Saturday, March 8, 2008

Leadership Issues Confronting the Church, Jack P. Lewis

Leadership Issues Confronting the Church, Jack P. Lewis

Leadership is vital to the success of many types of organizations including the church. Leadership can make or break an organization. There are many books on leadership. Some books are good and some are not so good. The greatest lessons in leadership for every type of good organization are to be found in the Bible. There are several good books that are in the business section of most bookstores that use themes from the Bible to teach principles of leadership; e.g., Moses On Management: 50 Leadership Lessons From The Greatest Manager of All Time.

When discussing leadership issues among churches of Christ, it is imperative that terms are properly defined. Many of us know that the term “pastor” is incorrect in reference to the preacher; however, the term would be appropriate for an elder since this term is applied to this office. So it is imperative to have a clear understanding of the terms used in the Greek New Testament. As Jack Lewis explains in his chapter “Greek Words for Elders”:

The topic, “Greek Words for Elders,” is of necessity tedious and technical, and all the more so for those who have not had the privilege of mastering the Greek language. Nevertheless, it is important that we examine the Greek text in studying the questions of elders. Words create the thought patterns in which men can think. There is not a one-to-one equivalence in translation from Greek into English. Since most words have more than one meaning, the English word chosen by the translators may have some overtones quite foreign to the Greek word the original writer used; thereby to expound ideas the Bible never taught. On the opposite side of the problem, the Greek word may be richer in connotation than the English word. In such cases dependence on the English word alone robs us of concepts we need. [Lewis, p. 13.]

Jack Lewis does extensive work on defining the terms relating to elders and preachers. He does so in a scholarly fashion, but not to the point of leaving the average student of the Bible behind. The writer also deals with several aspects of leadership relating to men and the elders such as majority rule versus having an eldership. He also devotes several pages to the role of preachers and really emphasizes the importance of studying the Bible as a major role of the preacher’s work. He discusses the authority of the preacher being exclusively from the word of God not their personal preferences, which is a subject many need a refresher course on.

The book is very challenging but very profitable for study. The book is just over 100 pages but it is packed with information to be meditated on. Jack Lewis is one of the most degreed Christian scholars the church has. He has doctorates from both Hebrew Union College and Harvard University. He has taught at Harding in Searcy, Arkansas and Harding Graduate School of Religion in Memphis, Tennessee since 1958. He appears regularly the Freed-Hardeman University Bible Lectureship, which I make every effort to attend.

One of the reasons I seek after Jack Lewis’ writings is his reputation for scholarship. His advice to bible students on study habits is words he has lived by:

You must apply the set of your pants to a chair for long periods of time. Two to three hours should be spent out of class in preparation for each hour spent in class. This means that if you are taking twelve hours, then twenty-four to thirty-six hours be spent in study. That makes a total of forty-eight hours a week minimum. This time often should be even greater when you are studying at the graduate level…. There is a great difference in getting a degree and getting an education. [Lewis, p. 104.]

Take advantage of the time and energy that Jack Lewis has devoted to this volume.

Originally printed in West Virginia Christian, Vol. 9, No. 8, August 2002, p. 8. Reprinted by permission.

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