Summary: This message compares the biblical plan for leadership with some of the wrong turns we have taken in the area of church leadership.
Over the years we have managed to lose sight of God’s plan for leadership in the church. In fact we have modeled the leadership structure of the church more after our nation’s government than the Biblical plan. Our leadership strategies have the tendency to look more like corporate America instead of the one’s modeled by Jesus. There should not be any such thing as church government; God has not given any of us the right to govern His church. The church is not a democracy, when we believe that authority rests in the majority vote of the congregation or some governing board we deny Christ’s authority over the church. Over the last century some very distorted leadership models have made their way into the church. The Biblical idea of shepherding has been lost and many sincere church members have been confused in regard to God’s plan for church leadership. We must make a decision, are we going design our lives and churches around the pattern of Jesus or around the best thinking the world has to offer. Today we want to discover, whatever happened to Biblical leadership.
I. An overview of the wrong models adopted in church leadership.
A. The clergy system rather than a community of ministers.
1. The clergy structure is closer to the Old Testament pattern than it is to the New Testament pattern.
a. The temple signified the localized presence of God making the building itself holy.
b. The priesthood was a special class of people chosen to serve God on behalf of the people.
c. The sacrifices were offerings made to God in order to please Him.
2. Jesus instituted a completely new paradigm, no longer would the Spirit’s presence be with us but it would be in us.
3. You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5—NIV)
4. Not only are we the stones that make up God’s building, believers are now a holy priesthood who perform service for the Lord.
B. The governing board rather than elders shepherding.
1. This finds its root in the belief that the church is a democracy and we elect representatives to carry out the business of the church.
2. This style of leadership is often deeply engrained within the local church and it continues to exist because the people have not been shown the correct pattern in Scripture.
3. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. (Colossians 1:18—NIV)
4. The authority for what happens in the church does not rest in the hands of the people but in Jesus Christ.
5. When church leaders following the shepherding style of servant leadership, they reflect the very heart of God and imitate the ways of Jesus.
C. Supervising people’s jobs rather than caring for people’s needs.
1. Leadership does not consist of telling people what to do and how to do it.
2. Leadership must care for people’s needs and see to the fact that their number one need is met, that they are growing in their relationship with Jesus Christ. Leaders do not set policy they lead in service by example.
3. We must approach the issue of leadership on Jesus’ terms, not ours. The concepts and values He shared with His disciples may not be familiar categories of our contemporary management textbooks or our manuals of church administration. The metaphors He chooses may not imply the same patterns of leadership behavior that is familiar in our churches. – David Bennett
4. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:26-28—NIV)
II. An overview of the poor leadership styles adopted by the church.
A. The hired hand style of leading.
1. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. (John 10:12-13—NIV)
2. In ancient Palestine Shepherding was not a part-time, fair weather affair. Shepherding was a 24/7, hands on task.
3. The modern day hireling likes the prestige and visibility that comes with leadership but when it begins to involve long hours, receiving criticism and getting sheep smell all over you, they take off and leave the sheep.
4. Jesus’ sets the opposite example in the fact He does whatever it takes to protect and lead His sheep including laying His life down for them.