When a church goes corporate (part 3)

Because a corporation is driven by efficiency an efficient form of leadership is needed. A chief operating officer (CEO) with a clear, top-down chain-of-command provides the needed efficiency. The CEO, with an eye toward meeting customer and shareholder needs, provides direction and sets goals for the company. From these goals and direction all departments and employees derive their goals.

When a new CEO is appointed from outside that corporation he/she often brings with them their own key staff and a shuffle occurs in the organization. One of the maladies inherent with the CEO model is the CEO’s tendency to hire leaders like him/herself. The CEO becomes the standard of leadership. Those with a variant style of leadership aren’t considered qualified to lead, so the hunt goes outside the organization for “more qualified” employees (i.e., those with a similar leadership style to the CEO).

Jesus Christ is the Head of the church. His headship creates a leveling of leadership within the church family. With relationships as the means to the church’s purpose, pastors, elders, staff and all members are called to serve the church family. Church leadership is servant leadership. The byword is “submit to one another.” The relational focus of the church demands teamwork (shared leadership) and high levels of accountability to each other.

Teamwork is definitely not the most efficient means of leadership! But in the church we are not seeking efficiencies, but relationships and Christlikeness. Team leadership enables us to engage and leverage the values and skills of relationship-building like no other leadership approach. Jesus Christ is the Head of the church. A CEO in the church vies for that headship that only belongs to Christ. The New Testament presents a team model for leadership (a plurality of elders: Acts 14:23; Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:5; 1 Peter 5:1-4). Because a variety of leadership styles are represented on the team, the team recognizes great value in equipping leaders with various styles.

Also, our American custom of hiring professional pastors and staff must subject itself to the leadership model of the New Testament and not the other way around. What I mean is that all pastors must meet the qualifications of an elder whether serving as an elder or not. The elders are to have oversight of the church with all other pastors and staff in submission to them. Some churches have a senior pastor to whom the elders report. Biblically, there’s strong evidence that such a senior pastor is usurping Christ’s headship!

©2009 Rob Fischer