Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Yes, The Church DOES Need Leaders

There is a meme out in the Christian blog world that decries leadership, arguing that pastors should not understand themselves as leaders.

I strongly disagree. 

Pastors are leaders. 

No, they are not leaders of corporations or government bureaucracies. And, they are not only leaders. But they are leaders. 

Certainly the nature of church leadership is different than leadership in those other contexts. It's should be practiced differently. It often is not practiced differently. That can have tragic consequences.

Pastor means shepherd. The LORD was the shepherd of Israel. Moses shepherded Israel. David shepherded Israel. And, of course, Jesus is our shepherd. Pastor/shepherd is a king word. Pastor/shepherd is a leadership word.

Healthy, courageous, self-differentiated leadership is essential for the healthy life of any group of people - family, school, business and, yes, church. In my view, the question is not leadership vs. non-leadership, Leadership always exists in  every grouping of people.. The issue is the nature of leadership. 

The last thing the church should do is jettison the idea of leadership in defining the role of pastor. That would be a disaster. 

I think one of the main problems in the church, especially in our day, is lack of courageous leadership. The courage to speak the truth in love even when others will not listen. The courage to call people to obey God even when it is not popular. The courage to name what one believes is right even while choosing to love those who disagree. Failing in these things has destructive consequences for the life of the church. These are all failures of leadership.

My vote is we keep the word leadership. Let's work hard to define it well. But let's us make sure those who give leadership in the church know they are leaders, embrace their calling to leadership and lead with love, courage and faithfulness.

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