I am thankful for a commenter who brought to my attention a new book (July 1, 2013) from Joseph Hellerman entitled Embracing Shared Ministry: Power and Status in the Early Church and Why It Matters Today (Kregel; 320 pp).
Social historian and pastor Joe Hellerman addresses issues of power and authority in the church—in the New Testament and in the church today—in a fresh, culturally nuanced way. The local church, Hellerman maintains, should be led and taught by a community of leaders who relate to one another first as brothers and sisters in Christ, and who function only secondarily—and only within the parameters of that primary relational context—as vision-casting, decision-making leaders for the broader church family. Unique among contemporary treatments of servant leadership, Hellerman interprets the biblical materials against the background of ancient Roman cultural values, in order to demonstrate a social context for ministry that will provide healthy checks and balances on the use of pastoral power and authority in our congregations.
This looks really interesting, and I am encouraged that Hellerman has the right historical knowledge as a social historian, and practical experience as a pastor! A rare, but necessary combo for a book like this!