LEADERSHIP & “St. Paul’s Guide to Leading Remotely” by @BobWhitesel published by @BiblicalLeader Magazine

St. Paul's Guide to Leading Remotely 2.2

Look at Paul … 

Some degree of social distancing will most likely be part of future leadership practices. This will require church leaders to develop new skills and embrace new leadership methods. But for many church staffs, volunteers and ministers leading remotely may feel awkward and unnatural. However, leading remotely is a skill found in the New Testament and the early Church. St. Paul himself provides a fascinating example about how to lead remotely through the letters he wrote to congregations he guided. Here are 12 principles drawn from his writings.

Paul’s Guide …

Be personable. Paul greeted leaders personally. This created a human connection to Paul’s remote location (and sometimes his imprisonment). Whether at the beginning of his letters (Philippians 1, etc.) or the end (Romans 16:1-16, etc.), Paul recounted his personal connection with his readers. When critique was called for, Paul even prefaced it with personal histories. In Romans 16 he spends several paragraphs thanking God for those who helped him, but then warns about those who divide the flock. In verses 17-18 he instructs, “Keep a sharp eye out for those who take bits and pieces of the teaching that you learned and then use them to make trouble. Give these people a wide berth. They have no intention of living for our Master Christ. They’re only in this for what they can get out of it, and aren’t above using pious sweet talk to dupe unsuspecting innocents” (MSG). Paul’s greetings not only provided personal salutations to exemplary followers, but also examples of ones to avoid. 

Reputation is based upon God’s work in a life. Distance, whether physical or created by electronic mediums, can undermine credibility. When necessary, Paul defended his credentials. But he based his credibility upon how God has changed (and is changing) him, stating, “Do you think I speak this strongly in order to manipulate crowds? Or curry favor with God? Or get popular applause? If my goal was popularity, I wouldn’t bother being Christ’s slave… I’m sure that you’ve heard the story of my earlier life when I lived in the Jewish way. In those days I went all out in persecuting God’s church. I was systematically destroying it. I was so enthusiastic about the traditions of my ancestors that I advanced head and shoulders above my peers in my career. Even then God had designs on me. Why, when I was still in my mother’s womb he chose and called me out of sheer generosity! Now he has intervened and revealed his Son to me so that I might joyfully tell non-Jews about him.” (Gal. 1:10-16). Be ready to tactfully (2 Cor. 5:20) but directly (1 Tim. 1:3) point to God’s work in your life if your credibility is questioned.

Accept change, yet acknowledge how God is behind the change. Don’t shy away from accepting change, but also acknowledge how God is changing you. Paul embraced his change, recalling in Gal. 2: 7-10 (MSG), “It was soon evident that God had entrusted me with the same message to the non-Jews as Peter had been preaching to the Jews. Recognizing that my calling had been given by God, James, Peter, and John—the pillars of the church—shook hands with me and Barnabas, assigning us to a ministry to the non-Jews, while they continued to be responsible for reaching out to the Jews. The only additional thing they asked was that we remember the poor, and I was already eager to do that.”

Go deep theologically, but give them something to do with it. Don’t be afraid to give those you lead remotely something on which to theologically chew. But also make sure it’s something they can readily apply. Pauline scholar Herman Ridderbos stresses the general character of Paul’s preaching was the kingship of Jesus (1997:48). And, as a result Paul urged his readers to exemplify lifestyles that attested to living in a new realm. And knowing it might be some time before they would hear from him again, Paul literally gave them something to do. He told them to act upon what they heard, saying, “It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—‘Jesus is my Master’—embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: ‘God has set everything right between him and me!’” (Romans 10:9-10, MSG).

Use stories, to help others endure the unendurable. The early church experienced an increasing loss of civil and human rights because of mounting opposition by the Roman regime. To this predicament Paul encouraged his listeners to embrace perseverance, steadfastness and in the more modern term championed by Angela Duckworth, “grit.” Paul wrote to the church at Colossae, “As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us” (Col. 1:10-12, MSG). And in Gal. 6:9, Paul famously intones, “So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit” (MSG).

Learning how God works, brings strength to endure the seemingly unendurable.

When you must correct, do so with a parent’s firm but loving touch. Paul sometimes had to pen a painful response to his critics. In 1 Cor. 4:14-16 he admonished, “I’m not writing all this as a neighborhood scold just to make you feel rotten. I’m writing as a father to you, my children. I love you and want you to grow up well, not spoiled. There are a lot of people around who can’t wait to tell you what you’ve done wrong, but there aren’t many fathers willing to take the time and effort to help you grow up. It was as Jesus helped me proclaim God’s Message to you that I became your father. I’m not, you know, asking you to do anything I’m not already doing myself…” (MSG). As we saw earlier, Paul’s critiques sometimes begin with positive salutations. But here Paul prefaces his critique by reminding his hearers of the nature of their leadership relationship, not as a boss to a hireling but as a father to a child. 

Face-to-face leadership is sometimes still required. Continuing the 1 Cor. 4 passage above Paul warns, “I know there are some among you who are so full of themselves they never listen to anyone, let alone me. They don’t think I’ll ever show up in person. But I’ll be there sooner than you think, God willing, and then we’ll see if they’re full of anything but hot air. God’s Way is not a matter of mere talk; it’s an empowered life” (1 Cor. 4:18-20, MSG). A key to critiquing remotely is to lay out clearly your intentions if remote leadership is ineffective. Face-to-face leadership may still be necessary and should be understood as an option by all parties. 

Be authentic & humble. Paul regularly acknowledged his status, as one Christ appeared to lately, but genuinely. In I Cor. 15:8-9 he recalled, “…He (Jesus) finally presented himself alive to me. It was fitting that I bring up the rear. I don’t deserve to be included in that inner circle, as you well know, having spent all those early years trying my best to stamp God’s church right out of existence” (MSG). And in Ephesians 3:7-8, he said, “This is my life work: helping people understand and respond to this Message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details. When it came to presenting the Message to people who had no background in God’s way, I was the least qualified of any of the available Christians. God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities” (MSG)

Put others first, as exemplified by Christ. Paul knew that each leader who read or heard his letters would need to make a myriad of subsequent decisions. To guide decision-making, Paul emphasized that the arrival of Christ’s kingdom meant putting others before oneself. Paul summed this up in Phil. 2:1-7, “If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human!” (MSG).

Reconciliation and transformation are pivotal in the community of the king. Christ’s death and resurrection signified the arrival of his kingdom. A new community emerged which Paul calls, the saints, the elect, the beloved, the called. Over and over he would remind his readers they must decide if they will take up God’s offer for personal kingdom life, reconciliation and letting the Holy Spirit transform them. And so, Paul’s emphasis upon conversion was not just a theoretical concept, but also a noticeable change in people. Paul famously intoned, “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (2 Cor. 5:16-20, MSG).

Be thankful & prayerful for those you are entrusted to lead. Paul believed thankfulness must characterize every step in a Christian’s journey, saying: “And cultivate thankfulness… Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way” (Colossians 3:15-17, MSG). In addition, Paul’s mentees were never far from his prayers. In Phil. 1:3-6 (MSG) he recalls that “Every time I think of you, I thank my God. And whenever I mention you in my prayers, it makes me happy. This is because you have taken part with me in spreading the good news from the first day you heard about it. God is the one who began this good work in you, and I am certain that he won’t stop before it is complete on the day that Christ Jesus returns.”

Regardless of difficulties, pestilence and/or persecution Paul’s leadership is a guide to how to lead God’s people in difficult, even remote, times.

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Read more at … https://www.biblicalleadership.com/blogs/st-pauls-guide-to-leading-remotely/

POOR & Paul’s words about them, fashion and bi-vocational ministry …

“I’ve never, as you so well know, had any taste for wealth or fashion. With these bare hands I took care of my own basic needs and those who worked with me. In everything I’ve done, I have demonstrated to you how necessary it is to work on behalf of the weak and not exploit them. You’ll not likely go wrong here if you keep remembering that our Master said, ‘You’re far happier giving than getting.’”

Acts‬ ‭20:33-35‬ ‭MSG‬‬ http://bible.com/97/act.20.33-35.msg

WOMEN LEADERS & Rethinking One of Paul’s Passages about Women #ScotMcKnight

by Scot McKnight, 6/12/15.

Lucy Peppiatt WTCThere are at least five reasons why we ought to reconsider the traditional (women ought to show submission to men in church gatherings) reading of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, and these are Lucy Peppiatt’s five:

  1. The “spectacular array of contradictory commentary” on these verses should at least make us think we have not yet found a reasonable solution.
  2. The rhetorical readings of the passage, readings that genuinely resolve the tensions in the passage and with big themes in Paul’s letters, have not been refuted. They’ve most been ignored. Here she refers to Thomas Shoemaker, Alan Padgett, and Jose Vadakkedom.
  3. The historical reconstructions of what was at work behind the women wearing veils theory are far from convincing. Which, she asks in a telling way, is more credible? Women acting totally out of line and out of character or males emerging out of a misogynist culture acting misogynistically in church settings?
  4. The whole shame and honor “respect” Paul — according to traditional readings — wants to keep in tact goes against Paul’s constant rebutting of acting in a ways that bring honor. Put differently, asking Paul here to be pushing the honor categories of the Roman world asks Paul to act against his own teaching.
  5. Paul’s big theme of radical equality in Christ (Gal 3:28; Col 3:11) is mocked by radical inequality if the traditional reading of 1 Cor 11:2-16 is right.

Lucy Peppiatt, in Women and Worship at Corinth, is right on each of these tension points. The passage has not been explained adequately by those who think each of the words in our passage stems from Paul and expresses Paul’s own theology.

The problem at Corinth is a lack of unity in the gatherings. Oneness in Christ needs to be seen in concrete social settings. How they are behaving when it comes to worship, the Lord’s Supper and spiritual gifts mock their unity. The problems in these areas — note this term — is domination by those with more social cache. (This is my term, not Lucy’s.) So, and this is my reflection, one has to wonder if that same kind of domination is not being expressed in 1 Cor 11:2-16. (At least I do.) Paul’s “in Christ” theology, again, is radical and he knows it; we cannot expect him to undo it in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 by asking the Corinthians to act like the Roman culture all over again. New creation had been unleashed “in Christ” and it was to have radical implications at the social level of fellowship; it was not to be overturned out of respect to the Roman way of life.

Now to our passage: in short, the problems arise because we want to think 1 Cor 11:2-10 and 11:11-16 are expressing the same theology. A rhetorical reading, one that would have been “performed” well by the lector of this letter (see my post from yesterday), suggests these two sections do not cohere theology but conflict with one another because one is Paul’s response to the other.

Peppiatt, along with Shoemaker, Padget and Vadakkedom, proposes then that Paul interweaves words and views of the Corinthian male dominant crowd (found in the letter from Chloe) with his own responses. Thus, the passage would have been “heard” as Paul’s argument against head coverings, head coverings proposed by males who wanted females to be in submission in the public assembly.

Here is the scenario at work in the community of Christians at Corinth, and here she adapts Ben Witherington III’s scenario:

  1. Partisanship centered on particular Christian teachers.
  2. Cultural values of the wealthy that could lead to lawsuits.
  3. Unequal treatment of the lower status folks at the Lord’s table and dining in pagan temples.
  4. Hubris with respect to spiritual gifts.
  5. Disagreements about sexual conduct — inside and outside marriage.
  6. Disagreements on eschatology, esp the resurrection, and over reigning and glory.

Both Witherington and Peppiatt think — and #1 makes this clear — this is about some dominant males. The problem was well-to-do Gentile males. Bruce Winter, too, thinks there is a pervading masculine culture of dominance at work in Corinth (After Paul).

Peppiatt: Corinth was being dominated by some articulate, gifted males and they implemented some oppressive practices that was unraveling the freedom Paul’s gospel created. They wanted to display their glory, honor and authority on their heads (short hair, bald, etc) and wanted women to reflect their honor by what they wore on their heads. The males, in other words, were worldly in allowing the Roman culture of honor and shame to shape what worship looked like. This, she contends, is superior in explanation than the wild women theory.

Read more at … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2015/06/12/rethinking-one-of-pauls-passages-about-women/

PREACHING & Why/How Paul’s Letters Were Performed by a Reader in Public #ScotMcKnight

by: Scot McKnight, 6/11/15.

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 5.37.27 AMIn a previous post I observed that Paul’s letters were not read by individuals but performed by a reader (or lector). The lector didn’t read a letter of Paul cold on the spot but instead would have been given instructions (by Paul and his co-workers). In fact, it would not have been unusual for the lectors to have prepared and performed the letter in advance — or a number of times, perhaps rehearsing the letter’s performance a few times. None of this, of course, is discussed by Paul in his letters but he does mention couriers and reading (e.g., Rom 16; Col 4).

Though this helps explain Lucy Peppiatt’s theory about 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, the post today is about performance in the world of Paul and is based on the excellent sketch of memorized speech-making by William D. Shiell, in a book called Delivering from Memory: The Effect of Performance on the Early Christian Audience (Eugene: Pickwick, 2011). Shiell is the senior pastor at First Baptist Church Tallahassee. His work is rooted in the excellent work on rhetoric by George A. Kennedy.

Some are calling this “performance criticism,” and perhaps America’s best-known expert is David Rhoads. The facts/details about performance are based on ancient rhetorical handbooks. I don’t know anyone who thinks Paul was trained as a rhetor or a lector, but the reality is that most in the Roman and Jewish worlds would have experienced trained rhetors on a common basis — the public square. Thus, those who “read” Paul’s letters aloud would have “performed” them on the basis of experiencing other lectors/rhetors. None of this stretches evidence and is therefore valuable for learning to “hear” Paul’s letters as they were meant to be heard for he wrote them to be read in the congregation’s public gatherings (Col 4:16).

To quote Shiell, “In Hellenistic Jewish and Greco-Roman audiences, the performer and the audience were shaped together by the recitation [or reading], retention, and response to the performance” (7). Furthermore, “Prior to performance, the reader practices, remembers, retains, and paraphrases the reading” (8). [Is it possible that what we now know as text-critical variants began at the original performance?]

Here are some clear texts about public reading of letters: Acts 15:31; 1 Thess 5:27; Col 4:16; Luke 4:17-20; 1 Tim 4:13-16.

On performance, notice these texts: Acts 12:17; 13:16; 19:33; 21:40; 23:1, 6; 24:10; 26:1.

On audiences, here: Acts 2:37; 19:28; 26:24; 2 Tim 3:16…

Read more at … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2015/06/11/performing-a-pauline-letter/