It's time for the fourth installment of my series on reforming the way we "do" or conduct the business of the modern Church. If I am understanding it correctly, the business of the Church and its leadership is explained as follows:
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and
knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up
to the full and complete standard of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13 The New Living Translation).
Unfortunately, modern leaders are not being developed by the Church and there is also little ministry development taking place beyond the pastor. Most Christian leaders are shaped outside the church and then come to the church to worship. They don't learn leadership or aren't equipped to fulfill their purpose in church, and then go out to society with those values and that knowledge. Instead, society prepares them and they come to church where they can usually do "anything" they want, as long as it is ushering, choir or nursery and fits in with church tradition or the desires of the pastor or board.
My fourth suggestion for church reformation is (you can read the first three here):
4. Help leaders and governing bodies move from attitudes of ownership to attitudes of servant-leadership and stewardship.
When leaders refer to "my" people, "my" staff or "my" church, their vocabulary reveals a dangerous and incorrect attitude that they "own" what is going on. That attitude creates leaders who often do whatever they want to and with the church because it is "mine." I knew of a church where the pastor employed a large number of family members who were not particularly gifted or anointed. He felt he had the right to do so because it was "his" church. The church, however, is not a social service agency, and the pastor cannot employ the divine right of kings that allows him to bestow gifts and offices on whomever he chooses.
I knew of another church where the pastor's son was an alcoholic and everyone knew it. Yet the pastor, his father, thrust his son into leadership to the pain and consternation of many. Why did the pastor do this? He did it because he felt he owned the church, its money and its ministry positions.
I have found two verses that contain the leadership philosophy that every church leader should have and employ:
As a fellow elder, I appeal to you: Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it
willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but
because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor (1 Peter 5:2-4 The New Living Translation).
Jesus is the Great Shepherd and Senior Pastor of every church. He purchased it with His blood and He is the One who owns it and does what He wants. It is a serious matter when leaders usurp the role that belongs exclusively to the Lord Jesus. In my opinion, that is exactly what has happened. Consequently, the people or sheep are not the focus of care, but rather the pastor and his (or her) whims and wishes.
The Lord wishes to reveal His will for each church through leadership, which means that leaders must see themselves as stewards and not owners. That also means that leaders must work to advance God's work, not just defend and maintain it. There are many "well-run" churches with money in the bank, who haven't launched a new ministry or outreach in years. Are you telling me that Jesus would want them to have money in the bank as their top priority when two billion people in the world have never even heard the gospel, while thousands of unused or underused saints sit in air conditioned buildings every week and listen to messages that do not equip them to do anything productive but "feel good"?
I have an entire section of my website devoted to leadership concepts and development, including a lot about servant-leadership. I have also written a book, So Many Leaders, So Little Leadership, that is on the market, so I won't go into much more of my thoughts on servant-leadership. I will say, however, that without this attitude of servant-leadership, we will continue to see leaders starting new churches or taking over existing churches who will simply try to be kinder, gentler authoritarian leaders. In the end, we will have in the future what we have today. What is needed is a massive and comprehensive overhaul of church leadership thought and philosophy, to which I hope I can make a contribution.
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