How Does Jesus Lead His Church?

Leadership dictionary Who actually leads your church? I had this discussion with a Brother last week at the Pepperdine Bible Lectures. I'd love for you to jump in.

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.

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on ChurchLeaders.com, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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One thought on “How Does Jesus Lead His Church?

  1. Ok, so lets go with mystical. I think Jesus “leads” our church in partnership with its members. If we believe that each of us is a unique creation for purpose in God’s story, then we all have a role to play as his beloved. Organizationally, I believe “elders” should lead by empowering, encouraging and enabling those with a passion for Christ to develop the God-spark inside of them (disciple). Notice I didn’t say controlling, delimiting, or setting boundaries. What I’m talking about is servant-leadership. I believe pastors lead by inspiring, educating, and casting a vision that sets that spark ablaze. Again, serving others. From this vantage, both elders and pastors are working to provide opportunities for Christ to flourish in the body, calling each member to be faithful to, and open to the call of Christ in their lives. When this happens, Christ can lead in many directions, accomplishing whatever is within the power of his community to accomplish. However, if we see leadership as something I (as a minister) do, that tells you what the elders say is ok for you to do, then it leaves very little room for Christ to lead. Just my opinion.