Leadership and maturity

What is leadership? What is leadership training?

For too long in the church, we’ve focused on leadership training as learning to do “church” stuff: teach Bible class, lead singing, preach, lead public prayer. Boys growing up being told that they need to do these things to be mature Christians; if they can’t do these well, they haven’t really matured in Christ.

Our understanding of gender roles exacerbates the problem. If these things make up leadership and we teach that women aren’t to do them, then how is a woman supposed to reach maturity in Christ? As one sister said, if you aren’t good at hosting showers or baking casseroles, there doesn’t seem to be much you can do.

We need to:

  • Define ministry as something that happens primarily outside of church “business hours,” outside of the Sunday assembly and Bible classes.
  • Allow people to explore and create their own ministries, rather than forcing them cookie-cutter style into pre-established roles.
  • Emphasize that leadership is service. Really. Seriously. The world will define it as getting up in front and telling others what to do. The church needs to turn that definition on its head.
  • Measure maturity by Christlikeness not public speaking ability.

4 thoughts on “Leadership and maturity

  1. Nick Gill

    In this model, what’s the relationship between leadership and authority?

    The reason I ask is, the encouragement to explore and create one’s own ministry is excellent, but it runs into difficulty when that ministry goes to need more funding than one family can provide.

    Traditionally, elderships expect authority over things that are lines in the budget.

  2. Tim Archer Post author

    I spend a good bit of time in chapter 8 of Church Inside Out talking about gifts and helping members discover/use those (even though I’m now seeing that more in terms of ministries than gifts). I think church leaders need to be willing to let members experiment with new ministries, to try and even fail at new things. There should be accountability, even on things that aren’t line items. But I think it should be done in a spirit of freedom not governance; that is, the elders should expect to only step in where there is malfeasance.

  3. Travis

    There is a HUGE disconnect between leadership and the things you’ve mentioned in the article that we typically spend time on – teaching classes, leading singing, saying prayers, etc. Being proficient at tasks does not make someone a leader. There’s also a HUGE difference in leadership and management. In most churches I know, the elders are managers (many times micromanagers!), not leaders. Leaders build up new leaders. Too many times, elders enjoy their own power (or authority, to use Nick’s word) to allow anyone else the status to challenge them. I’m not in formal church leadership (no title), but I do work with leader development in the corporate world and see the same thing. People fall in love with titles and the authority that goes with it and lose track of the true purpose of the organization and their position. Your bulleted items make good points. Basically, managers say “do what I say” while leaders say “watch, ask, listen, follow and grow.”

  4. Larry Cheek

    I’ll go a step further. I believe that the Elders duties in the early church was the “teaching and guarding the flock from false teachers”, possibility the major emphasis was the latter. We don’t see any needs in the early church for funds to be managed, show us the expenses other than aiding poor Christians. I believe this norm continued until the persecution was ended in approximately 325 A.D. Then men and the government began what we are familiar with, and we all have seen the results that were produced.

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