Neil Cole Defense – Part 2

Neil Cole’s second part response to my article is up now.  It’s good food for thought, but for the most part he’s offering his patented catch phrases, more than giving a personal response to the article.

Here is the response I posted to his concern for leadership development over leadership recruitment:

I appreciate your response to my article. It’s very true to the “organic way.” I suppose I’m seaking more of a hybrid model these days, a blending of the best I can find in both camps.

I understand where you’re coming from on the leadership issue. Using recruitment instead of development of leaders is a cop-out if consistently turned to as the answer.

There are few reasons however for being more open to leadership recruitment than you seem to represent: 1) Jesus always sent people in pairs, so it seems we’d always do well to recruit at least one leader join us, 2) leaders of the first century church are recorded transferring to where the evangelism fruit was to offer support (Barnabas to Antioch), 3) Paul regularly recruited a leadership entourage (Timothy, Silas, John Mark, etc…).

As much as I loved your book Organic Church, and grew from it immensely, I was unsettled on your willingness to throw young believers into leadership. I Tim 3:6 tells us not to allow new converts into leadership. The organic church I was a part of, as discussed in my article, needed new leaders to continue on. Faced with the choice of either recruiting leaders elsewhere, or bending God’s standards for leadership, I feel I sought the lesser of two evils in suggesting recruitment.

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2 responses to “Neil Cole Defense – Part 2

  1. Hi Brian! I think it is right for me to state that I have been a long time friend of Neil Cole’s and serve with him on the Church Multiplication Associates (CMA) leadership team. I appreciate what you have said about 1 Tim. 3:6. We need to take this truth seriously. The question is why didn’t Paul give that same counsel to Titus in Crete? We do not find the admonition about new converts in Titus. I believe this is because it was written to a new young church. It would be impossible to have elders/leaders in a new church in a virgin oikos (sphere of influence) who were not new converts. The setting for 1 Timothy, was Ephesus, a very seasoned established church. To recognize young believers as leaders/elders in a church full of more seasoned people would not be wise. The leaders in Ephesus, however, were most likely home grown people from the harvest, not imported from some other place. It is also interesting to note that Paul recognized elders on his return trip from his first missionary endeavor (Acts 14:23). These new converts couldn’t be more than a few weeks old in their new faith.

    Thanks for your work and efforts for the King Brian. Your struggles with leadership is common and your writings have been helpful to many as they think through these important issues. Thanks for the dialogue.

  2. Ed, that’s a very interesting observation. I hadn’t dwelt on the Timothy/Titus differences, but it makes sense. Having released a number of people for leadership prematurely, I’d still look for people with a little more history whenever possible. Maybe calculated risk taking is the way forward.

    Neil and the rest of you guys at CMA have been a great resource for my journey. Thank you for all you are pioneering!

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