Church Leadership

An important aspect of our Christian faith is that we are called to live in community, united by a shared purpose and mission. Not just as individual believers in our church, but included in this community is our church leadership, those called to shepherd and guide God's people. Admittedly, submitting to leadership can sometimes be challenging. Especially true because our Western culture places a lot of emphasis on individualism and self-reliance.

To set some context, the area of submission I’m talking about is not one of theological matters or scriptural differences, but more about how things get done. For example, each believer may have their own perspective and preferences on the ways and means to accomplish the work of the church as we pursue the mission of going into the world “to go and make disciples”, as Jesus commanded. Do we gather and meet in homes or large groups where we worship. What should be the nature of these groups (i.e., couples, just men or just women). Should studies be about books of the bible or materials from a well-respected Christian author. All things to be considered and discussed. And each comes with challenges around things such as setting meeting times, available locations to gather, childcare, resourcing/equipping those who teach or facilitate and many more.

And to be clear, there is nothing inherently wrong with having differing opinions from those the Lord has called to lead us. We talk through the challenges, offer suggestions and compromise where we can. Even after careful and prayerful consideration, the truth of the matter is this – not everyone will agree on the best approach, nor will everyone’s needs be fully satisfied. This is when Satan will try to drive a wedge between leadership and the congregation. So, what then? I believe scripture teaches that we should yield and submit to being led by those responsible to shepherd us. When we do this, we will discover the beauty and blessings that come from embracing God’s divine design and and take away Satan's power to kill and destroy. Here’s what I believe scripture teaches us about submission.

When we submit to church leadership, we acknowledge that they are placed in their roles by God Himself. Romans 13:1 reminds us, "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God." Our obedience to church leadership becomes an act of obedience to God, trusting His wisdom and sovereignty in appointing leaders to guide and nurture us.

Church leaders have been given the responsibility to shepherd the flock of God, ensuring spiritual growth, protection, and sound teaching. Ephesians 4:11-12 says, "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:" By submitting to their leadership, we allow God to work through them to provide the spiritual nourishment and guidance we all need.
Submitting to church leadership also involves embracing accountability within the community of believers. Hebrews 13:17 encourages us, "Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation." These leaders are called to watch over our spiritual well-being and guide us in God's truth. Through this mutual accountability, we can grow in our faith and be supported in our journey toward being more Christ-like.

Submission to church leadership promotes unity and harmonious fellowship within the body of Christ. When we humbly submit to the guidance of our leaders, we prioritize the common good over personal preferences. In Philippians 2:3-4, we are reminded, "Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." Through our submission, we foster an environment where love, respect, and mutual edification can flourish. When we grumble about outcomes that do not suit us, we do just the opposite. When we fail to submit, we impede the work of the church.

Submitting to church leadership and their direction is not about blind obedience but a response of faith and trust in who God has appointed to lead us. Through submission, we acknowledge God's authority, trust He will provide, and embrace the accountability and fellowship of the church community. And we’ll be positioned for growth, discipleship, and a deeper experience of God's grace and love.

Let us prayerfully consider how we can support our church leaders, walking in unity and fulfilling our shared mission to make disciples of all those God has put in our path."Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." Amen (1 Cor. 1:10)

Credit: Ron Kelley 

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