Leadership: Two tensions to reconcile

  1. The church leaders are always right.
  2. The church leaders are just people; their opinions are just opinions.
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If you’ve been in the church more than a little while, you’ve encountered people endorsing both of these positions.

You’ve heard the overly self-confident pastor claim that he should have the unquestioned authority to lead as a man or woman of God.

You’ve heard a lay person complain that the pastor should listen to the people because the people know best what their spiritual needs are.

Business models of ministry might attempt to capitalize on either of these extremes. A strong CEO style leader might take hold of the organization and make it their’s to run as they see fit, or democratic organizations listen to the polls of the people to see what people most want to in a consumeristic manner, the leaders can build something that everyone will like.

The family model of ministry stands in the tension of these statements. The leader in a family model is an older brother or sister who carefully listens to their siblings needs. (Not as much the wants, but occasionally those too.)  As the leaders know that needs of the congregation, the family model opens the door for the leaders to act accordingly and with great care. Sometimes this means telling people “you can’t get what you want. It’s not good for the family.” Sometimes it means providing people with great gifts, even before they’ve asked for them.

It makes no sense for a church to hire someone for $60-70K per year and then ask them to do their bidding. If that’s the inclination of the church, they should hire a busboy instead. Someone to clean up their messes after they’ve consumed what they want. The family model of ministry is about identifying someone that you feel is wise, strong in faith, and able to see that you need and help you to find a path to get what you need.

Help your leader to help you. Prove them wise when they act wisely.

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