06 March 2014

Criteria for evangelical leaders?

by Dan Phillips

I am reading through Robert Culver's systematic theology, with varying degrees of profit. Twitter followers have enjoyed quotations I've lifted out and shared, some by Culver, some of those Culver quotes.

This falls into the latter category. I don't know much about the writer (Nathan Hatch of Notre Dame University, then Wake Forest University), but these remarks are dead on-target, could have been written by David Wells or even Carl Trueman
The evangelical movement is amazingly dynamic: entrepreneurial, decentralized, and given to splitting, forming, and reforming.…
The tendency is for us to anoint as leaders those who build a mass following in the free religious market. The thorny problem is that these leaders are not necessarily wise churchmen. They are more likely to be those who assume prominent political roles or who build mass special-purpose ministries. To the extent that this is the case, we allow the market to set the terms of church leadership.
The long-term question for evangelicals is what kind of shepherds we will follow, whether we will follow leaders whose interest is the well-being of the church itself, men and women who are theologically savvy, historically informed, and committed to seeing the church prosper in all of its dimensions and for all of its people.
[Nathan O. Hatch, Wheaton College Alumni Magazine (Summer, 1999), pp. 10, 11; quoted in Culver, R. D. (2005). Systematic Theology: Biblical and Historical (p. 807). Ross-shire, UK]
Explains — or at least properly frames — a lot, doesn't it?

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Michael Coughlin said...


Anonymous said...

"The tendency is for us to anoint as leaders those who build a mass following in the free religious market. The thorny problem is that these leaders are not necessarily wise churchmen."

Amen to that. There is one thing that you will see common in evangelical superstars. And it's *not* intelligence, hard work, theological accuracy, or godliness. The one thing is that basically at some point in their careers, they did some things that really showed exceptional initiative and guts. Take Paul Washer, for example. Would we have ever heard his name without his "shocking youth sermon"? And yet how many among us would have the guts or initiative to do the same? Most of us are so scared into conformity that doing something like that wouldn't even enter our minds.

The problem is, as the post pretty much says, those with guts and initiative aren't necessarily godly men.

Terry Rayburn said...

"A man cannot be a faithful minister, until he preaches Christ for Christ's sake, until he gives up striving to attract people to himself, and seeks only to attract them to Christ!" Robert Murray M'Cheyne

"To efface one's self is one of a preacher's first duties!" Alexander Maclaren

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

I guess that it's both a blessing and a curse that those whom God raises up to be mighty men in His church are little known. There are only a few exceptions to the rule, that I know of, that all celebrity does is inflates a man's ego and ultimately ruins him. I know my flesh is too obsessed with being known - in what little way I CAN be known - and famous to do well with being either of those things.

Jules LaPierre said...

If you can draw a crowd you must be a leader, right?

trogdor said...

So wait. If I understand correctly, he's saying that "faithful and fruitful" is not necessarily identical to "uses the word 'Jesus' and draws big crowds".

And the shepherds we should admire don't confuse their own accolades with the well-being of the church, so for example they wouldn't spend tons of cash to obtain a vanity title like "best-selling author".

And they'd think we could learn more about how to 'do church' from God's word than from the Starbucks mission statement.