Church Polity

  • Triperspectivalism, Leadership, Following and Thriving

    It is incredibly important to know not only what kind of leader you are but what kind of leader you thrive underneath.

    A fair amount of writing has gone into analyzing the Triperspectival leadership styles of prophetspriests and kings. You can read John Frame’s Doctrine of the Knowledge of God or Primer on Triperspectivalism,   Timmy Brister’s nice list of resources, Jonathan Dodson’s pieceJustin Taylor’s quick write-up, or Drew Goodmanson’s Chart on Tri-Perspectival Leadership:

    Tri-Perspectival Leadership Diagram

    All that said, I have yet to see anything written on Triperspectivalism as it relates to following. Take for example that I am by nature a King-Priest in the way that I lead others. We are in some ways followers as we all have people who are leading or who have authority and/or accountability over us. We will be nature have at least two kinds of following – those we are drawn to and those that we thrive under.

    TriperspectivalFollowerParadigm - 850px

    I am drawn to follow prophets, however, I thrive underneath the leadership of priests in how I am wired to follow.

    Maybe you have learned the hard way what kind of leader helps your soul thrive and which leadership type crushes your soul. Or perhaps you are fortunate to have the leadership paradigm you are drawn be the same paradigm you thrive underneath. If so, rejoice because the disconnect can be difficult at times.

    Leadership Styles Drawn to and Thrive Underneath - 850px

    Self-knowledge, discipleship and experience are the best means of assessing what is a good fit for the leader-follower paradigm. A lack of awareness in this area can be brutal in the workplace, discipleship, organizational leadership or in ministry.

    Knowing what kind of leader you are is as important as knowing what kind of leader you thrive underneath.

  • The 20 Most Helpful Books I’ve Ever Read

    Top 20 Most Helpful Books


    It has been said that you will be in a year who you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read. If this be true, then what we read is of first importance.

    The following list contains the ten most helpful books I’ve ever read. They may not be the best, the most technical, or the most scholarly, but each of these books I found to be the most HELPFUL at where I was at that particular point in time. This list is in no way comprehensive and contains only non-canonical books.

    Desiring God by John PiperChristian Hedonism – If the term Christian hedonism doesn’t mean anything to you, then you need to read this book. Aside from the Scripture, no single book has had a more profound impact on my life. Desiring God was my front door to the reformed tradition. Desiring God was my back door to the Dispensational-Fundamentalist morass of my childhood. The idea that my pursuit of pleasure and my faith were not at odds radically and fundamentally changed how I saw every aspect of the world, from the loftiest matters to the most mundane minutiae.

    Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey – Worldview – Hands down the most clear summary of both the Christian worldview and the history of philosophy. Nancy’s writing is a brilliant, clear, and winsome.

    Redemption Accomplished and Applied by John Murray – The Atonement – Murray gives a crystal clear, text-driven, thorough, and eminently faithful play-by-play of what Jesus actually accomplished in the cross and resurrection and the precise mechanics of how that work actually gets applied to His church.

    No Place for Truth by David Wells – Evangelicalism – Wells gives a clear and excellent history of evangelicals and examines some of our weaknesses as a group.

    Clash of Civilizations by Samuel Huntington – Foreign Policy – Huntington’s thesis is that the world is broken down into 9 different civilizations that each have a different main worldview/religion and that wars are most likely to occur where several civilizations come in close contact with each other – due to the friction created by mutually exclusive ideas. Huntington’s work has proved to be a solid predictor over the last 20 years.

    The Road to Serfdom by F. A. HayekEconomics and Capitalism – If you are tired of the same old Keynesian, too big to fail, and central-planning type ideas, then Hayek’s book should come as a welcome counterpoint. Hayek presents a winsome defense of supply-side economics and capitalism.

    Let the Nations Be Glad by John PiperMissions – Piper single-handedly and radically changed how I viewed other cultures, God’s heart for the nations, and our strategic obligation as the church. A notable honorable mention would be Operation World by Jason Mandryk which provides the most helpful prayer guide for the various peoples of the world.

    Church History in Plain Language by Bruce ShelleyChurch History – Now in it’s fourth edition, Shelley has written a classic, readable, and simple, yet thorough, book on church history for everyone.

    Holiness by J. C. RyleDevotional – I’ve never read a devotional book that was so challenging to the idols of my heart. An honorable mention would be The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer which had a similar impact as Holiness at a very critical time in my life.

    Tactics by Greg KouklEvangelism – Koukl presents a very practical and helpful approach to having conversations about Jesus with the people already in your life.

    When Helping Hurts by Corbett and FikkertPoverty – Corbett and Fikkert present a more Biblical and holistic approach to poverty that avoids the over-simplistic models presented by the current political polarities. Poverty is much more than a lack of resources, a lack of education, or lack of anything – poverty is about relationships that are broken and don’t work.

    The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert ColemanDiscipleship – Coleman simply examines Jesus’ method for discipling his followers. The book is very helpful in giving categories with which to think about the disciple-making process. Justin Taylor has a solid review of the book here.

    Doctrine of the Knowledge of God by John FrameTheory of Knowledge – Before you build a worldview it would be wise to understand how to lay a foundation, frame out the house, and lay the trusses. How you arrive at “knowledge” will largely determine what “knowledge” you affirm. Frame provides very helpful categories with which we might arrive at more responsible, true, and balanced beliefs.

    Baptism and Fullness – John StottHoly Spirit – Stott examines what the Scripture has to say about the Holy Spirit and in the process helps untangle a lot of untrue and dangerous views on the Holy Spirit.

    Social and Cultural Dynamics – Pitirim SorokinSociology – I am constantly amazed at how few people, scholars included, have read this book or even know who of Pitirim Sorokin. He was a Russian thinker who founded Harvard’s sociology department. No one has more thoroughly studied the historical sociology of Western civilization. In it he outlines the pendulum swings of Western civilization back and forth from periods of idea-driven culture to sensate-driven culture.

    Adopted for Life by Russell MooreAdoption – Moore’s book kind of defies categories in many ways. It was as helpful devotionally as it was helpful in either developing a theology of spiritual adoption or legal adoption. The book expanded how I saw myself in relationship to God as Father and the priority of adoption for local churches.

    Culture Making – Andy CrouchChurch and Culture – There are quite a few good books on the subject of Christ and culture and none of them are without their weaknesses. Crouch presents a fairly even-handed model for the church’s engagement with the world. Some other helpful works are Abraham Kuyper’s, Lectures on Calvinism and James Davison Hunter’s, To Change the World.

    The Freedom of the Will – Jonathan EdwardsGod’s Sovereignty and Human Responsibility – This is the most difficult book to read on this list but it is the most helpful if you can slog it through. Most other books on this subject (J. I. Packer’s included) falls deeply into over-simplified understandings of the mechanics of how God orchestrates all things yet in a manner than that doesn’t assail the will or take us off the hook for our actions.

    Pensees by Blaise PascalApologetics – This is another book that defies categories as it is equal parts apologetics, cultural analysis, philosophy, and devotional. The nice thing about the Pensees (French for “thoughts”) is that it isn’t a book you read from cover to cover. It is more a book that you read one paragraph at a time and then chew on that for awhile. I recommend reading it over a couple years versus a couple weeks.

    The M’Cheyne Bible Reading PlanOne Year Bible Reading Plan – For the majority of my Christian life I have used the M’Cheyne reading plan to read the OT once and the NT twice in the year. If you’ve never read the whole Bible before or never read it through in one year, I highly recommend this method.

    There are quite a few categories that didn’t get covered here that are worth noting so I am listing for your benefit a few “Top 10” lists that I’ve written in the past:

    Top 10 Books by John Piper

    Top 10 Books on Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility

    Top 10 Books on Missions, Evangelism, and Discipleship

    Top 10 Books on Church History

    Top 10 Books on Eschatology

    Top 10 Books on Culture

    Top 10 Books on Christian Biography

    Top 10 Books on Science and Christianity

    Top 10 Books on The Church

    Top 10 Books on Apologetics

    Top 10 Books on Systematic Theology

    Top 10 Books on Christian Devotion

    Top 5 Books on Christian Worldview

    Top 15 Books on the Status of American Evangelicalism

    Top 40 Books to Read While in College




  • Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill, Multi-Site, and the Three-Fold Office

    Mark Driscoll Former Pastor of Mars Hill


    I am not a church government geek. In the broad spectrum of reformed folks, I do not have very strong opinions on the matter. I am of the opinion that there is a pretty wide swath of different “Biblical” ways you can organize a local church. About the only time I have strong feelings about church government is when it hurts people.

    Church History
    Before delving into the Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill mess we need to go back to the early church. In the first few centuries following Jesus’ death and resurrection there was a rather robust debate as to whether the church was meant to have two offices or three offices. There was no debate that the Greek word diakonos was intended for the office of deacon. There was significant debate as to whether presbuteros (translated elder) and episkopos (translated elder or bishop) were the same thing or not. Those in the two-fold office camp said that presbuteros and episkopos were two synonyms for the same office – elder. Those in the three-fold office camp said that presbuteros meant “elder” and that elder meant “bishop,” a higher office than elder. In the first few centuries of the church, the three-fold office view of church government more or less won the day. Bishops typically had the role of their own congregation as well as had all the other churches in their city under their watch-care. Bishops also had the responsibility of attending ecumenical councils to hash out doctrinal matters.

    Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill
    I don’t really care to delve into the life of a man that I don’t know, so I will patiently refrain from all commentary on that front. What has struck me about the utterly painful goings-on in Seattle has been how avoidable a lot of these things could have been if Mars Hill had different church polity. To the best of my understanding Mars Hill had its main campus (Ballard) and a whole host of satellite campuses throughout Seattle and a few other places (including other states). Now each of those campuses had pastors (all pastors are elders), elders, and deacons yet these elders lacked teeth in any kind of large decision making (removing Mark, financial matters… etc.). The real authority and large decision making power came from a small group of 4 executive elders (of which Mark was one). I have no evidence to back up this claim, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the other 3 executive elders comprised a kind of paper plurality that amounted to rubber-stampers of Mark’s agenda (so take into account my lack of evidence and/or any bias).
    When I take a step back and look at Mars Hill and how they do/did church government and ask myself what kind of church government structure is this… I cannot help but think this looks a lot like the three-fold office of church government where Mark Driscoll is the bishop of Mars Hill with a group of advisers around him. He has a number of other churches under his care, under his financial purview, and under his by-law jurisdiction. While it may not be a one-to-one corollary, I think the Mars Hill polity looks a lot more like the three-fold office than the two-fold office. Herein, lies the problem for me, if you want to have a kind of bishop/parish model kind of church… then that is fine, call it what it is. However, when people are under the impression that there the church is run by a local plurality of elders only to find out otherwise, it hurts people. In other words, let’s not pretend to call this two-fold office when it looks/walks/talks like three-fold office.

    On the whole I am not anti-multi-site but it really isn’t my thing. I think there are some churches that do it a lot better than others. I think there are ways to mitigate the cult-of-personality and give more power to your campuses than the “mothership.” Whether this is actually going on or not I really don’t know as most churches don’t publicly publish their by-laws or constitutions.
    One of the really tragic things for me in the Mars Hill case is the closing of some its campuses that were doing amazing things. I have had a couple really good friends ministering in those places and it absolutely breaks my heart to see those doors being closed. Ideally, in a situation like Mars Hills, those campuses would just become autonomous local churches as they already have (on paper) pastors, lay elders, and deacons. They would just need to become financially self-sufficient, and form their own new by-laws/constitution, and a couple other organizational type things.
    I would hope that any church doing multi-site would have things structured in a way that would both allow and/or encourage their sites to become their own churches if either they desired to do so OR in the event of the fall of the “bishop.”
    In summation, in instances like the Mars Hill case, please stop calling this form of polity a two-fold office type plural elder church government.

    October 16, 2014 • Church Polity, Ecclesiology • Views: 990