Church leadership is a vital topic for all of the saints because it impacts us all. It doesn’t matter how my church or your church operates, how businesses are structured, or how governments are formulated. The only thing important is what the Bible teaches about leadership. We will explore how churches should be organized hierarchically, what to expect from your leaders, and what they should expect from you.
Here is a chart representing most church organizations.
The hierarchy in most churches is modeled after business organizations. The structure is a pyramid with the Body of Christ at the bottom and the higher the position then the further up the pyramid. There is separation of shepherds (leaders) and sheep (the people).
However, the Bible seems to teach a different type of organization as represented by the illustration below.
The pyramid is upside down in the church. The leadership is not over the Body of Christ but serves the Body. Jesus sheds light on this topic in Mark 10.
42 But Jesus called them to him, and said to them, You know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority on them.
43 But so shall it not be among you: but whoever will be great among you, shall be your minister [servant]:
44 And whoever of you will be the most chief, shall be servant of all.
45 For even the Son of man [Jesus] came not to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
Leaders are called because of their capacity to serve. Leaders are given more responsibility due to their increased capacity to serve. Leading is not a position of glamour or popularity. In 1 Corinthians 4
1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
The apostle Paul said consider us as the ministers of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. The Greek word for ministers in this verse is huperetes and not diakonis. Huperetes means under-rower. This refers to the slaves that rowed the ships. They were in the lower parts of the ships paddling with the long oars. It was one of the lowest jobs when underway. Leadership requires great humility and mercy.
What to expect from leaders in the Church.
The leaders in the Church are called to serve. They are called to lead by reading, studying, and modeling the Word of God daily. Leaders are leaders because of their maturity and faithfulness. The believers in the Church are to be instructed, led, cajoled, inspired, and corrected with the Word of God. All saints need leaders in their lives due to immaturity, blind spots, and deception. The leaders will be judged on their loving faithful obedience to God’s Word. They will not be judged for results. All believers have freedom of will so they only need to know enough to make a choice between choosing God’s will or man’s will. In Isaiah 55
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, said the LORD.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
The perpetual tension that we all face, do we obey God’s thoughts and ways or our own thoughts and ways? Leaders are responsible to ensure that the saints understand God’s thoughts and ways and contrast them with the saints thoughts and ways.
Leaders should also assist the saints in identifying their gifts and talents, assisting in the development of those gifts and talents, and finding a place for them to serve with their gifts and talents.
Leaders are called to be helpers of your joy and not rulers of your believing.
24 Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith you stand. [2 Corinthians 1:24]
Summary of what to expect from church leaders:
- Mature believers with character and a capacity to serve people (patient, forgive, skilled in the Word of God, able to counsel, love people). (Mark 10:42-44)
- Teach doctrine, reproof, and correction from the Word of God to the saints. ( 2 Timothy 3:16)
- Counsel while skillfully filtering life through the Bible. (2 Timothy 2:24)
- Equipping ministries (apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers, and pastors) top priority is to equip the church. (Ephesians 4:11-12)
- Be a righteous example of love, patience, forgiveness, mercy, and grace. (1 Peter 5:3)
- Help each member of the body to serve in their talents and giftings as soon as possible. (Romans 12:6-8)
- Helpers of your joy and not rulers of your believing. (2 Corinthians 1:24)
What the leaders desire from the saints.
- Be teachable. Have a willingness to learn and make mistakes. (Proverbs 9:9)
- Have fun. (James 1:2, Romans 15:13, Philippians 4:4)
- Talk to family, friends, or neighbors about what God did for you and how he changed your life. (Acts 1:8)
- Have a desire to serve. (Galatians 5:13)
- Learn to love God, the other members of the Body, and yourself. (Matthew 22:36-40)
- Start reading your bible. (Romans 10:17, 2 Timothy 3:16-17)
- Search the scriptures daily to verify if what you are learning is in alignment with the Bible. (Acts 17:11)
Church leadership is vital to the Church and worthy to be honored when following God’s thoughts and ways. May more members grow in their desire to serve. In Matthew 9 Jesus said
37 Then said he to his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few;
38 Pray you therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.