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What is an Archbishop? (Weekly SNAC 4th August 2013)

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God willing, by the end of the week we will have a new Archbishop. Two godly men have been nominated for the position which makes this a good time to pray for God’s man to be elected and to think about what an Archbishop should be.
Phillip Jensen has been writing a series of articles related to this upcoming election. The following is a series of extracts from his article on He writes:
“In this article I am trying to use illustrations that do not bear on the candidates to argue for principles. When it comes to electing an Arch- bishop the natural questions are ‘What does the role involve?’ and therefore ‘What are the characteristics or competencies that we are looking for in a candidate?’
However, the answers to these questions are quite different to most people’s expectations as they are not the most appropriate questions to ask. Starting with the Bible, a good starting place is the Bible’s view of leadership, seen pre-eminently in our Lord Jesus Christ and taught to us in the appointment of elders and deacons in 1 Timothy and Titus. The character and convictions of a man are the mainstay of selection criteria, rather than any particular competencies. The particular competencies listed for Timothy and Titus to look for in an elder, are to ‘manage his own household well’ and to be ‘able to teach’ the truth and ‘rebuke those who contradict it’.
The ministry of an Archbishop is different to ‘managing the household of God’ but cannot be less than that. It is different, because like Timothy and Titus, the Archbishop is not leading a
single church or even a parish but a diocese of parishes and churches as well as all the associated parachurch ministries (schools, retirement villages, theological college. etc) that support the parishes in their ministry of the gospel”.
So how do we choose? Jensen suggests a number of false trails that we should avoid be- fore getting to the heart of the matter: “The job description of an Archbishop is not at all simple. An endless list of tasks and expectations that no one person could fulfil fails to see to the heart of the job that unites these many and varied tasks.
Formally, the Archbishop is the man of God who is constitutionally appointed to give leader- ship to the diocese of Sydney. There are many other leaders within the diocese, some with much greater influence and following than the Archbishop of the day, but the Archbishop is the duly constituted leader. As such, the Archbishop has some required tasks such as presiding at synod and being responsible for the ordination and licensing of clergy. He is the chairman of various diocesan organisations [...], etc. There are also matters that have to be referred to him such as the appointment of heads of schools or Professional Standards issues. There are many requirements and expectations laid upon him, especially as he represents us in the community and amongst churches.
However this is not the heart of the matter, nor hopefully the heart of the Archbishop. For the Archbishop must be first and foremost a man of God, a minister of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. A man who, in undertaking the varied tasks of the Archbishop, does more than fulfil due process – for he has the bigger pic- ture in mind by which he can guide each of the organisations and churches to work together for the common cause of the gospel. The bigger picture is a theologi- cal one that explains the practical impli- cations of the gospel for both the church and the world. It is this bigger, theological explanation and its practical outworking that unites the diocese and brings people and organisations together to work coop- eratively for the cause of Christ. And to do this he will be a man who takes every op- portunity to minister the gospel, both per- sonally and publically – initiating, spon- soring and engaging in it, as he sees fit”.
By the end of this coming week we will have a new Archbishop. The best thing we can do right now is to pray for an Arch- bishop of the type described above. Pray that we continue to be a diocese that is driven by the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and who desire all people to know and love the Lord of salvation. And pray that whoever is elected they will flee from sin, lead according to the Word of God and always find joy in their own salvation and the the salvation of others as Jesus is proclaimed to them.
Read the full article at: what-is-an-archbishop/#sthash.nfOSO- g0l.dpuf