A congregation is only as good as the leadership. Last time, we talked about the fact that we are all, in a sense, called to be leaders. We asked the question, “are YOU a leader?” That said, we know that there is also a more specific sense of leadership in the church. But what is the structure of biblical leadership? And what are the responsibilities according to the Bible (as opposed to man-made tradition)? God has a detailed and commanded design for church leadership (aka: “family structure”).
About three years ago, I looked back at the church as a whole and felt very frustrated. Generally speaking, Christian churches in America have grown into a deathly complacency. I have been in ministry in some capacity for almost nine years and to begin with, I used to blame teens for not attending events and being committed when I dealt with youth. Then, when I became the preaching minister, I blamed their parents because I realized (from conversations with the kids) that they weren’t committed to prioritizing the church or studying at home either. Then I blamed some of the seniors because, while there are certainly some who can’t do much with the church for health reasons, and while the parents and teens own their own apathy, many seniors think they can “retire” from church work (so much for “we’ll work ‘til Jesus comes.”). Then I blamed the leadership because how can we expect the congregation to be committed if the leadership in many churches is generally uncommitted to things explicitly important in the Bible. I heard an elder at a church I worked with once say, “I know what the qualifications for being an elder are, but I don’t know my responsibilities.” And it clicked, one of the reasons we are all failing is that we don’t know what our jobs are and what God’s design for the spiritual family actually is. I can, in a sense, blame whoever, but at the end of the day, as a teacher, it is I who should have been making these adjustments all along.
Read Ephesians 4:11-13 and notice how the passage says “Christ gave…” In other words, we don’t get to decide how the structure and responsibility of church leadership goes. Christ already has decided. Not tradition, not what this or that church does, but what the Bible says. Notice also the reason for said structure. A) Growth into the likeness of Christ as individuals and as a church family. B) To equip the congregation for works. The Leadership’s job is to be a facilitator for the congregation. This is done by providing ways to grow. They cannot be Christians for you or make the congregation grow. Only God can do that by speaking to your heart and you, as a member, listening to His voice and committing to Him. Not everyone is gifted in these specific ways of leadership. Everyone has gifts given to them by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12). Next article we will talk about deacons (ministry leaders) and how they are to serve as leaders in the church! – Jesse