A conversation on church leadership

A older and good man on the GLCC Alumni Forum posted the following in a discussion on church discipline.

"Leadership is influence- nothing more, nothing less."


I felt the need to reply and posted the following:

I'm sorry to be constantly disagreeing, but I just have to.

As always, I could be wrong, but biblical Leadership appears to be servanthood. Nothing more.

The following is a generalization of many of my personal experiences.

If church leaders actually believed this, then they wouldn't try to be so manipulative in trying to get a church to head where they feel it should head. They would be sensitive to listening to the Spirit guide through the priesthood of believers rather than the solo man on top.

Concerning discipline, I don't think the church should secretly discipline people and not involve the body. This is after the individual confrontations. The body needs to be involved. They are the priesthood of believers.

I don't really expect too many to agree with me. My view on church leadership is more radical than my view on Christians and war. Hence, the house churches in Lansing.

We didn't do leadership the way we did because we were small. We intentionally chose to be small because, to me, that was the only way we could practice Biblical community and leadership.


He then replied.

"If church leaders actually believed this, then they wouldn't try to be so manipulative in trying to get a church to head where they feel it should head. They would be sensitive to listening to the Spirit guide through the priesthood of believers rather than the solo man on top."

What makes you believe this is not leadership and/or influence? I respectfully disagree- God does not lead through the sheep (priesthood of believers) telling the shepherd where to go- God leads by directing the shepherd where to lead the sheep- to green pastures, still waters, and even through the dark valley on occasion. Of course manipulation has no place in godly leadership, a lesson too few church leaders have learned.

The Jerusalem church started out as a mega-church, 3,000 on day one. They followed godly leaders- Peter and the other apostles. Problem solving was from the top down- but included the entire congregation, Acts 6. Discipline was meted out through the leader(s)- Acts 5, and the congregation was abundantly aware of it! These are not just random stories, but carefully selected events to teach us how to "do" church.

As I stated many posts above, house churches are able to do things differently than large, mid-size, or even small churches. However, with all due respect, I do not think the very small church is the Biblical model. God intends his churches to grow. With growth come leadership challenges. A very small congregation cannot grow without godly leadership.

God's leaders must be humble servants, of course. That's why they MUST be influnecers- first setting the example and then calling the congregation to follow- that's being a shepherd, that's influence, that's leadership.

"He who thinks he leadeth and hath no one following only taketh a walk." - John Maxwell


In my next reply I didn't mention my extreme dislike of the leadership principles of John Maxwell and posted the following. That's one thought that I haven't wavered on throughout the years. You can go to my reviews on Amazon.com and read what I had to say about a book he wrote. 13 of 38 people found my review helpful. That means 25 of 38 hated my review. I tend to think my review was helpful and Maxwellians have tried to destroy my reputation.

I wanted to write reviews of every book I read. I apparently only made it through three. This was probably five years ago.

I almost want to go through and click "No" on every positive review for the question "Was this review helpful to you?" But I won't. You can feel free to.


Here is the reply:

I wish we could just talk in real life. I hate having discussions like this over the internet. It almost seems unhealthy, but I haven't chosen to give it up because I think I am growing as a result of it.

I'm speaking for myself and not as a representative of the house churches in Lansing. They can absolve themselves from my thoughts.

The small churches in Lansing are growing. They just became two churches. Three years ago, I remember having a church gathering with only me, my wife, and one other person. The growth has been tremendous.

Churches that meet in a house don't meet that way because they don't intend to grow. They meet in a house so they can truly be in community, love one another, and use all their money to be a light to the communities they live in through loving those around them. It is sad to say that a church of fifteen can do more economical help to their community than churches I have been in of 80, 200, and 100 people.

What is the benefit of being larger? Every church I have been in has a core of 20 people who do most of the work. The rest of the people are on the fringe. In a church that meets in a house everyone is included in the core. Everyone is trained to be the best disciple they can be because their is no room for anyone to slack.

To argue that we know the church structure from a few passages in Acts seems to me to be drawing out of the Scriptures something that really isn't there. We get slight glimpses, but not enough to tell us how to structure ourselves. I think that is intentional. I think the structure of the church probably changes to reach the people in the culture they are in.

Many concepts in Scripture that never made sense began to become crystal clear when I began living out my Christian life in a small group of believers that had no desire to become larger but to just be godly. We were blessed by becoming larger and having fresh blood, but that was a result of our faithfulness to God's callings on our lives.

I think it all comes back to the principle in the Christians and war discussion (This is another discussion on the forum - the principle is explained in the following sentences. You really aren't missing anything by not hearing that discussion). We need to see the ideal we are supposed to be and not let anything get in the way of us living out that ideal. If the church is supposed to be loving, then we need to make sure we don't place any barriers in the way of the people being loving.

I agree that a small church can't grow without godly leadership. However, I believe in a morphed Field of Dreams motto, "If you plant a church, they will come." If we don't have a need for new leaders, God won't have a place to bring up new leaders. God has never failed to provide leadership where leadership is needed.

The #1 evangelistic tool of the church is to be the Kingdom of God. If they are a loving community, then they will be the type of place God will want to plug in those who are seeking Him. I truly believe that those who seek, will find. I also believe that many who don't seek can act like Christians, attend church every Sunday, but until they truly seek God they aren't followers of Him.

I would say the early church started out as an accumulation of house churches that would gather together in a larger meeting (Acts 2:26). Whether it was house churches or a megachurch, I don't think either side can be dogmatic about.

I do agree that there will be leaders, but I do not think leaders will have to convince the flock where to go. The Spirit of God, that is in the leader, is already in the flock convincing them where they are to go. The leader doesn't have a more efficient link up to God. Unfortunately, I think that is one idea that was left undone after the Reformation. Luther believed in the priesthood of believers but felt the believers of his time were too uneducated to make it work.

Leaders do play a role, but to believe they are the people who always, or even most of the time, receives God's vision for the church seems wrong. God's vision is laid upon his priesthood, not just the leaders.

I've written enough. I do not mean to offensive if I came across that way.

I hope everyone has a blessed Sunday.


Maybe I try to oversimplify everything. Or maybe I try to make everything too complex. I'm even making a conclusion to this post too complex. Thanks for reading.

Watch out for the potholes.