by David Roadcup
As we serve our Father as leaders in the body of Christ, a critical question that we should always be asking is, “What does God want from us as leaders in the body of Christ?” What are our Father’s expectations? How does He want us to lead? This will be a two-part series which will offer a response to this critical question.
After 23 years of coaching and consulting with churches and their leaders, one impacting fact stands out: “As the leaders of a church go, so goes the church.” This is absolutely true. It will always be true. It will never be untrue. Leaders set the example, tone, faith and practice for the believers in the church where they serve. The leaders set the pace.
Using Scripture as our guideline, here is an overview of what the Lord wants from the paid staff, elder team, deacons and other impacting leaders in his church:
First, God wants the leadership team of any church to serve from a healthy and growing spiritual life. We know what creates spiritual health and growth in the life of a Christian:
- Jesus calls all leaders and believers to die to themselves on a daily basis. We kill our will and invite the will of Jesus to direct and guide our lives (Luke 9:23-24.) This is the cornerstone to growing and maturing in our faith-walk. It is the essential element in personal, spiritual maturity. For a church leader to lead without the transforming experience of deciding to die to self, it will surely mean that the leader is leading in the flesh, not leading in the Spirit.
- As a result of dying to ourselves, we learn obedience to all of the Lord’s commands and expectations. We learn to obey, in all things, all the time, in every situation. Obedience is Jesus’ love language! In John 14:15-24, Jesus makes clear to us that obedience is the acid test of our love for him. When studying Scripture, we need to remember that if something is repeated, it’s important. Four times in ten verses in John 14, Jesus tells us this, “If you love Me, keep my commandments.” He is essentially saying, “This is how I really know if you love me or not: if you do the things I ask you to do.” The Lord expects the leaders of His body to continually be growing in obedience in their personal lives. When we experience baptism, the dedication of our lives to Jesus, we give up the right to say “no” to Him in any way.
- Growing leaders know the Lord is calling them to personal spiritual growth. Scripture indicates this repeatedly, for example, in Eph. 4:11-16; Col. 1:28-29; Col. 2:67; Heb. 5:11-6:1; I Pet. 2:1-3. Our growth comes through the regular application of the classic spiritual disciplines. We study and learn the disciplines and begin weaving them into our daily schedules and routines. The spiritual disciplines include reading and study of the Word of God, prayer, meditation, fasting, journaling, service, generosity, solitude and silence, secrecy and others. These ancient practices are the nurturing exercises that bring us into the presence of our Father where He feeds, nurtures and strengthens us as His children. The disciplines can move us to levels of spiritual awareness that we have never experienced before. Further reading on this topic will help you learn the classic disciplines and assist you in weaving them into your life and routine. As you develop them, they will take you to a new level of understanding, growth and maturity as a believer and as an effective leader.
Second, God wants elders and staff to know and understand their job description as indicated in Scripture.
As overseers and leaders, elders are:
- To provide general oversight for the health, care and management of the church in all aspects of her ministry.
- To handle, along with staff, the major decision-making tasks of the congregation.
- To work together in harmony, unity and love.
- Together with staff, to create from Scripture, the Vision, Mission and Values of the congregation. This also means that the congregation is taught and informed about these important concepts. Elders should play a key role in overseeing these navigational aspects in the life of a church. While staff usually leads in the initial creation of these elements, the elders should oversee and participate in the execution of them.
- To develop an effective plan for the recruiting, training and development of new leaders for the future. This is often a neglected part of effective church leadership but it is one of the most important elements in cultivating a good leadership team.
- To provide good oversight when it comes to the collection, depositing, distribution and managing of all the financial aspects of the church.
As Shepherds, elders are:
- To be “heart-deep” in the life of their church. Each elder should be spiritually, emotionally and mentally committed to the believers who make up their congregation.
- To oversee and encourage the evangelism ministry of the church. Are we reaching first time believers on a regular basis?
- To manage the discipling and maturing of the believers committed to our care. We should have a plan in place that reaches out to new believers when they come right from the baptistery. This plan would move them into a system that connects them spiritually and emotionally to the church family. We should also be managing an identifiable plan to involve believers in personal, spiritual growth. We oversee the need for our people to be fed, nurtured and stimulated to grow in their faith journey. On the website, “XPastor,” the elders of Northwest Bible Church in Dallas, Texas attest to the following: “The purpose of our Council of Elders is not meetings but maturing. It is about knowing God and growing in Christlikeness which is the fruit of true spiritual community.”
- To make careful and discerning decisions when it is time to make decisions. We get all of the critical information, immerse the issue in prayer and then decide. Decision making is one of the critical responsibilities of church leaders.
- To protect the doctrinal purity of the church body. False teaching abounds today. Protecting our people from incorrect doctrine is one of the main roles of biblical elders.
- To pray for the sick and anoint them with oil, praying for their healing.
- To oversee any matters involving church discipline. We do this biblically, with great care and discernment, always with the goal of restoring the struggling brother or sister to Christ, if possible.
- To teach in multiple ways. If formal teaching is one of an elder’s gifts, then he would teach in classes, small groups and other opportunities. If we do not possess the gift of teaching formally, we teach by our example, words and influence.
- To give generously and model the giving of our finances as obedient stewards. We must be financially committed to the body of Christ. It is impossible to teach our people to give if we are not leading by example.
When God birthed the Church, he had a structure and a plan for the church to effectively accomplish His intended outcomes. This plan included men who would lead through prayer, obedience, wisdom, discernment and love. He also gave a job description for them. Knowing what the Lord expects and then, with commitment and focus, we accomplish with excellence what He has requested.
Brothers, lead well!