Is one of the models discussed correct per se?
I don’t think so.
No matter which leadership model might be implemented, is there an absolute set of criteria for correct direction?
Yes, without question.
Is direction easier to discern and apply with one of the models?
I would have to say yes. With a clear line of command, the professional leadership model likely makes consistent direction more easily implemented.
Does the professional model offer clear advantages due to the academic expectations associated with it in today’s church?
Again, I would say yes. It could be just academic prejudice, but I would agree with the comment about this on a previous post in this series I have more confidence in the consistency of biblical messages prepared with a solid theological background. That said, however, I would add the serious caveat that a proven, clear, doctrinal and theological view based upon accepted biblical and doctrinal tenants is essential, coupled with a consistent foundational focus. Without these, the situation with professional leadership is in fact likely to be noticeably worse.
Does the professional model potentially contain more accountability issues?
Without doubt, yes. With centralized power, irrespective of the incumbent, comes implicit centralized authority, particularly in an otherwise volunteer based organization. This means that transparent, consistent and clearly defined accountability are essential.
Can the tenants of correct, biblical direction be simply and clearly defined?
Should the tenants or the church priority include provision for related secular concerns, programs, subjects, or the like, outside the straightforward biblical, theological or doctrinal message?
Is there room in church focus and mission for more contemporary but possibly related concerns expressed separately from clear Scripture, in order to show relevance? For example, programming around self-fulfillment, self-esteem, Christian psychology, etc.
None at all.
The Bottom line
The exploration and edification of the body in Scripture, theology and doctrine is the one and only primary focus. Although application and peripheral congregational support programs can play a part in this edification, these are only after the fact, and subservient to foundational matter. The only real focus is foundational.
Can clear foundational tenants be quantified?
An excellent statement of the distilled tenants would be the The Cambridge Declaration from the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. These provide a very potent distillation of the Scriptural position, and a particularly good basis for discernment in implementation.
A thoughtful and prayerful reading of these tenants is highly recommended. In relation to church direction, focus and policy, the statements of denial are of special interest. Examination of church direction and vision with these in mind would go a long way towards clear evaluation and biblical discernment.
I would propose that Church direction or focus which explicitly or implicitly moves in the direction of any of these denials, even subtly, is not of the faith. It is error and leads to the world.
The Declaration is reprinted in the next post.