Leadership – What does it take?
There are so many ways that churches do leadership, which one is right? The answer may be more complicated that you think, as most of them can justify their mode of leadership with scripture. Therefore, let me describe for you what the Bible teaches on leadership, and then next week I will follow up with how Grace Bible Church does leadership.
Once the new church had started, the twelve apostles discovered the need to appoint and develop leaders in each church to keep the work going and to keep people on track with the main mission. As the church in Jerusalem grew, the needs of the people required a variety of types of leaders. The Bible describes several different offices:
(1) Apostles – This leader is responsible for training up and appointing elders. They share the gospel, perhaps planting churches, establishing leadership, and then moving on. After the twelve original apostles passed from the scene, we see appointed apostles with less spectacular miracles and more intense teaching, such as Timothy, Titus, Silas and Mark.
(2) Evangelists – These leaders specialize in sharing the gospel in a variety of ways and training other Christians how to do so. Examples of this include Apollos, Priscilla and Aquilla.
(3) Elders – Pastors (paid elders) and other elders (volunteer) are appointed by God through prayer-filled men to be a spiritual shepherd and guide to a local ‘flock’ or congregation. They are responsible for the spiritual care and growth of the people in the congregation. Note that NT churches always had multiple elders working as a team. In Antioch, it was Barnabas and Paul.
(4) Deacons and Deaconesses – The elders of a church find, appoint, and train these people to serve the congregation’s physical needs. They care for the building, finances, hospitality and other needs the people may have.
So, once again, what does it take to become a leader? Do you have to be qualified? The answer is both yes and no. 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 describe the qualifications of the person to be appointed as a leader. We have to keep in mind that leadership in the church is quite different from leadership in a business. God calls and God equips. When reading the gospels, you should notice that Jesus did not call gifted teachers of the scriptures as His disciples, but rather took willing individuals and turned them into gifted teachers. The qualifications in those passages include high standards in spiritual life, reputation in the community and home life.
One does not become a leader because they want it, but because God wants them in it. There must be humility! I am not saying we should not desire the position, but that we should examine the spiritual gifts God has given us and serve in the way we feel God calling us. If you are not sure about either of those, listen to what those around you say, and then volunteer for ministries that you have not tried yet. Those who are faithful in smaller tasks will eventually be given opportunity in bigger tasks, such as leadership.
The key points we must remember from all this:
(a) Leaders are appointed by God via a spiritual leader or group of leaders.
(often times a vote by the church membership takes place to affirm the reputation and gifts)
(b) Leaders must be spiritually mature so that they may be a Godly example and teacher.
(c) It is more important to have willingness and humility than experience.