Leadership & Discipleship
As a group of Christians we have adopted the Evangelical Alliance's 'Basis of Faith' and included are these two statements we say we believe in: -
- Statement 9. The ministry of God the Holy Spirit, who leads us to repentance, unites us with Christ through new birth, empowers our discipleship and enables our witness.
- Statement 11. The Church, the body of Christ both local and universal, the priesthood of all believers—given life by the Spirit and endowed with the Spirit's gifts to worship God and proclaim the gospel, promoting justice and love.
These form part of our identity as believers, but how do we exhibit these through the ministry, teaching and preaching within the Fellowship and are we, as Leaders, ensuring that we adhere to the principles and bring them into practice?
We are not affiliated to any other denominational group and therefore have no 'authority' that will call us to task – but conversely we have no desire to become an insular and self-determined group. We seek to regulate ourselves by reference to Scripture and through wisdom from those outside the Fellowship, who serve us as Trustees or who know the Fellowship through association.
We have no person designated as 'pastor' nor any individual who is responsible for the majority of teaching or preaching. We share our 'pulpit' with a number of Godly men and women who have accepted our invitations to speak. Whilst we are happy to listen to what they share and bring to the Fellowship, we believe it is still the individual's resposibility to test their words against Scripture and to be open to the Word of God, not only through the words of a sermon but also directly through the understanding given by the Holy Spirit.
We regularly re-visit the text and the sermon in our house-group and discuss together what was said and how that may help us, either individually or as a Fellowship, to grow and develop our individual and corporate spiritual lives.
As leaders of the Fellowship we were challenged recently about whether we have a real understanding of what 'spiritual' leadership is and how it is to be seen in operation. We are not too proud to assume we do all things perfectly and so we have spent some time in discussion and prayer examining where we stand and what we do.
The first statement above accepts that the Holy Spirit is the one whose active participation is of paramount importance – firstly putting us in the right 'place' to come into God's presence and then enabling us through understanding of His word to be growing and developing as believers and to be effective in witness.
The second statement above reflects how we respond to the growth of discipleship. We should find ourselves growing closer to God, our relationship deepening, our ability to witness and speak about our faith growing keener, and our social interventions more relevant representing God's justice and love.
In our recent studies of Micah we read in Ch. 6 vs 8 :
He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?
We, therefore, asked ourselves, do we as Leaders enable the growth of all the 'disciples' in our Fellowship by exerting the right sort of spiritual leadership?
There are many examples of leadership, both in Scripture and in the Christian world of today. Not all are examples of good leadership. We see groups whose leaders have extremely confused or liberal ideas or those who are devoted to one particular expression of Christian experience and others that have become authoritarian and personality based. What 'model' of leadership is the correct one?
We at SHCF seek to guide by example, to encourage discussion and a sharing of experience and understanding, to bring Godly people to speak and share the Gospel and to encourage personal study, prayer and growth in discipleship. We are not into 'heavy shepherding' nor just 'experiential Christianity'. We seek to be balanced and Biblical, allowing for the differences that we have grown up with from different backgrounds of churchman-ship. We are not dictatorial, although we seek lovingly to correct wrong attitudes and thinking – i.e. that which stands against Scripture – the revealed Word of God.
We therefore have members with differing views about such things as 'end times' theology, the problems of 'replacement theology' (are we the New Israel?). These matters are in a sense peripheral to the real 'meat' of the Gospel as we will not have a definitive answer until we reach Glory ourselves. (In history there were factions about the question of how many angels could stand on a pin head!) However, as a Fellowship we are agreed upon all the other statements that make up our Basis of Faith.
We will continue to invite those men and women who we feel will contribute to the spiritual growth of the fellowship although we do not recognise, in some senses, that they have 'authority' over the Fellowship – we will 'test their words against Scripture' as we are recommended to do in the New Testament.
We will appoint Leaders and Trustees (who we view in some sense as Elders) who exhibit gifts, attitudes and ministry that the Fellowship feel they can trust (and follow) and we will seek to protect the Fellowship from those who do not seem to show these characteristics.
The Fellowship meet as a body at the Annual Meeting and the Leaders offer themselves as servants for the coming year. If there are matters which would disqualify them from such office there is the provision for challenging their position. We conducted a Full Christian Stewardship Review of our Fellowship with all the membership in 2014-15 and will perhaps repeat that exercise after 5 years in 2019-20.
We admit that we are imperfect beings but we seek, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to serve our Fellowship, to encourage each person to fulfil those instructions in Scripture that speak about witnessing to the world around us of the loving, saving grace to be found in a relationship with our living Saviour and to grow in faith and understanding through sound teaching and the shared experience of God working in us and through us to advance His Kingdom.