“The local church, done right, as a community of people who are seeking Christ, loving His word, and following the Spirit is still the most attractive thing to the world. The world loves a group of people loving each other, sacrificing for each other…it is still an irresistible draw that the Spirit uses. This is the kind of community led by Godly leaders.” Todd Wagner
I don’t know a lot about Todd Wagner, but I like this quote. The Church. Locally, a community of believers. In it together. Growing together. Bearing one another’s burdens. Encouraging. Diverse. Openly welcoming those not in it. Non-believers should be able to look within the church and look how we interact and what we do, and look at how we reach out, and know that the Kingdom has come (though that would never be their terminology). They would simply see something that is different from the way the rest of society works- and it would point to Jesus as the reason. This is what the leaders within the church need to foster. All too often, this is not the case.
There have been movements, such as the Emerging church, the organic church, and those who see church “governmental leadership” as unbiblical, that are a backlash against the local church becoming what it should not be. Hearing what they say is important because they point out some truths to the problems of the institutional local church. Local churches in many ways have simply become corporations, church leadership has in many cases led improperly and so on. Though I do not know all the ins and outs of these movements listed above, I do not believe the answer is to do away with the local church and/or church leadership, but to be sure we are doing church the way that is right. This does start with those who lead.
The base of proper leading is to be a servant. To be humble. To understand the grace that one stands in. We get hung up on calling and anointing so much that it seems that as long as someone is “called” or “anointed” or has a position of status that humility and a servant heart can be left behind. The local church becomes a king(s) and his vassals, simply doing programs that try to achieve results and goals. And the people in the church are simply means to achieve an end, to achieve the vision of the leader. This is not church done right. When this is all the church becomes we leave out the “in it together, growing together, bearing one another’s burdens” aspect. People are viewed in a consumeristic way and are not the individual people that they truly are. Individuals with a story. Individuals who want to grow and be transformed into Christ-likeness. Individuals who want community. Individuals who mostly are happy to serve something bigger than themselves. Individuals who mostly do not mind being admonished when done properly. Individuals who want the church to be what the church is supposed to be. It is the job of leaders to produce this- on the whole in the local church as well as in individual ministries like youth ministry.
Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…”
Yes, I am a pastor. I lead in a local church. I have a vision that a volunteer staff helps me achieve. I even wrote a book on leading a volunteer organization. In the role of a pastor, I do teach, train, and even correct (and not everyone is always happy or thinks I do the right things). But I need to do all this in the right way. With humility. With a servant heart. I need to realize that meeting goals of a vision is not what its all about. It’s about people. People together. Growing together in Godliness. People reaching out as a light to the world. Reaching out in the right way. Loving, serving- doing it as Jesus did. If I do have a gift, it is to serve others. Not to be served or to be recognized. I learn this as I continue to grow in my walk with God. Right relationship with God will bring about right relationship with others- no matter who you are or what gift or call you have. Here’s a side note “test case” for pastors: Most pastors are not willing to be servants, especially servants to greater society in some way or capacity where they are not viewed as a pastor and not called such and are nothing more than a believer among non-believers, because they are so used to being served that they are uncomfortable doing things that seemingly “put them below others”. Their life is a desk and a pulpit and not much more. This is dangerous. Something to think on.
Let’s do church right. Leaders, let’s lead right. The church needs to become the community it needs to be…
*If you’ve never read A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards, I recommend it highly. It’s a classic.