What Is Jesus Doing?: Church Leadership in the Family of God


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Recently on LinkedIn, I received an invitation from a Christian Leader who is thought to be at the forefront of leadership today. Among believers, his name would bring instant recognition. This popular author and leader is calling together pastors to instruct them in church leadership techniques and values.

I received my “personal” invitation today. I emphasize “personal” because though it was addressed to me by first name, it was a bulk invitation. But that’s another issue for another time. Simply tuck away the question: Should believers–the people of Truth–give the impression they’re being personal when in reality, they are not at all. Does this flirt with deception? I suspect, but am not certain myself. At the least it is manipulative.

Though I was grateful for the “personal”  invitation, I had to decline. I was invited to share my reason for declining. This is what I wrote:

Jesus led a family, not an organization. The leadership styles and values of an institution are, with few exceptions, polar opposites to those of a Family. Thanks, but I want to continue to learn from Jesus how to model the life of a compassionate father.

Thank you for the invitation anyhow.

Though I know this could come across as “holier-than-thou,” I have to express my genuine concern for the body of Christ and its “leaders”. I’m doing that here and now.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Years ago a campaign was run entitled “What would Jesus do?” WWJD was stamped on everything from bracelets, to pens, to stickers and bibles. The idea was that whenever you considered something you would be reminded to ask the question “What Would Jesus Do?”. I want to go beyond WWJD to WIJD (What Is Jesus Doing?). Is Jesus raising up corporate “leaders” to lead His church or is he raising up spiritual fathers and mothers?

I believe that the focus we all have had on Christian Leadership is not wrong or bad, it is imbalanced. It can be very right if you’re leading an organization to focus on corporate leadership. Fortunately, pastors aren’t called to lead organizations. Pastors and other church leaders are called to a different leadership paradigm. We are to model a life of faithfulness and compassion as “Fathers” in the church. We lead, but in a very different spirit.

The need in the church is not for more “leaders” to grease the church-machine and keep it going. The need of the hour is for spiritual fathers and mothers, who understand nurture and character and will develop the intimate relationships that foster such spiritual formation. It all comes down to how you conceive of the nature and structure of the church–Ecclesiology. Is the church intended to be an organization? Or is the church intended to be a Family of families? 

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Notice: the operative phrase is “intended to be.”

We know that the church in the 21st Century has become an institution–an organization. But is that what Jesus intended it to be? Was the Father birthing into the world the world’s greatest institution, or an extension and elaboration of His own Family? Was Father-God raising up CEO’s or “sons of God” (ladies, you are included in the metaphor of son–Rom. 8.24; 1 Jn. 3.1-3)? The answer to this question will determine how you come down on the whole question of Christian leadership and discipleship. The answer to this question may even free you to discover a new way of relating to your brothers and sisters in Christ (if you have experienced new life in Christ).

This is a crucial and immensely practical point. How you decide either places you inside God’s intended purpose for the body or outside His intended purpose for the body of Christ. I’m not talking here about inside or outside of salvation. Nor am I saying that those working inside the institution are not seeing the blessing of God upon their service. Each person has to be effective where God has placed him or her. I’m saying that God will honor faith in almost any context, but in the purposes that He has for the body of Christ and the world, the real blessing and Kingdom fruit will be along the lines of His intended purpose and plan.

QUESTION: What do you think Father intended? CEO’s or Fathers and mothers?

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2 responses

  1. I am fortunate enough to be a part of a local church who gets family style leadership. But I think the body of Christ is big enough and flexible enough and diverse enough to incorporate a variety of leadership styles. That’s the Holy Spirit at work.

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