining on that day from their customary worldly occupations, offer their devout addresses to the Father of Mercies agreeably to those forms or methods which they have severally adopted as the most suitable and becoming; that all religious congregations do, with the deepest humility, acknowledge before God the manifold sins and transgressions with which we are justly chargeable as individuals and as a nation, beseeching Him at the same time, of His infinite grace, through the Redeemer of the World, freely to remit all our offenses, and to incline us by His Holy Spirit to that sincere repentance and reformation which may afford us reason to hope for his inestimable favor and heavenly benediction; that it be made the subject of particular and earnest supplication that our country may be protected from all the dangers which threaten it; that our civil and religious privileges may be preserved inviolate and perpetuated to the latest generations; that our public councils and magistrates may be especially enlightened and directed at this critical period; that the American people may be united in those bonds of amity and mutual confidence and inspired with that vigor and fortitude by which they have in times past been so highly distinguished and by which they have obtained such invaluable advantages; that the health of the inhabitants of our land may be preserved, and their agriculture, commerce, fisheries, arts, and manufactures be blessed and prospered; that the principles of genuine piety and sound morality may influence the minds and govern the lives of every description of our citizens and that the blessings of peace, freedom, and pure religion may be speedily extended to all the nations of the earth.
And finally, I recommend that on the said day the duties of humiliation and prayer be accompanied by fervent thanksgiving to the Bestower of Every Good Gift, not only for His having hitherto protected and preserved the people of these United States in the independent enjoyment of their religious and civil freedom, but also for having prospered them in a wonderful progress of population, and for conferring on them many and great favors conducive to the happiness and prosperity of a nation. Given under my hand the seal of the United States of America, at Philadelphia, this 23d day of March, A.D. 1798, and of the Independence of the said States the twenty-second.
By the President : JOHN ADAMS