Leadership is really important in everything and is especially important in the church.
Have you noticed that the paradigm for leadership in many churches has changed over the last 15-20 years? As with most things in the church we tend to gravitate towards the extremes on everything. Leaders tend to be Watchman Nee extremist who indoctrinate the fear of rebellion into their members so strongly that leadership cannot be questioned or they tend to be so accommodating and welcoming that they never place any demands on those who sit in their churches. The first extreme tends to gather a very fervent group who normally have latched onto one or more doctrines of scripture and then take them to an extreme. These churches tend to be smaller and do not easily accept new members. The second extreme tends to set no boundaries on anything. Everyone is welcome, all are loved and change is rarely required (even for open sin). These churches tend to be larger but rarely have an impact on society. There are many exceptions, but history shows that rigidity and force only attract the extreme while laxness and looseness tend to assemble a crowd that is rarely committed beyond their own needs.
Neither extreme is a mirror of the New Testament pattern for leadership. God does not need a dictator, nor is he looking for the reluctant heroes of modern fiction. God is looking for those whom He has called to fulfill their office with love for Him, zeal for His Word, love for His people and compassion for the lost.
My favorite preacher says it this way, “I’m compelled by an inward desire to serve an infallible leader with irresistible power based on absolute truth.” (Rod Parsley) Jesus, the head of the Church, should inspire our passion and our commitment. Church leaders are here to teach, preach, correct and lead us in the fulfillment of the call of God upon our lives and upon the church, both locally and universally.
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:11-16)
What should we look for in our pastors and preachers?
- The leaders of our church should have a good local church testimony. They should be established as great church members. Their personal life and their family should be a model for other Christians to follow. The have to be a good Christian long before they should be considered as a pastor or leader.
- Pastors and church leaders should be available to God. They must have a willingness to follow and obey the things that God has for them.
- Pastors and church leaders should be prophetically inclined. They must be able to call sin, sin and be willing to say, “thus saith the word of the Lord”.
- Pastors and church leaders need to be passionate worshippers of God. The must be filled with the joy of the Lord.
- Pastors and church leaders must be able to provoke people through both exhortation and encouragement. They must be able to do more than just deliver facts from a pulpit; they must be able to motivate people to respond to the facts delivered.
- Pastors and church leaders must be able to guard the heart of the people; keeping them open to the voice of the Holy Spirit and compassionate towards the needs of others.
- Pastors and church leaders must be full of the Holy Ghost and faith.
- Pastors and church leaders need to be humble; realizing that they are a part of the body. They must work together with other leaders in the body of Christ to fulfill the Great Commission.
- Pastors and church leaders must have the “Grace of God” upon their lives for the office the sit it. The “Five-fold” anointing must be evident upon their lives. Great Christians without a five-fold gifting make terrible leaders.
“This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” (1 Timothy 3:1-7)
“If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.” (Titus 1:6-9)
Leadership in the church functions to direct, protect, equip and correct the body. There is great power in a people who are unified in their beliefs, their passion and their commitment. “All the people assembled with a unified purpose…” (Nehemiah 8:1) Our purpose is clear, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:19-20). Our role and participation in the purpose varies, “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.” (1 Corinthians 12:1-6). God places His leadership in the body to bring the different parts together; so they can function as a whole, “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.” (1 Corinthians 12:27-28).
Each member of the body of Christ has a vital part to play in the plan and purpose of God; church leaders are here to insure that God’s people know, participate in and fulfill His call on their lives.
In order for this to happen many who lead our churches must shift they way the lead back to the New Testament model. Church leadership encompasses both the Word and the Spirit; the natural and the supernatural.
Many of today’s pastors focus their role around their people and meeting their needs. There must be a shift in this focus; it is the responsibility of Godly leadership to move our focus off of our own needs and onto God’s call and purpose for our lives.
Many in the church are constantly taught the word, fed the word and come to church for their weekly blessing from the Lord. Pastors have allowed themselves to be the primary vessel used by God, leaving church members to become complacent in their faith and reliant upon the anointing of the pulpit for their breakthroughs. Leaders must train Christians to rely on God and His word to meet their needs. Christians needs to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might (Ephesians 6:12).
- Many pastors have fallen into a role of “servant of the people”. We should always care for one another, but our leaders must hold us accountable to our obedience and fulfillment of the call of God upon our lives.
- In many churches the pastor is the only person who moves in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Church leaders must begin to equip every believer to function effectively in the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit.
- Too many of our leaders are focused on “holding the fort” and maintaining the status quo. Church leaders are here to guide us from infancy to maturity in Christ.
- Much of our preaching is focused on who we are in Christ. This must graduate and progress to who Christ is in us.
- Much of our preaching, teaching and ministry is focused on bringing comfort and relief to believers who experience challenges in their lives. Our preaching must equip the believer to find fulfillment in Christ. The church’s identity and purpose rest in Christ and who He is in our lives. We become a fulfilled people of destiny as we embrace Him as Lord.
- Preaching and teaching must do more than try to modify the behavior of the believer; it must focus on establishing our belief system solely on the truth of the Word of God.
Godly leaders provide the church with a strong foundation; giving us clarity and direction. Weak leaders or ungodly leaders destroy the church of God.
“In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25)
“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he..” (Proverbs 29:18)
“Then this message came to me from the Lord: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds, the leaders of Israel. Give them this message from the Sovereign Lord: What sorrow awaits you shepherds who feed yourselves instead of your flocks. Shouldn’t shepherds feed their sheep? You drink the milk, wear the wool, and butcher the best animals, but you let your flocks starve. You have not taken care of the weak. You have not tended the sick or bound up the injured. You have not gone looking for those who have wandered away and are lost. Instead, you have ruled them with harshness and cruelty. So my sheep have been scattered without a shepherd, and they are easy prey for any wild animal. They have wandered through all the mountains and all the hills, across the face of the earth, yet no one has gone to search for them.” (Ezekiel 34:1-6)
Many people have become disenchanted by the failings of church leaders. Some of them rightfully so. There is a great vacuum of Godly, anointed leadership in our churches. We must see men and women of God answer the call upon their lives and be the people He has called them to be. We need those who can equip the saints to live the Christian life. Our churches are filled with those who love God, but many do not know what God has said. We remain unlearned and ignorant of truth and purpose. We must have men and women of God to lead the body with the wisdom, love and power that comes from heaven.
What do our churches need?
- Pastors who are more concerned with carrying the burden of the Lord than the needs of the people
- Pastors who want to meet the real needs of the people not just the felt needs of the people
- Pastors who will help and train people to do what they are capable of doing for themselves
- Pastors who will preach the word of God to renew the minds of believers intent on the Word changing the lifestyle of the believer.
- Pastors who will lead instead of crisis manage from one human tragedy to the next
- Pastors who believe that faith in Jesus Christ should affect every area of a believer’s life, not just the religious aspects.
- Pastors who work to help believers fulfill the purpose and call of God on their lives.
The call of God is not answered in response to meeting the needs of people or a church. The call of God should be answered in response to a revelation of need from God. “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.” (Isaiah 6:8). You cannot be “Momma called and Poppa sent” and expect to see New Testament results. You must be able to do more than print the spiritual menu for the church; you need to be able to cook the meal.
If you are a current church leader, I challenge you to begin adapting this into your life and ministry. If you are a believer I encourage you to support your pastor as He begins to lead after the New Testament model.
The church of Jesus Christ must begin to operate after the New Testament model; we can settle for nothing less.