The complex theories of leadership, government, and church organization that have developed as a “scriptural explanation” attempting to support and justify the traditional and desired systems is sometimes astounding to me. I really have trouble believing that when either Jesus or Paul talked about the church that they ever imagined the denominational structures and corporate entities that we now call church.
Instead, I believe they were typically explaining how the people of God should live and relate to one another and to the world around them. Rather than live according to the spirit of their words, we have attempted to extract rules, orders, and structures of authority from various passages of scripture.
The discussion in the comments of the post More Thoughts on Not Starting a Church explored nuances about leadership at a depth that is more insightful than most discussions I read about leadership in the church.
Some random thoughts as I read through the comment thread…
- The complexity of the structure determines the complexity of organizational leadership that is necessary.
- Organizational leadership does not equal spiritual authority.
- Spiritual gifts and maturity do not equal spiritual authority.
- Organizational leadership may be positional, but relational leadership is not.
- Relational leadership is fluid, mutual, and voluntary and is dependent on and always mindful of Jesus as the Head and Leader.
- In our society, it is difficult to use the term leader without assuming an elevated status.
- It is counter-cultural and counter-intuitive to use influence (maturity, gifts, talents) to serve in a way that empowers others and does not create dependency or position.
- We learn from and are inspired by the example of others. This is one of the ways we are encouraged, edified, and grow.
It may not be possible to develop an across-the-board definition or method of leadership in the church, particularly when we consider the variety in degrees of organizational structure. However, I do believe that is possible to define the fundamental basic values of leadership, power, and authority that we find in Scripture. How those values are worked out within relationships and structures will likely be a topic of continued debate and discussion.
Any further thoughts? What is the bottom line for you?