We have a leadership crisis in Christianity today. I don’t want to get too specific in this theme introducing post but instead will open it up for discussion. Do you believe we have a leadership crisis? How does our autonomy help or hurt this? How do our leadership structures help or hinder leadership development that isn’t hitched to corporate business mentality? What resources have you found helpful on helping develop spiritually minded Christian leaders? What do you think we can do to fix this? Last, what are we doing right?

3 Responses

  1. Yes, we DO have a crisis in leadership, and one that has been long in the making. A few years ago, ACU’s annual “Salary survey” showed some interesting developments. In the list of “jobs'” I found 16 different types of “minister.” Each of these “specialists” are seen as more important, better educated (therefore more spiritual?) than elders.

    Where it is the elders’ responsibility to lead the spiritual well-being of the congregations, it is farmed out to the specialist. Their influence leads congregations astray.The influence of “The Minister” is felt far more than that of the elders.

    “Ministers” see themselves often as “equal” in leadership to elders, rather than, as the rest of the congregation, in submission to and lead by the elders.

    But what when “The Minister” leaves? Who fills the gap? Elders may have been robbed of their rightful, biblical role of leadership by the one who left. How do we repair that?

    What amazes me is that “we” are moving more and more to the “Pastor” idea of the role of “The Minister.” I would love to share some congregational responses with you which were received in a ‘survey’ as to whether to hire a minister or not.
    1. There should be better consistency and continuity among the weeks. Also, those who are just coming into the church need a single person to go to for spiritual help. The preacher can then either guide them to the most appropriate elder to help or help them themselves as they are able.
    2. There is a need for a full-time representative of the Muscatine C. of C., someone who councils, encourages, teacher, and evangelizes full time, someone who will be at the building or a call away for any congregational need.
    3. Have had some folks ask-do you have a preacher yet? I feel we need a preacher to lead us especially in this time of coming religious discrimination.
    4. One who is very knowledgeable and understanding, and must be people oriented, and a good problem solver who can actually help those of us in spiritual needs.

    And I have more…

    A better response was, “Praying this is not a money issue; for consistency of lessons; for knowledge to grow. For Godly example; for shepherds who can lead through the Word; for confident men of their salvation; that God would direct the elders to lead those of us who follow the wisdom of our elders unto salvation; truth and unity…” And no, I did not write that!

    What worries me is not only what the ideas are about the “why” of a minister, but also the view people have of our elders (we had 6 at that time; the youngest one passed away shortly after this survey).

    Does our autonomy help or hinder? Yes. But I would rather maintain the autonomy, than give that up for a General Body of Authority!

    There is a group, dedicated to the idea of Biblical Eldership. They have a website, http://www.biblicaleldership.com, and one of their basic publications is “Biblical Eldership: An Urgent Call to”

    They have some good materials which can help all of us rethink what eldership should be like. Not that I agree with all their conclusions, but they sure do have a handle on eldership! Maybe we can learn some things from them?

  2. Our autonomy leaves us with many leaders over individual flocks but few leaders who can hold us together as a denomination (we are a denomination, accept it). The result is a fellowship that ranges from congregations with IM and women in leadership to congregations with no full time paid preacher and no age-separated classes. The ones on the left see the ones on the right as provincial cousins and the ones on the right see the ones on the left as apostates who are eternally lost.

    As for Rudy’s elder/preacher division, the preacher is often the only one in the congregation with any formal religious training, although that might be a two year preacher school. Is it better to have a leader with some knowledge of Greek and Hebrew and the writings of the early church fathers or a leader who leads based on “that is how we have always done it?”

  3. Our autonomy allows for the divide as you described it. We may not all like it, but that is one of the results of autonomy. It’s like politics: You may not like people burning the flag, but since it has been deemed as “freedom of expression…” you have no choice.
    As far as “educated” ministers is concerned, Paul was pretty much the only theologically trained of the apostles. And with all his training, it took a special face-to-face with Jesus to help him open his eyes!
    And when I look at the places where changes are taking place like those you mentioned, I see a number of those lead by our “educated” brethren – no matter how questionable their decision making style is.
    I AM educated, and proud of it. I have worked as a “native” missionary for 20 years, and spent the last 20 years as a teaching member of the local congregation, both adults and teens, three times a week.
    Some of the facts that I have witnessed over these years:
    A minister, being educated at ACU, changed his mind on the necessity of baptism, and decided that one was saved through professing faith in Christ. And, since faith appeared more than baptism…
    The growth in the congregation did NOT come from efforts of full time ministers, but members, time and again. A ladies’ class, taught by ladies, and has been going for decades, has brought more new members than any of the 5 ministers this congregation has had during that same length of time.
    Other members who bring friends, relatives – and teach them! cause more growth than any preaching has brought.
    This trend continued over a three year period where there was NO hired minister, and the preaching was shared among five of the members (three elders, three “regulars).”
    Now, with almost 2 years with another full time preacher, it has not changed. What has re-appeared, are questions about faith, baptism, inspiration and such… They are discussed in a (much calmer) atmosphere of respect… But discussed, they are – again,

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