The word ‘LEADER’ is only used eight times in the New Testament, and each time it refers not to a Christian church leader, but to a Jewish synagogue leader. On the other hand, the plural word ‘LEADERS’ does occur several times, referring to the leaders in a local Christian church. Christian leadership should be plural.
By the grace of God I remain your Rector, and I continue to be so thankful for all of you who support and pray for me in my leadership and ministry. But in fact the leadership of our churches is plural: Tom and I work together, with churchwardens, staff, PCC, Fellowship Group leaders, children’s and youth work leaders, and other leaders here too.
The PCC and I are currently trying to encourage the Diocesan authorities to guarantee the future of the Associate Minister post; please pray for the future of our ordained ministry in the parish, and the chaplaincy at Yeovil College. I have also been asking the Diocese if we might be entrusted with a curate. No news yet.
The last chapter of Hebrews tells Christians to ‘Remember your leaders’ – remember the word of God which they speak, and remember how they live so you can copy it, and remember their faith so you can grow in it too. The writer later tells Christians to ‘Obey your leaders’ – so their work will be a joy not a burden. I am confident my fellow-leaders would agree that in our churches, most of the time, it is a great joy to serve here.
You who are members of our churches usually make for easy burdens. But Christian leadership brings other burdens with it, in a world that understands Christian faith less and less, and in a national church that is struggling with declining membership and division over matters of life and faith. The enemy is at work, and he likes to distract and discourage.
In 2 Timothy (our current preaching book for the 6:30 service), Paul the older minister instructs Timothy the younger one, with these commands: Do not be ashamed, join with me in suffering, keep the pattern of sound teaching, be strong, endure, be faithful, handle the word of truth correctly, flee from evil desires, be kind, teach, instruct, preach the Word, correct, rebuke, encourage, keep your head, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. And Paul gives Timothy another command too, to keep him going: ‘Remember Jesus Christ’ (2 Timothy 2:8).
So I hope you will do that. ‘Remember Jesus Christ’ and ‘Remember your leaders’ too.
Thank you for your prayers, and all best wishes – James