Call for Spiritual Leaders

This week we complete our series on Spiritual Leadership. Remember the reason for the series? As has been mentioned multiple times, Spiritual Leadership is being emphasized this January for three reasons: 1) congregational understanding of biblical spiritual leadership, 2) care in the calling of spiritual leaders, and 3) the need for increasing our spiritual leaders. I would like to focus here on the third reason for leading us to consider Spiritual Leadership. As the current spiritual leaders of Parkwood, we believe that now is a critical time to call new shepherds and servants. 

Why do we need spiritual leaders now? We need spiritual leaders because of growth, campuses, and obedience. The first reason is growth. We need to increase our spiritual leaders due to numerical growth. Parkwood has grown by approximately one hundred members annually in recent years. These new members illustrate tremendously more shepherding and serving responsibilities, as well as significantly greater ministry potential. In accordance with the physical growth, we must increase the number of shepherds and servants at Parkwood. Gratefully, we have also experienced proportional spiritual growth, which provides us with quality members to whom we may communicate this need for spiritual leadership.

Increasing spiritual leadership is wise for the second reason of campus development. The growth of the main Gastonia campus is apparent, but added to that growth, we must consider our Kings Mountain campus, our active sending to the Lake Wylie campus, and future plans for others campuses. Parkwood is growing. While we must make decisions to account and plan for that growth, we must not be content to monitor our current situation alone. If we do so, we will be unprepared for the future and will eventually turn inward. The heavenly Father is broadening Parkwood’s reach for the sake of the gospel, and we must prepare for Lake Wylie and future campuses by increasing our spiritual leadership.

Not only is it wise to call more spiritual leaders, it is necessary for the sake of obedience. Parkwood should increase her spiritual leadership and more men should respond because God is calling some to be spiritual leaders. If he is calling, then current leaders must call; and if your Father is calling you and your church is calling you, then you must respond. Be stewards of God’s grace. Be stewards of his Word (Titus 1:7-9). Your stewardship is from joy, and your stewardship is for obedience – remembering, brothers, the accounting of Hebrews 13:17. We could be wrong, but we don’t think so. We think the Good Shepherd is calling spiritual leaders to be shepherds and servants. Is God calling you? Are you going to be obedient? I pray for the unidentified shepherds and servants among us that you will identify yourself, answer the call, and be obedient that our God might use you in his church for the sake of his gospel to shepherd and serve his people.

Whether or not you are called to vocational ministry, everyone is called to ministry. Remember, the extraordinary realization is the ordinary nature of the qualification (1 Timothy 3:1-13). If God is not calling you to spiritual leadership – in the formal sense of serving as shepherd or servant – he is certainly calling you to maturity and to ministry; and, in that regard, this spiritual leadership series is for every follower of Christ. But if you believe that you are called vocationally to shepherd or serve at Parkwood, please do not delay your obedience. In consecration and prayer, write your letter today communicating the Lord’s call on your life as you understand it. If you do, you may find that you are part of the Father’s provision for Parkwood’s growth and campuses, and in so doing will be obedient to the One who purchased the church with his own blood (Acts 20:28).

Why Preach Spiritual Leadership Series

We preach expository sermons at Parkwood, in short, because we believe the Bible is our great and ultimate authority. The Word of God is authoritative over our thoughts, opinions, and traditions. Expositional, exegetical preaching is therefore our intentional choice for sermon delivery as it most appropriately and sufficiently allows the preacher to convey both the authority of the Word and the necessity of our submission to it. For this reason, preaching through books of the Bible is the typical pattern for sermon planning (a biblical theology approach). In January, though, we typically plan a diversion in the preaching schedule to preach a series particularly poignant to the direction and/or far-reaching issues in the life of the church (a systematic theology approach). The preaching schedule is taking us through the book of Matthew, but we are currently taking the month of January to focus on a series entitled Spiritual Leadership.

So the question is, Why preach a Spiritual Leadership series? The answer, I mentioned last week at the close of the series’ introductory sermon, and these points will continue to surface over the course of the Spiritual Leadership series. The reasons for such a series are three: first, congregational understanding of the biblical instruction on spiritual leaders; second, administering great care in calling our leaders; and third, increasing leaders for the purpose of the church. 

First, it is incumbent upon spiritual leaders to ensure a proper congregational understanding of spiritual leadership. Spiritual leaders, in a context in which the Word of God is the ultimate authority, may not shepherd and serve any way they see fit, even should they choose a fitting way to shepherd and serve. Leaders, even wise and discerning leaders, must not lead according to their wisdom. The only appropriate manner in which to shepherd and serve is that set forth in and consistent with Scripture. God, having established and designed the church and the authority of the church, has therefore chosen and revealed the appropriate standard and manner of spiritual leadership. A Spiritual Leadership sermon series is fitting because the congregation should understand what the Father has communicated in his Word regarding spiritual leadership. And the present is an appropriate time for communicating and reinforcing a congregational understanding of the biblical instruction on spiritual leaders because of the large numbers that have been added to the congregation in recent years, many of which are previously unchurched, from other denominations, or from different traditions. If we believe the Bible, then we all need to know and be reminded what God has said about spiritual leadership.

Second, we need to be careful who we call as our spiritual leaders. It has been said, “We do God a great injury if we accept an unsuitable person to govern his household. Therefore, the greatest care must be taken that nobody is chosen for this sacred office in the church unless he has already proved himself” (Calvin, Acts, 88). Recognizing the great care we must take in calling men to spiritual leadership, it is prudent and beneficial to devote time in the sermon schedule for a systematic study of the Bible’s teachings regarding the roles and responsibilities of spiritual leaders. Future leaders must know what is required of them; current leaders must be reminded; and the church must understand the same before called upon to affirm and to follow such men in spiritual leadership. If we are to be faithful and careful in calling spiritual leaders, then we should be instructed by God’s Word that we may function according to biblical wisdom and not merely human wisdom.

Third, a Spiritual Leadership sermon series is appropriate for the calling of new spiritual leaders. A faithful church makes disciples who make disciples. In this growing context, new leaders are regularly needed. If a faithful church makes disciples, then a growing church develops leaders. Parkwood needs more leaders for two reasons consistent with her purpose. More leaders are needed to meet the growing demands of a growing congregation, and more leaders are needed for the increasing missional demands of sending more personnel to campuses and to the nations. We need a Spiritual Leadership series because we need more spiritual leaders. We need to develop leaders as often as we grow and as often as we desire that our gospel ministry grow. And we need to send more leaders to the nations and to campuses as long as we seek to obey the mission of God to magnify his glory and proclaim his gospel in all the world. 

Considering these reasons – congregational understanding of spiritual leadership, care in selecting leaders, and the continuing need for more leaders – a Spiritual Leadership series is both acceptable and beneficial. I pray as a result of this series that Parkwood would continue to grow in our understanding of spiritual leadership, take great care in selecting leaders, and develop increasingly more shepherds and servants who will lead here in Gastonia, at future campuses, and among the nations.