I believe that
– Church leadership should be plural
– Ephesians 5 calls all of us to submit to one another
-Neither of these points undermine the responsibility that there is to lead in church
Some of you will want to say that you agree with those 3 points but also that you are not always sure how that can happen in a church with a paid full time pastor. In some cases that’s because you are used to the pastor being in effect the sole head leader and in other cases like ours you are getting used to having a paid pastor and trying to work out how that fits in with the ethos.
Here’s how I try to follow this here.
1. I think that there is a responsibility within a team to take the lead where your gifts are specifically suited and where you have specific time. In our context this does mean that I take a lead in terms of articulating the vision and mission and putting together the teaching programme. However, both of those things go through consultation and discussion and there are opportunities for contribution. Vision and mission is not about 1 person’ s plan for the church but about together seeing what God is asking us to do. In fact, he has already told us this in Matthew 28 and our role is to work out what it means to be obedient in our context. When it comes to preaching, I aim to have my full sermon notes available early in the week so that others on the preaching team can critique.
2. We have to be clear about what the nature of leadership authority is. For elders I believe that is primarily a teaching authority so that we are all submissive to God’s Word.
3. There are contexts where other leaders must take the lead on things and that means I submit to them. For example, in the context of our mission, the Treasurer leads on finance matters and the Trustees on legal and property matters. Again, if I fulfilled my role as an elder then they will lead in a way that is submissive to Scripture.
4. I seek out ministry opportunities where I am not the lead. Over the past 7 years this has included supporting a variety of midweek ministries including our Community Cafe, children’s and youth work etc. In those contexts I am part of the team and under the instruction of others.
5. We need to keep coming back to the primary point that all of us are under God. Christ is the head of the church. So I have to keep asking “Am I allowing God, through his Word to disagree with me?”