Theologically, Jesus leads the Church–unquestionably. I hope we all agree on that. What I mean here is, how does Jesus in fact lead your local congregation? Through whom? How? This is a much different question than, "Who's in Charge?" and a much better one. We need to know how Jesus does leadership in our church, so we can listen for His voice and submit to His leading.
Some will say, "the Elders." This may be the case. In most churches, they have buck-stop authority. However, that's not leadership. That's control.
Some will say, "the Pastor/Preacher/Minister." This too may be the case. They have the microphone and are the face of the place. That, too, isn't leadership. That's visibility. A microphone does not a leader make.
I would suggest the leader(s) of your congregation are simply the ones people follow. Christian leadership is a spiritual gift (Romans 12:8) and influence granted by God for the carrying out of His Mission. This may be the Elders. It may be the Preacher. It may be someone else–though it's often one of the two aforementioned parties. It's important for us to realize that leadership is not "being in charge," a role, or a title on a business card. Leadership is leadership. It can be cultivated to some extent, but it is also gifted.
No matter how much we believe a particular role should lead–if the person isn't gifted and able to lead…they won't. Why? It is Christ who leads the church through those He chooses and how He chooses. Many who share my Restorationist heritage may quarrel with such a "mystical" approach to leadership–largely because it suggests that some of those in leadership today may be LINOs (leaders in name only). However, I believe we sense this…and it's time for us to own it, and figure out how to overcome it. Our calling and mission demand it.
Question: Do you believe God chooses leaders, leaders are grown, or leadership comes with the role? Or, all/some of the above? I'm casting my lot with the first two of the three.
Tomorrow's post…leadership is a treasure…not a threat.