Functions of the "Set" Person

by Dr. Terry L. Thompson, Apostle


Having looked at the purpose and description of the "Set" Person in a past issue, we now want to look at how this person will function with the leadership team.

As with any area of life we must maintain balance. Some leaders of a church can take this concept to extremes. There are two areas of concern. First, some will see the controlling power lies within the plurality team. They feel they are put in place to be the thorn in the "Set" person's side. This results in stifling and hindering the progress of the group. Second, is when the "Set" person sees he/she as the sole authority and the team as "yes­-men". This will produce a dictatorship mentality. The leader is bent on his own exaltation and will frustrate the true biblical government of the church. Following is a comparison of the principles of a spirit of dictatorship and a spirit of biblical government, taken from the book, The Local Church by Wayne Hayworth:

Spirit of Dictatorship

a.) Attitude of lording, stressing rank and position, dominion and authority.

b.) Gains a dominion over people's lives. Removes from them options that should be their own, in areas not essential to the faith.

c.) Is fearful of sharing his authority. Feels he must maintain all the power.

d.) Produces problems and friction when working with others. Tends to be insensitive to others' feelings and the value of their thoughts.

e) Looks for a personal word from God to the neglect of hearing the voice of the Spirit among the leadership team.

f) Makes executive decisions without really seeking and hearing counsel.

g.) Becomes angry or irritated when challenged. Takes disagreement personally, as a breach against his judgement and position.

h.) Intimidates others and suppresses body ministry.

Spirit of Biblical Government

a.) Attitude of leading by example out of love. The focus is on quality of leadership rather than rank.

b.) Develops the loyalty of the people. Allows for flexibility and liberty of conscience in areas not essential to the faith.

c.) Wisely distributes authority among able leaders.

d.) Produces harmony among all he works with, not through compromise, but love and genuine consideration.

e.) Is open for a personal word coming to himself, but also listens for it among the brethren. Recognizes the agreement of the Spirit among the elders on the same level as a word given to him.

f) Pursues counsel and makes decisions slowly and maturely.

g.) Recognizes disagreements as an essential check and balance. Does not take it personally.

h.) Encourages the full expression of all the members of the church.

Our leadership style should express the spirit of God's rule and government. We demonstrate Christ's headship in our leadership by how we relate to those we are leading. I Peter 5: 2 - 3 states, "...shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God: and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; 3. not yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock... "

How then does a "Set" person function within the leadership team? Insight is given to us by Jethro, Moses's father in law, in Exodus 18. The background to this passage had seen the miraculous deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt. Having crossed the Red Sea into the wilderness of Sin. Arriving at Rephidim, they cried out for water and God supplies out of the rock. Next is the confrontation with the Amalekites in which they experienced the awesome victory over God's foe. Now Jethro is coming with Moses' wife, Zipporah and his two sons, Gershom and Eliezer. Moses shares all of the miraculous events with Jethro. On the following day, Jethro begins to share with Moses how team ministry needs to function. Let's examine Jethro's insight for team function.

Jethro shares the fatigue principle in verses 13 through 18. He explains to Moses how the leaders become tired and even burn out. He says to Moses in verse 18, "... you are going to wear out and so are the people..." When I arrive at a place for a speaking engagement, it does not take long to see what kind of leadership style is in place. I look to see if the people and staff are worn out and exhausted. If they are, normally it is because one or a few people are doing everything.

Jethro then gives the following outline to Moses:

v.19 - Moses you go to God and receive revelation for the unknown areas that God has not made known to the group yet.

v.20 - Then instruct the people and the leaders what God has to say about a certain situation.

v.21 - Moses, prepare and qualify these to be leaders amongst the people; then allow these leaders to carry out the work.

v.22 - Any areas where they do not have insight, understanding, or revelation, they can bring to you and you can go back to God for insight. This was to make life easier and the people could go to their place in PEACE.

This simple method is very applicable today. These steps will help the "Set" person move the team forward in the purposes of God:

1. The "Set" person is to hear a word from God. This is a specific word for the entire body of believers. When the "Set" person hears that word, then he/she must go to the Bible. This is to make sure that what he/she is hearing from the Lord is scriptural. Then do a thorough exegetical Bible study on the word(s) received from the Lord.

2. The "Set" person then will share this word with the leadership team. Some are named: elders, council, governing presbytery, etc. The goal at this point is: UNITY of SPIRIT. What we are looking to do is answer the question, "Is this a MESSAGE from God?" Many get bogged down here as they try to figure out how to do this. It is not the Method, but the MESSAGE that needs confirmation. We need to listen, ask questions, be honest, wait on one another until there is a consensus of the team. This may happen at the announcement or it may take a while. Remember we are not in a hurry, nor do we want to delay, but sometimes it takes time to tune our spirit into what God is doing. When everyone has a peace in their spirit, then it is time to move ahead. Maybe not all the team understands all the details of the word, but they have a witness in their spirit.

3. Upon the confirmation of the Holy Spirit with the team, the "Set" person then will conduct a Bible study with the leadership team. He/she will explain the scriptural precedent of what God's word has to say about the MESSAGE from God. This is all to be done at the leadership team level only. Sharing things prematurely can be unhealthy for the life of the group.

4. After the leadership team confirms and has the scriptural understanding, then the "Set" person will go to the support ministry leaders. Here, the "Set" person is not seeking confirmation, but is explaining God's will and word to the group. They are then released for the Holy Spirit to show them what METHOD is needed to implement this word. Training may be needed at this point.

5. All the leadership team, (Set person, leadership team, support ministry leaders) begin applying the MESSAGE in their areas of responsibility. The "Set" person will preach a message about what God is saying to the group. There may be a need for a teaching series to clarify the word. The body of believers receives the word and begins to live the message. This may take several weeks, months, or years to get the understanding.

6. Once the entire church begins to understand and live that word, the community will see it applied to our lives and be challenged to live a Godly life.

The "Set" person has been placed in the role of "first among leadership." The functions of this person begin a chain reaction that will establish God's word throughout a region. This is why we are to pray for those in leadership, that we, "...may lead a quiet and peaceful life... " (I Timothy 2: 2) Just like the children of Israel went to their place in peace, we too can find our place of peace.