Church Leadership Reflections Part 3 – Repost

Church leaders may function as accountants, business leaders, planners, therapists, mediators, and public speakers.[1] However, that is not “what” or “who” ecclesial leaders are. Church leaders are not just professionals. The ecclesial tasks of prayer, administering the sacraments, leading worship, and serving the Bread of Life via preaching and teaching are too big for “professionals” to accomplish on their own.[2] These tasks require a supernatural in-filling and a divine call in order to carry them out faithfully.[3] To stray from a biblical ecclesiology is to lose sight of the source of ecclesial anointing. More than that, the church belongs to Jesus, not pastors, elders, deacon boards, or voting congregations. It is His church and we are His people. It seems that the farther the church moves away from a biblical ecclesiology, the more confusion exists regarding whose church it really is. Ephesians 4:11-13 encapsulates both the “team” nature of ecclesial leadership and the Christological underpinning of biblical ecclesiology:

 “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”[4]

Thus, church leaders are called to work together (APEST) and equip the church as we all grow in Christ-likeness. Simply put: “it” is not about us.

Since ecclesial leadership as a science is relatively new, there exists much room within the growing field for both exegetical research and practical teaching that may aid the next generation of church leaders. In the last 30 years, it seems as if the proverbial pendulum swung from one extreme (no leadership theory) all the way to the other extreme (secular based theory). The future of ecclesial leadership is poised for a healthy return “to center.” I am humbled that I get to play a small part in the process.

[1] W. H. Willimon. Pastor: The theology and practice of ordained ministry. (Tennessee: Abingdon Press, 2002.) 862-944.

[2] John Piper. Brothers, we are not professionals: A plea to pastors for radical ministry(Tennessee: B&H Publishing Group, 2013), 259.

[3] J. Oswald Sanders. Spiritual leadership: A commitment to excellence for every believer. (Illinois: Moody Publishers, 2007), 525.

[4] Ephesians 4:11-13, ESV

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