Pastors and counselors of the church are confounded with various, difficult tasks of managing and counseling, as well as responsibilities of administration, leadership, and running the different affairs of the church. They are however aided by their Board of Directors or Councils, volunteers, and organizations within their respective communities.
They can not just implement rules but they have to apply leadership styles coupled with inspirational words from the bible and the art of counseling.
A pastor has to be equipped with a broad knowledge of the scriptural principles of leadership and an understanding of the management of a church which is itself an organization. Managing the church is like handling and running an organization, although the primary objective of the pastor is looking after the spiritual needs of the members.
This paper will dig into the vast literature of scriptural principles and theory of leadership from the Old and the New Testaments, the writings about the bible, and the many sources about the subject. This is to provide an analysis of those scriptural passages and events before and during Jesus’ stay with his disciples.
The New Testament alone can fill us with books. As Carey Newman, so inspired and deep-rooted in Jesus, says:
Jesus just won’t go away. The recent flurry of articles and books devoted to the study of the historical Jesus, and not just to Jesus as some disembodied theological idea, stands as a literary monument to his enduring power to attract and fascinate, inspire and command. He won’t go away because we won’t let him, and he won’t go away because, finally, he won’t let us let him. (Newman 1999, 13)
Indeed, when we are struck by and with Jesus, we express ourselves through books and writings about what we feel and think for him. We can fill spaces with literature and our inspirations, all about him. He can fill our hearts and soul because he is himself love and inspiration.
“Today, people even use Jesus’ name to curse by. How strange it would sound if, when a businessman missed a golf putt, he yelled, ‘Thomas Jefferson!’ or if a plumber screamed ‘Mahatma Gandhi!’ when his pipe wrench mashed a finger. We cannot get away from this man Jesus.” (Yancey 1995, 16)
We will source out from Jesus his styles of management and ministering to his church. But before that, we will also dig up the Old and the New Testaments.
From the Old Testament, we can source out many instances about management and leadership practiced and implemented by remarkable biblical personalities like Abraham, Moses, Jacob, Joshua, and many others who are leaders themselves. Without a certain knowledge and talent of leadership, they could not have led the Israelites who needed an immediate response.
God in his omnipotence and knowledge, the One who made us all, knows how difficult it is to lead and manage the kind of unique creatures that we are, although God did not feel such difficulty, because He is the all-powerful God. God guided Abraham and implanted in his mind a particular kind of leadership and obedience. Moses knew the hardship and difficulty of leading the Israelites; that is why he pleaded God to guide him to the rough and thorny roads of going to the Promised Land. Other personalities and leaders of the Old and the New Testaments knew how it was to lead, much more inspire, a people.
When Jesus lived with us, he left a legacy for a group or an organization that he knew would grow so large; he anticipated that this group would become fragmented if he would not leave guidelines and a ‘force’ that would bind them. This “guiding force” is the Holy Spirit always present in a church or an organization wanting and praying for guidance and inspiration.
The gist of this dissertation is: to see how the Holy Spirit worked in us, in our emerging church when Jesus Christ ascended to heaven, and to investigate how the past can connect to the present, in a manner of speaking, for the scriptural principles and theory of leadership of the early Christian church to work in our present set-up, in our churches in the United States who are in dire need of spiritual help from above.
We have always been in periods of tests and trials with the emergence of forces of modernity and technology, pluralism, atheism, and so forth. How can this be worked out? How can we let the Holy Spirit help us in the present situation?
They are no easy rules but they are inspirational words of the bible which the early Christian church used in the administration, leadership, and running of the different affairs of the church. The early leaders were confounded with various difficult tasks that if they were to rely only on their knowledge and expertise in confronting those challenges, they would be left in the dark. Therefore, they had to look for God’s inspiration and guidance from the Holy Spirit in dealing with the various tasks and problems faced by the leaders and members of the church.
Moreover, biblical counselors of the present times also have to consult from the writings and inspirations of present-day thinkers of the church and authors, then look back and see what biblical times can teach and suggest, and what the early Christian communities used as inspiration and basis for counseling and leading their parishioners.
Much of the discussion of this paper will focus on Jesus’ ministry, his teachings and legacy for the formation of the church, and the many details of the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. The epistles of Paul to the churches have outstanding guidance and lessons for the communities of believers.
The Acts of the Apostles also suggest Jesus’ doctrines and guidance for all believers and churches, and future communities in their problems of management and counseling.
Management essentials we learn from the bible involve the principle of stewardship: that we are just stewards of the properties of God, and not only properties but the talents that we have acquired and which have been entrusted to us by God. This means we are not owners of the properties on earth, but stewards of the properties and talents. Therefore, we have to take care with utmost responsibility and nurture these talents so that when the Master returns, and when he will account for His properties, we receive the just reward and not punishment.
This paper will study these scriptural principles and the beginnings of the early Christian church, to include their usage and practices, and recommendations for those involved in the Ministry of Counseling and for leading the Christian community.
The literature on scriptural principles and theory of leadership can be read and sourced out from the voluminous materials and readings of doctors and scholars of the church, ancient texts, but also present day authors and thinkers.
The dissertation will study some passages of the Old Testament, and many instances in the New Testament wherein Jesus started his ministry and formed the first community of believers.
We dig into the books of the Old Testament because they teach us how God appoint leaders. We learn from the Bible that leaders are not chosen with their outward appearance and qualifications or what they can show to the people, but through their inside intentions, their feelings and attitude towards a goal, more specifically a spiritual goal. God, it is said, looks at the heart and not the outside appearance.
Our first study leads us to the major events of creation, God’s plan for salvation of humankind, the Ten Commandments, God’s statutes implemented during the time of Moses and the Judges, and finally Jesus’ leadership and ministry.
The Pentateuch or the first ten Books of the bible tell us about God’s plan of salvation which is itself a story of leadership and management. Moses led the Israelites from Egypt to Mt. Sinai and to Canaan. From a span of hundreds of year, they would be led to the Israelites’ dream of a messiah as promised to them by God through the prophets, but whom they refused to recognize. This is Jesus, the son of a carpenter.
Jesus came to lead and to serve. This is the simplest style of leadership: leading by serving; leading by example; and, leading by forgetting one’s self, leading with sacrifice, even up to the ultimate sacrifice of the cross. For us, it is not that simple, but with God everything is simple.
Jesus showed the proper way of leading and guiding the community – by serving and becoming a servant to the people. He showed them the way of humility, attending to their needs, healing the sick and the disabled, praying for them, and asking his Father for guidance and help.
When Jesus ascended to heaven, God sent the Holy Spirit to inspire and guide the early Christian church. The apostles prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to guide them in their decisions for the good of the community. The Holy Spirit serves as the “counselor,” “intercessor,” “comforter,” “advocate,” or “helper” (Adams 1973, 6).
The Holy Spirit became Jesus’ “substitute” when he ascended to heaven. But while still here, Jesus would spend hours and hours, even the whole night, praying to the Father, whenever he was in trouble or a major occurrence of his life would happen. When he was in the garden of Gethsemane, he spent the whole night praying. He told his disciples not to be weak but to be strong in their mind and spirit in order to fight temptation.
Before he was delivered by Judas to the Roman soldiers, he was praying in the garden of Gethsemane. He had spent the night praying with blood coming out from his veins due to extreme sorrow.
The ministry of Jesus as described in the New Testament is a short period of three-and-half years. He is to start his ministry at the age of 30 years old, and after that, he would be nailed on the cross for a crime he was falsely accused, and for which humanity was saved.
In this short span of time, he showed to the disciples how it is to be a group, or an organization. He let them know the way of ministering a church, of starting to be a servant to the people. He showed them leadership and management in the truest sense of the word: leading a people with love and care, with humility and understanding, being one of the people, and be a servant to them.
The true leader leads by serving; and a true pastor and counselor is one with them, he understands and feels their needs. Jesus knows what a member of his flock feels when that member is in deep trouble or in deep sorrow and anguish. Jesus cries over the sorrows of people. This he showed us, which means it should not be too difficult for us to lead and counsel, if we are given the chance to be pastors and counselors.
We will have more of the life and works of Jesus as recorded in the New Testament, the epistles of Paul to the different churches, and the Acts of the Apostles.
Pastors and counselors employ different approaches to counseling and leadership but with one thing in mind – the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Bible. They have the responsibility of answering the spiritual needs of their members.
For study and contemplation so they can advice and lead the people truly well, there are a wide array of scriptural principles, past experiences passed on by counselors and theologians through their writings, and studies on counseling. They get these from the seminary when they are students of theology.
However, more research has to be done in the field of counseling and management, with scriptural principles and the writings of the early church as some of the sources. What this paper is trying to figure out is theoretical research in the area because of the vast literature available in this field. The Bible alone can give us a lot of ideas which can formulate theories and insights on leadership and counseling.
We always look to the Bible, especially the teachings of Jesus Christ, for guidance and knowledge in working for the community. Jesus has left us enough teachings for our pastors to follow. These teachings are already a part of the seminary work and in different theology schools. We are looking for actual inspirational passages in the bible with our own analysis, to be added with some prayer and meditation for guidance of the Holy Spirit.
We are also looking for the scriptural principles and theory of leadership being applied by our churches of the late 20th century and the early 21st century, in their management and administration, and counseling to their own members.
The present young generation are included in what Carolyn Wiethoff (2004) called the Generation “Y”, who are described as “The Internet Generation”, the young who are much involved with the internet, and the high-technology apparatuses and gadgets.
We would like to touch on this subject further in the paper because everything in business and in man’s everyday activity seem to be involved or are worked out with high-technology and the computers.
This dissertation therefore is a broad subject of the Old Testament – Creation and the time of the Patriarchs – to the present time of computers and cell phones. Why? This is because this is now the world of the pastor and counselor, who is also helpless, or so it seems, without a computer on the desk to write the activities of the day.
Are the lessons of the “Patriarchs” still applicable today?
When we talk of the Patriarchs, we always talk of leaders. When we talk of the Christian church today, we always refer to leadership of a pastor who must act like a “patriarch” because the members forming the community are composed of the different families of believers, and these families likewise form a one big family like the Israelites in the Old Testament.
Purpose of the Study
This study will investigate Scriptural principles and theory of leadership of the early Christian church and analyze how they have been applied and used in the church of the 20th century and the church of today. Primary focus is the administration and counseling of the past and the application of past principles to the present.
A further study will delve on the views and principles of management of pastors today, the writings of authors and theologians and their influence to the church pastors and managers.
Another relevant purpose of the study is for our pastors and counselors to improve their brand of counseling and management, to benefit our churches with their communities of believers.
This dissertation will delve into the vast literature on scriptural principles and theory of management that will help in answering the following questions:
- What are the Scriptural principles for effective administration and leadership in today’s Christian church in the United States?
- What are the Bible passages, events, principles, theories, or inspirational words that can be used as basis and inspiration for counseling the members of the church?
- How are scriptural principles and theory of leadership in the early Christian church applied in biblical counseling to the Church in the United States during the late 20th century and early 21st century?
- How is counseling effective in the light of biblical principles and theory of leadership?
Significance of the Study
Present-day biblical counselors are faced with various new challenges in meeting the demands of their members who seek their counseling and help.
This study will provide some valuable insights, suggestions, possible improvement on administration and leadership in local churches, and help them cope with the present challenges.
The literature and valuable ideas and insights gathered through this study will be provided our pastors and counselors for them to use as guide in their day-to-day activities. Our recommendations for the improvement of the church will form part of the reading materials of the church.
Theoretical implications of the Study
Administration and theory of leadership in the context of biblical models or examples will be given focus and discussion. Some aspects of leadership and counseling will be discussed giving more insights, suggestions, and recommendations for further study in the field of leadership and counseling.
Our investigation will focus more on the ‘how’ of the things Jesus did, but also not to forget the ‘what’ of those biblical events. When Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, what is shown is humility; this is followed by a discussion on why he did it, and how can this help in being a good leader.
This act of Jesus in the Last Supper – the washing of the feet – can itself provide a lasting theory of leadership that is today practiced by the Christian church in the United States.
If the pastor knows Jesus so well, this theory should be a part of the kind of leadership the pastor should practice in leading the church – leadership with humility. This will help in asking the presence of the Holy Spirit. We believe we can acquire the immediate ‘help’ of the Holy Spirit when everyone involved in the counseling will be humble enough to ask for help.
Relationship of the Study to previous scholarly research in the area
There are various studies aiding biblical counselors and leaders of Christian churches in the United States, but little empirical research has been done on the subject. However, countless inspirational books and reading materials are provided for biblical counselors that can help them in their day-to-day activities.
Previous study involved lay counseling such as those written by Jay E. Adams that can really give us valuable insights about lay counseling and formation in the Christian church. Though Adam’s books are a major source for this dissertation, we can further add our own recommendations and suggestions to the previous studies and writings.
James Berkeley’s Leadership Handbook of Management and Administration is also a great source of inspiration for pastors and counseling. There are many other sources for counseling and church management. As has been said, we can fill libraries and buildings if the leaders and members of the church are to write their experiences and inspirations from the Holy Spirit.
Statement Of The Problem
Running the affairs of the church that revolve around administering, leading, and counseling the members is no easy feat. They cannot be earned and justified from a short stint in a seminary or school of theology but through rigorous work and patient understanding of the problems and activities of an organization. The church becomes a complex organization if it is not understood according to the context of Jesus’ ministry and the biblical principles underlying its history and foundation.
There are various literature used in this ministry, such as scriptural passages, the Old and the New Testaments, especially Jesus’ ministry to the church and the apostles. The problem is what are these scriptural principles, and how are they be applied to the ministry of the church in the late 20th century and the early 21st century.
Logic, Structure And Strategy Of The Study
We can say that the only way is through the Bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ. But that ‘way’ was only conceived some time ago when things were so simple in the Christian church. We are now living in the 21st century, the age of the Internet and computers, and transportation faster than the speed of sound. Anytime there is a new face in town, people do not know each other anymore, unlike in the olden days when everyone seems to know everybody. In other words, there is complexity everywhere. The job of the Pastor has gone complex too. Certainly, the Lord Jesus must have anticipated all this modernity and pluralism in society. And He only left simple basic things as guides for our understanding of the problems of the church.
We have to use the skill and the talents that God has entrusted on us. Like in the parable of the talents, we have to make use of these talents in order for us understand our goals and objectives of running the church.
The scriptural principles and theory of leadership of the early Christian church can be studied through the teachings of the church. The early church took their lessons and basis for leadership and ministry of the church, as well as ways of pastoral care, and from the teachings of Jesus Christ when he was still ministering and forming the discipleship.
Prayer for guidance is another step taken before taking on the road of research from the voluminous books and resources in the library.
First of all, a review will be done on the vast literature of the early Christian church and their usage of scriptural principles in counseling, leadership and management, and the art of biblical counseling in the church in the United States during the late 20th century and the early 21st century. After this, hypotheses will be developed.
A discussion will be carried on linking problems back to theories. Finally, conclusions will be drawn and implications within the context of this research will be given to show how they may be applied to present day counseling in the church in the United States. It will also conclude by recommendation of further areas of research.
There are various methods of answering this problem but we can point to one very important step in the research of the voluminous books and reading materials available at our disposal. Scholarly books of the doctors of the early church and theories of management of scholars used in the management and administration of the church now and the past are to be compared and discussed.
All the scholarly books and reading materials point to one direction – the bible. The Old and the New Testaments are a great source for this paper. Scriptural principles and present day practices are discussed. The direction is on leadership and counseling.
Much of the discussion will focus on these scriptural principles; bible passages including remarkable events will be summarized or paraphrased, giving insights, and quoting other sources.
Suspected limitations and weaknesses of the study
Primary research such as interviews and questionnaires may not be feasible at this time, so that our research is more appropriate to researching from Scriptural principles and scholarly writings of reliable authors and leaders of the church.
Time is limited in the sense that there are voluminous works of literature in this area. It is not even enough for a whole course of four years to study these literature. Nevertheless, the teachings of Jesus Christ can be read, studies, contemplated, and applied in our daily lives. This dissertation therefore is a work that is continuous, never stopping, never ending, because it is a study of our Lord and God, and our salvation as a whole.
Review Of The Literature
The truth about God or the Logos can be known and understood through creation. We can know “God’s mind and truth by divine intervention through the Bible.” (Fernandez 2005, vii).
Yet truth is a broad word. And “truth of God” is not the main objective in this dissertation. We are only up to a part of the truth, although we hope and pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit that this study will lead to the truth.
From creation itself, we can know about God’s mind. Early writings of the doctors of the church tried to examine the Logos and God in creation. The Creator’s mind is called Logos. Understanding creation is understanding God’s mind, similar to knowing the painter through his painting. It is in this context that we begin with creation.
“For thousands of years, brilliant philosophers discussed and speculated about the meaning of life. Philosophy is an important subject and have its uses but when it comes to determining the purpose of life, even the wisest of philosophers are just guessing” (Warren 2002, 19).
Let’s take one of the most outstanding doctors of the church.
St. Augustine of Hippo
There is none other who has attracted pagans and Christians, philosophers and theologians alike to the faith than Augustine known as St. Augustine of Hippo. He wrote vast religious literature that his works have been a constant aid to teachers and students of the Christian faith, both Catholics and Protestants.
Augustine wrote almost every topic for guidance in following God and the many questions of the Bible and of the faith.
Augustine’s interpretation of the Book of Genesis is as interesting as it is very valuable in this dissertation, and to the work of the counselor and the pastor. When we delve on the subject of marriage and divorce will we then find out how relevant is the subject of creation to this dissertation.
Augustine offers an extended discussion of Adam and Eve in De Genesi ad litteram, saying that Genesis offers two accounts of the creation of the first people: Adam and Eve were made in their primordial causes on the sixth day of creation, and then later were made living individuals (Gn. Litt. 6.5-18, qtd. in Rogers 1999, 6).
Genesis 1:27 says human beings were made in the image of God, which means that “the human intellect is a reflection of God … the original creation includes the body too, for God made ‘male and female,’ and gender is a function of the body.” (Rogers 1999, 6)
In interpreting Genesis 1:27, Augustine stresses a fundamental equality for both man and woman in that both are made in the image of God.
The second Genesis account of Augustine begins with the creation of Adam’s body from the (literal) earth. We come from a single person so that we would feel the unity of kinship (civ. Dei 14.1, qtd. in Rogers 1999, 6).
Augustine says that Adam’s body was a natural body, not an incorruptible body such as will be granted to the blessed, but was both mortal and immortal, such that if they had obeyed God, they would never have died. But since they disobeyed, death was the result. (Gn. Litt. 6.25, qtd. in Rogers 1999. 6)
Augustine’s interpretation of Genesis goes on with Eve taken from Adam’s rib. God produced the woman from man to emphasize the union of man and wife. Eve was important to Adam for them to be fruitful and to multiply, literally.
Mentioned is the need for a helper, this is to mean Eve. Bilezikian (1997, 20) says that the term ‘helper’ does not mean a helper as in a “subordinate helper”. The Bible presents Adam needs some in order for him not to be alone.
God took pity and so provided him with a woman. The woman was to be the necessary counterpart of the man for making of community. (Bilezikian 1997, 20)
“Augustine says that Adam and Eve would have procreated sexually, but without that uncontrollable passion which is a result of the fall. It is the loss of control which entails shame in postlapsarian intercourse” (Gn. litt. 9.3; civ. Dei 14.22-24, qtd. in Rogers 1999, 7).
If the fall did not occur, i.e., if Adam did not eat the apple offered by the serpent, both Adam and Eve would have lived in “unalloyed happiness”, they would have children in paradise, and their duties were to cultivate and guard paradise. Adam would have been a farmer, would be content and happy in tilling the soil, and contemplate on his divinity. If they had not sinned, their bodies would have changed into incorruptible, spiritual bodies, and they would have enjoyed eternal blessedness. They lost paradise and only Christ, the second Adam, could restore it.
But as we all know God is love and a giver as well, and his giving is done on the scale of infinity. The story of creation seems so simple that it seems the billions of galaxies are just a drawing. They are filled with hundreds of billions of stars, related to each others only in terms of innumerable light years. (Bilezikian 1997, 19)
But God’s pet project, as it were, concerned a small planet on the outer fringes of one of those immense galaxies. He was just concerned with our little earth.
“Having first lavished upon the earth the goodness and the beauty of his relative powers, God proceeded to offer, as a true lover would, his supreme gift: Himself.” (Bilezikian 1997, 19)
The Psalmist says: “O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” (Ps. 104:24 NRSV)
God could not produce himself and create another God – He is absolute and unique. He therefore created beings in his image. He created us, the closest he could get to giving of Himself without compromising His own divine nature.
God was not content with creating only one man; he created a community.
“Therefore, the woman was created to ‘help’ the man out of his aloneness so that together they would form the community of oneness” (Bilezikian 1997, 20).
The creation of the woman fulfilled God’s purpose for the formation of community. While there was only one human being, there was no oneness because there was no community. Oneness finally happened when there were two, who could then become ‘one flesh’ (v.24).
Therefore, in creation God was not only concerned of creating a human being, he was concerned of forming a community that will soon become his church.
God’s Plan of Salvation
“Every plant and every animal was planned by God, and every purpose was designed with a purpose in mind” (Warren 2002, 23).
God created with a plan. He did not make us without a purpose, without any thought of what would happen next. He did not just create; he made us and the whole universe with a great plan of salvation – with love. He has a master plan.
The people before Christ were a scattered people who did not know what to believe. We can read this in the opening of the gospels when John the Baptist, Peter and the rest of the apostles, the would-be believers, are waiting for a messiah, somebody who can save them from their present misery.
When Jesus introduces himself to them, they are starting to become a group, a community waiting for a leader. Jesus knows what they want; he knows what to give them – a leadership and a kingdom, but a different kind of kingdom from what the people think. The people are waiting for a king that can save them from poverty and oppression from foreign power. This Jesus tries to correct them.
A short historicity of the Bible can be appropriate here, if we try to understand why Jesus’ coming is a misinterpretation of the Jews and the people. This is the story of salvation, from the beginning God made man to the biblical “heroes”.
The beginning of God’s plan of salvation is the beginning of creation. Since God created for a purpose and with a plan, the whole plan of salvation is carefully managed, worked-out or carried out with His Hand, working like some manager managing hands-on style. That’s why we can see and read in the Old Testament the “interconnectedness” of things. Science says so, about the interconnectedness of things, but it does not know how to explain it, or if it does, the explanation is totally lacking.
Leadership and management are two qualities God taught his people in the Old Testament. He personally taught Abraham, Moses, Joshua, and the rest, the art of leadership and management, although at the very beginning led the people through instructions He gave to Moses and the other leaders.
First, this is told in the Pentateuch, which is the first ten books of the Old Testament, narrating some of the best biblical stories that include creation, God’s covenant with the Patriarchs, the Exodus and the giving of the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai.
God called Abraham and his descendant Jacob so that from them would emerge his people, his own instrument to bring the history of all humanity to maturity which would lead to salvation. “Just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be blameless before him in love.” (Eph. 1:4)
Abraham who lived in 1800 to 1700 BCE, led a nomadic life for his family, traveling with their flocks throughout Mesopotamia, Syria, Canaan, and Egypt. He left Haran for Canaan when God promised him that he would give him descendants as numerous as the sands of the seashore. (Christian Community Bible Commentary 1988, 10)
The Israelites traveled with their tents and their flocks within the two civilizations of that time: Mesopotamia and Egypt. Jacob lived around 1600-1500, and received new blessings from God.
Then, Moses is called by God to lead his people from bondage in Egypt to the Promised Land. From Egypt, to Mt. Sinai, to the wilderness in Kadesh for forty years, and to Canaan, Moses leads them with a strong leadership aided by the Hand of God.
God led them, crossing the Red Sea, which for them was a sign that God was liberating them in order to put them at his service. They fought with the Canaanites and other tribes of the land. When Moses died, Joshua succeeded him. Joshua succeeded in conquering a portion of the land of Canaan. After this, the twelve tribes of Israel were now being led by the “Judges”.
The Israelites faced the Philistines who arrived by sea. They became united to preserve their independence. The period of the Kings followed, with King Saul being killed by the Philistines. He was succeeded by David who conquered Palestine and the surrounding areas. King David made Jerusalem the centre of national unity. David worshipped Yahweh; he lived as a prophet receiving a promise from God that his descendant would reign after him.
There was a split or division of the kingdom of Israel when Solomon died: the Kingdom of Judah, to the South, with its capital in Jerusalem and with the Temple; and the Kingdom of Israel, to the North, larger and more prosperous, but more chaotic in terms of political life.
The Kingdom of Judah was led by kings, priests, and prophets. The great prophets were Isaiah, Micah, Zephaniah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, who promoted a personal faith in the living God, which demanded justice and sincerity.
The Persian Emperor Cyrus conquered Babylon and liberated the Jews. The liberated people reorganized Jerusalem with no known rulers or kings. Prophets were scarce, and so priests were now taking charge of the community with the Mosaic Law as the basis for civil and religious life. The Mosaic Law was written in its final version by Ezra.
Again crisis occurred with the coming in of the Greeks who introduced a new culture and a new religion. Around 167-160, the Syrians came in and persecuted the Jews who fought hard with armed resistance, this time under the leadership of the Maccabees. The Jews obtained religious freedom and peace and became an independent nation once again. (Christian Community Bible Commentary 1988, 10)
In the following century, more foreigners came in. The Roman Empire came in to exert domination in a disguised form. This was during the time of Herod the Great, which preceded the birth of Jesus.
The Jews then spread through the great cities of the Mediterranean, in other parts of the Middle East, forming communities and spreading the faith in the One God.
All those events led to the plan of salvation of God. The birth of Jesus Christ, his death on the cross, and his Resurrection, can be called the culminating factor which led to the salvation of the world, not only the Jews, but for those who come and worship Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior.
Before Jesus started his public ministry, he got many priorities straightened out. The Spirit anointed him for his work, and God affirmed him about his personal identity and call.
The Gospel of Mark tells of how the ministry of apostleship must begin. Those who are called by Jesus to his ministry are ordinary folks, fishermen, people who are not schooled; some of them do not even know how to write.
Mark wrote the Gospel from the accounts he received from Peter when they were in Rome together with Paul. Mark’s Gospel does not show us Jesus’ birth or his life in Nazareth; rather he shows us how Jesus expresses or how he acts.
Mark narrates the three important events to start Jesus’ ministry:
- John the Baptist’s preaching
- Jesus’ baptism by John
- The desert experience
Jesus returns to his province, Galilee, after the desert experience. There he establishes himself in Capernaum. Jesus meets his soon-to-be disciples: Simon and the group of fishermen whom Jesus assures that the long wait is over.
“Today a new time has begun – the reign of the Kingdom of God.”
But we must take the first steps to enter this new world.
Jesus calls his disciples, a call to commit themselves. And so they follow him, leaving behind everything – their families, their belongings, their occupation, everything.
Jesus said, “I will make you fishers of men.”
Jesus knows Simon, Andrew, James, and John, for he has seen them where John preached. These men are workers who know their responsibility. They are also like many of our young men today who give their lives for the ministry, or who want to work without even the thought of remuneration. These are our volunteers, people who know what service is.
Simon and the others trust Jesus at that very instance Jesus meets them. This is just like when Jesus calls us and enters our hearts. He erases the fears, the negative forces inside, and he reigns in our hearts, allowing us to follow him and be one in the ministry of counseling, of helping people catch up with the rest of the world, of knowing that in life we are restless only when we do not allow Jesus to intervene in our lives.
In the beginning, Jesus preaches in the synagogues, the Jewish house of prayer. We can see that he reaches out to the very core of the people’s faith – praying together, sharing, and having fellowship. During Saturdays, the Jews gather together; they pray and read the Scriptures, and chant the Psalms.
This is where Jesus enters and reveals himself – this is the so-called grassroots of the faith, where people gather and enjoy hearing the Word of God.
The setting of a beautiful beginning in the life of Jesus and in the life of the early church is a story of ordinary folks gathering around a loving brother of the faith, Jesus Christ. People in a gathering, in a group, people who know each other, the young mixed with the old, they want to share their experiences and hear the words that are beautiful to hear. The Holy Spirit intervenes in this lovely affair.
If we try to picture this in our minds, Jesus in the midst of the young and the old folks, sharing the Word of God, we can relate it to the birth of the Messiah himself, when he is in swaddling clothes, in the arms of the Virgin.
The angel announces, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours.” (Luke 2: 14)
Can we not see the glory of God when Jesus is here in our midst teaching and preaching about life, knowing that we can not have this glory without God? Here is God in our midst saying, “Have peace, be not afraid!”
The people still do not know him, but they feel in their hearts that this is the One they have been waiting for. They know there is something in this man they call Jesus.
Whenever Jesus goes, he leaves in everyone an impression of strength and confidence. The apostles know God through the Bible’s teachings, but they have not discovered God within their own lives and have prayed to God as to a distant stranger.
“When Jesus is in their midst, immediately they understand that there is something extraordinary about him. They are taken with his apparent intimacy with God. The most extraordinary thing in his manner and actions is his intimate and faithful union with his Father” (The Community Christian Bible Commentary on Mark 1988, 77).
Jesus goes to many places to announce the Good News. He finds the lepers. Leprosy is a kind of disease that rots the body, and is contagious. In those times, the lepers were placed in a secluded place, or in an island where they are away from their loved ones and from society. It was also believed that leprosy was an affliction from God; the Jewish religion declared the lepers unclean.
Jesus cleans or heals the lepers; the leper becomes clean. This is a miracle by Jesus declaring the leper as clean and therefore a part of society, not anymore marginalized. He is now like the other members of society. And Jesus warns the leper who is healed not to tell others because he wants to show us that the true riches of the world are not those seen, or the miracles, but the Good News of the kingdom of God.
Jesus also heals a paralytic man who was carried by four men passing through the top of the house because they could not pass through the door where there were many people. Jesus marveled at the faith of the four men who carried the paralytic, they were that sure that the man would be healed by Jesus. Jesus tells the man that his sins are forgiven.
We can examine ourselves why Jesus said this to the paralytic, that his sins were forgiven when the man did not even ask for forgiveness. During Jesus’ time, to have a sickness was like having a punishment from God; that’s why Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven.” But the Pharisees and the people misunderstood Jesus. Certainly, they did not understand him because they did not know him to be the Son of God. God alone can forgive sins. But in this instance, we can understand that Jesus can save body and soul. He heals the body and forgives the sin of the soul.
Jesus is not like the Pharisees who repeat and interpret the Scriptures. He speaks the truth and with authority. He heals and drives out demons. His driving out evil spirits is like telling us to get away from the influence of the devil.
The job of the counselor is to deliver his flock, especially the young, from the influence of the devil, who tries to destroy man who is created in the image and likeness of God.
Jesus encounters the devil. He knows this is slavery, and a disease that ought to be cured. He has to teach his disciples how to do this. Yet he also knows how difficult and hard it is to teach them; they are like children who need to be weaned from their mothers.
The devil operates in the moral life of people. This we have to be careful because we do not feel it. The people should be able to detect the devil’s ploy; the counselor should help in detecting it. Added to this is the people’s selfishness and the lure of material things of this world.
Today we are surrounded with all the temptations of material things: technology, gadgets, the Internet, fast-paced communications, transportation faster than the speed of sound, and above all money. These things are not evil per se but we should be able to detect temptation because they can be tools of the devil to entice man to sin.
The Internet is one big instrument and the fastest means for man to sin. Technology can help us live normally and help us in our daily lives. But too much gadgets, too much technology, can sometimes become a sort of addiction.
We must use technology for the propagation of God’s word and promote goodwill, or help others in their needs. We can help developing countries rise from poverty through these technologies.
The devil can also make use of technology to promote his empire. As we can see, the Internet can be a source of evil, pornography, cyber crime, cyber sex, cyber corruption, and so forth. The devil notices at once those who are capable of weakening or destroying his empire. Then he awakens the bad, the mediocre, the foolish and the ill-fated against them.
Wherever Jesus goes, the devil goes. Whenever we build our church, the devil builds and improves his own church too. An impressive encounter with the devil takes place in the House of Prayer: when the people are astonished on why Jesus speaks with such authority when he is only son of a carpenter.
And this is the beginning of Jesus’ trials and suffering, even when he is just beginning his ministry. He is being rebuked by the people. The devil knows how to fight by just putting a little seed of jealousy and hate in the minds of the people. And this jealousy and hate continues up to Jesus’ trial in the mock court of Pilate and the Pharisees, and up to the cross of Golgotha.
With all the things that Jesus did, he is still rejected. But in this rejection, he loves and still can love. He forms his church. He ministers onto them, tells them what to do, and he makes sure every word is remembered. He leaves a legacy.
In this world, nothing is lasting. Jesus knows this, that time is an enemy; that his time is limited. He knows too that his stay on earth, no matter how short, must all be recorded and remembered by the apostles and the church.
Peter and Paul and the apostles continue the works of Jesus by writing, acting, performing, and doing what the Holy Spirit tells them to do.
The Early Christian Church
Authors have different opinions on their description of the early Christian church. What was it like? Was it just a simple sociological phenomenon with their founder Jesus Christ having resurrected? The writers of the Gospels however converge in a certain point because they are guided by the Holy Spirit.
“The early church believed that it was the community of Jesus whom God raised from the dead, the true Israel of God. It was convinced that every believer received God’s gift of the Holy Spirit, not only created them as a community but guided them through their development” (Patzia 2001, 13).
There were churches that emerged through the years following. These were churches with a Jewish background, such as in Jerusalem and Antioch, and which differed considerably from certain churches in the Greco-Roman world, such as those in Ephesus, Corinth and Rome. Early Catholicism was used to refer to the emergence of the churches.
God sees the importance of his church. He sent His Son to save the world, but also to form his church until all things have been accomplished.
“… From a divine perspective, the formation of that community of oneness is what history is all about. Like a bride to her husband, the church is God’s most precious possession. The making of the church justified his most costly investment and his dearest sacrifice.” (Bilezikian 1997, 43)
God nurtured this. When Jesus ascended to heaven, the Holy Spirit came. The most important occurrence in the life of the early Christian church is the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The apostles constantly sought the help of the Holy Spirit when in the midst of a major decision.
The Acts of the Apostles illustrates how the early communities emerged through the labor of the early apostles and the working of the Holy Spirit. The Acts was written by Luke who was a pagan living outside Palestine, in Antioch. After his conversion, he accompanied Paul in his missions. (Community Christian Bible Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles 1988, 254)
In the first page of the Acts, the one who is speaking is the Risen Christ. Jesus has passed through the gates of death and is already sharing the Glory of the Father, but for some days he wants to manifest himself to his disciples and give them his last instructions. He has fulfilled his mission in the world. But the work of the Church has to be continued by the apostles.
A decision is made as to who would take the place of Judas, and this is reached with the authority of Peter, the leader of the group. There is the responsibility of the community and the casting of lots, a way of making room for the working of the Spirit.
This method – asking the Holy Spirit for guidance – is still practiced in many churches today. Moreover, there is also the authority coming from the people or the community in terms of decision making. In the early church, as described in the Acts, the community cannot choose their leaders without the agreement of the apostles.
The apostles cannot begin a difficult mission before they have received the Holy Spirit. They have done everything that depended on them for this and cannot but put themselves into the hands of God and wait perseveringly in prayer for the time has fixed.
In Chapter 2 of the Acts, the Pentecost is talked about. Pentecost means the “fiftieth day” after the Passover, one of the most important Jewish feasts. There was the presence of Jews who came from other countries and who had visited Jerusalem as pilgrims.
In this day the baptism of fire announced by John (Lk 3:16) takes place. The Holy Spirit comes down from heaven, after Jesus has ascended, and the church is born.
This is the beginning of the early Christian church.
The church is not a human institution, or the work of a group of believers; it comes from God’s initiative and God wills that individuals of every nation witness this achievement.
There are many of us who believe that the church can just be formed with a group of people in a community gathered, praising God, reading the bible, and forming fellowships. All these are practices or activities of the church. But the church is that one formed through God’s initiative.
God forms the church. He gathers the people, the members of his flock. The Holy Spirit guides the church. The Holy Spirit was sent after Jesus ascended to heaven. Jesus is already seated on the right Hand of the Father. And we will be united with him in the final days.
It can be said that the achievement of the Pentecost is as unique as the Resurrection. Through the Resurrection, the Holy Spirit was sent on Pentecost to guide the church formed by Jesus Christ.
This is the pattern of other interventions of God. The Spirit constantly brings about our apostolic renewals, religious awakenings, dynamic communities that become the new blood of the church which is constantly growing old and is constantly being renewed. The Spirit comes to give life to the church. It continues to guide the church and the believers; we can ask the guidance of the Holy Spirit in everything we do, or when two or three are gathered in God’s Name, the Holy Spirit is there to guide and inspire. This can be done in every activity, in counseling and in leadership.
In Acts 2:14-15, Peter announces to the people of Judea and Jerusalem about the power of the Holy Spirit now working in the people. He says that the people are not drunk as can be seen, but they are speaking and understanding different languages because of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Peter asked the people to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, and believe in him, so that their sins would be forgiven.
The disciples now are able to heal the sick and the disabled. Peter said to the man lame from birth, “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” (Acts 3:6)
The man’s feet and ankle are made strong, he goes with the apostles, walking and leaping and praising God.
Jesus Style of Leadership
Jesus’ dealing with the people can make us think and understand his way of leading people. The five major aspects of Jesus style of leadership (Ajith Fernando, qtd. in Robbins 2004, 74):
Identifying with the people you serve
First, Jesus submits himself to the baptism of John (Mark 1:9). Jesus knows he has to do this; he has to be identified with the people he wants to be with and to serve. And these are the ordinary people, those who are in the streets; those who are looking for guidance and inspiration from the Holy Spirit whom they haven’t known. Jesus wants to be called a servant to the people.
We have to remember in the Last Supper, Jesus washes the feet of his disciples, the most humbling experience one can ever have. But for a master to do this to his servants, it sounds not within our realm, not within our grasp. Yet Jesus commands us to do what he has done, to be a servant to many. “You have to wash each others’ feet,” he told his disciples.
Jesus is the Lord of creation who took upon himself the form of a bondservant (Phil. 2:6-8). He also spends time in the homes of his disciples, with sinners, that’s why he was called a sinner.
“Because the home is the most important place in most people’s lives, visiting homes is a great means of identifying with people” (Fernando, qtd. in Robbins 2004, 74).
Jesus walked miles to attend the funeral of the brother of his female disciple and identified with their sorrow. He also healed Peter’s mother-in-law.
Getting priorities straight
First, Jesus had his priorities straight. The Spirit anointed him for his work (Mark 1:10), and God affirmed him about his personal identify and call (v. 11). He retreated into the wilderness to fast and pray, and to be tempted by the devil, and he also spent much time in praying. He ministered to his twelve disciples and prepared them for the great task ahead.
Can a Pastor of the present church do this?
Well he has to. Because of the many things to be done, of the many temptations that lure the flesh, the Pastor can be so preoccupied with other things, he forgets his priorities – the spiritual needs of the members of the flock.
Relying on the Scriptures
Jesus relied on the Scriptures in answering the devil’s temptation: the Scriptures alone can help us fight temptations. We can not fall into sin if we read the Bible, meditate on Jesus’ life and works and his teachings. But we also have to add prayer and fasting; Jesus did this when he was tempted by the devil.
Relying on the Scriptures also means meditating and contemplating upon it, knowing that we can source spiritual strength and guidance from the words of God.
Believing in Jesus’ Message
Jesus said in Mark 1:15, “The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news.” We believe in the words of Jesus, we must believe. During his time, the people were waiting for such words; they were eagerly and anxiously waiting for the Messiah to come and speak those words. The words called for repentance and strong faith in God.
Ministering to the team members
From the start Jesus selected a few disciples, then it grew to 12 members. From then on, he was together with them, ministering to their need of spiritual renewal. He prepared them for their work as his disciples and ministers of the Word.
The focus is the team, meaning the church has to work as a team, with the pastor acting as the leader. With the Holy Spirit and the team, who can beat them?
Paul to the Romans
Jesus announced the Gospel to the Jews, but he also directed them towards a more universal mission. It was also necessary that the Gospel should be announced and preached to the gentiles, to the Greeks of the Roman empire who heard the preaching of the apostles.
The Greeks had believed that they lived in a world fully convinced that man cannot escape from his blind destiny, and that it was impossible to overcome universal corruption and death. (Christian Community Bible Commentary on Paul’s Letter to the Romans 1988, 310)
For this reason, it was necessary that the Gospel should be preached to them. In the Letter to the Romans, Paul presents the complete plan of salvation as an answer to the concerns of the Greeks, while not forgetting those of the Jews, many of whom were in the community.
Paul says that the salvation is a liberation of the human person and that we are saved when we discover the love of God through the death and Resurrection of Jesus. God makes us his sons by pouring his Spirit into us.
In v. 9 – 13, Paul presents a program of Christian life which is governed by internal attitudes and dispositions. A Christian does not return evil for evil, mean behavior for mean behavior, a tooth for a tooth. We should not strive to be noticed by adopting customs of a higher social class, or to dream of a life without material problems, to have more consideration for moneyed people, for the powerful or for good speakers.
Chapter 13 Paul tells us to submit to authority, but some governments use this verse for people to submit to authorities without questions. In those times, Paul and his readers lived in a world where almost no one questioned the legitimacy of Roman authority. But in his letter, Paul questions the government.
In Chapter 14, the Christians of Rome, of many different cultures, were still influenced by their former religious customs, but Paul reminds us that there are no forbidden foods or drinks.
In Chapter 15:30, Paul asks the apostles to be united and warned them against divisions and against those who preached a “different Gospel.” The last sentence is a prayer of thanksgiving to God.
Paul to the Ephesians
Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians is sent to the churches for the believers to reflect on their own Christian identity. These people many of whom have not known Jesus and his apostles personally have to understand the place of the church in the plan of God.
The first chapter is an expression of the Christian mystery in the Bible, which serves to balance Paul’s great presentation in his letter to the Romans, which could appear to center God’s work in the tragedy of sinful man.
Creation is again the subject, and Paul stresses God’s design of his creation, which is rooted in the mystery of the “Three Divine Persons”. We know that from God the Father proceed the Son and the Spirit, and from him they receive his very divinity – because they are One God.
Chapter 1:5 states that we are adoptive sons of God, capable of receiving his Spirit and of returning it to God, must be born and multiply in the universe, children who in the end, will be gathered into one body (v.10).
Paul delights in the faith of the Ephesians but, above all, he prays they may have hope which must be the source of their dynamism. (v.15)
In Chapter 2:11, Paul says that before Christ, men were divided and they did not know our common Father. Since they were not mature enough for a quick unification in the true faith, God took that into account when he began to prepare Christ’s coming.
The Jews were the people God chose and to avoid their being contaminated by the errors of the pagans, he separated them through a law which forbade their living together with other people. The Jews had to wash their hands when they touched something touched by a pagan.
But Christ came and destroyed the division between the Jews and the pagans. He taught them to practice coexistence, forbidden until then. Christ, put on the Cross by Jews and pagans, overcomes the hatred of all by a love which forgives and, once risen, he gathers all people to himself.
Christ unified the universe. The cross is a symbol of the unification, with one vertical going to God, and one horizontal towards men.
The Gospel destroys all differences between men; no matter how much segregation emerges in our societies, its laws and its institutions will collapse perhaps through violence, but better by being discredited through the sacrifices of its victims.
The Holy Spirit enables each person to be fulfilled in communion with others. The Spirit grants each person to be true to himself and to continue in communion with the community of God. The new being is born not as the work of politics or of any ideology, but as the work of God, since we are dealing with a new creation as Paul says.
We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and in forming the community we become the temple of God.
In Chapter 4, Paul names all that we have in common through Christ and through the work of the Holy Spirit. Having so much in common is a call to union, love and peace. We build the temple or church, but more than that we build the Body of Christ or the Perfect Man, made of millions and billions of members now forming humanity and those of the future.
Jesus of Nazareth lived humbly, served us, and formed his church, but God made him the Head of humanity through his resurrection. Now he sees the suffering of the people, his children; Jesus suffers as well.
Paul invites the Ephesians to become mature in the faith or to become a mature community, capable of being led by the truth, and of building itself through love.
God created man in his image, but Christ is the true image of God having been put to death and resurrected. Christ is the second Adam, but the first of a new race of men. When we let go of the sin which disfigures us, when we follow Christ and live in Spirit, we also share in the victory of Christ.
We can imitate God with Christ as our model who gave himself out of love for us, as the way, the light and life.
In 5:21 – 6:9, Paul more or less repeats what he had written, shortly before, in the Letter to the Colossians (3:18-4:1). When he speaks of everyone’s submission to others, and especially the woman’s submission to her husband’s authority, he finds new thoughts, which he develops, about marriage.
Marriage and Divorce
In the context of marriage, Paul does not emphasize that women must be submissive, but rather they submit to their husbands as to the Lord. But during those times, a wife has to subject herself to the husband. Paul is pointing out the essential: the primacy of mutual love and respect in marriage; the mystical sense of marriage as embodiment of Christ’s love for the Church for us. This New Testament doctrine on marriage should inspire Christians everywhere and of all cultural backgrounds.
The subject of marriage should be understood by all, before divorce and remarriage can be talked about. And in understanding marriage, we have to go back to the first topic for this dissertation, the subject of creation in Genesis.
In our discussion of creation, the Book of Genesis is the primary authority on the subject, for indeed it is the source of all discussions on creation. We also mentioned Augustine of Hippo’s ancient but scholarly interpretation of creation. We can try to understand that Augustine himself was guided by the Holy Spirit of God when he wrote those books.
Adams (1980) also relates marriage to the story of creation. The purpose of marriage is primarily procreation, but it is not at all for the mere pleasure of sex.
“God tells us that He Himself established, instituted and ordained marriage at the beginning of human history” (Adams (1980, 4).
The woman was taken from the rib of the man so that they can be one, but then they are male and female for the purpose of the function of the body, to create.
Augustine is very explicit when he says that there is equality for both man and woman. Eve was important to Adam for the purpose of procreation and as partner.
God designed marriage as the foundational element of all human society. Before there was (formally speaking) a church, a school, a business instituted, God formally instituted marriage, declaring, “A man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” (Adams 1980, 4)
This is important to be taught to the young and those who would like to venture in marriage. The Bible stresses the sacredness of marriage; this is mentioned particularly in the Book of Genesis. God alone has the right to institute marriage, and since God has the only right to do so, He alone can regulate marriage, and this can not be regulated according to human whims.
“Marriage as an institution is subject to the rules and regulations set down by God. If He had said nothing more about marriage after establishing it, we might have proceeded to draw up such rules on our own” (Adams 1980, 4).
Adams states that procreation is not the fundamental feature of marriage, and that there is something that is more than mating. While marriage includes mating as one of its duties, the two must not be identified.
Adams (1980, 4) states that the propagation of the race is a sub-purpose of marriage, not the major purpose. Marriage must not be equated with sexual relations. A sexual union is not (as some who study the Bible carelessly think) to be equated with the marriage union. Marriage as a union that implies sexual union does not necessarily imply marriage. Marriage is different from, bigger than, and inclusive of sexual union (just as it is inclusive of the obligation to propagate the race), but the two are not the same. (Adams 1980, 5)
On the other hand, Adams disagrees with the notion that marriage is designed to propagate the human race; procreation is not the fundamental feature of marriage. Marriage is something more than mating, and the two must not be identified.
The propagation of the race is a sub-purpose of marriage, not the major purpose” (Adams 1980, 5).
In I Cor. 7, Paul upheld the practice of marriage. Christian life had encouraged everywhere the esteem for chastity. Spouses belong to Christ with all their being, consecrated by baptism. Therefore they cannot become slaves to the demands of their bodies. Love should dominate the couple, rather than the demand of sex.
Certainly, sexual relation outside of marriage is prohibited. The understanding of the value of marriage and still more, or conjugal love, is a fruit of Christianity.
It is only in modern times that the rights of husband and wife are equal, as expressed by Jesus in Mk 10-1-2. During the time of Paul and the early Christian church, the Greeks considered as ideal, to have one wife for the procreation of children, a girl-friend for love, and prostitutes for pleasure. (Christian Community Bible Commentary on I Corinthians 1988, 347)
Chapter 7:11, Paul stresses a teaching of Jesus; the fundamental law of marriage as a commitment lasting to death is a divine law.
“Following the teaching of Jesus, he rejected divorce and required divorcees to remain unmarried or to return to their former partners” (Howard 2004, 257).
Paul recognized the special situation of believers married to unbelievers, that in this case they can be allowed to be separated at the behest of the unbelieving partners. He makes an exception for those who at the time of their conversion and baptism were married.
In this case, the new Christian, starting a new life, obtains freedom from the marriage ties if his or her partner does not want to accept his (or her) conversion. Even while praising the desire of the believer to convert his spouse, Paul’s advice is that sometimes it would be better to separate, notwithstanding the possibility of a new marriage in the new faith.
In Chapter 7:25, Paul remarks that marriage can be the cause of internal division for those who serve Christ. Many committed Christians well know that they cannot dedicate themselves as fully to the service of their brethren as they would wish, either because a partner doe not understand or because they have to attend to family matters.
Verse 36 can be interpreted as Paul referring to a trial of religious life, which in fact took place in the primitive church.
Mark Gaither in his book Redemptive Divorce states that there are instances divorce becomes inevitable when one of the spouses is in a no-win situation. He cites particular situations of marriages when marriage is not anymore working, a member is in addiction, and the marriage has gone to the worse.
Gaither says, “We must ask ourselves, was man made for marriage or marriage made for man? Are we becoming guilty of venerating the institution of marriage over its original design, like the Pharisees obsessed over the Sabbath? (Mark 2:27) Have we lost sight of the purpose of marriage in God’s ultimate program to make us more like Christ?”
Gaither calls the particular kind of divorce to separate husband and wife legally a “redemptive divorce” to save what has remained, for example the children who may be traumatized by the continuous ‘torture’ in the home that can not anymore be called a home.
Redemptive divorce is what some couples need in these times, Gaither argues.
Through the centuries, organizations have been formed in the church, some of which have helped in the formulation of policies or have been instrumental in the advancement of activities for the welfare of the church flock and the entire community.
Modern organizing began in Europe in the seventeenth to nineteen centuries. Various theories evolved from the people’s setting up of organizations.
“Emile Durkheim, in trying to characterize religious organization, went back to nonliterate, tribal clans as the prototypical, feelings-based model for religious group solidarity, and argued that solidarity of society itself was based on religious feelings” (Reeves 1998, 347).
But in searching for the history of organizations, especially the ones that triggered reforms within the church, sources can be traced to military origins.
“An organization is a social formation in which the parts appear to belong more to each other than to something outside: that is, an organization has a boundary around it more or less” (Reeves 1998, 343).
As the organization is military in origin, its aims at first were for military campaigns. The first organizations were for families or clans, what is called today “patriarchalism” but conducive to corruption, nepotism, lack of fairness to women and children.
Reeves (1998, 344) wrote that the ancient Romans were first involved in bureaucratic military model, and this was later on copied by the Roman Catholic Church for the basis of their organizational set up until today. The set up consisted of the pope in place of Caesar, cardinals for senators, and so down to converting plebeians into lay folk. Up until the Second Vatican Council, the Roman Catholic Church consisted of the pope, cardinals, bishops, and clergy, and the faithful.
The churches in the United States are independent from each other, though some have formed organizations merely for unity and fellowship. Many of the churches are a result of the Church schism when Martin Luther and a group from the clergy and independent minded Christians parted from the church and formed their own denominations.
The Reformation was a period in world history, or shall we say world religious history, when people wanted reforms. The Catholic Church grew, became richer and more powerful. And with much money and more power, the people within the church became corrupt, fighting each other for power and money. Those in power were craving for more power, and tried to implement doctrines that were becoming an “eye sore”. Everybody was questioning the teachings and doctrines of the church. (Gray 2003, 5)
Church doctrines were taught and interpreted from the bible. The people realized that their religion was not teaching them good morals because those running their religion were corrupt and immoral. The changes or reforms asked for were complaints against the clergy, the sacraments, the many confessions, and many other complaints, called for by Martin Luther, John Calvin, and others.
With the Protestant Reformation, several reformations or movements within the church had emerged. They were championed by then so-called reformers like Guillaume Briconnet, bishop of Meaux in the 1520s, and Jean du Bellay, bishop of Paris from 1532, “who wanted to introduce new ideas but were prepared to do so from within the structures of the church” (Gray 2003, 5).
The Reformation affected largely the political, economic, social, and religious lives of the people. It asked for changes and better religious world and beliefs. Other reformers were Huldrych Zwingli, John Knox, Martin Bucer, Cranmer, and other independent minded thinkers and theologians. They were later followed by the Puritans and the different Anabaptist movements (which were far more radical in their approach). These movements subsequently changed the cultures of the world.
Martin Luther himself wanted to change the church from within but his followers (who were not really followers; they founded their own churches) made the move of separating from the church.
Luther, who was not interested, at first, in schism, offered up his Theses as debating points. Some members of the church wanted to silence him as they had those who preceded him. He was summoned to Worms, in 1521, and told to recant of his views. He refused, and what he had done created chasm between the Roman Catholic and Protestants. (Root 2002, xviii)
Martin Luther emerged as the champion with his courageous and public opposition to papal indulgences and his insistence that “salvation by faith alone and that the Bible was the sole source of spiritual authority [and] the Bible should be available in the everyday language of the people” (Gray 2003, 1).
Martin Luther’s views and ideas became the rallying cry for other leaders and idealist thinkers, some of them also came from the clergy and people within the church. They all developed Martin Luther’s concept of salvation by faith alone.
Luther’s call for reforms was not heeded by the church. He then wrote books stating his complaints and oppositions to the teachings of the church. These complaints were 95 in all which he nailed to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, then a common place to post questions to encourage discussion among students and faculty at the University of Wittenberg.
He called it the Ninety-Five Theses, which sparked more discussion among students and within the clergy. The Ninety-Five Theses was written in Latin but was translated into German, with thousands of copies printed and distributed throughout Germany. It sparked discussion and debate all throughout the land. (Sommervill 2006, 13)
The emergence of the different groups could testify the extent of their divisions. But the initial reformers couldn’t have wanted these divisions. They believed in the unity of the church, but they found it impossible to be united on the basis of their different ideas that sprang from the Reformation.
Later in 1521, Luther was tried before the most powerful leaders of the Holy Roman Empire, led by the emperor, the princes of Germany, the military, and top Catholic church leaders. He was asked about the books he had written, and Luther admitted that he had written them all. (Somervill 2006, 13)
Luther became a fugitive, and while in hiding at Warburg Castle near Eisenach, Germany, he disguised as a knight named Junker Jorg (Knight George), studied the bible, wrote and translated the New Testament portion of the bible into German. His Ninety-Five Theses stirred up so much controversy or conflict. But his beliefs would end up changing religion and altering the course of history. (Somervill 2006, 15)
Luther’s theological breakthrough came out of the many flaws he believed came from the church’s doctrine. The Catholic church teaches the doctrine of the original sin.
“Sin is not an act: it is a state of being” (Gray 2003, 17).
This doctrine is explained in the Paradise scene, in which Adam and Eve settled and committed original sin. The biblical story tells us that the first humans Adam and Eve lived in paradise but were forbidden to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Eve succumbed to the devil’s temptation, and so he also tempted Adam. They committed the first sin which is called original sin, according to Catholic doctrine.
“Through God’s atonement, God and sinful humanity can be reconciled.” (Gray 2003, 18)
The question here is how can humans take advantage of that one atoning sacrifice? St Paul and the writings of Augustine of Hippo state that “human nature was too damaged by the fall to be able to work towards salvation [and] salvation could come only from God’s free gift of grace”.
There was the covenant theory however: “God had promised to bestow grace on all those who did their best” (Gray 2003, 18).
Some theologians argued that God’s grace was necessary before the sinner could be justified.
From the Protestant Reformation are the churches still much present all throughout different places. There are the Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists, Mennonites, Presbyterians, and Catholics.
“In the fourth century, an exasperated St. Augustine wrote about the fractious church, ‘The clouds roll with thunder that the House of the Lord shall be built throughout the earth; and these frogs sit in their marsh and croak – ‘We are the only Christians!’” (Yancey 1995, 234)
Theory of Leadership
There are different theories of leadership that can be applied by organizations and even the church of the 20th and the 21st century. We have mentioned the theory of leadership as introduced by Jesus in his own ministry during the early formation of his church.
Some organizations, outside religion, have their theory of leadership which we think can be compared to the theory of leadership of Jesus.
The first theory of leadership which is “entrenched in American culture emerged from the nineteenth century notion that history is the story of great men and their impact on society” (Heifetz 1994, 16)
In this notion, women were not even considered candidates for greatness. This theory was explained by Thomas Carlyle (qtd. in Heifetz 1994) in his 1841 volume On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History, and then there was a revival in the 1980s.
Carlyle examined the “personality of ‘great men’ and stated that the rise to power is rooted in a ‘heroic’ set of personal talents, skills, or physical characteristics” (Heifetz 1994, 16).
Sidney Hook (1943, qtd. in Heifetz 1994, 16) seemed to agree when he described in “The Hero in History, some men are eventful, while others are event making.”
This theory was argued against by so-called situationalists who say that history is not the result of these men but the other way around. Herbert Spencer (1884, qtd. in Heifetz 1994, 16), a social theorist, states that “the times produce the person and not the person produce the time”.
Situationalists were concerned of what the situation could produce great men, and not on leadership per se.
The emergence of great men such as Jefferson, Washington, Adams, Madison, Hamilton, Monroe, Benjamin Franklin “is attributed not to a demographic fluke but to the extraordinary times in which these men lived” (Heifetz 1994, 17).
In other words, these men became great because of the situation and the way these men reacted to the situation. Thus, “What an individual actually does when acting as a leader is in large part dependent upon characteristics of the situation in which he functions” (qtd. in Heifetz 1994, 17).
It was further shown in empirical studies that there is “no single constellation of traits that can be associated with leadership” (Heifetz 19994, 17).
We try to associate this with the leadership style of Jesus. Jesus can be considered one of those great men, although he is not that comparable with the great men in United States’ history such as Jefferson and others. Jesus is far more than the so-called great men in history.
The situation in the United States is different with the situation in Israel during the time of Jesus Christ. And Jesus Christ introduced a style of leadership that is unique. We can say that he created the situation, instead of the situation created him.
The situation or the time was chosen by God to be the appropriate time for His Son to come down. It was an appropriate time, we must state. We have to state further that God made his plan from creation to salvation. And He could not just send His Son in any time. It has to be a perfect timing.
The situation is that the people were looking for a messiah or a savior, somebody who can save them from their predicament, from the Roman empire, and from poverty. But Jesus who is concerned with spiritual matters and saving the souls, has the qualities of a leader, in fact a king. He is led into a situation that the Father created; he created it because he could have saved himself from the rush and harsh judgment of Pilate and the Pharisees. But through that situation, he is able to save the world from sin.
On the theory of leadership above, the field of inquiry expanded into the specific interactions between leaders and followers. It was found out that “leaders not only influence followers but are under their influence as well” (Heifetz 1994, 17).
But Jesus is much, much different. Until today, more than two thousand years past, his followers are still under his spell and are voluntarily doing so.
- The early Christian church started with communities, followers of Jesus Christ who lived and prayed to the Holy Spirit to come to their lives and guide their communities. Counselors and pastors have led and managed the Christian church taking lessons from the Old and New Testaments, and from the voluminous writings of theologians and doctors of the church.
- Theory of leadership practiced by the church is based on Jesus’ own style of leadership in leading the disciples during his brief stay on earth and subsequently when the Holy Spirit took hold of their lives after Jesus ascended to heaven.
- Until now, the Holy Spirit is working and guiding the Christian church because this is the church formed and prescribed by God.
By a man of God I was called and he said: “Did you know that the words ‘Be not afraid’ occur more than 365 times in the Bible?”
I was not surprised because I know those words spoken by Jesus himself when he reassured his disciples but I didn’t really know how many times those words are mentioned in the Bible. This remarkable man who wrote the book, “Just for a Moment”, an inspiring series of quotes from the Bible, everyday life, and anecdotes about ordinary encounter with the Lord, can open our eyes and let us imitate the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The words “be not afraid” are contained on the first page of his book, and in the bottom of the page are the reassuring phrases: “Be not afraid. Do not worry. God is in control. God has a plan.” (Orbos 2007, 1)
Can an aspiring counselor say this to anybody seeking comforting words like they were spoken by Jesus himself? Certainly, we all have the right and privilege to use any inspiring words and phrases from the Bible and from the writings of great people about leading and administering communities, because in leading and counseling, we gather the words and inspirations of Jesus Christ.
We lead, and we love, and we have to follow. If we have the so-called ‘mandate’ from the Lord Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit, we have to accept this ‘commandment’. This calling will come from God to anyone; no matter who you are, no matter where you are. Anyone can be a leader but everyone has to follow.
Just as David was called from the fields tending his sheep, God calls anyone of us to lead and administer. We have to study and be prepared of this task and obligation. And just as God called Samuel (I Samuel 3:1) to prepare him for greater things, our children must also be prepared for the different tasks of the church, for leadership and for following their leaders.
God’s call to Samuel was personal and direct, but it was not the lightning touch by which God definitively marks his great prophets and reveals to them something of his mystery as he does in the case of Isaiah or Paul.
For us, it can be slow, or a slight touch from the Holy Spirit. A reminder from a counselor will do. There are many instances we can cite when God through the Holy Spirit seem to whisper, “Come, you are mine.”
And when the moment comes, isn’t it the best thing in life?
The Bible tells us the responsibility of parents and to those who do not discipline their children. The father’s duty to educate and correct his children, instead of leaving them to their own selves to do what they want, was taught in Israel. Parents should not evade from their responsibility of disciplining children to become good leaders and obedient followers. The conscience of the child is not yet fully awake, the future liberty of the young person and the grown person has to be ensured through the discipline of a “Law”. (Sir 30; Gal 4)
Likewise, if we are all obedient followers, good and patient readers of the Word of God, what counseling can be not successful? And pastors and counselors would be more challenged and inspired to do their job of building the community of believers.
Christ has repeatedly told us to imitate him. It’s that simple. By imitating Christ, continuously following his will, reading and observing what he has told us, we get what we have been asking for in our prayers as a community of God.
But it is not that so simple, actually. For in the words of Jesus Christ, he calls for self-sacrifice, in forgetting the self for the love of others, just like what he did on the cross. We are called to take part in the sacrifice of the cross.
Pastors and counselors ought to give reassuring yet inspiring words. Because in our hearts are negative feelings of restlessness and fear. We are afraid. When we seek those words, we are afraid.
Why should we be afraid?
We are afraid of fear itself. We do not like to encounter pain and suffering, that’s why we seek all the materials things in the world, technology, bio-technology to the point of violating ethics, electronic gadgets, money, and many other tools to make our lives comfortable. We forget the one ultimate sacrifice, Jesus’ crucifixion.
The moment a child learns to socially interact, first with the parents and anyone at home, fear becomes a part of the child’s environment, and the parents and those who care have to reassure and comfort the child so that fear will be gone. We reassure our children not to be afraid because we are here, and God is in control.
Drury (1973, pp. 31-32) quotes Augustine of Hippo in his writings: ‘If it be true, as indeed it is, that ‘Fecisti nos ad Te, et inquietum est cor nostrum donec requiescat in Te’ (You made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you), then any psychology which ignores the persistent inquietude of the human soul is a shallow and superficial affair” (cited in Ulanov and Ulanov 1993, 9).
We always worry, think negatively, and act restlessly. Inside us are vast forces of negative feelings, only a strong positive force can heal or counter. God must have made us this way because we belong to him. And since we are not yet in him – we have parted from him – we are restless, we are afraid. Only God’s reassurance, and only in the Lord’s presence will our fears die down.
This, I think, is the role of a counselor, of a pastor, to always repeat what Jesus said when he appeared to his disciples after he was resurrected – be not afraid. And these words are accompanied by another reassuring phrase, “Peace be with you!”
These phrases come together. When we have peace, our fears are gone. When we are not afraid, we have peace inside. Jesus always reassures us of peace and love. A counselor ought to let his flock feel the same. If the counselor can not do so, there must be something wrong, and something has to be done immediately.
Fear is the most important negative feeling that ought to be erased before doing anything else. How can you do your job if you have something inside which makes you afraid?
In Ann Belford and Barry Ulanov’s essay Reaching to the Unknown: Religion and the Psyche, they make mention of St. Augustine and other psychologists’ “the persistent inquietude of the human soul”.
This pertains to our souls’ continuous uneasiness, in a manner of speaking. We are uneasy, we are restless. Inquietude is here inside, instead of the quiet and peace that should have reigned. Psychologists, philosophers, theologians, religious and church people, they all say we cannot be so quiet inside, unless – Christ says – we go back to Him. We are a part of God; we have always been, therefore we cannot be quiet inside if God doesn’t dwell in us.
Ann and Barry quote Augustine: “Imagine yourself, then, sick, under a physician’s hand. You want to ask your physician to allow you to drink some fresh wine. You are not forbidden to ask, for it may not do you any harm; it may even be good for you. Do not hesitate to ask, then. Ask, do not hesitate.” (B. Ulanov 1983, 16, cited in Ulanov and Ulanov 1993, 9)
We have to ask and seek. The sickness is the weakness in us; we can have this strength through scriptural readings everyday, if possible every moment of our days.
We have to seek inspiration from the Bible, for counseling and leadership. And we have the power to improve leadership through scriptural principles.
Warren says, “You have a choice to make. You will be either a world-class Christian or a worldly Christian.” (Paul Borthwick 1993, cited in Warren 2002, 297)
Though we have a choice, we have to choose the right path of a true Christian.
There are a lot of stories, short but meaningful stories, contained in the books about Jesus’ short stay on earth. Contemplating on these anecdotes and stories are a wealth for Christians.
One time, Jesus came into a synagogue, and one of the leaders of the synagogue went pleading to Jesus to heal his sick daughter; at this moment, the leader was warned that his daughter had just died and not to trouble Jesus any further. But Jesus heard it and said, “Do not fear, only believe.” After that, he went inside the house and told the people that the child was not dead but just asleep. Jesus then commanded the child to get up. (Mark 5:36-38)
This story also tells us the importance of wiping out fear before doing another important task. The Bible tells of another kind of fear, which is fear of the Lord. Fear of the Lord means respect and obedience, and hence love for the Lord.
“Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Prov. 1:7 NRSV)
We fear God, and not the devil. But we have to despise the devil and its many ploys and temptations, at the same time ask the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit. When we seek the presence of the Holy Spirit, God comes to our presence.
Today we are surrounded with all the temptations of material things: technology, gadgets, the Internet, fast-paced communications, transportation faster than the speed of sound, and above all money. These things are not evil per se but we should be able to detect temptation because they can be tools of the devil to entice man to sin.
The Internet is one big instrument and the fastest means for man to sin. Technology can help us live normally and help us in our daily lives. But too much gadgets, too much technology, can sometimes become a sort of addiction.
Beginning a Ministry
But let’s begin with our ministry. We always begin with God.
Rick Warren says, “You can not arrive at your life’s purpose by starting with a focus at yourself. You must begin with God, your Creator.” (Warren 2002, 18)
While the church of today is a continuance of the church Jesus founded, we have to search the scriptures and other writings for us to do counseling and management so well so that the members of the church may not be led astray.
Pastors and counselors have to be innovative and resourceful in their brand of management and counseling in order to be able to lead effectively in the modern times. In the latter part of this dissertation are the challenges that pastors and counselors face in the modern world because of high technology and the internet.
We have to begin with God. And where can we find him? We find God and his teachings through the Scriptures, studying it, and living the Word of God like it is a part of us, like God is always with us. We can never look at the past without God. We can never study him without his Word. The Word is God.
Additionally, we find God in the ordinary folks, in the streets where our members are found, in the farm, in the offices, in the tall buildings, in our church. God must be so puzzled of the complexity of the world now. But no, God understands. We have to follow him.
The Bible is the constant companion of the pastor. He has to daily study it. With studying is praying. We have to contemplate on the Bible, Jesus’ life and teachings and the commandments and inspirations he left us after his ascension.
Pastors and counselors have to be unselfish in leadership and in administering. Before we become leaders, we have to be followers.
In the Old Testament, God wanted his people to follow the laws and observe his commandments. This is the simple rule in community leadership, coming from God himself when he personally ruled the Israelites: Fulfill the laws and you become prosperous.
In the Old Testament, the Law is so important that almost all activities are governed by it. Fulfilling the Law is loving God, because you can not love God without his laws.
In Psalm 1:2, “Their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night.”
In the First Book of Kings, God commanded his people to fulfill the laws. Solomon was an example of a man gifted by God with everything that could be desired. His father David, with his victories, left him a strong people. The economy was healthy and the people were strong in their faith and obedience. He was given an understanding mind, a wisdom no one ever had.
But Solomon also sinned. Sinning starts with not following the law. He had among his wives the daughter of Pharaoh, and he worshipped in the sanctuaries called High Places.
With Christ, the law has seen a different meaning. Christ has left us a command – love one another. During the time of Moses, the Law meant following the commandments and the statutes, and by disobeying the law meant punishment.
This is different with Christ’s time. The law now is to love one another. This is different from saying “Follow the law or you’ll be punished.” Now it is, “Love your neighbor.” Punishment is not a part of loving; punishment is disregarded here because when we talk of punishment, we always evoke beating or giving or adding sacrifice to someone. Punishment may only be invoked as a sort of discipline but not to the point of hurting the individual.
Following Christ always involves love, and loving your neighbor. You have to love everyone, even the sinner, because everyone sin and have fallen short of the kingdom of God. It is not easy to love a sinner like us. It is not so easy to love one’s neighbor. And it is not so easy to be a member of a church composed of sinners.
Can a Christian church survive with sinners? Or if the pastor and counselors and those given the charge of administering and leading the flock sin day in and day out make that church last long?
No one is righteous in the eyes of the Lord, because we all sin. But if we realize our sins, or if the counselor and pastor realize their sin, and concentrate on working in the vineyard of the Lord, they will succeed and will be going to a destination the Lord has preserved for his children.
The pastor has to continuously seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in all the work that has to be done, including the duties for the propagation of the faith and administering and counseling the members of the flock.
Moreover, the church that Jesus left is continuously guided by the Holy Spirit. It will not falter; it will continue until the end of times.
But matters to maintenance, growth, and expansion of the church must be of supreme importance to its members.
“Christians are under obligation to make it happen, and to make it happen as God intends community to be, not according to their own traditions and preferences, and certainly not according to alien patterns of non-community imported into the church from a world that is itself bereft of the joy of authentic community and yearning for it.” (Bilezikian 1997, 44)
Christians must draw their definitions and community and of its workings from Scripture, not from tradition and experiences.
Christians have to go with the guidance of Scriptural principles to test its biblical nature, to eliminate traditional practices that hinder true community. (Bilezikian 1997, 44)
Pastors as “Watchers”
In Ezekiel. 3:17-21, we can understand the impact of God’s power being delegated to the prophet who is entrusted as a “watcher” (watchman). The prophet Ezekiel is given an insight; this is power in itself because the rest of society can not see what the prophet sees. He can see the dangers which are approaching, as God, who judges sin, has planned. He is given the responsibility of who can receive insight from God and he has to use this to warn others.
During the suffering of Judah, everyone suffered. But Ezekiel says that the sufferings would bring life or death as everyone deserves.
“Pastors are often called watchmen who used to stand on high towers, and were to give the alarm as they saw occasion for it.” (Gilbert Burnet, Discourse of the Pastoral Care (Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 1997), 29-32, cited in Robbins, 87)
Watchers in the Old Testament were given the responsibility to watch in the night and day. The pastor ought to watch the flock, for this is the flock now entrusted to the pastor by Jesus Christ; the members have to be watched so they would not sin. We have to remember that the pastor is the Jesus’ representative in the community. The pastor administers the church of Jesus Christ. What great responsibility the pastor has in the propagation and administration of the church!
But indeed, the individual members have the responsibility to help for the unity of the Lord Jesus’ community. There are laymen entrusted to help in the job of the pastor. Counselors likewise can help. Volunteers have to be sourced from the people. Everyone has a job in the community. This is the Lord Jesus’ style as demonstrated in the early Christian church and when Jesus was with us on earth.
Like a watcher, the pastor has to give the warning of every danger. The pastor is not only to be speaking in the pulpit, singing with the choir, or admonishing. The responsibility of watching the members should be primary; they are the chicks of the hen that have to be taken cared of. The pastor has to know, and must know, what are the things that can urge or entice people to sin, the temptations of daily life, the weaknesses that should be strengthened.
Events and things of the world now are slowly and slowly deteriorating, and the believers, if they are not well prepared of the impending danger, or if the pastor and counselors, or those who are given charge of looking after the flock, do not do their job as watchers, many believers will sin, and that would be a great catastrophe.
“The watchman does no good if by a false sense of respect he allows the people to sleep and perish in their sins” (Robbins 2004, 87).
The pastor must warn the people even if it would result to their displeasure or anger for the intrusion, in a manner of speaking. Just look at the disadvantages as a result of the Internet and the high technology. This invention can be taken as an aid to man’s progress and development, but there are some people who have made use of it for people to sin. If the pastor does not see this as a threat to man’s sinning, this is a danger looming in the horizon. The lure of technology for cyber crimes and pornography is always there present in the Internet.
The pastor and counselor should continuously provide counseling, advices, warning, and words of wisdom to the people. The pastor must be the whistle blower, intruder but only to the point of forbidding people to sin, and counseling in order to give inspirational words based on the Bible. The pastor sometimes has to be hated for implementing the right ways of the church. If this really results to anger against the pastor, the latter should not be afraid; prayer and guidance from the Holy Spirit will suffice.
“In the end the whole of created life will be rescued from the tyranny of change and decay, and have its share in that magnificent liberty which can only belong to the children of God” Rom. 8:21 PHILLIPS). Everything within history that has eternal value will be transferred into eternity in the form of community.” (Bilezikian 1997, 43)
The master builder and his builders
The church apostles are also called master builders by St. Paul; the members of the church are the co-builders. We are all builders of the church; the church which is composed of the people of God. Each one of us has a role to play in this project of community building (or church building), and there are those who are given charge of small labor and others painful labor.
All of us have to work in unison and with precision, because if we do not do so, there could be failure for the entire flock. And God does not allow that to happen. We have to be united, prepared, and be cooperative. This is not the job of the pastor alone, but a task everybody has to cooperate because we are all working for God and his Son Jesus Christ.
Pastors are also called laborers in God’s vineyard (I Cor. 3:9). We can sow, plant, water, and harvest in God’s vineyard, and cultivate the soil of the church (Mt. 2:1, 9:37, 38; 1 Cor. 3:6).
The work the Lord has been entrusted on us, building the church composed of the people of God has to be painstakingly and diligently done and monitored.
New Testament Framework
In understanding the New Testament for a basis of management and counseling, we have to understand or study the concept of the kingdom of God in the ministry of Jesus.
“One dare not think he or she can properly interpret the gospels without a clear understanding of the concept of the kingdom of God in the ministry of Jesus” (Fee and Stuart 2003, 145).
The basic theological framework of the entire New Testament is eschatological. The Greek work for the end the Jews were looking for is eschaton.
“Thus to be eschatological in one’s thinking meant to be looking for the end.” (Fee and Stuart 2003, 145)
This is expressed in a diagram symbolical of the cross:
The eschatological way of looking at life is figured with the cross. Early Christians understood this – Jesus’ coming, death and resurrection, and his giving of the Spirit – were all related to that end which they all expected to be the “Day of the Lord”.
The early Christians understood how to look at life the eschatological way. Jesus’ life on earth, his passion and crucifixion, his resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit are all related to their expectations of the coming of the end.
The coming of the end also meant a new beginning or the beginning of the messianic age. This is also referred to as the kingdom of God, “the time of God’s rule”. (Fee and Stuart 2003, 146)
More biblical passages and meanings of the eschatological concept are found in Isa. 11-4-5, a time of righteousness; the people would live in peace (e.g., Isa 2:2-4); a time for the fullness of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-30) when the New Covenant spoken of by Jeremiah would be realized (Jer 31:31-34); sin and sickness would be done away with (Zech 13:1; Isa 53:5).
Eschatological fervor reached fever pitch during the time John the Baptist announced to the people that the coming of the end was to be near, and when he baptized Jesus, the Son of God.
This was the new beginning that the people of Israel were expecting. But like any other event, there were misconceptions that only Jesus and the Holy Spirit could give light.
Jesus came and announced with his ministry that the kingdom was at hand (e.g., Mark 1:14-15; Luke 17:20-21). He drove out demons, worked miracles, and freely accepted the outcasts and sinners – all signs that the end is at hand (Fee and Stuart 2003, 146).
When Jesus was performing these miracles, everyone was watching, and they thought he was the “Coming One”. But Jesus was tried by Pilate, accused by the Pharisees for rebellion (and maybe for usurping their authority), and subsequently was crucified.
However, on the third day, Jesus rose again from the dead. Jesus’ resurrection brought again another stage in the eschatological concept. Was he now to restore the kingdom of God?
“Very early, beginning with Peter’s sermon in Acts 3, the early Christians came to realize that Jesus had not come to usher in the ‘final’ end but the ‘beginning’ of the end, as it were” (Fee and Stuart 2003, 146).
And with the coming of the Holy Spirit, the blessings and benefits that the believers had acquired and felt, it was like the end had come. But still the end has to be consummated because the Lord Jesus has to come again, we still die but will be brought to life, and there will still be future judgment.
Because of this continuing eschatological and theological framework, we continue to wait the next stage or coming.
Fee and Stuart (2003, 147) has this framework diagram:
The kingdom or the time or the time of God’s rule has begun with Christ’s coming. He is already with us, in our church Christ reigns, and when we ask the Holy Spirit in our midst, he is with us. We have to live according to Christ’s teachings and the framework of the church for which he formulated.
However, the kingdom has yet to be consummated with Christ’s second coming, that’s why we pray “Thy kingdom come,” we pray that this kingdom of God’s rule will come. The full implications of the consummation has begun, but Jesus Christ has yet to come again in his full glory. That is the second coming. The church has to be prepared, although the preparation was already begun by Jesus Christ. We have to be always prepared in our spiritual activities of the church everyday.
This is the job of everyday, pastor or member or counselor. All has to prepare for the second coming of Christ.
Leadership in Fellowship
Fellowship is a kind of immersion or being with the members of the church, allowing them to share their problems and experiences, and yours with them. The pastor has to be always with the people who need immediate companionship.
Rick Warren (2002), the author of The Purpose Driven Life has great ideas of ministering to the people. His book tells of the many ways of dealing and loving the members of the flock. His principle is simple too – imitating Christ and following Christ’s command to his disciples, i.e., to love one another. Love should be our greatest aim. It is not just loving without an aim; it should be our priority.
Paul says: “No matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.” (I Cor. 13:3)
The story of Paul’s conversion and how he emerged to be one of the strong defenders of the faith is an example to follow for counselors and pastors. Paul learned to love the purest way by imitating Christ.
Warren (2002, 124) says:
“God wants you to be in regular, close fellowship with other believers so you can develop the skill of loving. Love cannot be learned in isolation. You have to be around people – irritating, imperfect, frustrating people.”
This is Jesus’ style. He is always in close contact with the apostles, ministering to them day and night. He is in close watch, giving them counsel, and praying with them. Jesus shows the apostles the power of prayer. He has displayed this to them several times. He even prays the whole night, asking his Father to give him guidance and strength in the midst of the difficulties.
Jesus said, “Your strong love for each other will prove that you are my disciples.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Jn 13:35 NRSV)
This is the greatest commandment after the commandment of loving God with all our hearts, with all our strength, and with all our soul. Let us enter the mind of Jesus when he said this. Let us understand and allow the Holy Spirit to govern our lives.
We have to love our neighbor not because it is a command but it is the way of a Christian, of a believer of Jesus Christ. If we can not do so, we can not follow the will of God; and we are far from the kingdom of heaven prepared for us all.
By saying this, Jesus tells the pastor of the church to be the first to love our neighbor, or let the members of the flock show love for everyone. The pastor has to clear the way for loving others, showing that this is the only way to have harmony and peace in the community.
When Christ said to his disciples, “I give a new commandment,” he was referring to a commandment appropriate for the advent of a new era.
In the Old Testament, love of God and neighbor was also spoken, but this was spoken under the authority of the law. Jesus commandment is different. It is a commandment, yes, but it is spoken not with the force of the law. The love of God is the highest law; next is love of neighbor. But loving one’s neighbor is showed clearly by Jesus in his sacrifice on the cross, and passing through death to resurrection.
Our love becomes merged with the eternal love of God which in the end shall act alone through us. This we have to go deeper into the mystery of divine love revealed to us through Jesus. True love comes from God and makes us return to unity within God.
Jesus always points out the unique importance of Christian love. Christian love lies not in sentiment or feelings (though on some occasions we might feel affection or devotion, which is helpful), but to love God is to be determined to do what God wishes at each moment of our lives.
God also told us to render service to our neighbor, and if forgiveness is needed, it must be given with the hope of reconciliation.
This in essence is the job of the counselor – to lead the way for loving one’s neighbor.
When we are called by God to attend to the ministry, we just don’t know when and how, just like Saul when he was blinded on the road to Damascus. God just called him, and from a persecutor of Christians, he became a minister.
We are called by God
We are called through God’s creative gift. We are called by our names, and our names have different meanings. Yet, our names mean nothing at all, not until God calls us, and when he calls us, our name will have a real meaning.
During baptism, the pastor calls our name and baptizes us in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Christ called Zaccheus upon the sycamore tree, and also Lazarus when he raised him to life. When Christ calls us in his ministry, he calls us by our names. We are called by God to be like him; he wants us to be holy. (Clowney 1964, 7)
God calls us by another name to define our roles or what we are going to be according to his purpose. This is mentioned in Isaiah 43:1 when he says, “Fear not, for I have redeemed thee; I have called thee by name, thou art mine”.
He did it on Simon, the fisherman, when he renamed him according to his role on the Church – Peter, the Rock, to whom he would build his Church.
The very writing of the names is a memorial of the faithfulness of God. This is done in the Book of Numbers and in the genealogies of Genesis or Chronicles. If names are not important, this shouldn’t have been done in the Bible where we seem to get bored reading those long lines of names that seem to be meaningless in mentioning them.
God also calls us one by one, or individually, giving us the importance as individuals and his treasured creature with a name – individually but not alone. It also means we have each an identity.
“We are called by God to answer the questions: Who are you? What are you? And by what name does God call you?” (Clowney 1964, 10)
We are called to service
Christ calls us to follow his way. He led us to the way of the cross through sacrifice and suffering, and not the way of man’s quest for glory and fame. He rode upon an ass and not on a stabled war-horse.
This is clearly manifested in Mark 8:34, 35, when Christ says: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever would save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s shall save it.”
It is necessary to lose oneself like Abraham who, in his old age, went to strange lands to follow God’s instructions; like Moses who agreed to lead an irresponsible people, even if “he was slow of speech”; like Mary who entered a path wherein nobody could understand or help her.
To follow Jesus is to follow the same path that leads to the cross. We have to risk our life for something noble, to lead a people or a community in the new high-tech but sinful world. This is the way of the pastor, who is also a counselor, and this is the way of managing the church. This is what Jesus always of denying ourselves.
We can not carry all crosses together, but one by one we can. We can do it to our counseling. The pastor has to be patient in administering the affairs of the church; the counselor has to be a part of the suffering of the members of the church.
“God’s calling is towards death, through the narrow path like his, the cup given to him by the Father.” (Clowney 1964, 14)
Why is this so? Because it leads us to Jesus. When we die, only our physical body dies. But our spirits remain and will be with him in heaven. Our death is a triumph because we don’t die meaningless. We die with a purpose, and when we die we are given life, and we go to God in eternal glory. Just like Christ – He died with a purpose to save us from sin.
Isaiah says, “Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain. When you make his life an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days, through him the will of the Lord shall prosper.” (Isa 53:10)
Isaiah saw the crucified Christ. God let him see the future events of salvation – because salvation is a one whole plan, already in the mind of God even before he made everything – the earth, the heavens, and the skies, and all the living things. He planned everything.
And the church is a part of the whole plan. The church of God is a tool for the fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation. Jesus is the savior, and we have to finish this job. Although the saving part is already done with Jesus’ crucifixion, our role is not yet over.
From the beginning, the whole plan of salvation continues from creation to Christ up to us today. We continue the work of Christ, because we are all parts of a one whole plan.
The missionary calling of the church is for all of us to take part in the evangelization, in preaching and counseling.
Clowney says, “Christians are called to be ‘children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, and among whom ye are seen as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life (Phil. 2:51, 16.).”
God’s perspective before and now remains: “Christ is Lord at the Father’s right hand, the present and future King.”
We are called from the Throne
After Jesus Christ ascended to heaven, he sent forth the Holy Spirit so that the disciples would be guided and would enjoy the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
In the letter to the Romans, Paul describes his apostleship as his own calling, when he says: “But I write the more boldly unto you in some measure… because of the grace that was given me of God, that I should be a minister of Christ Jesus unto the Gentiles.” (Rom. 15: 15-16)
We can see how Paul deals with his members. He has the authority of an apostle of Christ and is able to solve the problems of the church. Even then, although he has something to teach them, he takes great care not to create divisions or rivalries and he shows respect for the founders or leaders of the Roman community.
When Paul says “as a priest of Christ” (v. 16), it should not be understood as meaning what is understood as the church’s priests. But Paul compares himself to them; he does not present burnt offerings, but instead he reconciles himself to them. Paul is careful with his relationship with the so-called gentiles at the time, at the same time speaking his opinion about the Word of God, without hurting the people. This is something pastors and counselors have to take note.
Fellowship Shapes Service
The sending of the Son by the Father meant the longing for a fellowship by God on us. Christ was with us, but for a short time of his ministry on earth, he was killed on the cross.
After his death and ascension to heaven, we have the Holy Spirit and we now share this in our fellowship with our fellow Christians. As we commune with our brothers and sisters, we still have this fellowship with God. We are sharing the gifts of the Holy Spirit in our fellowship with God and the rest of the Christian community.
Matt 25: 40: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
This is Jesus’ giving importance of loving and serving our fellowman, our brothers. Jesus specified that the recipient of our service should be “one of the least”, which refers to the very poor, those who do not have the means to even cloth themselves; but it also refers to the poor in spirit, or those who have not known God and his kingdom.
The responsibility of the pastor extends far to his flock, to the downtrodden. But Jesus is not just speaking here to the pastors and counselors, the subjects of our study. He is speaking to all of us, to all who want to follow his way of the cross, and to all who want to have a share in his kingdom.
Clowney (1964, 28) sees missions as a divine calling and not a divine act and we should see this as an opportunity. We have to grasp the opportunity when time comes and be ready to take the sacrifice in the missions.
Distinctive in Authority
Christ is the one Lord and we who are called are to minister unto him. But Christ also took it upon himself to be a servant to many, for us to emulate. We must be able to serve our neighbor with utmost humility and dedication, and not just for show or for the sake of serving.
“He came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:28)
In the last supper, he served the apostles by washing their feet. A great example of service, as Jesus manifested, is loving the one you serve. Jesus showed us the way of humility in serving our fellow members of the flock.
We have to wash each other’s feet. We have to be humble in serving our brothers. Jesus is the master but he washes the feet of the apostles. This is the brand of service and leadership even the followers of Jesus did not know at first. Why do we have to wash each other’s feet?
We all know how lowly this action is. It’s not because what we hate or don’t like the Lord Jesus tells us to do. The way of humility allows us to love our neighbor. The incarnation of the Son of God is itself humility. He came down from heaven to save us from sin.
Humility is sacrifice, love, and a philosophy in itself. Jesus is continuously teaching us the way of humility. Leadership by example; leadership without humility may not last long.
Everything – office, activities, service – is focused on Christ who is the one Mediator, the Lord and Servant. The apostles, through their ministry, brought the Word of God, to the world. Christ laid the foundation and the apostles continued his work. Christ bears the “key of the house of God” but he passes on to his disciples the authority to declare in his Name both the good news of the forgiveness of sins and the judgment that follows impenitence.
Christ also passes on the authority to preach, to let us continue his work on earth, not only to pastors and counselors and those in charge of managing and administering his church. We are called for a mission. If nothing is left of us, if we do not have this mission now, what is purpose?
Rick Warren (2003) says it in a few words: “You are here for a purpose.” “You were born by his purpose and for his purpose.” (Warren 2002, 17)
All of us, young and old, have or have-not, have a purpose of continuing the work of God. It is said that even the smallest work of reminding somebody to just kneel and say a little prayer – that can be a point to our God. We can have many points in our work here while waiting for God’s calling us into the final place in heaven; or while waiting for the eschaton, God’s reign in his kingdom where we live as His subjects.
Distinctive in Function
Those who are called to minister to Christ’s Church has a distinctive function but their work is defined only as far as the New Testament reveals according to the first work of the apostles.
The gifts of the Holy Spirit help in building the church. But the church rests in what the first apostles have done and have to be carried forward by evangelists, pastors, and teachers who have the authority of the Word of God.
At the beginning of the establishment of the church, the apostles ministered to a community wherein human need was also cared for by the ministry. Later, this was altered and modified. The preacher proclaims the good news; proclamation is evangelism. The preacher is also “teacher and herald.”
Distinctive in Gifts
Clowney (1964, 62) says that “we should be encouraged to go on with the ministry because of the distinctive gifts in the function of the ministry.”
We receive gifts in the ministry – not material gifts (although material things also accompany sometimes the real gifts of the Holy Spirit), but spiritual gifts like the gift of healing, speaking in tongue, the working of miracles, etc. (I Cor. 12: 8-10
Paul says that more and more graces and gifts are given to the faithful minister as he progresses in his work. The preacher is chosen by God as God sees the inside of us. He chooses the weak and foolish, not the mighty and wise.
And when we are chosen, we become committed to Christ. As we are committed to Christ, we continue in our knowledge of faith through our reading of the Bible. We grow in faith and wisdom; we grow in spiritual wisdom.
Commitment and wisdom of faith are the marks of the minister. The minister seeks the lost sheep, is a workman, has the gift of teaching and the ability to communicate spiritual truth. He is all things to all men.
The minister’s calling is clear: we are called “to bear Christ’s name, to take up his cross, and to gather men into his kingdom” (Clowney 1964, 69).
As we go on, the message will slowly become clear. As we see it in the horizon, the sky seems to be clear and as we go near, the message is laid before us. This is what God wants of me. This is the message that we get from the Lord. We are a part of the mission. We have a mission to help in gathering the lost sheep of Israel.
God calls us personally through Jesus Christ. Like in the Scriptures, he appointed men the apostles to declare and testify that he is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The fullness of Revelation has come through Christ.
The ministers of Christ have to continue the work of the apostles, to testify and prove the things about Jesus Christ. We have to keep learning to obey and trust his hand. And we should not falter or lose faith because as he promised us, he will not leave us and be with us until the end of time.
“The call of the Word of God to the Gospel ministry comes to all those who have the gifts for such a ministry” (Clowney 1964, 81).
May those of us who aspire to be ministers have these gifts.
The Pluralistic World: A Challenge to Pastors and Counselors
We live in a pluralistic society, where many do not share our faith and we wonder sometimes if we should take part in their feasts or activities that are not in harmony with our faith. For example, how to deal with relatives or neighbors of another religion? What a married woman may do when her husband does not share her cultural beliefs? May a person belong to a group or party when many of its members opposed to the church?
This is the problem that Paul deals with when answering about meat sacrificed to idols. (I Cor. 8)
We are in the midst of different kind pluralism; cultural pluralism as a result of immigration or people moving from their native country to our country for economic and political reasons.
It is this enduring work of the pastor or counselor – he is in the midst of a world that has become something like uncontrollable. We say it is uncontrollable because of modernity and man’s never ending quest for material things.
In our world today, we see people moving from one place to another, from one country to another; people are looking for their own personal pursuits, for wealth, ambition, etc. There is a continuing Diaspora, just like in the time of Abraham when he was told by God to leave his place and settle in another country. God promised Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the sands of the earth.
There is something in the Old Testament that is relevant in our present times. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses – we can read their lives and the early people and we see their movement. Yes, they were continually moving from one place to another. Could this be what we have said earlier the “inquietude” of the human soul? God keeps on conversing through our souls, that’s why keep on moving, restless in one place.
What is the point in the Old Testament when there is a continuing movement by the people of God? Is it really because of material things? Moses’ exodus and Israel’s Diaspora to the Promised Land have a materialistic objective. Israel was promised by God of land “flowing with milk and honey”.
But after Jesus Christ, i.e. when he ascended to heaven, the people are still moving on. People are still in a Diaspora, moving from their native country to “a land flowing with milk and honey.” This is happening in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Europe, the countries of destinations of people from Asia and other developing nations who are in dire need of food and material things.
The point of the discussion here is that we seek material things. But in the Old Testament, God pointed out that Abraham, Moses, and later the Israelites were seeking not the land but a kingdom – a kingdom where God reigns. The point is the spiritual search we all have.
We have already have Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. What we have to wait is the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise – the Second Coming. This is a spiritual event in our lives as a people of God.
The search however can result to something. We seek for something that we don’t have. We still have something that is not in us. We move and go to places we do not know. That is how the early people in the Bible did. They did not know what was in the future. All they had had was God’s promise.
Pluralism is a phenomenon as a result of the Diaspora, or movement of people from their native country to the United States and other countries who are advanced in material things.
The United States has always been a diverse culture, but now the situation has been in an uncontrollable time as can be seen and felt in current multi-media news and advertisements.
The United States is in a remarkable ethnic diverse period in history. There is no other time when this nation is experiencing the influx of different cultures and beliefs, giving a big challenge to pastors and counselors of the different churches all throughout the United States.
Authors call this empirical pluralism.
“Empirical pluralism sums up the growing diversity in our culture” (Carson 1996, 13).
The United States is the largest Jewish, Irish, and Swedish nation in the world; it is the second largest black nation, and soon it will become the third largest Hispanic nation. (This was in 1996.) (Carson 1996, 14)
With this span of time, and with the many changes that had occurred, we can conclude that there is a big population of ethnic groups in the country. We have a new president who himself comes from an ethnic group.
After the founding of America, more and more groups from various cultures and ethnicities came to our shores. Jon Butler (cited in Carson 1996, 14) argues that “American life and culture were extraordinarily diverse in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and correspondingly depreciates the degree of diversity reflected in the nation today.”
Richard Pointer’s recent study of colonial New York reinforces the trend among modern historians to find substantial pluralism in this country at its birth. (Richard W. Pointer 1988, cited in Carson 1996, 14)
The rise in empirical pluralism can scarcely be denied. Empirical pluralism is characteristic of most countries in the Western world. In Canada, regular attendance at public worship is only a fraction of what it is in the U.S., but the percentage of Canadians who say they hold religious, and specifically Christian, beliefs. The percentage now of people who hold religious opinion is staggering.
Sixty-seven percent of Canadians believe Jesus rose from the dead, 78 percent claim some sort of affiliation with a Christian denomination, 53 percent of adults reject the theory of evolution, 9 percent say God is “just an old superstition.” (“God is Alive,” Maclean’s 106/15 (April 12, 1993): 32-42, cited in Carson 1996, 16).
Now this may hold true to other nations which can be said as advanced. The pluralistic society can bring us to the time of the Old Testament, when people did not know God. The trend seems to be clearing for us Christians. It is a continuous cycle, as some would say. And if it is a cycle, then we are going back to the old times when Noah built his Ark and the people laughed at him. The people did not know God. There are many instances in the Old Testament when the word God becomes strange. Are we going back to the old times?
In almost all Western nations, there is a marked rise in empirical pluralism. (Carson 1996, 17)
In the words of Lesslie Newbigin (cited in Carson 1996, 18), “It has become a commonplace to say that we live in a pluralist society – not merely a society which is in fact plural in the variety of cultures, religions and lifestyles which it embraces, but pluralist in the sense that this plurality is celebrated as things to be approved and cherished.”
Pluralism is leading us to the time when God becomes strange for the people. And we hope this thesis is a mistake.
There is hope, and our only hope is the Holy Spirit. But another hope is us, us Christians, including our continuing beliefs of the Kingdom of God, and our pastors who can counsel the young not to be immersed in the ways of the devil. The pastor has to be strong in mind and spirit, always alert and ready for any eventuality, and above all, willing to sacrifice for the members of the flock.
We have the obligation to help; not only to help, but to take an active role in winning back those who have gone astray.
Like any organization, managing a Christian church involves planning, organizing, staff directing, and evaluation. These functions are used just like in any civic or business organization.
The Old and New Testaments are replete with examples of planning, organizing, staff, directing, and evaluating long before North America began using them in their business ventures. (Anthony 2005, 13)
As we have discussed, God planned his creation. He established every detail of his creation, from the smallest atom to the limitless expanse of space. In creation, every day was marked with particular activity. It was not just spontaneous. This was his plan. And his plan will continue all throughout the life of the universe.
When Jesus came, he always talked about planning. He said: “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and take counsel whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?” (Anthony 2005, 17)
Jesus gives us the importance of planning, and when something is being planned, it has to be followed and done. It can be applied to man’s activities, to the church’s planning and management.
The Scripture tells us that God wanted order or peaceful order. In I Cor. 14:33, Paul says “God is a God of order, not of peace.”
Paul also emphasizes the importance of organization. In an organization, the members have a working relationship; they act and work for the common good, and not individually; the same as in a church. The church is an organization where the members work for the common good.
In an organizational context, this involves two primary activities.
First, developing an organizational structure which depicts the relationships between each of the members of the organization and, second, preparing job descriptions so those who serve will know what is expected of them in terms of qualifications and responsibilities. (Anthony 2005, 18)
In I Cor. 14, Paul compares the church to a building; we build it when we help others to grow, to be better and more united. We help a person better with charity, and not through material things. Paul emphasizes charity as the paramount gift, and not through the things a religion can do.
It is not religion with its wonderful works of healing the sick or having large audiences in fellowships and meetings, but on the people’s fidelity to the teachings of the Apostles.
In I Cor. 13, Paul tells the Corinthians that the only important thing is the ability to love.
This means looking at the right people that may also include selecting, orienting, training, and developing the competent people. The goals and objectives of the ministry have to be implemented by competent people. And enough volunteers have to be recruited to staff the different departments in the church. (Anthony 2005, 21)
In the context of a local church, a skillful supervisor (senior pastor, executive pastor, etc.) supervises his employees in such a way as to make being part of the church staff a win-win arrangement for both the church and the person being supervised.
Directing is one of the most challenging parts of the five managerial functions because the supervisor is dealing with trying to figure out how to direct each staff member according to his own individual preferences. As we can see, no two people respond to leadership in the same way.
One may like the kind of leadership the pastor does, and the other may not. We have to be flexible. In essence, it is a complex interplay between individuals, attitudes, needs, desires, hopes, and dreams where the needs of the whole person must be taken into consideration, but not at the expense of the organization. (Anthony 2005, 24)
God began delegating the stewardship of managing Paradise to Adam. He instructed Adam to do this and that, but not to eat the “forbidden fruit”. That is management with some rules and a warning. We can also do this in the church: delegate responsibilities and of course with rules, because if there are no rules, some things happen, and some people abuse authority.
In the New Testament we read of Jesus’ delegation of ministry responsibilities to the seventy disciples (Luke 10:1-20), and also his twelve apostles (Mark 6:7-13). Jesus delegated his powers to his followers. The apostle Paul delegated ministry responsibilities to the elders in each of the churches he established and commissioned them for the work of service (Acts 14:23).
It is said that the work of the seventy disciples is not yet done. We who are the members of the church have to continue this work. We can be the seventy-first, or the seventy-second, and so on, and so forth.
In the New Testament Jesus serves as an example of how to motivate people to respond based upon the virtues of love, selfless service, commitment, faithfulness, and humility. Jesus motivates his followers to ministry service out of a heart filled with appreciation for all that God has done for us. Jesus sought to motivate his disciples by using intrinsic motivators as opposed to those of an external origin. (Anthony 2005, 25)
Inspiration from the Holy Spirit is itself an act of motivation. This is internal motivation when the Holy Spirit can make the heart be inspired to work for the community. This can be done with constant prayer to God, so that He would send the Holy Spirit. And when the Spirit is with us, we are inspired for the work of the ministry.
In the New Testament we see evidence of coordination in the training and actual work of the disciples which we have already mentioned. We see coordination in the early church in the selection of Matthias as replacement for Judas (Acts 1:15-26), in the selection of the seven deacons (Acts 6:1-6), in Paul and Barnabas being set apart by the church in Antioch for missionary service, and in Paul’s efforts to receive an offering for the troubled church in Jerusalem. (Anthony 2005, 26)
Controlling is the most popular term used in secular texts in the field of management to refer to this last managerial function. Controlling is defined as the process which ensures that progress is being made toward the accomplishment of the organization’s objectives.
Evaluation, used instead of control, is certainly a biblical concept because of its close alignment with the concept of stewardship. Evaluation in the context of ministry can be defined as the process by which we provide an accounting for the manner in which we administer the resources entrusted to us by God. This involves evaluating the use of facilities, finances, personnel, and a host of other entities. (Anthony 2005, 28)
Reporting system was used in the Old Testament and until today. In the Garden of Eden, God had a direct conversation with Adam and Eve. God has always expected personal accountability from man. He implemented this with Moses, Joshua, the judges, the kings, and the many personalities in the Bible, who were held accountable for their actions. God used prophets to seek accounts for the nation of Israel.
Reporting is also used in the New Testament, at times the disciples seeking the aid of the Holy Spirit. In Acts, the disciples, after having fasted and prayed, seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit for an important decision, such as when the Holy Spirit instructed them to set apart Barnabas and Saul for a particular work.
There are legal principles that should be followed by the counselor in counseling the members of the community. Although counseling is a responsibility of the pastor, he has to follow certain legal rules of the government in doing so. He is not exempt from the laws of the country, but the counselor also earns some exceptional areas and is given leeway in counseling the members.
The reason why clergy and other religious professionals can offer counseling without benefit of state licensure is the First Amendment. “A longer answer enables the counselor to more fully understand the ethical and legal dynamics inherent in such diverse legal matters as what the difference is between a client suing a counselor in civil court and when a district attorney issues an arrest warrant when both offenses stem from the same facts?” (Bullis 2001, 1) Legal Issues in Counseling
Religious counselors have to submit themselves to the laws of the land, meaning they have “to render onto Caesar what is Caesar’s”. They have to know the laws.
Religious counselors are being sued for predominantly three types of conduct:
- the religious counselor may be sued if a counselee attempts suicide or attempts to hurt a third party; the nature of the advice given by the religious counselor and the responsibility of the counselor to protect the counselee or the third party is called into question (Taylor, 1990, qtd. in );
- sexual conduct with a counselee; and
- breaching confidence or making public what has been discussed that is considered confidential by the counselee. (Bullis and Mazur 1993, 7).
These provisions of the law is to protect the citizens, both counselor and counselee. We are living in a democratic country, advanced country as it is, and everyone has to be protected. This is what Jesus wants of us – a society protecting the rights of everyone.
In the United States, we have the freedom from religious indoctrination, or we cannot be forced to practice a certain religion. There is religious freedom as embodied in our U.S. Constitution and in some federal and state statutes.
The First Amendment of the Constitution embodies two religious rights. The first is the “free exercise clause,” and the second is the “freedom from establishment clause.” (Bullis and Mazur 1993, 8)
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides for the right of not to be discriminated against on the basis of religion; employer may not discriminate against employees or prospective employees on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, among others. (Bullis and Mazur 1993, 8)
Pastors can raise the defense of the freedom to follow one’s religious beliefs and the freedom to be free from the state’s enforced religion that resulted in the doctrine of religious immunity.
“Religious, or First Amendment, immunity may shield the pastor from suit because the court has no authority to regulate religious matters.”
In other words, it is not only the counselee that is protected by the law. Both have the protection of the U.S. Constitution.
The Free Exercise Clause
A particular case that reached the Supreme court of the United States involved some members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and members of the Roman Catholic. Members of the family of Jehovah’s Witnesses were convicted in a case wherein they were going from home to home in a Roman Catholic neighborhood. They were carrying a portable phonograph and a record which they asked the residents to play; the records were promoting the sale of Jehovah’s Witness literature, and included an attack on the Catholic religion. The Court reversed the convictions on the ground of the Free Exercise Clause. This is the decision of the Court:
Freedom of conscience and freedom to adhere to such religious organization or form of worship as the individual may choose cannot be restricted by law. On the other hand, it safeguards the free exercise of the chosen form of religion. Thus the Amendment embraces two concepts, freedom to believe and freedom to act. The first is absolute but, in the nature of things, the second cannot be. Conduct remains subject to regulation for the protection of society. ((Bullis and Mazur 1993, 9)
Lay Counseling in the Modern World
We are living in a fast-paced world and sin is as fast-paced as the Internet. We need counseling just like any other human on the planet. There are temptations here and there, left and right, these are tools of the devil to entice us to sin. This is how we connect to the fall, to the first sin of Adam, we became sinful and mortal.
“We are living in a broken world where things are not getting any better” (Tan 1991, 17).
There is high incidence of mental illness because of “rapid and widespread breakdown of caring and meaningful relationships, especially within the family” (Tan 1991, 17).
We have Jesus in our midst. He laid the foundations for the church. He saved us from sin and we have to continue in his presence and guidance so that we won’t have our own fall. We have to get away from any temptation.
We can see the ills of society in the present century, and even the latter part of the 20th century. There is an increase of psychiatric illnesses; psychiatrists argue that this is a symptom of a spiritual problem that can be traced with our relationship with God. This has to be addressed through faithfulness to the Bible and obedience to God’s instructions.
The Pastor or Christian counselor can address this problem because the latter has a direct contact with the members of the community. The pastor knows how to understand and deal with the problem.
“Prayer, Bible reading, and instruction are the primary treatment modalities. Non-Christian clinicians are viewed with suspicion, unless the problem is clearly “physical” in origin” (Servis 2004, 72).
Maloney (1988, qtd. in Servis 2004, 72) states that “more mainstream and liberal Protestant beliefs see mental health as embedded in a broad concept of spiritual health or as somewhat separate and distinct from personal spiritual health.”
Spiritual health and the individual’s mental health are somewhat connected according to the concept of the Protestant beliefs, therefore it is fit that the issue of mental health be addressed through Bible reading and spiritual ‘healing’.
The Protestants’ “conception of spiritual health encompasses personal obedience to biblical teachings, including those focused on creation, justice, and peace. The individual’s mental health is best addressed in concert with spiritual health issues, as some degree of interaction and effect is often expected” (Maloney 1988, qtd. in Servis 2004, 72).
There is now an increase in church-based counseling, especially in the mainstream Protestant denominations.
In our community, it is fit and Christian-like to offer counseling and psychotherapy, consultation, and education to our members, considering that the greater part of the membership still believe in healing mental illness through spiritual activities.
“Protestant seminaries and schools are increasingly offering graduate-level education in counseling and psychotherapy. Pastors from mainstream Protestant denominations are usually open to collaborating with mental health professionals, and the church is often the first point of contact for Protestants with mental health issues” (Post et al. 2000, qtd. in Servic 2004, 74).
The pastor as the counselor must be as strong as Jesus. His job is counseling, but the pastor in the absence of Jesus. But Jesus is always with us because there the Holy Spirit to guide us and make us strong to fight temptations of sin.
But why is this reality of so many hurting people not only in the secular world but also in our Christian churches. These people who need help find it impossible to open up and share their problems. The pastor must always be there present to listen, care, and open up the door of conversation.
The Counselor and the Counselee
The biblical counseling context, according to Jay E. Adams, always involves three. Jesus said: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst.” (Matt. 18:20)
This statement always points to the church or to the community or the apostolic group of the Christian couple. It is necessary to have a deep understanding among ourselves before we present our common desire to God.
Generally, people seek God in temples or church buildings, or in the contemplation of nature, or in peace of soul. But God wants us to first seek his presence in the Christian community. He is present when we gather to pray “in the Name of Jesus”.
While we participate in the congregation, in the activities of the church, in prayer and in counseling, we grow as children of God.
Jay Adams adds, “In truly biblical counseling, therefore, where a counselor and counselee meet in the name of Jesus Christ, they may expect the very presence of Christ as Counselor-in-charge” (Adams 1973, 4).
Jesus is represented in the church by the Holy Spirit who is always here when we seek the presence and guidance of God.
“For three and one-half years, in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prediction that He would be called a “Counselor,” Jesus guided, instructed, rebuked, encouraged, and taught His disciples” (Adams 1973, 5).
Jesus did not only do those things; one remarkable thing is He understands. And as we have said earlier, this is Jesus style of leadership and ministry – the hands-on type. He taught the disciples like they were children, truly new in the environment, unaware of the new things of the world. And he did not leave them with just those writings and experiences and teachings that he did when he was with them. He left a “substitute” – the Counselor Himself – the Holy Spirit.
What more do the disciples want? What more do we want?
We grumble and complain and depart.
“Now, as Jesus was about to leave His disciples, He graciously calmed their fears by informing them that He would send “another” Counselor like Himself to be with them to reach and guide as He had previously” (Adams 1973, 5).
The Holy Spirit did not just come when Jesus was still with us. The Holy Spirit came when Jesus ascended to heaven. This is how Jesus cares for his church and the members of the community. When we are not in the church, i.e., in the building where we pray with the other believers, we can still pray anywhere – at home, school, or in the office, or anywhere, and we can ask the Holy Spirit to guide us. The Holy Spirit will still answer the call for guidance – there anytime and anywhere we ask.
This is the strength of prayer – the strength and the power Jesus left us, not found in any other religion; can not be experienced anywhere, nor in any community or organization.
“The Holy Spirit is called holy not only because He is to be distinguished from all other spirits, and in particular from unclean spirits, but also because He is the Source of all holiness” (Adams 1973, 6).
This is explained in the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three persons in One God. The Holy Spirit is the Source of all holiness because this is God, equal with the Father and the Son. Therefore, if we pray in a community, in the house, or anywhere, God is there. We can not be alone because we are with God. And this is no ordinary spirit as stated above. This is the Holy Spirit God in us or with us.
In Romans 1:4: “The Son of God working of his Power in the Holy Spirit upon rising from the dead.”
The words of Paul can also be translated with constituted or acknowledged as the Son of God. This does not mean that Jesus was not the Son of God before his resurrection, but that he was then Son of God in a humble and mortal condition.
“In his resurrection, the Spirit of God which is the sharing of his Power has permeated his human nature so that everyone now may recognize who really is: the Son of God” (Christian Community Bible Commentary 1988, 312).
The term “God” can mean God the Father, but Paul usually does this to mean that the Father communicates his life with the Son. The Son reflects this life back to the Father in such a way that they mutually generate the Holy Spirit.
The Christian can pray to the Three Divine Persons; Paul often mentions the Three Divine Persons. The twelve apostles were selected by Jesus and confirmed in their mission by the Holy Spirit during Pentecost. Paul himself reminds us that he himself was made an apostle by Jesus who met him on the road to Damascus.
The Holy Spirit is called “the Spirit of Holiness”.
“The holiness of God’s people that results from their sanctification by the Holy Spirit must be attributed entirely to Him as He works through His Word. The “fruit” of the Spirit is just that: it is the result of His work” (Adams 1973, 6).
Adams further explains that the Holy Spirit is the most important Person in the counseling test. This is because counseling is considered to be a sacred act.
We can add that counseling is a form of prayer; it is prayer itself. There is the counselor and the counselee and the Holy Spirit. If this is done, counseling can become a source of inspiration for the believers. Not only those who are in the worst condition, or with the worst problem, can go to a counselor, anybody who wishes to be inspired can have an important counseling, with a pastor or anyone given the task of counseling.
There are challenges the pastor has to cope in the community, one of these is sexual addiction.
“Sexual addiction is defined as loss of control and excess seem evident and clear” (Carnes and Wison 2002, 4).
This abnormal behavior is characterized by the patient’s habit of compulsive masturbation, affairs, constant viewing of pornographic magazines or videos, Internet pornography (cybersex), prostitution, voyeurism, exhibitionism, sexual harassment, and sex offending. (Carnes and Wilson 2002, p. 4)
The person or ‘addict’, as in other cases of addiction, deliberately deceives the therapist by telling stories to evade the truth. On the other hand, spouses or partners may collude in the patient’s deceptive behavior. (Carnes and Wilson 2002, 4)
Sometimes sexual addiction is associated with out-of-control use of alcohol or drugs.
“When sexual behavior is compulsive and yet continues despite adverse consequences, it is called sex addiction” (Carnes and Wilson 2002, 5).
We can say that compulsivity triggers the addict to continue even with the consequences of arrests, divorce, and loss of health. Usually, the person involved in this kind of addiction is the male counterpart of a marriage who tries all means to produce alibis to the partner. When he gets caught, he continues to deny.
Those who just have this habit but are not addicted (with sex) normally can withdraw or pull back, and reestablish control. The addicted individuals can maintain control or stop problematic behaviors for only a short period of time. They are unable to regain balance in their lives because they need treatment.
Patterns that represent the probable existence of an addictive process:
- a loss of control, or when an individual displays a persistent or uncontrollable desire;
- the addict continues to do it even with adverse effects such as arrests, broken marriages, financial problems; and
- the individual is obsessed to do it; (Carnes and Wilson 2002, 5)
An addiction is associated with other types of addiction, like chemical dependency, eating disorders, compulsive working and spending, and compulsive gambling.
Alcoholism is usually associated with this kind of addiction, although this is usually the case, which seems to be an alibi for addicts.
There has to be an assessment on the sex addict in order to provide a correct diagnosis, and to identify an accurate baseline for the client. This can help in educating the patient or client and normalize the experience, so as to ease the frustration and anxiety in the client’s behavior.
Assessment for sex addiction:
- a semistructured clinical interview,
- self-report screening tests, and
- collateral assessment information. (Carnes and Wilson 2002, 6)
Treatment of sexually-addicted members should involve the family, and this has to start even during childhood.
“Sexual addiction brings with it a long history of secrecy and maintenance of a double life” (Heaton Matheny 2002, 46).
There are hidden effects on the life of the addict and the families, silently eroding the self-confidence, security, emotional well-being, and healthy sense of sexuality of the partner and the children. That is why, treatment should involve the family.
The family history of the addict should be known from the start. It is important to determine that a person is single or part of a family. The family origin should be known as this can give an idea of the extent of addiction and the development of compulsive behaviors.
The counselor/therapist should gather as much information about the present family members and how to best intervene and stop further destruction.
Treatment also involve tracing the genetic composition.
“Research has shown that genetic predisposition leads to the creation of neurochemical deficits. These deficits make a person particularly vulnerable to situational and environmental stress (Carnes, 1991, p. 71, qtd. in Heaton Matheny 1999, 47).
Heathon Matheny further states that familial systems plays a role in addiction, meaning generations of families can have addicted members.
Intervention in assessing is a complex process that may involve psychological tests, the family members’ reports of their experiences of the imprint as part of the family system, and the early assessment can become a treatment tool by establishing empathy with the family and explaining to them about a member’s surviving pain and confusion.
Management Essentials in the Christian World
We have to take responsibilities for our actions and for the things God has entrusted to us. In the parable of the unjust servant (Matthew 24:45-51), God gives immediate judgment on the servant.
In the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30), we have to take care of the talents God has entrusted to us; the responsibility is on us, otherwise God will take the talents when he returns.
We have to be careful therefore in the administration of our duties and use properly the resources of the church.
“As servants of God, we are responsible for the care and proper distribution of the material, financial, human, and spiritual resources of the church” (Anthony and Estep Jr. 2005, 9).
The parable of the talents (Matt. 15:14-30) is a great example of taking responsibility for the talents entrusted to us. Jesus speaks of the talents or abilities God has given us. The servant who hid his talent represents the lazy or the indifferent person who considers faith as a family inheritance, or the coward who never dares to take initiatives that should have been helpful to the others. We have to help the community and cooperate with God.
We have to work together, with our faith, and use our talents for the community. When God said he reap where he has not sown, he is represented as the hard master. He demands something from us because he wants us to work hard, to excel in what we do, and we can do it for the kingdom of God. But God as the demanding master does not oppress people, instead he spurs into action.
We have also to trust ourselves, if we trust God. God has given us many qualities and abilities, and we have to contribute this for the good of others and for the welfare of the community. It must not be hidden in the room where no one can see or where it can not provide help to other people.
In the last parable of the sowers, it means Jesus will return as king of all the nations. All those who have lived without knowing Christ and have shared in the common destiny of humankind, will be judged. He has never abandoned the little ones who are his brothers.
Jesus identifies himself with the least among our brethren. The least of our brothers are those forsaken, the suffering, and the oppressed.
Gilbert Bilezikian (1997, 44) says that our definitions of the community and its workings should be drawn from God’s Word not from experience and tradition. Does this contradict our statement that we have to study the scriptural principles and past events of the Bible in drawing lessons for counseling?
No, what Bilezikian meant is that we should not take the Bible word for word, following what the teachers did. What we must apply are the principles and teachings Jesus wanted of us to follow.
Reminded of the beautiful setting where Jesus and the people were gathered in the synagogue, or in the open field, sharing the Word of God, sharing experiences, we think this should be the setting or the atmosphere which should be incorporated by our pastors today. This is immersion in the truest sense. This is imitating the life of Christ and his early apostles. Our young miss this; our old miss this. This is the rural setting of yesteryears when people just huddle each other. These people are just relatives, friends, acquaintances, they are those whom God always smiles at when he sees them enjoying and asking a little favor.
Is it possible today? Can you take a cell phone away? Can you close your tv set for a day or a week or a month? Can we not just be away in the desert for a while, close our senses from the lights and the traffic and be with God? Can our pastor do this? Can a counselor imitate Christ? Can the Holy Spirit intervene in our affair once more?
If we try to picture this in our minds, Jesus in the midst of the young and the old folks, sharing the Word of God, we can relate it to the birth of the Messiah himself, when he is in swaddling clothes, in the arms of the Virgin.
The angel announced, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours.” (Luke 2: 14)
The family in contemporary Western society has gone through various test and trials in the emerging world of high technology. Most specifically, the young members are called the Generation “Y”, the internet craze, naturally, they are far more different from the young of say the 1980s or earlier.
Stephen Barton (qtd. in Garland 1999, 21) states that the family (not necessarily of today) “has such enormous symbolic potential” because it traditionally seen as the building-block of civic community; it is most intimate form of social organization; it is ubiquitous – almost everyone is touched by “family”; it is linked with the moral and political concerns, and also linked with religion, and therefore a potent symbol of a higher order of life. (Barton 1996b:452, qtd. in Garland 1999, 21)
The traditional family refers to a household composed of a married heterosexual couple and their children. Some other stipulations for the traditional family state that: (1) this is the first marriage for both spouses; (2) there are no children of either spouse from other unions, (3) the children are the biological descendants of both spouses (not adopted or in foster care), and/or (4) the wife is not employed outside the home. (Garland 1999, 23)
Garland further says that if we add more stipulations to this traditional family, the smaller the number of families can be considered “traditional.”
The number of traditional families is of course dwindling, and in the United States married couples with dependent children account for just a fraction of the entire number of families.
“Married couples without children are more prevalent than any other kind of household (30 percent). Many of these couples whose children have grown up and left home.” (Garland 1999, 23)
Percentages on family structures (late 20th century figures, from Garland 1999, 23):
- One out of four households (25 percent) consists of a single adult, compared with only 17 percent in 1970 (Rawlings 1994, qtd. in Garland 1999);
- The number of single adult households is almost equal to the number of households of married couples and their children.
- In 1977, there were 16 million Americans living alone;
- Twenty years later there were 25 million (Harder 1977).
- During the same twenty-year period, the number of unmarried couples cohabiting more than tripled, from under 100,000 to more than 3.7 million (Harder 1887, qtd. in Garland 1999, 23).
What do all these statistics tell us? This simply means that the number of traditional families is not anymore in our midst and maybe not anymore important. There is a growing trend of families becoming more oriented to the goals set forth by religion and our churches.
Society is becoming more diverse, especially with the growing trend, or should we say, existing trend where people from other parts of the world are continuously moving. There is no more balance in society, and in the family; meaning the chance of breaking up is always there.
There is also the increase of the number of U.S. families maintained by women, so that family composition has been changed. This is higher among blacks than whites for many years, but the number of white women who are sole heads of households is also increasing rapidly. (Garland 1999, 23)
There is also the decline of the membership in households.
An average of 2.63 persons per household was recorded in 1993 (Rawlings 1994:82); in 1780 American families lived in households with an average size of 5.8 persons, and about 36 percent of households size was 4.8, and 20 percent of households had seven persons or more.
There is big change in the household composition, especially now when there is diversity in culture.
Immigration or the influx of immigrants has caused diversity in American society, and perhaps there is now a mixture of culture. There will be more and more changes in in society and in the family in the 21st century.
We started with our families as the basic unit of society, of the community. Creation has taught us to value family. The first people, Adam and Eve, were a family. They are the first God thought of when He started creation.
The Lord Jesus is a member of a family, a very loving and exemplary family, whose parents really value the essence and responsibilities of the family. Jesus’ teachings are full of reminders and loving words for the family members to value and love each member. The Ten Commandments tell us to honor the father and the mother.
The early Christian church started with families, and then communities, which are to help in the work of Jesus as he went up to heaven. Now the pastor has to have this help from the families and members who must value our families.
But sad to say, the family, the traditional family and the family of God, seems to be slowly and slowly diminishing because of modernity, diversity, and pluralism in American society.
We have so much literature gathered from our research which we use in analyzing, inputting, and recommending the Biblical principles and theory of leadership for church in the 20th and 21st century.
The two time frame stated in the title of our dissertation seem to be synonymous or similar in composition, only the compositions of the family and communities seem to differ because of the modernity and pluralism that we have been mentioning.
The early Christian church grew and met so many challenges, test and trials. In our times, modernity and pluralism are not new, only they have grown to the point where it seems we cannot anymore control. People are continuously moving. The Internet and Information Technology have made the world flat. We are living in a global village.
Another point: theory of leadership is not a question, it’s the people who should be led seems to be the question. What are we leading? Who are we leading? The story is complex; the job of the pastor and counselor is complicated.
The Holy Spirit is working. This is because Jesus Christ left us a promise or a covenant as he ascended into heaven: I will be with you until the ends of the earth.
The greatest failure of the twentieth century church is this: she has lost the common people in the crowded urban areas, becoming a church of the middle class.
In the 21st century, much is lost with modernity, pluralism, and the Internet.
The simple question the pastor has to answer is: does he/she know the members individually. Knowledge of the members is important in counseling. This is where the members put their trust in counseling. But is the pastor does not know the members, what follows is estrangement on the counsel and counselee.
“The church serves as an extension of the Incarnation, God’s primary way of establishing presence in the world. We are ‘AfterChrists,’ in Gerard Manley Hopkins’s coinage:
… for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in eyes, and lovely in limbs not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces. (Yancey 1995, 228)
Great responsibility on the pastor because he is the replacement of Jesus here on earth. But replacement here is not actually word; for the pastor is a representative while Jesus is up there. The Holy Spirit is here and can be felt whenever we ask and seek guidance.
The family is slowly and slowly eroding in the 21st century because of pluralism due to diversity in American society. There are more without children, or whose children have grown up and have left home. The old are entrusted to the Homes for the Aged.
Bilezikian (1997, 43) states that God has one priority project throughout history but this will reach its climactic completion at the end of history, and that is the formation of the new community. It is the only thing God is doing today that has eternal significance. And it is our hope even if we think the family and the community are disintegrating or deteriorating.
While we have this community here on earth, the final community will be when God reigns in the kingdom we all have prayed and aspired for. This is the kingdom planned by God from the beginning of creation.
Lay counseling is a challenge to the members of the church. This is because there are more resources and help coming from the church and community. There are still many members of the church who are committed to help and volunteer for the great task.
We need lay counselors to help the pastor in the tremendous job of the lay apostolate and in guiding the young members who are exposed to the many temptations of the outside the world, and especially the internet. We have to help them not commit their own fall, because if that happens, the family is affected, the church is affected, and even Christ who sees our every move will suffer because of that.
As Tan (1991) says, we are living in a broken world and things are not getting any better. If we don’t do something, things will even get worse.
Our only defense and sword are prayer and the Bible. Let us hold on to these, no matter happens. And let us pray for that one thing we all aspire: “Lord, thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.”
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