Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Leadership in church

Few months ago, I met a pastor at a birthday party. As we opened a conversation, he asked me where I go to church to. It surprised him when I said I do not attend any church on a regular basis. He was intrigued to know the reason and I shared a little bit of background (not much, because it's hard to explain everything in few minutes and sometimes I don't even know where to begin!). One of the thing I highlighted was that my skepticism and distaste over the practice of leadership in today's churches. I said, I do not believe I have to submit myself under any earthly spiritual authority.

It didn't strike a chord with him.

He took me to a corner and lectured me for the next 90 minutes or so, explaining the different 'levels' of 'anointing'. Interestingly, he did not use any New Testament Scriptures. Instead, he went to OT, took the example of David, explained to me how God anointed David in 3 different levels (the third one was the kingly anointing).

His point was, pastors are generally at the third level of anointing, so its good to be submissive to them. Because they are like Kings.

Of course, I was looking for a way to escape all throughout this conversation. To be quite honest, I felt very weary to even spend my energy explaining him why I do not necessarily agree with his view. It was also an astonishment to see how people develop doctrines from OT stories.

What are your thoughts on the issue of leadership in church today? Do you think pastors have some special anointing? What about the hierarchy in leadership? Do you believe in the 'calling'? Do you believe in any form of leadership at all? Pls. share your thoughts...

16 comments:

theoldadam said...

I think needs pastors. Someone has to be the gatekeeper and make sure the gospel is kept central.

I don't believe in any special annointing (other than what all Christians have).

They are not on a higher level. They might have more education in the Christian faith, but that's about it.

We have a priesthood of all believers (the Bible says).

It is a matter of vocation.

They choose to have the vocation of Word and Sacrament and I choose to be a photographer.

Does call them? Maybe.

or, as Luther's father told him, .."or the devil".

That sent Luther into a tailspin for a year!

theoldadam said...

'the church' (needs pastors)

what a moroon!

willohroots said...

Pastors are just people, one more part of the body, foot knee, eye, all important.

Aida said...

Bino, pastors are no different than any other believer. The Holy Spirit is the anointing and people don’t have different amounts of his life in them. He’s either there or he’s not. I always find it interesting that pastors are the ones who think they have more of an anointing and are called to rule. That sounds like a bias to me. Why would God put that much authority in a fallible man who can lead people astray when we have his Spirit to lead us?

One of my friend’s made an interesting comment yesterday that confirms that we’ve been fed this lie for so long that we accept it without questioning. Yesterday was my first day back at work and my administrator was introducing one of the other employees who had gotten married over the summer. My friend turned to me and said with awe in her voice, “She married a preacher” as though this man was special because of his job. I just commented, “So I’ve heard.”

I’ve seen pastors who are very immature in their faith and in their behavior I find it difficult to believe that God would entrust the care of more mature believers into the hands of someone who is immature just because he has a title.

Bino M. said...

Steve, willohroots & Aida,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I think we are all in agreement here. I come from a religious background where people stand up on their feet (in reverence) when the priest enters their midst. The priests wear special cloths, ornaments etc. (Just like the Pharisees in Jesus time).

So it was a long journey for me.

Then after leaving eastern orthodoxy, I came to the protestant religion where the priests (or pastors) don't wear special cloths or ornament but always regarded as someone special. They usually put a Rev. at the beginning of their name. So to me, the practice of earthly priesthood is very evident in Catholicism, Greek Orthodoxy or Protestantism.

I see it as a bondage. I am glad I free from a lot of human traditions - including the practice of leadership in modern church.

Aida raised an important question:

Why would God put that much authority in a fallible man who can lead people astray when we have his Spirit to lead us?

Exactly! To me one of the best quality of a leader is to trust the Holy Spirit in each believer.

Bino M. said...

Also, I just wanted to share the same thing what I shared in Face Book to those who responded to the same post there:

I believe, under the New Covenant, we have only one High Priest, our eternal High Priest - Jesus. Bible also says that we (children of God) are a royal priesthood. So we approach God directly, not through any earthly mediators. Also, we have Holy Spirit living in us, which makes us capable of internally driven by Him.

I do not believe in hierarchical leadership, the idea of being submissive to a leader etc.

Being said that, I do believe in the idea of leadership in the body of Christ. It can be various mentors, teachers or pastors etc.

In my mind, a true leader:

-will serve people rather than control or manipulate
-will trust the Holy Spirit in each believer to do the leading and living.
-encourage people to question, challenge and debate various spiritual issues, doctrines etc
-do not force their opinion on others.
-give people freedom to make their own decisions as they are lead by Holy Spirit.
-tolerate diversity.
-promotes transparency and authenticity.
-admits his fleshly imperfection, weakness etc.
-willing to do more listening than preaching.
-will be humble, and have an attitude of a servant of God.
-do not act like they have a special hot line with God.
-believes that God has no partiality.
-encourages total freedom in Christ, teaches freedom from any kind of law.
-will not have an attitude of "I am in charge".
-accepts and loves people as they are, not as they should be.
-will not be a behavior modification therapist, rather point people to their righteous identity in Christ because of what Jesus did.

Ike said...

The character and effectiveness of any church is directly related to the quality of its leadership. That's why the Bible stresses the importance of qualified church leadership and delineates specific standards for evaluating those who would serve in that sacred position. Failure to adhere to those standards has caused many of the problems that churches throughout the world currently face.

That was the problem Timothy faced in Ephesus, so Paul gave him a detailed explanation of the qualifications for elders (1 Tim. 3:1-7).



Christ gives to the church, apostles and prophets, for foundation, Revelation, confirmation, to establish the church with solid doctrine. And then he gives, in our modern times, to the church, evangelists and pastor/teachers for evangelism, win people, edify, build people, exhortation, make sure they maintain their behavior, to equip the church with affective ministry. To build the body. These are the gifted people Christ has given to His church. Now that's God's design.

Bino M. said...

Ike - I agree true (spiritual) leaders are those who are gifted and given by God. The issue is, they so get trapped in maintaining the 'organization' rather than encouraging people to live loved by God. I also think many leaders think that they have a special favor from God that they are somehow above the normal spiritual realm. I could never relate to such leaders. I could never be real with such leaders. I might respect them, I might love them but I will shy away from an authentic relationship with them. Because I feel so inferior when listen to them.

I want real people to lead. I want people who are not afraid to admit that they still live an imperfect world with an imperfect flesh. Real leaders give people freedom. They don't "make sure people maintain their behavior", instead, they would make sure to tell them that God loves them UNconditionally. True leader don't put people under guilt, shame or fear. They preach/teach/talk TRUTH and let the truth set people free.

Ike said...

I hear what you are saying Bino....and I want to remind you that there are many "brother Will's" out there doing this very thing!!!!

centralityofthegospel said...

Steve, right on! The Gospel needs to be kept central

http://centralityofthegospel.wordpress.com/2009/08/09/living-in-the-truth-of-the-gospel/

Living Faith Church Blog said...

Bino,

I'm a pastor and I resonate with the thoughts in this post.

A bit about me:
I ask folks to call me by my first name.(some just can't do it)
I only use "Rev" when signing something official where it seems appropriate.
My "leadership" style is one of empowerment and much of my work is behind the scenes... my congregation functions as well without me as when I'm there.
If I'm doing something that someone else can do, I step aside.
Some of my least favorite people are fellow clergy... I'd probably rather hang out with you and those who have written on this post than go to a ministerial gathering.
I usually dress like the people in the congregation which is generally 'florida casual'.
Going to church is good for me... my congregation ministers to me.

Said another way: http://www.livingfaithcapecoral.com/Sermons/BarriersToGrace.mp3

Anyway... thanks for the post.

Ike said...

George Whitefield believed in preaching and gave his life to it. By this preaching God did a mighty work of salvation on both sides of the Atlantic. Whitefield looked out over the spiritual wasteland of 18th-century Britain and America and cried for a new generation of preachers. He said,

Oh…that we shall see the great Head of the Church once more . . . raise up unto Himself certain young men whom He may use in this glorious employ. And what manner of men will they be? Men mighty in the Scriptures, their lives dominated by a sense of the greatness, the majesty and holiness of God, and their minds and hearts aglow with the great truths of the doctrines of grace. They will be men who have learned what it is to die to self, to human aims and personal ambitions; men who are willing to be ‘fools for Christ’s sake’, who will bear reproach and falsehood, who will labor and suffer, and whose supreme desire will be, not to gain earth’s accolades, but to win the Master’s approbation when they appear before His awesome judgment seat. They will be men who will preach with broken hearts and tear-filled eyes, and upon whose ministries God will grant an extraordinary effusion of the Holy Spirit, and who will witness ‘signs and wonders following’ in the transformation of multitudes of human lives.

Mighty in the Scriptures, aglow with the great truths of the doctrines of grace, dead to self, willing to labor and suffer, indifferent to the accolades of man, broken for sin, and dominated by a sense of the greatness, the majesty, and holiness of God. Whitefield believed that preaching is the heralding of God’s word from that kind of heart. Preaching is not conversation. Preaching is not discussion. Preaching is not casual talk about religious things. Preaching is not simply teaching. Preaching is the heralding of a message permeated by the sense of God’s greatness and majesty and holiness. The topic may be anything under the sun, but it is always brought into the blazing light of God’s greatness and majesty in his word. That was Whitefield’s view.

Rich said...

Bino,

Anything no matter how good it appears, if it competes as an add on or subtraction from moving forward in the growing security of His unconditional love for us, is something that will try and steal the affections of our heart for Him alone.

It is the true and growing knowledge of His love for a person that frees them from trying to be defined by somebody's stupid lables.

If we can add anything to being His chosen delight, then I question if there has been any revelation at all in Whose we R!!

lionwoman said...

That birthday party doesn't sound like it turned out to be much fun. :-(. Remember in the OT Father wanted to lead them personally but they *insisted* on having a king, so he gave them one. Has nothing changed since the resurrection? is the first thing that I'd like to ask that pastor.

I think leadership works much better when it's unofficial, untitled, and humble. I would guess some people really do have the calling to be a paid pastor, because so many Christians are like the Israelites, they want a king and Father gives them one. At the same time he is revealing a better way with eyes to see... may there be many more to come...

LovedMuch.com said...

Maybe I'm just naive, but I'm holding out hope to see and know (and maybe one day even be) the kind of leader described in Wayne J's book we call 'The Jake Story'. This is where John told Jake in essence, a true apostle is basically invisible because he's so aware of and enraptured by the reality of a vibrant and intimate relationship that Father Himself provides for us in Christ, that his only mission is to bring every person he touches closer to that reality. Such an apostle would never define himself as, or proclaim himself to be an apostle, and would never display himself as being 'in authority' over anything or anyone. Why would he want to? I'm cynical about ever seeing such leadership in the context of 'church as we know it' which is powered by pulpits and pursestrings, though we can't always admit it.

Bino M. said...

Great insights, you all!