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The first thing to say about church (Ephesians 1:22–23)

Here in Ephesians 1:22–23, for the first time in his letter, the apostle Paul uses the word “church”. He’s taken quite some time to get to this point. That might make you think that the church isn’t very important to Paul. But actually, the reverse is true. This is a climactic statement. So far in Ephesians, Paul has poured out his praise to God for his blessings and plans and purposes. He has told his readers how he is praying for knowledge and hope and strength in God. Now, finally, at the highest peak of this amazing prayer, Paul names “the church”. So what is the first thing Paul has to say about the church? What is the word he associates most closely with the church? What matters most to Paul when it comes to the church?

The answer is, in fact, obvious. It’s so obvious that you might think it doesn’t need to be said. You might even wonder why Paul bothers saying it, when there are so many other more practical things he could say about the church. But while it might seem obvious, it needs to be said first. Why? Because it’s so easy to assume it. Yet without it, nothing else about the church makes sense.

Preachers and Leaders 4: Preaching and congregational leadership today

Now, as then, preaching should be understood as the public component of the speech of a congregational leader to a congregation under his care, by which he ensures that the congregation learns, obeys and holds on to the truth of God’s word. A congregational leader leads his congregation by preaching; conversely, preaching is the key public expression of a congregational leader’s role.

Preachers and Leaders 3: Preaching as congregational leadership: a venerable history

The regular sermon, according to key figures from church history including Chrysostom, Augustine, Calvin, Cranmer and Perkins, is the key means by which shepherd-leaders fulfil their responsibility to ensure that the truth of God’s word is guarded, learned and obeyed among their congregations.

Preachers and Leaders 2: The speech of shepherd-leaders in the New Testament

In a number of places across the New Testament, we see a certain pattern of congregational leadership. Christian congregations often include certain people who are described as carrying a weighty responsibility. This responsible leadership role is based on and derived from the word of the apostles, which in turn is grounded in the Old Testament Scriptures. The congregational leaders discharge their responsibility primarily through speaking this word to the congregation, in a variety of ways.

Preachers and Leaders 1: A separation of preaching and leadership?

Among the many important issues and questions that have been raised during recent debates about women and preaching, one that has received perhaps too little attention is this: What exactly is this thing we call a ‘sermon’ or ‘preaching’? Preaching is the public component of the speech of a congregational shepherd-leader to the congregation under his care, by which he ensures that the truth handed down in the Scriptures is learned and obeyed by that congregation, in light of the congregation’s particular circumstances.

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