Monday, June 22, 2015

Church Leadership Ills (1Peter 5:1-5)

Peter lays out church leadership in terms that are, frankly, rarely followed these days. Experience in a myriad of churches all around the world shows me that most churches have more problems than they should, usually because these guidelines are not followed.

First, the elders—however that translates in the church polity you follow—are told three things. Shepherd, or watch over the church (1) with love and freely, not because “it is your job” (2) eagerly following God’s will and leadership, not to improve your own condition in any way and (3) as an example of what all members should be like, not as a boss or a CEO.

On this side of things I would have to say I have seen quite a lot of transgression. The employee model of leadership in institutional church just doesn’t encourage Godly leadership. There are good leaders in churches, but they are sadly few in number.

Secondly, Peter tells those who are not elders or leaders a simple rule to follow: submit to your leaders.

In my own church tradition that is a hard trait to find. Where “priesthood of the believer” is oversimplified and married to the model where churches have “hired help” in the pulpit, there is little to no one following the leadership in the church. Except for perhaps the “good-old-boy” network of men who should be spiritual leaders, but who are too busy breaking Peter’s first instructions to find time to be examples of active church doing its job in the world.

To be fair, this is a collection of some of the extreme examples I have seen in my years and locations. However, the sad truth is that the traditional, institutional, cultural church is plagued with these problems and has—as a result—lost its ability to be church in the world the way God wants it to be.

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