Leadership in God's Family (Acts 6:1-6) Rubel Shelly

Rubel Shelly: James A. Belasco and Ralph C. Stayer, Flight of the Buffalo Pattern for Church Leadership. Shelly in red, review notes in black, other quotations in blue.

Rubel Shelly defining leadership in terms of BIRDS totally misses the point: the LEAD bird is the one doing the hard work. They are not up front to be seen, make decisions or be applauded but to CARRY the rest of the flock. For instance, a lead bird would never tell a tired widow bird that she must be a sacrificial giver to be part of the flock. She is not told to honor the lead bird but to let HIM carry part of her load.

The Buffalo more exactly defines the NAVIGATING THE WINDS OF CHANGE method: if you can exert enough effort a young GOLDEN CALF can rise up, pretend to be the leader, get everyone involved in PRAYERFUL BRINKMANSHIP and in absolute ignorance get the flock murdered by its leader.

The old DUCT TAPE scam is one of the modern examples. Tell people that they should have duct tape and plastic sheeting on hand and the WILD GEESE flock out and wrap their entire house in plastic and duct tape. Here is exactly what the PANIC CREATORS of the NEW STYLE WORSHIP have created as GOLDEN CALVES and not WORK HORSES:

Because a flock of wild birds is the new paradigm of leadership for the church we note that Enoch said that God will come with ten thousand of His saints to execute judgment upon those led astray by musical images and practices. This, in turn, led to the rejection of the Word and the appeal to their own experiences as authority.

From the Book of Enoch quoted by Jesus, Peter and Jude at least 128 times, those for whom God will come with ten thousand of His saints to execute judgment on the godless are LED by youth indwelled by the SPIRIT OF SATAN to lead the faithfull off a clift by the use of choirs, instruments, exciting rituals and perverted sexuality. Satan is a FOUL bird and his CHANGE AGENTS are "of that evil one like Cain."

Enoch speaks of a rotating eldership under the HEAD HONCHO

Enoch says of the birds:

"And I observed during the time, that thus thirty-seven (35) shepherds were overlooking, all of whom finished in their respective periods as the first.

Others then received them into their hands, that they might overlook them in their respective periods, every shepherd in his own period.

"Afterwards I saw in the vision, that all the birds of heaven arrived; eagles, the avest, kites and ravens. The eagle instructed them all began to devour the sheep, to peck out their eyes, and to eat up their bodies.

"The sheep then cried out; for their bodies were devoured by the birds.
"I also cried out, and groaned in my sleep
against the shepherd which overlooked the flock.

And the 35 elders just let it happen.

Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them. Eze.34:10

Because so many follow the lead of Dr. Shelly it is important to decide whether navigating birds is the proper paradigm for the eldership of the church when God has universally chosen to be the Shepherd of His people who are imaged as a flock more like lambs than wild geese or more destructive birds.

A point might be made, however, about church leadership if the point person of the flight of wild geese was the leader. He was not. He was the "nose cone" of the bullet who never took the high seat.

Dr. Rubel Shelly Sermon From: (Leadership in God's Family (Acts 6:1-6))

Rubel Shelly: A fundamental insight Christians need about the nature of the church is that it is a family where everyone belongs, everyone is valued, and everyone is responsible for its function. It is not a restaurant where a fairly predictable bunch of patrons show up with some degree of regularity, sit down to an appetizing and nourishing meal, linger for a while in pleasant surroundings, and then get up and go home -- feeling no sense of connectedness or interdependence with one another.

It seems to be that a good Biblical "throw away" pattern is sacrificed in order to make a new one. Feeding on the Word cannot be the CAUSE for the disconnect when time "in the holy place" is over. So why connect the two? We propose that the disconnect is sermonizing the Word as performance and music which converts the "audience" into a flock of wide-eyed owls sitting on a tree limb.

Why proscribe the role of the shepherds even before they are selected? Why is the only apparent reason for the assembly at all--in addition to remembering the Lord--simply written off their job descriptions. We will see later that even as momentary "leader of the flight team" they must be subserventient to "the larger group." Did Paul and Peter have nothing of value for the modern church leadership?

If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. 1Ti.4:6

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4

Not even Jesus spoke except from the mouth of God.

But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. 1 Pet 1:25

WHEREFORE laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies (theatrics), and envies, and all evil speakings, 1 Pet 2:1

As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 1 Pet 2:2

It is a fact, however, that it is the noise of song and sermon which dissociates people, and having had worship performed for them they can retire to their own world where Dr. Shelly has no statistics about how people relate once the "duty" of worship is over.

We believe that the universal theme of the Bible is that the local assembly is the unique place to come to feed upon the predictable Word of God. The word "flock" does not mean "a flock of wild geese" but a flock of lamb-like people. And the gospel or good news is that Jesus died to free them from "anxiety created by religious ritual" and to come "beside still waters where He can feed them." He has taken over that duty.

The meal is "appetizing and nourishing" only if it has been previously prepared by the Lord.

God through Isaiah warns against replacing new wine religious festivals with feeding the lambs.

The elder has no greater or possibly no other duty than to feed the flock. The Chief Shepherd tells the under shepherds what to feed, where to feed and when to feed:

So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. Jn.21:15

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

This was passed on to the elders, not the preacher,

He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. Tit.1:9

The church was modelled after the synagogue which was a place of feeding with the Word and HAD NO PRAISE SERVICE. Its role was much more limited than the corporate church of today. Therefore, it might be easier to restore the church to the pastoral leader than to find elders to regulate or moderate the church as more corporation than "family." Peter passed on the direct command which he heard from Jesus:

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: 1 Peter 5:1

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; 1 Peter 5:2

Until the Sophists it was considered obscene to get paid for teaching others what you knew. The "oxen" of Paul's discourse gets the nibblings while he is threshing. When the primary teaching role is usurped from the elders by a hireling then the teaching is "for filthy lucre" whatever the motive.

Neither as being lords over Gods heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 1 Peter 5:3

Until "lead goose" is not the hand-selected leader of the flock; he is not the Lord but he sets the example of slavery and abuse until his head is bloody and he is exhausted. Then, he falls back to the rear to be supported by the flight pattern of the front goose until he then moves back up to take the abuse. As an "elder" he supports the children and the children do not support him else he is worse than an infidel.

And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. 1 Peter 5:4

Too many "religious festivals" are for the sole purpose of giving a keynote crown of glory as "king for the year." No one who receives such glory can be a lead goose.

If the elders must bow to the wishes of the larger group then it would appear that they need not be prepared as the assembly's sole pastor-teachers. Scripture does not place such limits on the elders.

The ultimate image of an idealized spiritual life would be:

For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. Re.7:17

And He will pour out the wine of His wrath upon those who do not feed them with Divine food but secular nonsense.

No modern "pastor" can define away the predictible word of God as the "ministry of the Word" which the apostles defined as the spiritual work of the church. And no human pattern can be distorted to remove the authority for the word from the elders as the sole, Bible-authorized, feeders or pastor-teachers of the flock.

Rubel Shelly: God's family needs effective leaders. The church needs leaders who see its life as family life rather than an organizational flow chart or business plan.

We need shepherds, (These are the only Pastor - Teachers - preachers in my Bible)
ministry leaders
, (God called this a curse when Israel demanded a human king as leader)
staff who are connected with this body through service, sacrifice, and submission. (not in my Bible)

God's family is made up in heaven. On earth, it is still the "flock" governed by the shepherds. Lambs go about their business of feeding when the shepherd leads them into the word and beside still waters. The shepherd does not do the grazing, chewing his cud and then puking it up for the "dirty lambs." The shepherds are the ministry leaders and it is important not to make shepherds and ministry leaders (male and female) co-equal in authority and responsibility.

When Israel said "set a king over us" God promised a pyramidal "ministry" leadership where, however sincere, each leader lived off the tithe of the people.

He said, "This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 1 Sam 8:11

The tithe was given to the Levites to be civil leaders and to stand between a sinful people and a Holy God. When the Israelite elders demanded a human king they violated the "congregational" nature of the nation. Thereafter, the king (dominant pastor) lets the flock pay up to half of their wages for the civil "tithe" and then demands ten percent or more for "the church plant, buildings and grounds and staff."

God warned of a modern Seeker form of para-chuch mentlity:

And he will appoint him captains (ministry leaders) over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots. (these are musical instruments) 1 Sam 8:12

He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 1 Sam 8:13

He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants (staff). 1 Sam 8:14

He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. (staff) 1 Sam 8:15
Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle [b] and donkeys he will take for his own use. 1 Sam 8:16

He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 1 Sam 8:17

On the upper part of the two slabs following the battle-scene was the triumphal return after victory.

In front of the procession were warriors throwing the heads of the slain at the feet of the conquerors.

Two musicians, playing on stringed instruments, preceded the charioteers, who were represented unarmed, and bearing their standards;

above them was an eagle with a human head in its talons.

Euripides Helen


Once with swift foot the mountain Mother of the gods rushed through the wooded glen, and the river's streams and the deep-thundering sea wave, yearning for her lost daughter, whose name may not be spoken.

The loudly rattling castanets cried out a shrill sound,
when they, swift-footed
as whirlwinds,
the goddess on her chariot yoked to wild creatures, after the girl that was snatched away from the circling chorus of maidens--

here Artemis with her bow, and there the grim-eyed goddess, in full armor, with her spear. But Zeus, who sees clearly from his throne in heaven, brought to pass another destiny.

(3) Chamman ("sun-image"):

chamman, the King James Version "images," "idols"; the Revised Version (British and American) "sun-images" (Leviticus 26:30; 2 Chronicles 14:5; 34:4,7; Isaiah 17:8; 27:9; Ezekiel 6:4,6):

This worship may originally have come from Babylonia, but the reverence of the sun under the name Baal-hamman had long been common in Palestine before Joshua and the Israelites entered the country. These sun-images were probably obelisks or pillars connected with the worship of some local Baal. The chariot and horses of the sun, mentioned (2 Kings 23:11) as having an honored place at the western entrance of the Jerusalem Temple, represented not a local but a foreign cult. In Babylonian temples, sacrifices were made to the sun-chariot, which seems to have had a special significance in time of war (Pinches, HDB, IV, 629; see also CHARIOTS OF THE SUN).

CopyRight Perseus

In Babylon which Israel's elders wanted to imitate:

Let me advise you and may my advice be taken. Direct your steps to Jirsu , the foremost house of the land of Lagac , open your storehouse up and take out wood from it; build (?) a chariot for your master and harness a donkey stallion to it;

decorate this chariot with refined silver and lapis lazuli and equip it with arrows that will fly out from the quiver like sunbeams,
and with the
an-kara weapon, the strength of heroism; fashion for him his beloved standard and write your name on it, and then enter before the warrior who loves gifts, before your master lord Nin-jirsu in E-ninnu-the-white-Anzud-bird,

together with his beloved balaj drum Ucumgal-kalama, his famous instrument to which he keeps listening. Your requests will then be taken as if they were commands;

and the drum will make the inclination of the lord - which is as inconceivable as the heavens - will make the inclination of Nin-jirsu , the son of Enlil ,

favourable for you so that he will reveal the design of his house to you in every detail.

With his powers, which are the greatest, the warrior will make the house thrive (?) for you

"The true shepherd Gudea is wise, and able too to realize things. Accepting what Nance had told him, he opened his storehouse up and took out wood from it. Gudea checked (?) the wood piece by piece, taking great care of the wood. He smoothed mes wood, split halub wood with an axe and built (?) a blue chariot from them for him. He harnessed to it the stallion Pirij-kase-pada .

He fashioned for him his beloved standard, wrote his name on it and then entered before the warrior who loves gifts,
before his master lord Nin-jirsu in E-ninnu-the-white-
Anzud-bird together with his beloved drum, Ucumgal-kalama, his famous instument to which he keeps listening.
He joyfully brought the
drum to him in the temple. Gudea came out of the shrine E-ninnu with a radiant face.

The most destructive reconstruction of a tribal leadership means that each "service" diminishes to the extent it is funneled through a "ministry" system. Great "servants" of God are regularly swept aside because of new and improved commercial-like systems where leadership is selected from the corporate world with very little deep Biblical qualifications.

Rubel Shelly: and staff who are connected with this body through service, sacrifice, and submission.

Here we see "staff" which must connect with "body" in some way. By analogy, one might suppose hiring a "staff" to connect and cordinate my personal body. Is the staff not part of the body? In the paradigm of the human king to replace the direct rule of God, the king was distinct from the "body." The king's worship was the worship of all secular, pagan kingdoms. Mercifully, the "congregation" was always excluded from the pagan worship.

Elders and deacons speak of spiritual leadership: staff speaks of usurpation of the wages of widows and orphans for the aggrandizement of staff which has no biblical authority when the church is biblically organized.

The "staff" of a body is its own arms, lets and other body parts. There can be no church when "staff" is one one side and "body" is removed where a disconnect is even remotely possible. Extra-"family" surrogates deny the nature of the church as an internal, one another ministry.

Rubel Shelly: We need flexible people in leadership who can think creatively.

The sin of Israel was that they improvised like David. That is, they repudiated the Word as it had been delivered to them and invented new and improved methods of "worship." God leaves no room for improvising or using commercial gurus to replace the Word of Lord Jesus Christ:

the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel Col 1:5

that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God's grace in all its truth. Col.1:6

"they employed on their light, enervating unmeaning music, and if they were in earnest enough, justified their inventions by the example of David... The word can mean no other than devise.

He introduced into the Temple-service the use of the stringed instruments, the kinnor, (the lyre) and the nebel (the harp) in addition to the cymbals.

Whence these, in contrast to the trumpets, are called the instruments of David." (Barnes, Albert, Amos, p. 308

When the elders of Israel thought that they were "thinking creatively" they indeed were being flexible. However, they didn't know enough to know that they were just giving more ancient, Canaanite or Babylonian worship a second incarnation. They thought that they could "baptize" or "color" pagan practices to make them lovely to God but they were dispersed and distroyed along with all of those following inventive, flexible and creative religionists.

Israel wanted a king like the nations so that they could worship like the nations. God gave them permission and temporary success at "collecting the people" but in the end they died by starving to death for the Word of God (Amos 5, 6, 8):

"From (the Uraritic text) come references to a class of Temple personnel designated by the term serim, who exercised functions similar to those of the Hebrew singers during the monarchy and later times. Some of the servants of David who were designated in 1 Kings 4:31 by (a) term meaning 'aboriginal' or 'native sons,' and who possessed Canaanite names such as Heman, Chalcol, and Darda, were engaged in various forms of musical activity. As such they were described by the phrase 'sons of Mahol,' a Hebrew term closely related to (the Greek),

used of a semi-circular area in which the Greek chorus danced, and meaning 'members of the orchestral guild.' See how they tried to triumph over Jesus with music. The dance was the Greek chorus for women. If they could get Jesus to sing and dance while they piped, He would be polluted and disqualified.

A further reflection of this musical interest became apparent when Megiddo was excavated and the treasure room of the royal palace was uncovered. From this area was recovered a plaque inlaid with ivory, depicting a royal personage seated on a throne. He was drinking from a small bowl, and was being entertained by a court musician who stood before him plucking the strings of a lyre." (Harrison, R. K., Introduction to the Old Testament, Eerdmans, p. 335, see p. 411).

Thomas Campbell puts a strong emphasis upon reading the Word in the assembly because the songs have been invented and the sermons preached. Earlier church fathers such as John Chrysostom show that this was the early model. As with the synagogue, therefore, the church needs competent Bible students with little need to "mesh" as cogs in a wheel.

Titus was to finish Paul's unfinished business of identifying the elders in each city. The reason for elders was:

For there are many rebellious (creative) people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. Titus 1:10

To stop the "many" who in Corinth were commercial "apostles" self-appointed to be the husband and father of the "family" with command authority and a salary, Paul provided the only resource in the Christian religion:

He (the elder) must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he

can encourage others by sound doctrine
and refute those who oppose it. Titus 1:9

The false teachers must be refuted:

They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach--and that for the sake of dishonest gain. Titus 1:11

Musical worship teams are founded upon the Levitical singers and are therefore "of the circumcision group." There is not need for hiring and regulating musical performers or "ministry" staff when the church is truly family.

Rubel Shelly: And we certainly don't need insecure people who can't trust others to have motives and abilities as good as their own, who need to micromanage others, who get heady with their own importance when trusted to lead,

or who think their personal insights are better than those of the larger group of which they are a part.

Presumably and by the definition of this article, the elder has already been recognized for his spiritual leadership before he is made an "official." By definition of the Bible he should assume some leadership or else just let the "larger group" lead.

Jesus established His own body and He is the head. There is no role for anyone to scratch and claw their way into arm's reach of trying to micromanage others.

Paul defines the elder as the only leader with teaching authority in the local congregation. His role is to be the Shepherd(s) and stand over the flock to watch for wolves slinking in. He never trusts a sheep which smells like a wolf and God gave him the charge to be somewhat paranoid.

And we need leaders "who do take their eldership seriously." Submission of the elders to the "larger group" seems to turn Paul on his head.

Rubel Shelly: The church is the Body of Christ and the Family of God. Until we think in terms of these organic and family models for our life, we will continue to "do church" institutionally. So long as we function institutionally, we aren't really the church. A business maybe. Perhaps a club or restaurant. But not the family of God.

The pyramidal MINISTRY SYSTEM was the curse added by God. This defines DOING CHURCH INSTITUTIONALLY. An institution needs staff and a CEO: one cannot be a Synagogue of Christ as school of the Bible and have CEOs who want to rotate elders but not rotate preachers!

Going from "institution" to "family" has historically had one grand advantage: the one who can define himself as the "father" and "husband" can take control where even the "corporate board of directors" has been outlawed by the new "paradigm."

Apostolic Leadership
Rubel Shelly: In the earliest days of the first church in Jerusalem, everything seems to have presumed the personal leadership of the twelve apostles. Yet that church grew so large so rapidly that they had to be flexible enough to evolve some expanded leadership positions.

If the kids from Elm Hill get hungry on the camping trip then the leader of the camp designates the adults from Elm Hill to find some cookies for the Elm Hill kids. This does not dilute the authority of the camp Director nor does it establish a new Staff position of "Food Facilitator" with an office and a spot on the budget. It is a dangerous thing to define the church using careless exegesis. Next thing you know the Food Facilitator from Church of the Red Rock cannot feed the kids of Elm Hill.

Rubel Shelly: A problem arose, in fact, when some minority Hellenist members were convinced that widows among their number were being neglected in the distribution of goods and services (just the facts, mam. Just food in my bible) to those vulnerable members of first-century society. The Twelve handled that challenge admirably and flexibly. This is Luke's account of the event:

Now during those days, when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food. And the twelve called together the whole community of the disciples and said, "It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait on tables. Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word." What they said pleased the whole community, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. They had these men stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them (Acts 6:1-6, New Revised Standard Version).

Some of you know the book Flight of the Buffalo.[1] It has been a best-selling book on leadership and argues that effective organizations are ones that give up the command-and-control model for a more flexible shared, empowering leadership model.

Too bad that families are not commercial companies and commercial companies are not families of God. The church as "family" like all families has no "institutional organization" or pyramidal power structures. The key words for James A. Belasco are not 'church' terms but power manipulation terms:

"flight buffalo, great performance, employees lead, systems structures, leadership paradigm, sharing ownership, value-added strategies, leaders focus, focus people, this intellectual, intellectual capitalism, this intellectual capitalism, new era, leadership vision, performance customers, towards future, financial performance, focus competition, drivers performance, systems obstacles, proact react, right positions, soaring excellence, excellence learning, learning let, let employees, soaring excellence learning, excellence learning let, learning let employees, let employees lead, leadership change.

Synopsis: "James A. Belasco: Belasco and Stayer detail the new leadership role for executives. In their model of the new, highly flexible organization, everyone is focused on delighting customers. The manager learns and grows while responding to changing circumstances.

People become more like a flight of self-directed geese flying in formation.
Everyone knows the common direction, is willing to assume leadership when necessary,

and can rearrange the structure when the needs of the customer demand it. Individuals start to do their jobs better because they want to excel.

The church is not a company. The Babylonian model of the church IS a company enfolding commerce and erroneous religion in the one dominant role.

Again, the bird at the apex of the V is not the leader but the slave of the flock. The common goal is to arrange the structure of the flight so that it does not invent or improvize new goals but to resist the winds so that it does not go with the flow.

Rubel Shelly: Early settlers on the American frontier decimated the huge buffalo herds they found there. It was rather easy because of a peculiarity of how buffalo herds operate. Buffalo follow a single leader. A hunter would watch a herd for a day or so, spot the lead animal, and move in to kill it. The rest of the herd would simply stand there -- waiting for their leader to show them the next move. While they stood there, hunters picked them off one after another and slaughtered whole herds. Belasco and Stayer argue that some businesses have failed because they had a single visionary, a single planner, a single leader. He drops dead or loses his vision or doesn't spot changes in the market, and the company fails and goes belly-up. Does that sound like anything you've ever seen in a church?

The image one gets of the west, however, is that any scraggly calf could panic and begin a stampede.

Rubel Shelly: The apostles never thought the church belonged to them; it is the Body of Christ. The apostles weren't power-hunger; they relinquished a ministry over which they had held authority.

If there is any "power" to be grasped someone may have established something grander than the Holy Spirit promised. When the "staff" are on the go into the world there is no change for power hungry people to catch hold.

Feeding complaining visitors now essentially on "welfare" was not part of the Great Commission given to the Apostles nor to evangelists. Individuals, without any "programs" fed the widows. Therefore,

Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Acts 6:2

There is no permanent office of "Feeder of the Widow" in the church. However, the commission is to "go preach the Word." Therefore, Peter could say even today that it is not remotely rational for an "evangelist" to leave the word of God and work in the cafeteria. This did not take a Phd. This is still the directive of the Holy Spirit and rational sanity: the church is not to leave the Word of God and serve tables because you cannot begin to grow that pagan pyramidal structure without first leaving the Word:

So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. "We should spend our time preaching, not administering a feeding program," they said. Acts 6:2LIV

If, however, they suddenly perceived that the Word was not inspired for their day then to keep their power they would formulate feeding programs and call it "church."

The work of the church was the "ministry of the Word" and not the social gospel. Therefore, the Apostles never gave up any legitimate authority nor would they ever. They had the authority over the Word and wrote their information in "books" so that even today they exercise their apostolic authority and not one syllable has been "assigned" to Dr. Shelly or any other dominant pastor.

This was not an election process for elders but family members selecting family members to make sure that their family members were fed.

Rubel Shelly: The apostles weren't arrogant; they knew others could handle something they had been overseeing.

And they knew they were supposed to attend to their primary calling of teaching the Word of God;
as important as ministry to the widows in that church was,

        it was
neither their personal calling nor strength.
        So they
yielded that task to other qualified people.

Other than being honest receivers for donated money and other goods I am not aware that the Apostles ever administered a feeding program. When all of the people went home the church did not have a "feeding program" as evidenced by the much later call for volunteer help during a famine.

If the Apostles had been overseeing this program and the widows were neglected doesn't this question the inspired insight of the apostles? Because Rubel Shelly believes that the tithing of the "circumcision group" was still in effect and expanded, this may have led to the assumption that the elders, like the Levites and priests, were the overseers of the tithe which was taken to the temple meetings to be distributed to the poor. The Apostles said that administering such programs would not be right.

See Tithing and Temples Authorize Giving? (From:Great Themes of the Bible (#22-Generosity)

The Apostles certainly never taught nor practiced the tithe or temple tax which Lord Jesus had paid. Paul even told those who volunteered (without a command) to feed the poor who remained too long that they still did not owe it even for the poor or widows:

Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. Acts 5:4

Rubel Shelly: If you will permit me to borrow again from Flight of the Buffalo, a couple of paragraphs fit what I see happening at Jerusalem in Acts 6.

Then one day I got it. What I really wanted in [my business] was a group of responsible, interdependent workers, similar to a flock of geese [instead of a herd of buffalo]. I could see the geese flying in their "V" formation, the leadership changing frequently, with different geese taking the lead. I saw every goose being responsible for getting itself to wherever the gaggle was going, changing roles whenever necessary, alternating as a leader, a follower, or a scout. And when the task changed, the geese would be responsible for changing the structure of the group to accommodate . . .

See the goose (the s-o-n) as the sacrificial symbol of Pan, the god of the harp.

My education is full of holes: Always believed that Jesus compared the church to a bunch of lambs and the enemy to a bunch of wolves and the mercenary leaders the "goats."

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations (creativity), and their foolish heart was darkened. Romans 1:21

Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, Romans 1:22

And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Ro.1:23

God is self-pictured as the Chief Shepherd and His followers are sheep or lambs which must be led beside quiet or still waters. As "chickens" who might be gathered under His symbolic wings, the Jews got into trouble when they imagined that they were eagles able to mount up and "navigate" the winds of change.

The burden the Shepherd came to remove was "spiritual anxiety created by religious rituals." Therefore, to make the church into a flight of wild geese seems to make the church into an idolatrous image. It assumes that it is the "church" which is on the go rather than the evangelist. This bird image has very ugly connections:

And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils (demons who distribute fortunes), and the habitation of every foul spirit, and

a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. Re.18:2

The book of Enoch quoted favorably by Jude says that God will come with ten thousand saints to execute judgment upon those who follow the ancient musical subverters like Jubal (Jubilee). The error is ignoring God by ignoring His word and "being creative" in composing a better one.

The first book comes to describe Elijah who did battle with the prophets of Baal and Asherah on Mount Carmel. These "prophets" from the high places specialized in "musical prophesying" in order to speak prophetic lies and have the gall to charge for their work:

Enoch Chapter 32

1 From there I went on towards the extremities of the earth; where I saw large beasts different from each other,

and birds various in their countenances and forms,
as well as with notes of different sounds.

In the next passage the shepherds are rotated while watching the flock. Each elder could detect an enemy as well as the other. Trouble came when the shepherds did not recognize the birds as parasites:

Enoch Chapter 89

1 And I observed during the time, that thus thirty-seven (123) shepherds were overlooking, all of whom finished in their respective periods as the first.
Others then received them into their hands, that
they might overlook them in their respective periods, every shepherd in his own period.

(123) Thirty-seven. An apparent error for thirty-five (see verse 7). The kings of Judah and Israel (Laurence, p. 139).

2 Afterwards I saw in the vision, that all the birds of heaven arrived; eagles, the avest, kites and ravens. The eagle instructed them all.
3 They
began to devour the sheep, to peck out their eyes, and to eat up their bodies.
The sheep then cried out; for their bodies were devoured by the birds. 5 I also cried out, and groaned in my sleep against the shepherd which overlooked the flock.
6 And I looked, while the
sheep were eaten up by the dogs, by the eagles, and by the kites. They neither left them their body, nor their skin, nor their muscles, until their bones alone remained; until their bones fell upon the ground. And the sheep became diminished.

7 I observed likewise during the time, that twenty-tree shepherds (124) were overlooking; who completed in their respective periods fifty-eight periods.

(124) The kings of Babylon, etc., during and after the captivity. The numbers thirty-five and twenty-three make fifty-eight; and not thirty-seven, as erroneously put in the first verse (Laurence, p. 139).

Homeric Hymn To Hermes (Mercury, the Word merchant)

And do not you, my brother, bearer of the golden wand, bid me tell those decrees which all- seeing Zeus intends. As for men, I will harm one and profit another, sorely perplexing the tribes of unenviable men.

Whosoever shall come guided by the call and flight of birds of sure omen,
        that man shall have advantage through my voice, and I will not deceive him.
But whoso shall trust to idly-chattering birds and shall seek to invoke my prophetic art contrary to my will,
        and to
understand more than the eternal gods,
        I declare that he shall come on an
idle journey; yet his gifts I would take.

There are certain holy ones, sisters born -- three virgins gifted with wings: their heads are besprinkled with white meal, and they dwell under a ridge of Parnassus.

These are teachers of divination apart from me, the art which I practised while yet a boy following herds, though my father paid no heed to it. From their home they fly now here, now there,
        feeding on
honey-comb and bringing all things to pass.
        And when they are
inspired through eating yellow honey,
        they are willing to speak truth

Rubel Shelly: Then I saw clearly that the biggest obstacle to success was my picture of a loyal herd of buffalo waiting for me, the leader, to tell them what to do. I knew I had to change the pictures to become a different kind of leader, so everyone could become a leader. [2]

Good image for the commercial world but when attached to religion such images are pictured by the king of Babylon, the king of Trye and the end-time church built upon the foundation of the business world rather than upon Jesus Christ. This image began at the tower of Babel but, and don't forget it, new leaders don't rise to the surface but are hand picked to be the shadows of the reality leaders.

Rubel Shelly: The Twelve did not adopt a buffalo-mentality. They turned this important ministry task to the church as a whole and told them to seek out people to coordinate caring for the widows.

There was no Biblical obligation for the women and children to ever assemble at the temple in Jerusalem. We know from testimony that the Feast of Tabernacles had been turned into a giant fertility ritual to which Jews flocked more as family reunion than religious act. Because all of the "deacons" had Greek names, we suspect that the apostles turned the task of feeding the Grecian widows over to the Grecian Jews -- not the whole church. For instance, if the mothers of "left handed children" want to begin a ministry for left-handed children then the leaders will let the mothers form the new institution and never skip a beat from their God-assigned task of ministry of the Word.

James A. Belasco and Ralph C. Stayer are not ministers of the Word.

Rubel Shelly: Their theory seems to be that leadership could "rise from below" and could be recognized by the church. That is our theory of leadership here, and we are currently seeking additional male leaders to join our shepherd body. [3] Next Sunday, John will look at 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 for an overview of the lifestyle of such men. Today I simply call attention to the three fundamental qualities that every man and woman in the church must have who aspires to leadership in teaching, benevolence, counseling, or any other spiritual ministry.

Why is it necessary to build the church upon false premises or the dogma of the business world rather than upon Christ?

We believed that everyone knew that no one believed that birds change positions in order to "rotate leadership" but then we are often wrong. "Leaders" in the Bible are not the decisions makers and the honor recipients but are the shepherds who get out in front of the sheep to fend off the wolves and suffer.

Brian's Question: Why do birds fly in a V formation?

John's Answer: Brian has been wondering about that familiar V formation used by ducks, swans and geese -- and occasionally other birds, too -- when they travel.

Birds fly in a V to help conserve their energy during migrations.

With the exception of the individual leading the group, each bird trailing behind the other benefits from a reduction in wind resistance. The birds are deliberating tailgating each other; it's the concept of "drafting," best known to those gutsy people who drive close behind semis on the freeway to stay out of the wind and boost their fuel efficiency.

The next time you see ducks or geese flying in a V, watch them for a while to see if the lead bird changes. Canada geese do this, and I suspect other species do, too.
        Since whoever is up front is
working the hardest, every now and then the birds make a switch.
        The leader drops back -- usually all the way back, where wind drag is lowest -- and a rested bird comes to the front.

We "geese" do not change leaders just to get some new wind navigating changes made. Rather:

While there is no single, unchanging "leader" for a V of birds on the move,
        it is the
oldest, experienced individuals who are calling the navigational shots,
        using the
sun and the stars at night to orient themselves and stay on course.

Another thing you'll often notice is how a "V" changes shape. Sometimes it looks more like a check mark, with one bird flying lead, two or three birds trailing on one side, and the majority of birds strung out on the other.

This too is a strategy for dealing with wind. It usually means a crosswind is blowing-- the short side of the formation is taking the brunt of the wind, while on the long side, the birds are attempting to shield one another from it.

Flocks of geese do not "navigate the winds of change." Their burden bearers (not leaders) keep on their course and do whatever they can to keep the "winds" from getting to the rest of the flock.

If you build a leadership upon mistaken human images or "idols" don't be surprised that attempting to "navigate the winds of change" you find the leaders following the path of least resistance. Note the similarity to Biblical leadership of the elders while the deacons were not leaders but servants, slaves:

The senior or elders -- not the youngers -- lead the flock
They follow the authority established long before their time.
A flock would never hire a surrogate leader.
Three Essential Qualities of Leaders
Rubel Shelly: The three essential qualities of spiritual leadership cited in Acts 6 are these: one must have a good reputation, be filled with the Holy Spirit, and be filled with wisdom.

First, a church leader must be "of good standing" within the group. The authority to lead others in spiritual matters does not flow from titles and positions but from a life that is authentic.

As an art, leadership is more a network of influence within a group than a degree, books read, or ideas advanced.

In Lenski's words, the elder is "already laboring to the point of exhaustion in preaching and teaching." He is most likely somewhat like Jesus or Paul and is more despised than admired. If others fall in love with him he may be the wrong bird.

Rubel Shelly: You can always spot a leader within any group -- large or small. Merle Van Vleet said it a couple of weeks ago: We're looking to affirm people who already exhibit positive influence through their authentic Christian presence rather than to appoint some people we hope can develop that sort of lifestyle.

Second, spiritual leaders are "full of the Spirit." Galatians 5:22-23 names some of the traits of a personality that is Spirit-filled -- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc. The Holy Spirit of God indwells every saved person and makes his or her body into a temple, but some people are further along than others in surrendering to the Spirit.

Wasn't Paul speaking to the bretheren?

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. Galatians 5:13

If the literal Holy Spirit God literally incarnates their literal body there can be no option but fully surrender just like Jesus. However, if "spirit" is the Mind of Christ or mental disposition of Christ then one can surrender bits and pieces of their lives. There is no historical evidence which we are aware of that leaders are more spiritual than others.

Rubel Shelly: The evidence of that surrender is in life-traits of generosity and faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I heard about a church committee where a fellow said, "So the vote is as follows: Joe, Ruth, David, Sid, and Marcia are for the proposal. God and I are against it." That spirit isn't the Holy Spirit. That's a divisive spirit, an arrogant spirit, a self- centered spirit, but not the Holy Spirit.

Gallup says that 80% of preacher stories are JUST MADE UP. How more arrogant and DIVISIVE and deliberately sowing of discord can one get than to try to force the entire church follow the FOOLISH BUFFALO over the clift down into the dark vally of CAIN using choirs or musical worship teams?

Is the "Spirit of God" decided by majority rule? Could it be that "God and I" are more surrendered than Jo, Ruth, David, Sid and Marcia? Aren't the majority always wrong in the Biblical and historical record?

Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. Acts 6:3

Paul defined FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT for the deacons:

Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. 1 Timothy 3:9

What if they are so empty of the "mystery of the faith" that they can be led into following the same system Lucifer (ZOE) used in the garden of Eden and imposed on the Cainites or Kenites? That is to add a MUSICAL WORSHIP TEAM and tolerate anyone who associates being non-instrumental as being like a brother murderer.

Holy Spirit and Wisdom are coordinate: one is not a "literal indwelling person" while the other the quality of wisdom.

AND there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: Isaiah 11:1

And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; Isaiah 11:2

And shall make him of quick understanding (spiritual) in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: Isaiah 11:3

All of these are intellectual skills related to knowledge of the Words of Christ.

Our conclusion is that the deacon or elder is not just "the most popular" or most likely to contribute to the building fund. Rather, he (never she) must have a complete understanding of the teachings of Jesus which He claimed were "Spirit and Truth." (John 6:63)

This is confirmed by Paul who defined the deacons:

Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; 1 Timothy 3:8

Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. 1 Timothy 3:9

Why was this true?

We know about Philip who is not called a deacon or elder but an evangelist:

And the next day we that were of Pauls company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him. Ac.21:8

Stephen was a "lead bird" by preaching the truth to the entrenched clergy rather than "join" them in their scams. For preaching the truth about temples and rituals they murdered him.

Conclusion: These men were to be competent teachers who earned a good report among the Grecians so that when they went out as evangelists they had already been approved. It is heresy to pick old Joe because Joe has a business or a Phd or whatever.

Rubel Shelly: Third, we are looking for people "full of wisdom." Wisdom is problem-solving ability. It is sanctified common sense. It is the ability to avoid panic in a crisis, to get and focus on good information, and to discover through prayer and spiritual discernment a course to follow that honors the Lord.

Wisdom is one of the "seven spirits" of God. A person who "wisely" uses "knowledge" better than others. He "knows" something the others do not know. Because in the non-supernatural sense wisdom is superior knowledge it can come only from the Word of God and does not reside in a certificate:

And thou shalt speak unto all that are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aarons garments to consecrate him, that he may minister unto me in the priests office. Exod 28:3

This wise (intelligent or artful) heart or the spirit of wisdom was not being filled with a little person. Rather, wisdom was the technical skills of metal working, cloth working or some other utilitarian skill. It was more than common sense but it was uncommon sense which ordinarily one gained only by long training.

Rubel Shelly: One of the evidences of wisdom in church leadership is not only personal discernment but understanding that one's task is to teach and raise up others with such wisdom. We need shepherds who know their task is to create a church culture and leadership structure that will outlast them. Another evidence of wisdom is the ability to hear others and build consensus among people. Too often it works out that people who think their eyes have been opened to a vision simultaneously close their ears to others around them. "But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy" (Jas. 3:17).

Respect of persons is so evil because one pretending to the liberty of Christ has the whole crushing weight of the law down on their shoulders simply by showing partiality:

If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: James 2:8

But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. James 2:9

For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. James 2:10

One of the evils evident in Paul's letters was men pretending to be filling a new "role" in the church as paid preachers (not evangelists). Or as Paul would call them "super apostles" who were robbing the church by pretending to be more valuable as a teacher than a less charismatic person who probably knew the Bible. To latch onto the "huper apostles" was showing partiality. Therefore, many early writers perhaps following the "family" image knew that if someone came into the family as surrogate father or leader and stayed he was defacto a false apostle. The Didache is a good example.

There is no Biblical pattern for purging old leadership to get new, malleable, leaders. However, there is a pattern in the Bible and in church history that evangelists must move on to evangelize and allow the senior males to lead.

Probably with no exception, religious error has developed by people who claim authority which they do not have but with no love for the flock. Anyone who allows themselves to be applauded as the agent of God will surely be eaten up with worms.

Conclusion: If the premise of this article is correct there would be no better place to begin having a new lead "father goose" than the one at the apex of the V who is being pushed along by the flock rather than "pulling" the flock along until he gets too tired.

Rubel Shelly: Conclusion

If your judgment about this sermon is that it has claimed nothing more than that biblical leadership is built on the foundation of being the person God expects every one of his children to be, you've gotten the point. Church leaders are simply those men and women who are a little further along in the process of spiritual living that their character, reputation, and life skills are seen as exemplary. They bear scrutiny and imitation by the rest of us.

My personal definition of a leader, in fact, is that a leader is someone who is going somewhere with such confidence and clarity that others fall in behind.

Do you mean like "the bull Buffalo?" I cannot imagine anything more confident looking than the bull out in front not knowing that he is being seduced over the cliff where his bones will rot in the sun and only his tongue is taken for food. Truly he will fly like a bird and navigate and lead but his leadership is always short.

The "bird" falls in behind the one bearing the burden because the whole flock knows where it is going: any one bird would migrate by itself.

However, the true lambs of God will look for someone to feed them with the undigested Word of God in song and sermon. The Chief Shepherd will be found around quiet places and never beside muddied waters. (Ezekiel 32)

The elder must be:
holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine,
both to exhort
and convict those who contradict. Titus 1:9

The almost-universal theme of "birds" is the theme of scavengers pecking out the eyes of the lambs. Remember that Enoch said that God was coming with ten thousand of his saints. The primary problem was that the people were not faithful to the "commands, examples and inferences" of God's Word. As a result, the elders let the "birds" flock around and peck out the eyes of the lambs and they did nothing. Perhaps they had to take a vote of the lay people.

The primary result of ignoring the Word of God was the very common story of Satan's agents introducing mixed-sex choirs and instrumental music to make the flock happy while they were being fleeced. If you are being serenaded by mixed-sex choirs, favorable mention of instrumental music, replacing the word of Christ in song and sermon then someone is pecking out your eyes and ears and according to Isaiah, Jesus and Paul the eyes are blind and the ears have been shut so that you cannot ever again hear the undiluted, unpolluted Words of Christ.

See one version of the story

Rubel Shelly: Since this is black history month and since hers is one of my favorite stories, let me close on leadership by reminding you of Ruby Bridges. When she was only six, Ruby was the first black student ever at all-white William Frantz Public School in New Orleans in 1960. Norman Rockwell immortalized the event in his famous 1964 painting "The Problem We All Live With." It shows Ruby being escorted to class by federal marshals, while hostile crowds called her names and shouted death threats. Each day of her first-grade year, she went to a classroom where there was only a teacher and Ruby. The parents of the white children would not permit them to be in class with her. How could a child endure such hatred? How could she sleep at night? How could she eat or learn? "I try to get there, and I figure if I do, then other kids might say they're willing to try and go too," she said, "and pretty soon, it could be better for us here."[4]

The church needs leaders who have a reputation for Spirit-surrendered lives that exhibit wisdom in going first to the very places of discernment, faithfulness, and obedience the rest of us need to find -- and whose presence there inspires us on our way. Eventually, it gets better for all of us. The church gets healthier. And God is both honored and pleased.

[1] James A. Belasco and Ralph C. Stayer, Flight of the Buffalo (New York: Warner Books, 1993).

[2] Flight of the Buffalo, p. 18.

[3] For new members of our body, the only "office" of the church we believe the New Testament reserves for males only is the role of shepherd-elder. Deacons -- we call them Ministry Leaders -- may be either male or female in the life of our church.

[4] Robert Coles, Lives of Moral Leadership (New York: Random House, 2000), p. xiv.


Rubel Shelly Sermon Reviews

Home Page.

Counter added 9.03.05 11:40p 3000

personal injury

Hit Counter