February 19, 2020

Why “Leaders” Are Not the Church’s Greatest Need

In conjunction with today’s post, I encourage you to read the following article by Mark Galli as a complement to what I have to say here. As usual, Mark is spot on.

* * *

The Leadership Cult
Why are we fascinated with the very thing Jesus warned us against?
by Mark Galli, 11/13/2008, Christianity Today

Not a week goes by before another leadership book or three crosses my desk. In a pile of recent church books sitting in front of me sits The Soul of a LeaderThe Leadership Dynamic, and Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership.

A Google search reveals a plethora of leadership groups, organizations, and institutes of every conceivable name. Want to give a kick-start to your nonprofit? Put leadership and institute in the title, and you have automatic prestige. How’s this? “The Galli Institute for Leadership Development.” No university or major institution, desperate for new sources of income, can forgo having its own leadership seminars/classes/degrees. Even Disney has gotten into the act with the Disney Institute — “Highlighting the vision and ideals of Walt Disney, Disney Institute is a recognized leader in experiential training, leadership development. …”

In our culture, leadership has become a “cult” — in the sense of an obsessive or faddish devotion. And Christians have been initiated into it. Besides the books that sit before me, there are many others authored by big-name pastors — or former pastors, since some pastors have managed to parlay their leadership insights into whole careers. Christian colleges are all about “developing future leaders.” And there’s the famous Leadership Network. And Leadership journal. And on it goes.

When Leadership came on to the scene in 1980, not many Christians thought about what it meant to lead an organization. Managing was more the rage. And few people saw the pastor as a leader. Today, it is the rare pastor who does not think of himself first and foremost as a leader who must employ leadership skills to lead his people. Gone are the days when pastors thought of themselves as, well, ministers  those who “attend to the wants and needs of others” (American Heritage Dictionary).

Read the rest of this article here

* * *

Here is a brief overview of a few things I understand about leadership. You who are MBA’s, feel free to correct me or clarify this.

Start with what it is: “Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal” (Northouse). This rather generic contemporary definition sets our understanding of leadership clearly in a corporate context. Leadership as we commonly use it today is a business concept.

  • Leadership is about an individual who is influential.
  • Leadership is about how that individual influences a group of other individuals.
  • Leadership is about bringing about the achievement of common goals.

So then, the goal (or the mission) is the important thing. The group exists for the purpose of carrying out the mission. And it is the leader’s task to influence them so that the mission will be achieved.

We might add various elements to this.

  • Visionary leadership defines the mission, clarifies it, and makes it “real.”
  • Vision-casting leadership promotes the mission and gives direction to it in a way that enthuses and enlists others to participate.
  • Leadership that equips gives people the tools and methods to achieve tasks.

Good leadership involves:

  • Exercising command (speaking and acting authoritatively on behalf of the mission),
  • Strategy (designing and overseeing the plan for implementing the mission),
  • Control (overseeing the implementation of the mission in such a way that risks are reduced),
  • Management (overseeing the proper allocation of resources to achieve the mission),
  • Coaching (guiding and motivating people to do their best in fulfilling the mission),
  • And accountability (holding people responsible and rewarding people for their work on behalf of the mission).

Christians like to talk about “servant” leadership, and that’s well and fine, but our concepts of this are often naive. For leadership in the corporate model may indeed serve others by trying to help them grow and learn and do their best. However, that cannot be divorced from the aspects of authority inherent in commanding, controlling, managing, and holding people accountable. A cynic might say that “Christian” leadership is just the same old “ruling over others,” albeit with a gentler touch and a smile.

Back to our subject. Let me say this clearly: in the context of a business or an organization that is defined by a mission, these are appropriate and salutary principles. Fulfilling the mission (selling the product, providing the service, etc.) is all-important to a business. Leaders in such an organization are responsible to lead, that is, influence others in the organization to fulfill the mission with the utmost effectiveness and efficiency. For the mission itself serves a larger goal — the bottom line. In business that means profits. In non-profit organizations it involves some aspect of bettering the community.

Fine for business, but it is at this very point that we run into a problem when we talk about the church. Why? Because the church is not defined by her mission. Now it is right to say that the church has a mission, that the church is missional, that mission is a central component of what she does. It is not right, however, to define the church as a mission and subsume one’s entire ecclesiology under that rubric.

Buckwheat Harvesters, Bernard

I wrote about one aspect of this a couple of years ago in a piece called, “Is It a Church?” There I argued that an entire generation of people who had been evangelized and discipled in parachurch groups came into the church through the front door of the “church growth” movement and began rearranging the received wisdom and practices of ecclesiology. They came from organizations that had clear, focused missions and leadership that exercised command, control, management, and accountability over the people who worked in the organization so that the mission would be fulfilled. Some of these ministries were formed in the wake of World War II and took an almost military approach to the mission. Others were formed in post-war times when business was booming in the corporate world and great advances were being made in understanding corporate organizational business principles.

As parachurch ministry and the church growth movement matured and morphed into the seeker movement, the church planting movement, and the missional movements of today, one theme has been constant: To be the church means to be about the mission. In that context, what is the greatest need in the church? That’s right, leadership. Because if the church is defined by the Great Commission, then what we need more than anything is leaders who can influence us to fulfill the task.

Those leaders then need to make some decisions about how the church can be most effective and efficient in fulfilling the mission. For many, that means focusing on the “A” people in the church. This is what Steve Jobs did at Apple when the Macintosh was being developed. He summarized the main leadership lessons he learned from that experience in these terms: “You have to be ruthless if you want to build a team of A players. It’s too easy, as a team grows, to put up with a few B players, and they then attract a few more B players, and soon you will even have some C players. The Macintosh experience taught me that A players like to work only with other A players, which means you can’t indulge B players” (Isaacson, p. 181)

You can see the influence of this thinking in someone like Mark Driscoll, who wrote a series of leadership lessons from baseball that he thinks should inform our practice in the church. One of those was called, “Cut Underperforming, Overpaid Veterans.” Here is Driscoll’s counsel:

Every team has older veterans whom the fans love but who can no longer catch or hit a ball. The General Manager has a tough call to make. Do they cut them and let new talent take the field, even though they will lose money and their fans will be unhappy, or do they let them take the field, thereby taking away an opportunity from another player and causing the team to lose? If there were a solely Christian MLB team run by a church, it would have highly paid, broken old veterans and lose every game; but, it would have a small and devoted fan base, along with a well developed theology of suffering to make it all seem spiritual. Teams, organizations, and churches have to cut the underperforming, overpaid veterans who are hurting the team. Even if they remain leaders, they have to be given another position without a salary and go find another job to pay the bills.

This is where “leadership” principles that conform to the corporate model inevitably lead us — to the exact opposite kinds of perspectives and decisions we ought to be making in our congregations.

In contrast, the New Testament (building upon the ancient wisdom of Israel) exhorts us to choose elders who are able, by deep experience with God and life and people, to provide wise counsel, direction, and care to the church. That word “elder” is chosen carefully. It points specifically to those who are older and wiser, not to those who are younger, more energetic, stronger, and more able to “perform.”

But in our culture we value energy and we discount wisdom.

It used to be the task of the wise trainer to tame the wild horse so that it might be guided along prudent paths. In our day we hitch the wild horse to the wagon and hope for an exciting ride.

What if the church is not defined by the mission?

What if it’s about more than that?

What if it’s about God and people first?

What if it’s about Jesus?

What if it’s about love?

What if it’s about planting seeds, and cultivating plants, and watering, and tending, and waiting for the harvest?

What if it’s about worship and prayer and spiritual formation?

What if it’s not just about the mission but about a thousand different vocations that show God’s love to the world through our daily lives and routine work?

What if it’s about building a community of love and service that welcomes and pays most attention to the least of these, the poor, and the outcasts?

What if, instead of Leadership Institutes, God is calling us to offer training in and examples of what Mark Galli calls, “Institute[s] for Sacrificial and Inconspicuous Service?”

If it’s about all that, and more, then our greatest need is not “leadership.” Then our need will be for pastors and congregations immersed in the grace and mercy of God, filled with the Spirit whose fruit is love, marked by the Cross of him who laid down his life for us.

If the mission defines you, by all means put the rookie phenom in the lineup.

I’ll be happy to take tips from the seasoned veteran.

Comments

  1. I think there needs to be a balance between elder wisdom, and youthful energy.

    For youthful energy look at Gideon, Jeremiah, David, the disciples at the start of their ministry, Timothy, plus a host of church leaders throughout history who were in there 20s and 30s when they accomplished much in the way of spiritual renewal.

  2. I would agree, Mike. I’m emphasizing one side of the coin in this post.

  3. Bingo

  4. Amen, Chaplain Mike. I especially appreciated this line: “Then our need will be for pastors and congregations immersed in the grace and mercy of God, filled with the Spirit whose fruit is love, marked by the Cross of him who laid down his life for us.”

    It’s past time that the church stopped behaving as if it was really “Jesus, Inc.” and started being about the love of God and the love of neighbor.

  5. Yeah but…”The Coming Evangelical Collapse”…

  6. Randy Thompson says

    I recently came across the best piece on leadership ever, “19 Lessons on Power and Leadership from Genghis Khan” in Forbes Magazine. (Actually, old Genghis had a lot of good things to say on the subject, in a bloodthirsty sort of way.)

    It seems to me that if you really, really want to be a “leader,” you’re better off looking to Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun, and others like them than to Christ. Our Lord’s leadership almost seems accidental. Genghis Khan’s –a brilliant man, by the way–was definitely not accidental.

    What kind of leader heads to Jerusalem to be crucified? Yet, that’s what he did, and that’s our model.

    • A leader has to choose who can best get the job done. Jesus concluded that he was the only one who could proceed to Jerusalem, be crucified, take the full weight of God’s wrath, and then take up life again after three days. It would have been pointless for him to choose any of his subordinates to do the job.

    • Truth be told, Machiavelli’s The Prince is probably the most honest book on leadership you can ever read.

    • Rotting Zombie says

      Hitler was pretty inspiring too. He was very good at motivating people. Had history gone ever so slightly different, people in the US might be going to seminars on how to rise from nothing to the top of the greasy pole, with him as the speaker.

      He was a fantastic leader – whither he led, is the problem. And there are a few details about his methods that are a bit dubious. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, all got a lot done. But they are not really good models for Christians. For entirely different reasons, neither is Jesus.

  7. David Cornwell says

    The UMC became obsessed with this in my years of being a pastor. Being a strong believer in a connectional system they were already susceptible this emphasis. In near panic over rapid membership loss it grasps at whatever new church growth strategy that comes along, with emphasis on providing the leadership, vision, purpose, etc, etc. that needed to get there. Lot’s of experts made money teaching seminars and writing books. And the odd pastor that found a way turn around a church and get it on a growth trajectory became an instant hero. This was 33 years ago. And from what I can tell, it’s still going on.

    There were many good things I admired about the UMC, and still do. But this can end up being a big turnoff if you are simply interested in serving the people as a pastor. And believe me, this means balance, including the proper kind of problem solving leadership in the local church. But it won’t always result in growth. But the pressure from the top can lead to self doubt, the questioning of one’s calling, and depression. Because more often than not, these turn-around miracles don’t happen.

  8. I wonder if I’m alone in believing that most people who are technically inclined (like me) and/or have artistic gifts (unlike me) tend to suffer something akin to a gran mal seizure whenever MBA-speak rears its ugly head. Everyone hates gobbledy-gook, of course, but those who really, really appreciate the word fitly spoken (artists) or the word that actually means something precise (techies) simply can’t stand it.

    So when I hear this sort of “Leadership” language in church, it not only seems off-key from the broader Christian perspective that Chaplain Mike nicely describes, but IT’S JUST PLAIN BORING.

    Sure, the letter killeth. But the MBA-speak letter killeth and letteth God sort them out afterwords.

    • I can assure you that you aren’t alone. It makes me twitch. It also makes me wonder if I’m stuck in a nightmare where my boss has been hired to replace the pastor.

    • David Cornwell says

      I’m allergic to all that stuff now, and if I get too close I have reactions. So, just hope there’s a bathroom nearby.

  9. Hey Chaplain Mike,

    Nice article. I think the Driscoll illustration is particularly potent.

    This reminds of a study I found sometime ago about how Douglas fir trees live in an intricate connected web. The study showed the young trees having a better chance of survival if connected to the nutrients provided by the old trees through the root system. I always thought this would make for a great sermon illustration.

    http://abject.ca/do-trees-communicate/

  10. Great post. I can’t help thinking of that one scene from my favorite movie…

    “…do whatever it takes, ruin as many people’s lives…so long as you can make a name for yourself as an investigatory journalist…” I mean, successful minister, “no matter how many friends you lose or people you leave dead and bloodied along the way…”

    Even Derek Zoolander can see that the leadership guru emperor has no clothes. If the quote made you think of your “pastor,” you need to quit buying his product and join a church.

  11. In practice, are the differences between the two types of churches you mention (performance/mission/business-leadership-as-church-leadership vs churches driven by your list of ?’s at the end) as obvious as the Driscoll quote suggests? If you asked any of the leaders of the leadership/mission focused churches if they were “about God and people first” or “about Jesus” or “about love” etc. wouldn’t most of them say “yes”?

    • They may say that, but when they participate in practices like the one Driscoll talks about, they betray their commitments in their practices. At least Driscoll is honest enough to say it openly.

  12. I have no problem with leadership in the church.

    Leaders in prayer, who by their life of prayer uphold the congregation and individual saints before God night and day..

    Leaders in memorizing and applying the Scriptures.

    Leaders in worship who reverently and fervently lead the church in the Liturgy.

    Leaders in gracious and loving character.

    Leaders in visiting the sick and shut ins.

    All this other stuff is what Jesus called ‘lording it over one another.’

  13. Martin Romero says

    The part of your article that struck me the most is when you say that “the church is not defined by her mission”.

    I think that the “mission” side of things is really emphasised at my church. Although I wouldn’t say it is a bad thing, I often have the feeling that, perhaps, the “mission” is being made the core around which the congregation turns. And, honestly, I’m not sure what to think about it… This is not easy because I believe this is a good church, with people who supported and nurtured me during the last few years. I have made great friends there and I really love them.

    But what when you, as a Christian, are somehow being defined by the “mission”? That is, according to the church leaders, the Matthew 28 mission. And the “vision” of the church is to plant churches, to form leaders for ministry and to grow in the local congregation, somehow having an impact and reaching the whole city. Once again, I can’t say they’re necessarily bad things… But, still, how do you express in such a focused environment that, perhaps, that’s not all there is to it?

    And what do you do when that basically leaves you feeling kind of inadequate? I’ve always struggled with “definitions” given by others on how you are supposed to act and feel as a Christian… Especially the feeling, because the acting can be very nicely performed, but the feeling is a much tougher act. At times I’ve even kind of rebelled against those definitions. I know and admit that I’m very flawed, my faith can often be very weak and there always are a lot of things in my mind that do not help much… So I wonder if I’m simply being “rebellious”, or if there actually is something valuable behind all this confusion, which I can still not see.

    • Daniel Jepsen says

      Martin, I agree that defining the church by its mission (as opposed to its nature) not only is poor theology, but also will inevitably pervert value. Those things that promote the “mission” are valuable and should be celebrated. And those people who are high performers in terms of that “mission” are valuable and should be celebrated, while those who are not high performers…well, you get the picture. Just as the Pharisees of the first century valued people in terms of their religious performance, so we can be tempted to value people in terms of their mission performance. In either case, we fail at the most important thing: to love.

  14. Jeff Maguire says

    I think we need to remember that the church is an organism, not an organization. The church is the Bride of Christ and Christ is the Bridegroom. It seems that we have succumb to the belief that since the church is an organization, pastors have become CEO’s instead of Shepherds, and associate pastors have become Executive Directors instead of undershepherds. I believe that a return to Acts 2 is definitely in order.

    • Well spoken. I served in a megachurch where the term “leadership” was thrown around far more often than “discipleship”…and never had the prefix “servant” attached to it.

      It is difficult for pastors to grasp CM’s poignant questions…

      What if the church is not defined by the mission?

      What if it’s about more than that?

      What if it’s about God and people first?

      What if it’s about Jesus?

      What if it’s about love?

      What if it’s about planting seeds, and cultivating plants, and watering, and tending, and waiting for the harvest?

      What if it’s about worship and prayer and spiritual formation?

      What if it’s not just about the mission but about a thousand different vocations that show God’s love to the world through our daily lives and routine work?

      What if it’s about building a community of love and service that welcomes and pays most attention to the least of these, the poor, and the outcasts?

      It’s much easier to promote a vision that involves a presentation that is visual and excites…slideshows and property plans and fundraising thermometers and 3D holograms of the building you’re going to build…we consider that visionary leadership, when we see those things.

      It’s more difficult, however, to quantify love as a vision. That’s why our pastors often put projects ahead of people, why we have “church campuses” and “satellites” instead of “parishes”. We need a return to the old parish system, where you had a defined, small community that you loved with intent, purposefully. The pastor/priest knew his flock personally, and cared for them. Honestly, I think for a lot of pastors, that’s just too boring to consider. They wouldn’t think of themselves as successful if they didn’t have the numbers of the larger church down the road. Thus, we have CEO’s, not pastors.

      • Daniel Jepsen says

        Wow, Lee,I couldn’t agree more. Your last paragraph is exactly right. As a pastor, I feel the pull of the more exciting and more concrete goal of “church building” over the less noticeable and less measurable goal of “people loving”. I thank God for people like Chaplain Mike to remind me of what is truly important.

        • Daniel, one church I was on staff at was a rural, fair-sized (200-225 average attendance) church located about 15 miles outside of Athens, GA. Now, Athens has tons of churches to choose from, but there was a real fixation among the leadership that we needed to be doing outreaches to Athens folks, and to college students at UGa. The denominational research showed that if you weren’t drawing from the population within at least that distance, you were probably dying.

          What I found consistently was that when I told Athens residents/UGa students the name of the small community as the church’s location, they felt like it was on the other side of the moon…even though many of the UGa students from Atlanta would drive much greater distances from mama’s house to their “home” church.

          The little UMC I’m a part of now has a pretty clearly defined geographic area that we “cover”. You can locate a good 90% of the attendees between two highways that are approximately 5 miles apart. It’s not the biggest church I’ve ever been a part of (about 120 folks), but I know everyone, and everyone knows me…Sorta one of the defining characteristics of “community”. There is a good balance of generational stability and forward-thinking young adults. Now, this does cause tension at times…which is probably also a mark of community, isn’t it?

          I can appreciate the struggles of pastors who are trying to find the difficult balance of promoting growth with promoting community. I’m reminded of a speech that Robert Kennedy made once, where he was talking about the vast accomplishments of America, and how we had become the “big man on the block”. He said something along the lines of “It is not more bigness that should be our goal. We must attempt, rather, to bring people back to…the warmth of community…”

          How different would our churches look if that was our mission statement!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      It seems that we have succumb to the belief that since the church is an organization, pastors have become CEO’s instead of Shepherds, and associate pastors have become Executive Directors instead of undershepherds.

      Don’t forget downsizing, hostile takeovers, and dagger-and-poison office politics.

      And the anthill mentality — “For This Organization, This Organization, This Organization, Praise Be To This Organization, You Should Have No Other Thought Than How May I Better Serve This Organization…”

  15. Jeff, I totally agree with your post. The business or military model does NOT apply to the church, nor should it. Can you imagine the very thought of only allowing “A” level Christians in any church, a la Apple. (Who would decide whether somoneone was an A, or B, or whatever???)

    “As a Catholic, you might think I placed more emphasis on leardership and authority, but the opposite is true, as all “leaders”, from the newest Deacon to the Pope, have a primary role to serve the people of the Church and help them grow in holiness. They, as all church leaders should be, are the shepards getting dirty, wet, and smelly while trying to guide the flock and bind up the injured lambs……which is done in the pasture, not in a lovely management shed in town!

    • David Cornwell says

      ” the shepards getting dirty, wet, and smelly while trying to guide the flock and bind up the injured lambs…”

      Where you suppose to put your iPad? Manure clogs it up.

    • Right on Pattie. I just cringe when I hear “pastors” make analogies to the business world. Ummm, excuse me, the last time I checked, businesses exist to make money. I THOUGHT the church had a different mission, but I may be wrong about that. It’s hard to tell these days.

  16. I wonder if Driscoll has printed baseball cards with all his staff’s stats on the back?

    Seriously, how does one measure “performance” when it comes to being on a church staff? When I was a campus pastor on staff of somewhat large church, we had to give weekly reports about the number of people attending certain things, etc. I don’t think our “stats” ever measured up to the senior pastor’s expectations.

    Another thing that always struck me as odd was that if you sit down and talk to a group of two dozen or so Christian college students, around 75% of them would say they felt called to “leadership” in some way. Really, how can any group really function with so many leaders? I think many people want to be leaders simply because it gives them an excuse to carry out their own plans rather than simply be part of the group. It’s the American ethos, really. None of us particularly like having someone telling us what to do.

    • All I know is that Mark Discoll ain’t chewing the girly PINK bubblegum that comes with the cards!

      • OK, that’s funny.

        I read Driscoll’s paragraph there as an excellent support for the argument that churches should have no paid positions. That way decisions affecting people’s worth to the community of faith don’t have to be made in consultation with Mammon.

        • I don’t necessarily disagree, but who will do the work that needs to be done? Depending on volunteers can be tricky, which indicates that we (the church/laity) may be to blame for putting leaders in a difficult situation.

          • Rick, that might be an issue, but then you might ask if that work that really needs to be done. Bureaucracy has a way of growing and justifying itself.

            I’m just saying that if paying people means you have to make heartless decisions about the relative worthlessness of older Christians who have years of service, based on the highest priority being the most cost-effective administration of your organization, then paying people may be a stumbling block to having a Christian fellowship.

            Of course, you could still have paid staff, but have a pastor whose LEADERSHIP consists of pointing everyone to Jesus and the example he set of valuing people for something other than what have you done for me lately.

    • You want Church ministry baseball cards with stats….Driscoll’s got it covered! Here are the “stats” he says you need.

      http://theresurgence.com/2010/04/09/get-your-stats-leadership-lessons-from-baseball

      • :facepalm:

        Seriously? When did Driscoll start turning into a parody of Rick Warren?

        Also, I found this particular one pretty funny:

        Number of men on staff who have young children and wives who work outside the home

        First of all, it’s very awkwardly worded – makes it sound as if some men are sending the small children to work in sweatshops. Second, what does that have to do with anything? What’s the optimal number? I suppose “0” in Driscoll’s world…

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Another thing that always struck me as odd was that if you sit down and talk to a group of two dozen or so Christian college students, around 75% of them would say they felt called to “leadership” in some way.

      And the Heresy of Clericalism rears its head yet again. Substiture “Priest/Monk/Nun” or “Pastor/Missionary” for “Leadership” and you’ll see what I mean. Everybody wants to be the super-spiritual Clergy on top giving the orders (in God’s Name, of course) to the second-class Lukewarm Apostate Laity.

      And of course this is justified by claiming “God Hath Called Me To…”, ramping it up to cosmic levels. Who dares rebel against God?

  17. Pastor Don says

    Terrific post again CM.
    You are a blessing to this former A/G pastor. For years I thought and felt so many of the things you write about. I thought I was wrong and odd. In the autumn years of my life you have helped immensely in confirming the real message of Scripture (you and the people at the White Horse Inn) in the heart of this modern-reformation-seeking believer.
    Or as Cherie said in far fewer words, “Bingo!”

  18. This obsession with corporate-style leadership in the church was perfectly parodied in Brant Hansen’s ‘417 Rules of Awesomely Bold Leadership’ at his Kamp Krusty blog. It’s archived on-line if anyone is looking for some hilarious reading.

    http://branthansen.typepad.com/letters_from_kamp_krusty/help_for_visionary_leaders_of_leading_leaders/

  19. There is a story about a retired church leader that had to be taken to church by his friends. At these meetings, he was accustomed to say no more than, “Little children, love one another!” After a time, people tired of always hearing the same words, and asked, Why do you always say this?” “It is the Lord’s command,” was his reply. “And if this alone be done, it is enough!”

    Now to me, it sounds like this guy was beyond his prime and the General Manager should have cut this guy from the team as an under performer.

    I am thankful he did not because this story is about the apostle John in old age.

  20. A. Amos Love says

    Mike

    Much agreement…
    “Why “Leaders” Are Not the Church’s Greatest Need.”

    The Church of God – Already has “ONE” – “Leader” – His name is {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

    Seems Jesus taught His Disciples NOT to be called “Leaders.”
    For you have “ONE” leader – the Christ. Mat 23:10 NASB – And NONE did… 😉

    Mat 23:10-12 NASB – New American Standard Bible
    Do NOT be called leaders; for “ONE” is your Leader, that is, Christ.
    But the greatest among you shall be your servant.
    Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled;
    and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

    Mat 23:10-12 – The Message
    And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them.
    There is only one Life-Leader for you and them—Christ.
    **Do you want to stand out? – Then step down. – Be a servant.**
    If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you.
    But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.

    Jesus instructed **His disciples** NOT to be called **leaders** and NONE did.

    Rom 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ,
    Php 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ,
    Col 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ,
    Tit 1:1 Paul, a servant of God,
    Jas 1:1 James, a servant of God
    2Pe 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant

    **His Disciples** all called themselves **Servants.**
    None called themselves “Leaders.” None? None.
    None called themselves “Servant-Leader.” None.

    If Jesus instructed **His Disciples** NOT to call themselves “leaders”
    and someone calls them self a “leader” or thinks they are a “leader;”

    Are they a “Disciple of Christ?”

    Why isn’t what Jesus said important? 😉

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall **hear MY voice;**
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice – One Leader

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  21. His name is {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

    Is that the original Greek? I’m unfamilliar with the “{{{}}}}” letters…

  22. I recently read a book “the Permanent Revolution”. It basis is chapter 4 of Ephesians. The premise is God calls the church to have apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers. However, we have structured our churches with prinicipally shepherds and teachers, which is wonderful for us to enjoy. But without the apostle in particular we stagnant and lose our focus and ability to bring Jesus to a lost world.

    The apostle (gifted in risk taking ventures into the world) is much like a leader. If they are part of the overall body and functioning of the church can’t this positive. I will agree that if all the call vocations are not functioning then the apostle (or leader) can produce an out of balance church. But I think poisoning the positive aspects of leadership can have a very negative impact on the local church and the greater ministry of the church as a whole.

  23. Who is to blame for the cult? Would-be leaders, or the laity that put them in circumstances that requires such a leadership mindset?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      “You give me money
      You give me fame;
      You give me Power
      In your God’s name;
      I am whatever you want me to be —
      I’m the Cult of Personality!”

      • Spot on!!

      • Brianthedad says

        Love me some Living Colour! Kudos to HUG for pulling in the perfect lyric reference for this discussion.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          I’m a former kid genius and natural-talent speedreader. By the time I was 10, I’d read more than most people do in a lifetime — all that raw data with no clue as to how it all fit together. As a result, most any stimulus will generate a random cascade of references and analogies in my mind. I have little control over the flood.

    • I think it’s both. An example of a secular cult might be the people who clustered round Ayn Rand. They fed her natural tendency to selfishness and self-aggrandizement, and submitted more and more to her control of their worldviews, and the more she browbeat them, the more they submitted and shunned each other if they didn’t.

      But I don’t think it’s that circumstances require the leadership mindset so much as people’s desire to let somebody else take the lead if they will so they don’t have to be responsible. I have been in a church where the pastor absolutely refused to take that on, and it forced the elders and deacons and members to step up.

      • Laura,
        I think that pastor was spot on. Too much of the congregation is working at the role of sheep, and looking to the pastor to be the shepard.

  24. Chris:

    There is some debate whether the office of Apostle still exists as such (under that name). It seems the church reserved that title for those who had been with Christ (with the exception of Paul). Certainly within 200 years the early church had taken some of the duties of an apostle (overseeing churches that were geographically dispersed) and assigned them to the disciples of the apostles (the next generation) and referred to them as bishops.

    In the past 20-30 years there has been a resurgence of the idea and a redefinition of the word Apostle and people like Peter Wagner are arguing that there are now apostles again, of which he is one. If you dig into the ministries of some of this crowd their motivations are not entirely selfless, to my mind.

    • Brianthedad says

      Barnabas was also called an apostle in Acts 14:14. I agree with your observation. In my neck of the woods, there are quite a few congregations who have ‘apostles’. Their names are usually prominently displayed on the church sign and church van, and all church paraphernalia. As apostle.

  25. Absolutely LOVED this article from Mark Galli. Much needed advice for so many churches these days. Thanks for sharing it Mike.

  26. “What if it’s not just about the mission but about a thousand different vocations that show God’s love to the world through our daily lives and routine work?”

    “What if it’s about building a community of love and service that welcomes and pays most attention to the least of these, the poor, and the outcasts?”

    I’m trying to understand this. In our showing God’s love to the world through our various vocations, and serving the least of these, are we not actually being on mission? This is what my understanding of mission has evolved into. So in that sense I would say that the Church could be define by her mission, and yet the real need at the same time is sacrificial love and service by all her members, including the pastor.

    However, If the mission is to increase attendance and program development, then I would agree that this type of mission demands “leadership.”

  27. Wanted to respond to this article earlier but had no time.

    I see that some of my points have already be made (more eloquently) by others.

    1) What is a church?

    Church is
    – defined by its nature
    – an organism
    – the Bride of Christ

    I’d add the definition that the church is the Body of believers. And the church does have a mission (not that this mission should define the church but if the church is not doing its mission then it is failing in some sense). But even if the church were to “fail” in its mission it would still be the church. Just as the Israelites are the Chosen people of God despite all that they have done and will do. But let’s aim to win the race as apostle Paul says and not just service as one escaping through the flames. Note that I have not defined the mission or even said that there is only one mission so please don’t read into it.

    2) Leaders

    Christ is the head. Like A.Amos said, no leaders. But at various times in Israel’s history there has been a co-ordinator if you’d like, e.g. Moses, David, etc etc

    I also like your reply that we should have a balance between elder and younger “leaders” in the church.

    I’d like to add the following points:

    3) Leadership

    – re: Driscoll.

    Firstly, you’ve seem to have read into the article things which aren’t there. i.e. that Driscoll is saying that “younger, more energetic, stronger, and more able to “perform.”” Is better and that underperformers who are “elders who are able, by deep experience with God and life and people, to provide wise counsel, direction, and care to the church”.

    I have to say that this is incongruent with what I know of his sermons and writings.

    Who know who he considers a performer and who an underperformer? Yes he collects stats as pointed out by another commenter (and I agree that you have to be careful what you measure lest your measures become your goals) but I don’t see the stats as stats on a PERSON but on the CONGREGATION, which are two separate things. Stats can be used as an early warning, not necessarily the be all and end all (although I understand that there can be the temptation to allow that to happen).

    Back to the point, you THINK Driscoll is saying A = performer, B or C = underperformer. There is an implicit assumption in your article that B or C would be better suited or equipped for leadership.

    But you see, the problem is definitional, if Driscoll were to agree with you the type of people who are better suited or equipped for leadership then wouldn’t you agree with his article that you quoted?

    I.e. that someone in “leadership” who is not “performing” should make way for someone who is better suited or equipped to handle it? Not all are called to the role of leadership.

    What is so unbiblical about evaluating? We are called the judge. In fact we should judge ourselves too.

    I don’t think you should disagree with evaluating people or asking people who are not performing to step aside so someone else can give it ago. I think your main beef is the basis of evaluation and what constitutes performance.

    I’d like to close this point by saying that there are many ways to evaluate if someone is better suited equipped for leadership. It includes not only his innate abilities (which come from God anyways) to also whether God has called him (those who He calls He enables) and also God’s spiritual enabling.

    And the “leader” doesn’t do everything, even Moses delegated. Even Jesus sent His disciples on “mission” trips before He died.

    I’ll end on a sidebar.

    The problem with blogs is that you don’t know if someone is stating a position or just, in your words, presenting the other side of the coin.

    Yes there are comments but it’s not the same as a discussion where you can probe assumptions, agendas and attitudes.

    And there’s also the problem of context and semantics. Remembering that words are not a perfect medium I communication and that people can ascribe a different meaning to what you wrote than what you intended.

    To sum up: my main point is that I don’t think you should disagree with what Driscoll is proposing (evaluation, replacement) but what basis he is doing it. Even God asked Gideon to evaluate the people….

  28. Rotting Zombie says

    The CC is dominated by the Great Leader. And it ain’t God – He’s not the problem. Comrade Brezhnev….beg pardon, the Holy Father, is.

    That is not quite what Jesus was interested in. The Papacy has ccome to represent everything Jesus rebbuked most harshly and rejeected most clearly.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      And so the Reformation Wars continue, 364 years after the Treaty of Westphalia.

  29. More leadership lessons from Mark Driscoll:

    Cast your vision, and leave a pile of dead bodies in your wake:
    http://joyfulexiles.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/preaching-paul_edits1.mp3