Summary: Every church needs to be led. How does someone with the gift of leadership lead the church the way God wants them to? How can leaders avoid hurting God's church? And how can a leader be sure they're leading the church the way they should?
OPEN: I once talked with a friend of mine who told about the new preacher his congregation had hired. In the type of church my friend attends they have “pastors” who are placed in the position of running the church. And my friend was talking about the great respect he had for his church’s new leader.
What had impressed him the most about this new “Pastor” was that he had taken charge almost immediately, and had shown the congregation he was in command... by changing all the locks in the church building.
Paul wrote: “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift… is to lead, do it diligently.” Romans 12:6 & 8
In my friend’s kind of church (where the “Pastor” changed all the locks) what do you think this “Leader” was communicating to his congregation? He was saying:
• He was in charge.
• He had the keys to everything… and they didn’t.
• If they wanted anything at church they had to go thru him.
• HE WAS THE LEADER!
Now, in this congregation I’m lucky to know where all the keys are.
There are certain keys I don’t even have!
In fact, I’m not even the “Pastor” here… I’m the preacher.
Do you know who the pastors are here?
That's right. The Elders are the pastors.
The Elders are the shepherds of the flock.
And the Elders and I work TOGETHER to help lead this congregation.
This church is structured this way for a couple of basic reasons.
1st – the Bible calls Elders “pastors”… because that’s their job.
Peter writes: “To the ELDERS among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be SHEPHERDS (pastors) of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them — not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” I Peter 5:1-3
God never designed the church to be overseen by just one man.
When we look at the Scriptures, It seems to us that the preacher (that’s me) and the Pastors (the Elders) are to jointly oversee the congregation and lead the church.
The 2nd reason we think this sharing of leadership is a good idea is just a matter of practicality.
If I were to be the Pastor and try to run everything in this congregation, it would drive me nuts!
ILLUS: I recently talked with someone from one of these Pastor-ruled congregations who recently asked me if I ever grew tired of the load I had to carry of being the “Pastor” (being responsible for everything that takes place in the church). This woman's husband was a "pastor", and she saw first hand how all the burdens of leadership fell on his shoulders.
I gently explained that, in this church, there are several pastors and we all carry the load together.
So, I guess what I’m trying to say is – you don’t have to pastorize me.
I don’t have a “title” and I don’t need one.
All you need call me is “Jeff.”
Now, getting back to the Romans 12 passage - the word Paul uses here is interesting.
The Greek word for “lead” is “pro-istemi” which means “to stand before” or to “stand in front”. It’s a very simple word. And it’s very basic when you think about it.
The leader “stands out in front”… and leads.
But there are two very different views on what it means to “LEAD”.
One view is that the leader is the one with all the power.
He’s the guy with all the keys to the building.
If you want in the building, you have to go through him.
ILLUS: Years ago, my dad was hired as a USDA meat inspector. They gave him a hard hat and a white coat and a badge and they sent him to places where cattle and pigs were raised and slaughtered for food. Now, dad had been a farmer almost all of his life. He’d slaughtered his own cows and pigs and chickens over the years. And he not only knew the USDA rules… he also had some common sense. He knew the folks he was inspecting were just trying to earn a living and his job was to make sure that they kept the slaughter area clean, that none of the meat was diseased, and that their workers didn’t leave any hair on the meat when it’s sent out the door. Sometimes, if he wasn’t busy, he’d even get his knife out and help cut away pieces from the meat that didn’t belong.