Selecting Church Leaders – Egyptian Style

From Scot McKnight

Last month, the Coptic Church’s leader, Pope Shenouda III died. The process that the Coptic Church is now initiating, after observing a 40-day mourning period to find a replacement, the 118th successor to the Gospel author Mark, who it is claimed founded the church, is one that might seem bizarre to Western evangelical Christians. 74 bishops and 12 respected lay people will constitute the synod that selects three candidates who are over 40, have never been married and who have been monks for at least 15 years. That process may take months but when it is finalised, the church meets for mass, shares communion and then they will select a child from their midst. The child will be blindfolded. They will put their hand into a silver urn carrying three pieces of paper bearing the names of the candidates. The name that the child selects will become the next Coptic Pope.

So no one votes?…

Interesting to consider why different groups employ different methodologies and what we can learn.

Scot asks:

As against simply enjoying the exotic peculiarities of other cultures, I think the Coptics raise two questions for how we live as Christians here in the West. The first is how does the Coptic selection process affect our theological understanding of leadership? The second is what kind of practices would local churches have to foster to be able to trust such momentous decisions to a blindfolded 7 year old?

2 thoughts on “Selecting Church Leaders – Egyptian Style

  1. Interesting post. The thing that struck me was the phrase “such momentous decisions”. And I thought: is it really so momentous?

  2. So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles. Acts 1:23-26.

    Sounds pretty Biblical to me!

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