Standards for Church Leadership
An Amazing Mystery
God’s Word holds high and holy standards for Christ’s Church, pictured as the Bride of Christ in Ephesians 5.21-33. Christ is in the process of sanctifying or perfecting us through His Word and through the ministry of His indwelling Holy Spirit. Because God is holy, He commands us in I Peter 1:15-16 and Hebrews 12:14 to be holy, even as He is holy. These are standards for the entire church; but for the church to adopt them, they must be modeled by the church leadership.
A Holy Aspiration
Church leaders, such as pastors, elders and deacons, as well as others in teaching or administrative responsibilities, are called to set examples of spiritual maturity by modeling Christ to the rest of the church. As goes the church leadership, so goes the congregation.
As choosing justices for the Supreme Court is one of the most crucial responsibilities of a president and for the senate which confirms those nominations; so choosing pastors, elders and deacons, are the most important decisions a church makes.
We live in a loose, immoral age, just as the Apostle Paul did two thousand years ago. In such an age church leaders are called to hold high God’s moral standards. The most complete listing of these standards are found in I Timothy 3 and Titus 1. Those who flagrantly ignore those standards disqualify themselves as leaders.
Note the moral standards for leadership in these passages. The first is a blameless, irreproachable reputation, since salvation. We must not judge ones life before his salvation. If that were the case, the Apostle Paul would not have qualified for even the most menial job in the church. A church leader must be spiritually mature, blameless of lust, pride, laziness, a love for money and material things. He must not have an attitude problem, such as an argumentative, pugnacious spirit.
Pastor and Elders must remember that leadership is not a matter of lording it over the congregation. If there is anything the church does not need it is church bosses. Rather our leadership is exercised over the people by our example as the following passages teach us. I Peter 5:1-4, Hebrews 13:7 and I Timothy 4:12.
Another qualification for a church leader is that he must be morally pure, a one-woman man; whether single or married.
If he is still single, but courting a woman with plans to marry her; if I were on a pulpit committee, I think I would wait for him to be married before I would consider him as a pastoral candidate. He has enough to consider at the present time, without adding the burdens and responsibilities of a pastor.
If he has been divorced, I would be willing to examine the circumstances carefully and prayerfully; however, I would probably reject him as a candidate for pastor. There are other areas of ministry where he might be qualified to serve.
Having no children does not disqualify him, but if he has children, they must be under control and a Christian example to others.
He must have a good reputation in the community regarding his financial matters. If a man cannot keep his own personal and family finances under control, he is unfit to deal with these matters in the church. In short, he must live a disciplined life. There is no place in Christian leadership for one whose life is in constant chaos.
Church leaders, including pastors, elders and deacons, are basically servants of the church. The Greek word for deacon means servant. They are to have servant hearts and exemplify this beautiful trait to the entire congregation. When it comes to hospitality, these servants are to show hospitality, not only to their family and friends, but also to strangers and those who are not able to reciprocate, nor strengthen the churches finances.
In addition to servanthood, pastors and elders must possess the gift and ability to teach and preach the Word clearly and practically to people. In fact, that’s the only functional qualification required of pastors and elders beyond that of servant. We best exercise this gift of teaching when we understand we are not teaching the Bible to people. That is, we are not pouring our pitchers of Bible knowledge into the heads of our class or congregation. Rather, we are teaching people Biblical truth for their lives. SELAH! But regardless of his Biblical knowledge and ability to preach; his moral qualifications must be considered first. If a man is unfit morally, he is not qualified to pastor a church.
To teach people God’s Word, we need to know the people we are teaching. We need to connect with them, whether they are children or teens or adults. Understand also that the Holy Spirit is the true teacher. We work with Him as we help people understand God’s Word. Each of us as teachers must spend much time in prayer as we seek what needs to be emphasized in our teaching.
The Congregation’s Responsibility
The congregation’s responsibility, shown in Hebrews 13:7 and 17, is to submit themselves to the church leadership as the leadership evidences submission to God’s Word and to the control of the Holy Spirit.
The Church’s Ever-Present Enemy
The church’s ever-present enemy, Satan, is always at work seeking to destroy the work; but Jesus said in Matthew 16:18 that Satan cannot keep Christ’s Church from moving forward. Satan’s method is to undermine the integrity and reputation of church leaders. If he accomplishes that, he hinders the progress of the church. When you pray for the integrity and reputation of your church leaders, you are praying for protection and spiritual prosperity of your church.
II Chronicles 16:22 warns us to never be a part of “touching the Lord’s anointed”. That is, don’t gossip about and slander your church leadership. Such sin has drastic consequences. God shows his fury towards those who are guilty of such sin in a story found in Numbers 16 of three ring leaders in an uprising against Moses. Read the dreadful story of Korah, Dathan and Abiram who challenged Moses’ leadership and of how the earth opened up and swallowed these three men with their families, including everything they owned. God’s judgment still falls on those who attempt to oppose God’s faithful servants.
How Can We Protect Ourselves From Such Sin?
We all have our ideas and opinions as to how the church could be improved. Let us be quick to listen to one another and slow to throw cold water on new ideas, even from visitors and from the newest of church members.
Let us test sermons, ideas and proposals by the plumb line of God’s Word.
Let us ask God to give us a humble attitude towards one another, “in honor preferring one another”. Romans 12:10 We are warned in Proverbs 13:10 that “only by pride comes contention.” If you tend to have an unbending, argumentative, contentious spirit and you find problems in the church; no doubt, the problem is with you.
Beware of having a stubborn, closed mind that refuses to consider anything new. That sometimes comes with old age, but it ought not to be.
Remember, church is not just about going to Sunday School, singing, preaching and listening to sermons, praying and enjoying fellowship suppers. Church is also about listening with an open mind and considering the ideas of others. If Christ rules in a church, and we are committed to the supremacy of Scripture, people with differing opinions and ways of doing things can work well together in love and harmony.
If I were seeking a church, there are only three factors I would consider.
1. Is that church faithfully proclaiming God’s Word?
2. Can I trust and respect the church leadership?
3. Are there needs in that church and are there opportunities for me to be actively involved, fulfilling my God-given gifts to help meet those needs?
If your heart is right with God, your attitude will be right and God will open doors of opportunity for you to use your gifts for His glory and make you a blessing to others.
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.