The Role of Leadership in The Church
Who Leads the Church?
The title of a church leader and how they receive that position varies, depending on the denomination.
In the Roman Catholic church, a Pope is in charge. The Pope is the highest position in the Roman Catholic church, followed by a cardinal, archbishop, and then bishop. Any Roman Catholic man may become Pope, but most are chosen from the College of Cardinals. A collection of bishops and officials from all over the world elect a new Pope.
The Protestant Church, which broke from the Roman Catholic Church many years ago, doesn’t always recognize official church leadership and instead considers the Bible the highest authority source. Some Protestant churches have a hierarchy, a formal group of leaders from the local church who organize and oversee services and ceremonies. In these churches, the congregation’s leader may be referred to as a minister, pastor, or deacon.
However, some Protestant churches are non-hierarchical, which means all church members are involved in decisions. In these churches, the leader is often called a pastor, which is a Biblical word that means shepherding. A senior pastor is also used to describe a role within the church organization that prepares, preaches, and teaches worship services.
Similar to the Protestant church, the Baptist church also rejects the idea of a single church leader showing authority or overseeing members. The Baptist church doesn’t have hierarchies, and no leader has authority over the ministry.
Presbyterianism, a division of the Protestant church, typically has two officers chosen through an election. The moderator and stated clerk are in charge of the congregation. The moderator is usually an elder commissioner who takes on a leadership role. The moderator may also be referred to as a pastor. Most decisions in the Presbyterian church are made through committees, which include church staff, elders, and emerging leaders. Church elders are members of the congregation who offer guidance and mentorship, similar to a church leader.
What Does the Bible Say About Leadership in the Church?
The Bible recognizes the importance of leadership but stresses the necessity of serving those you lead. Biblical leadership is about serving others through selflessness and sacrifice. Spiritual leadership is not about authority or power.
The Bible highlights the importance of church leadership development, spiritual formation, and servant leadership through many Christian leaders. For example, in Matthew 20:25-28, Jesus claims that leaders shouldn’t have authority over people but instead lower themselves to be a servant pure of heart and free of pride.
In Proverbs 29:14, the Bible demonstrates the importance of being a spiritual leader who is also fair. Philippians 2:3-4 shows the importance of knowing those you serve and uplifting them through Christian discipleship. Finally, 1 Timothy 1 of the New Testament highlights the importance of faithfulness and perseverance.
A good leader understands the importance of their responsibility as a ministry leader. Also, in the New Testament, Luke 12:48 stresses the importance of Godly leaders understanding their role as an overseer of God’s people. But, most importantly, leadership in the church isn’t always about being a leader. Church leadership is also about being willing to work with the community to achieve the greater good.
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Examples of Leaders in the Bible
Whether you turn to the Old or New Testament, the Bible is full of leadership in the church, including Noah, Abraham, Joseph, and Moses. Each of these important visionary leaders displayed leadership and spiritual growth in different ways.
Noah shows the importance of doing the right thing, even when it’s not an easy choice. Abraham demonstrates the importance of faithfulness in a church leader and follows the word of Jesus Christ without question. Finally, Joseph shows humility, compassion, and mercy during hard times, all important characteristics of church leadership.
Moses shows that even leaders make mistakes and must prioritize the power of teamwork in a church setting. Biblical leaders each demonstrate good character and influential good, all while sharing a spiritual gift with the church ministry they serve. Leadership in the church requires a person to be loyal to God’s word, always willing to answer God’s call, and be a guiding force in the ministry and community.
What Responsibilities Are There in Modern Church Leadership?
Biblical patterns are good starting points for developing church leadership. Modern leadership in the church may require different leadership skills than the Christian leadership of the early church. Modern churches are tasked with new challenges and a priority to promote church growth.
Some responsibilities of modern church leadership may include being:
- Influential: Modern leaders are influential. They promote and encourage actionable good through leadership in the church.
- Believing: Modern leaders have a strong and unwavering belief. They demonstrate a leadership style with congruence between sermons and practices, helping them maintain credibility while honoring and submitting to God’s authority.
- Mentorship: Mentorship is an important trait in today’s church. Church leadership educates, empowers, and encourages others to deepen their faith and promote good.
- Team member: Many denominations in the Christian church consider all members equal, making teamwork a crucial responsibility in church leadership. Modern leaders can collaborate, delegate, and work together to achieve a common good.
- Ethical: Demonstrating an ethical mindset and integrity helps members trust the leadership in the church.
- Forgiving: A modern leader is also forgiving. A leader is fair and exercises the same commitment and community regardless of a person’s wealth, attendance, or status.
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