Leadership in the Church

The biblical concept of leadership is characterized by servanthood.  Leaders are those who seek the welfare of the others and not of themselves.  They are dispensable, and in this sense the missionaries are the most dispensable of all, for their task is to plant the Church and to move on when their presence begins to hinder its growth.

It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant,  and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave;  just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” – Matthew 20:26-28


Church Leadership

Biblical Requirements of Leaders



Truth, allegiance and power encounters

Truth is about understanding and its tool of trade is teaching.  Allegiance is about relationships and its tool of trade is witness.  Power is about freedom and its tool of trade is spiritual warfare.

Truth encounters is where the mind is exercised and the will is challenged.  It provides the context and can interpret when the other encounters are taking place.  Jesus used His power demonstrations in the context of teaching HIs disciples.

Allegiance encounters involve the exercise of the will in regards to commitment and obedience and would be the most important of three encounters.  The fruit of the Spirit are cultivated here, especially love toward God and people.  This is about turning away from the love and commitment to the world that is under control of the evil one to God who loved the world and gave Himself for it. As we grow in our relationship with Him, we become more like Him, conforming to the image of Christ.

Power encounters focus on freedom from the enemy’s captivity.  Satan is the blinder, restricter, hinderer, crippler – the enemy who attempts to keep people from allegiance to God and truth.

Our missionary witness needs to use all three encounters together, not separately.  People need freedom from the enemy to open their minds to receive and understand truth and to release their wills so they can commit themselves to God. Please note – they can’t understand and apply Christian truth, nor can they exercise power without a continuing commitment to God.

Beyond our own Christian growth lies our witness.  At the end of His ministry, Jesus taught much about His relationship to His followers and theirs to each other as well as about the authority and power He would give them.  He carefully related power and authority to witness.

He told the disciples to wait for spiritual power before they embarked on witness, just as Jesus Himself had waited to be empowered at His own baptism.  We are not fully equipped to witness without the freedom-bringing, truth-revealing power of the Holy Spirit.

Because Satan is a master at deceit and counterfeiting, we must encounter or confront him, rather than simply ignore him.  And we know as we confront him that greater is He who is in us than He who is in the world and we thank God that  —

 He disarmed[a] the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it. – Colossians 2:15

But we are still at war and we are commanded to put on armour and fight  —

 Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For our[a] struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6:11-12

So, although we know how this war will end, many battles remain and we need to know our enemy and how to fight him.


Truth, Allegiance, and Power Dimensions in Christian Discipleship: From a Language of Priority to a Balanced Approach

Three Encounters

From Power Encounter to Love Encounter

Allegiance, Truth and Power: Three crucial dimensions for Christian living

Contextualization and Spiritual Power




Power encounter

The term “power encounter” comes from missionary anthropologist Alan Tippett. In his 1971 book, People Movements in Southern Polynesia, Tippett observed that in the South Pacific the early acceptance of the gospel usually occurred when there was an “encounter” demonstrating that the power of God is greater than that of the local pagan deity. This was usually accompanied by a desecration of the symbol(s) of the traditional deity by its priest or priestess, who then declared that he or she rejected the deity’s power, pledged allegiance to the true God, and vowed to depend on God alone for protection and spiritual power.

At such a moment, the priest or priestess would eat the totem animal (e.g., a sacred turtle) and claim Jesus’ protection. Seeing that the priest or priestess suffered no ill effects, the people opened themselves to the gospel.1 These confrontations, along with those classic biblical power encounters (e.g., Moses vs. Pharaoh, Ex. 7-12, and Elijah vs. the prophets of Baal, 1 Ki. 18) formed Tippett’s view of power encounter.

According to this view, Jesus’ entire ministry was a massive power confrontation between God and the enemy. The ministry of the apostles and the church in succeeding generations is seen as the continuing exercise of the “authority and power over all demons and all diseases” given by Jesus to his followers (Lk. 9:1). Contemporary stories about such encounters come from China, Argentina, Europe, the Muslim world, and nearly everywhere else where the church is growing rapidly.

I believe Jesus expects power demonstrations to be as crucial to our ministries as they were to his (Lk. 9:1, 2). However, any approach that advocates power encounter without giving adequate attention to the other two encounters—commitment and truth—is not biblically balanced.

Typically, Jesus started by teaching, followed by a power demonstration, then a return to teaching, at least for the disciples (e.g., Lk. 4:31ff.; 5:1ff., 17ff.; 6:6ff., 17ff., etc.). Appeals for commitment to the Father or to himself appear both implicitly and explicitly throughout his teaching.

His appeal for commitment to at least the first five apostles (Peter, Andrew, James, John—Lk. 5:1-11—and Levi—Lk. 5:27-28) occurred after significant power demonstrations. Once his followers had successfully negotiated their commitment encounter, their subsequent growth was primarily a matter of learning and practicing more truth.

First century Jews, like most people today, were very concerned about spiritual power. Paul said they sought power signs (1 Cor. 1:22). Jesus’ usual practice of healing and deliverance from demons soon after entering a new area (e.g., Lk. 4:33-35, 39; 5:13-13; 6:6-10, 18-19, etc.) may be seen as his way of approaching them at the point of their concern. When he sent out his followers to the surrounding towns to prepare the way for him, he commanded them to use the same approach (Lk. 9:1-6; 10:1-9).

Jesus’ reluctance to do miraculous works merely to satisfy those who wanted him to prove himself (Mt. 12:38-42; 16:1-4) would, however, seem to indicate his power demonstrations were intended to point to something beyond the mere demonstration of God’s power. I believe that he had at least two more important goals. First, Jesus sought to demonstrate God’s nature by showing his love. As he said to Philip, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father” (Jn. 14:9). He freely healed, delivered, and blessed those who came to him and did not retract what he had given, even if they did not return to thank him (Lk. 17:11-19). He used God’s power to demonstrate his love.

Second, Jesus sought to lead people into the most important encounter, the commitment encounter. This is clear from his challenge to the Pharisees when they demanded a miracle, that the people of Nineveh who repented would accuse the people of Jesus’ day who did not do likewise (Mt. 12:41). Experiencing God’s power may be both pleasant and impressive, but only a commitment to God through Christ really saves.

Charles Kraft




Power Encounter

Power encounters and missionaries

Power Encounters

Power Encounter

‘Power Encounters’ Bring Discipleship Results

The Power Encounter


Stories to socialize, convert and indoctrinate

Whether Paul was evangelising Jews or Gentiles, the audience heard relevant stories.  Unbelieving Jews heard about cultural heroes, such as Abraham, Moses and David. Unbelieving Gentiles heard about the powerful God behind the creation story. Maturing believers heard the same stories with a different emphasis.




Why Communicate the Gospel Through Stories

Why Communicate the Gospel Through Stories?

Imagine a Christianity Without Indoctrination


Conspicuously foreign

Outside of scripture, it seems that God’s general revelation is the source of redemptive analogies worldwide.

The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And the expanse [of heaven] is declaring the work of His hands. 
Day after day pours forth speech,
And night after night reveals knowledge. 
There is no speech, nor are there [spoken] words [from the stars];
Their voice is not heard. 
Yet their voice [in quiet evidence] has gone out through all the earth,
Their words to the end of the world.
In them and in the heavens He has made a tent for the sun.          

Psalm 19:1-4

This belief, that people already know something about God even before they hear of either Jewish law or the Christian gospel, was a cornerstone of Paul’s theology of evangelism.

For ever since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through His workmanship [all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made], so that they [who fail to believe and trust in Him] are without excuse and without defense. – Romans 1:20

He expressed it in a Lycaonian town called Lystra —

 In generations past He permitted all the nations to go their own ways;  yet He did not leave Himself without some witness [as evidence of Himself], in that He kept constantly doing good things and showing you kindness, and giving you rains from heaven and productive seasons, filling your hearts with food and happiness.” – Acts 14:16-17

In his famous letter to the Roman Christians —

When Gentiles, who do not have the Law [since it was given only to Jews], do [a]instinctively the things the Law requires [guided only by their conscience], they are a law to themselves, though they do not have the Law.  They show that the [b]essential requirements of the Law are written in their hearts; and their conscience [their sense of right and wrong, their moral choices] bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or perhaps defending them. – Romans 2:14-15

According to the Hebrew scholar Gleason Archer, Solomon’s statement means that humankind has a God-given ability to grasp the concept of eternity, with all of its unsettling implications for moral beings —

He has made everything beautiful and appropriate in its time. He has also planted eternity [a sense of divine purpose] in the human heart [a mysterious longing which nothing under the sun can satisfy, except God]—yet man cannot find out (comprehend, grasp) what God has done (His overall plan) from the beginning to the end. – Ecclesiastes 3:11

How many will rise up in reproach of indifferent believers – let us strive to be – for our generation – those who care enough to go and tell —

The Queen of the South (the kingdom of Sheba) will rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and look, something greater than Solomon is here.  The men of Nineveh will stand up [as witnesses] at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and look, something greater than Jonah is here. – Luke 11:31-32


Communication of the missionary

The message is not really theirs.  The missionaries did not originate it.  They were not there when it was first given, nor are they a member of the culture in which the message was communicated. They know that they must be diligent to present themselves —

Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth. – 2 Timothy 2:15

In relationship to the biblical message, the missionary is simply a messenger, an ambassador – a secondary, never a primary source.

First, they want to communicate Christ in such a way that the people will understand, repent and believe the gospel.  Second, they want to commit the message  —

The things [the doctrine, the precepts, the admonitions, the sum of my ministry] which you have heard me teach [a]in the presence of many witnesses, entrust [as a treasure] to reliable and faithful men who will also be capable and qualified to teach others. – 2 Timothy 2:2

— commit the message in culturally relevant terms that only indigenous leaders can fully understand.

Michael Frost gives an example of preaching the Gospel to the Zanaki people of Zimbabwe using Revelation 3:20 as the text. 12 He explains that when we visit someone in British culture, their door will be closed and probably locked and the inhabitants safely and privately inside. You therefore have to ring the bell or knock loudly to gain entry. In Zanaki homes, however, there are no doors. If you visit a friend you simply call out loudly at the doorway. Your voice would be recognised and you’d be welcomed in. In that culture the only people who knock are thieves because they do not want to be identified! If, having knocked, they heard noises inside they’d disappear rapidly. Revelation 3:20 speaks of knocking and calling out, so a message contextualised to Zanaki culture might emphasise the calling out. Sadly the Victorian missionaries who first sought to evangelise this tribe emphasised the knocking and by doing so made Jesus out to be a thief!



Worldview, Scripture and Missionary Communication


Exploring globalization

Isabell Ides, one of the last living links to old Indian ways on the Northwest Coast, died Wednesday, June 21, 2001 on the Makah reservation. She was 101.

Known by everyone in the small fishing village of Neah Bay simply as Isabell, this eldest of elders had more than 100 direct descendants. In this tribe that is so focused on authentically living their ancient culture, Isabell served as the matriarch of the Makah.

She was one of just a few people left who grew up speaking the Makah language. Isabell did not learn English until her teenage years, when she was sent away to a boarding school in Tacoma. There, like thousands of other native children of the time, she was punished if she was found speaking her native tongue.

But the language and culture have endured and even prospered since then, in part because of Isabell’s lifelong commitment to teach what it means to be Makah, say many at Neah Bay.

“She taught literally hundreds of people language and basketry,” said Janine Bowechop of the Makah Museum and Cultural Center. “Those were the formal things she was known for as far as cultural preservation goes. But she was probably loved by more people than anyone I’ve ever known.”

“She taught me who I was,” said her grandson Gordon Smith. “She emphasized how you should act, how you should be, how to participate in culture.”

When a fierce storm in the 1960s unearthed a centuries-old Makah village at Ozette, Isabell and other tribal elders were called upon to identify perfectly preserved artifacts that were a mystery to archaeologists.

“When they were growing up at the turn of the century, they still had some of the kind of toys that they had, had for centuries,” said Clapanhoo. The toys, he said, were a reflection that the culture was still alive.

Isabell also taught numerous outsiders what it meant to be Makah as a kind of informal ambassador for the tribe.

In the summers, Isabell would move from the village to her home on a dirt road along Tsoo-yes Beach. It is the last house, on the last road in the farthest Northwest tip of the United States. Hikers on the way to the Olympic National Park’s wilderness beaches would park in her yard and put a few dollars in the milk box on her porch. The lucky ones might spend a few minutes with her, or buy one of the baskets for which she was famous.

“She had baskets all over the world that she sold to tourists,” said Smith, who is vice chairman of the tribe.

College students would come with their professors to visit Isabell and spend the day weaving baskets while she told them Makah legends.

Isabell credited her longevity to her strong Christian faith. She was a Sunday school teacher and member of the Assembly of God church. While she sustained her spirit in the church, she sustained her body with a more native diet than most people consume.

“She kept up with eating a more traditional diet for so long,” said Bowechop. “And she taught so many people how to cut and smoke fish.”

Tribal member Bobbi Rose tells the story about the first time she tried her hand in the smokehouse. When she took the fish to Isabell, the old woman ate some and said: “Take me to your smokehouse. Your wood is too dry — it makes the fish bitter.”

Rose said that when they got to the smokehouse, “the alder was bone dry. She knew just by the taste.” – PAUL SHUKOVSKY, SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER



Did the basketry matter as well as her Sunday School teaching to God – how important was her ethnic heritage in the Kingdom’s big picture?

converted HIPS image