“Leadership” seems like a buzz word among Christians these days. Between the newness of the study of “leadership,”[1] and the fact that there is nothing inherently Christian about “leadership,” some Christians express concern that the emphasis on leadership makes churches unknowingly bring secular business theories (by which they mean anti-Christian theories) into the church.

One might also argue that the Bible talks more about “pastors” than “leaders” or “leadership.” In actual fact, however, in most English translations of the Bible, the word “leader” in its various forms occurs many times, whereas the word “pastor” is only found once (Ephesians 4:11).

Yeah… I know. (If you don’t believe me, click here).

In the Bible, the word “leader” occurs many times, whereas the word “pastor” is only found once.

Problems with “Leadership”

Regardless of this inconvenient truth, some ideas of “leadership” probably are anti-Christian. For example, if a “leader”is only concerned with growing an organization (more people, more money) or if leadership equals exercising control over people like Vladimir Putin, then I could see why someone could be concerned about an emphasis on “leadership.” But there is clearly more than one way to lead.

Christian Leadership

Leadership generally (always?) involves power. So when a Christian leads, they must exercise their power following the example of Christ. Given this, many Christians will rightly promote “servant leadership” since Jesus “did not come to be served, but to serve” (Mark 10:45, compare Matthew 20:25). And when you follow his leadership example, you “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility [you] value others above yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).

Pastors as Leaders?

But should pastors be concerned with leadership?

One might think the role of the pastor is simply to “preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2). Indeed, back in the day, many Pentecostals referred to their pastor as “the preacher,” probably even more often than as “the pastor.”

One might also think the primary role of the pastor is caring for the souls of the congregation. Indeed, the Greek word translated “pastor” literally means “shepherd”—it is the exact same Greek word as the “shepherds” that went to see Jesus when he was born. Shepherds do have a responsibility to care.

But shepherds also have a responsibility to lead. After all, it’s impossible to shepherd souls if you aren’t constantly shepherding them (that is, leading them) back to Jesus.

church pews

It’s impossible to shepherd souls if you aren’t leading them back to Jesus.

The Pastor Should Lead Toward…

I’m no leadership guru (of course, by definition “gurus” are not Christian…bwa ha ha), but I know that leadership involved influencing others toward a particular goal. It involves helping people focus on a mission or aim and clarifying a vision of what that aim looks like and why it is better than the current situation. It also involves planning and setting strategy for how to reach that aim, and then carrying out the plan and evaluating if the plan is achieving the desired results.

When it comes to pastoral ministry, let’s suppose—hypothetically speaking—that the mission of the church is found in Jesus’ so-called great commission to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19), or simply to “disciple” people (the word “disciple” in this verse is actually a verb in Greek, not a noun). If this is the case, then surely a pastor should ensure that discipleship is happening among those they pastor. This involves leadership.

Alternatively, let’s suppose—hypothetically speaking—that the mission of the church is summed up in 5 purposes: evangelism, ministry, discipleship, worship, and fellowship (taken from The Purpose Driven Church). If this is the case, then surely a pastor is responsible to ensure that their church is engaged in these activities.

All of this involves leadership. For example, a pastor would need to clarify what it means for Christians to be discipled. This is clarifying the vision. Then the pastor would need to determine why, how, or if that vision isn’t fully a reality, and make plans for how to take the church in the necessary direction—perhaps through teaching, motivating people, training people, making spending decisions, making programming decisions, etc. This is setting a strategy. This is leadership.

But Not Just Pastors

To be clear, the health and mission of the church is not solely the responsibility of the pastor(s) or other paid staff. Churches need many leaders.

Churches need worship leaders who will not only guide people through singing songs, but truly lead others to worship the King of kings. And churches need people in youth and children’s ministry who will not only entertain and teach kids Bible stories, but will also lead children and youth toward experiencing a vital relationship with Jesus.

Pastors Aren’t Just Leaders

Does the Church need Pastors or “Leaders”? The question is not fair—it sets up a false dichotomy. Churches need both.

Pastors are not just leaders. And a good leader, isn’t necessarily a good pastor (let us not forget that!).

At the same time, if churches are to stay faithful to the mission God has given them, they need pastors who will lead.

Dr. Andrew Gabriel
Dr. Gabriel is VP of Academics and a Professor of Theology. He is the author of Simply Spirit-Filled: Experiencing God in the Presence and Power of the Holy Spirit as well as three academic books, including The Lord is the Spirit. Andrew serves on the Theological Study Commission for the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. You can follow him on Facebook or on Twitter.

This article was written for AndrewKGabriel.com. Reposted with permission. View original post >

1 Wikipedia tells me that the first undergraduate program in leadership studies was not established until 1992 and the first doctoral program in 1979.

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