Leadership? what do you mean?

I remember once going to a meeting with a pastor of a very large church in the USA. It had only been possible to arrange because I knew someone who knew him.  The church was like a large corporate headquarters, complete with shielding secretary and inner sanctum office. Fair enough I guess. Any well known busy person has to be protected from all comers don’t they?

But it was the meeting itself that stayed with me. The very expensive executive office. The 5 minute interview. The successfully achieved goals and objectives of the ministry on a big wall chart. The huge sense of privilege to be granted an audience. The sense that this was the hub, the centre, the powerhouse of a big ‘important’ church. Everything said ‘hierarchy’, ‘status’, ‘success’ and ‘power’.

My friend was the pastor of a small little church not far away, ministering to a mostly elderly congregation. I know which place I felt more welcome in and which there was more a Jesus-like feel to.

All this is to say that in the Out of UR blog there are a couple of lively posts on whether Leadership is biblical ..

One by David Fitch arguing that many modern Christian notions of leadership are afloat on a sea of unbiblical assumptions (with good discussion in the comments).

The other by Bob Hyatt rebutting Fitch’s deconstruction (with not so good discussion in the comments).

I’m in danger of fulfilling a fence-sitting stereotype, but both have valid points. Fitch’s title is wrong – it isn’t so much that there is no notion of leadership in the Bible, but that how the church so often exercises leadership is profoundly unbiblical.

Jesus shaped leadership has precious little to do with power, control, individualism; the ‘boss’ CEO; executive pastors; professional managers; authoritarianism; status; position; a ‘career in the church’;

It all to do with love, sacrifice, humility, inclusion of the weak and powerless, grace, service, shared accountability, mutual submission. In other words, attitudes and actions which every Christian is called to.


One thought on “Leadership? what do you mean?

  1. I guess that would put me on the fence too. Christian leaders are servants, leading by example. A pastor who feels he has arrived at a place where he is above certain tasks, and is primarily a delegator probably ought to put down his leadership books and pick up his Bible.

    Still, it is difficult to say there was no hierarchical authority structure in the NT church. Consider James’ authority in Acts 15. Also, Paul’s instructions concerning church discipline assume that someone has the authority to carry them out.

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