Christian Leadership

What is the definition of a good leader?   A good leader is someone whose followers are doing what they are supposed to be doing.

What then is a good Christian leader?  Based on the above, it must be someone whose followers are doing what Christians are supposed to be doing.

Well, then, what are Christians supposed to do?  The clearest direction which Jesus gave as to what the church should do is stated in the Great Commission:

Go, therefore into all nations and

A close reading of this text indicates that the job of the church is to recruit  (inform and incorporate) and teach.  The tangible measures of whether this is being done are:

  Measure_#1: whether adults are being baptized

  Measure_#2: whether the baptized are doing "...all that I commanded you," (i.e. acts of love for God and for neighbor.)

While this writer has not conducted a formal survey of the designated leaders of the church (mostly the clergy), he cannot escape the impression that many leaders' efforts are going principally into actions which are either direct care-giving actions (principally the clergy), or institutional-maintenance actions (principally the laity). Put differently, the clergy are busy doing rather than leading, and the lay people are busy maintaining the institution, rather than doing acts of love for God and (especially) for neighbor. (In the terms of business, the efforts of the lay people are mostly going into the overhead functions, rather than into the product!)  Furthermore, when one does find acts of love being done for non-church-goers, they may consist of almost any kind of care-giving except a sharing of the faith.

Thus neither of the above two measures of whether we are following the Great Commission is being fulfilled in anything like the appropriate degree. Adults are not being baptized in any significant numbers, the clergy are burning themselves out trying to do by themselves what they should be leading the church as a whole to do, and the lay people are acting like club members or maintenance staff rather than missionaries..

What is needed is a new understanding of the roles of the various members of the church. In particular, the clergy must first of all begin to see themselves as people who get other people involved in action -- that is, they must see themselves to a much greater degree as leaders, rather than doers.

It is well established that witness is one of the most powerful ways to influence people. It is also well known that lay people tend to be most moved by the witness of other lay people. Consequently, a good strategy for clergy to use in gaining adults to baptize is to train one's present lay followers in how they can witness to their faith as they interact with others in the normal course of everyday life.

What, then about measure Number Two? Are the followers doing "...all that I commanded you?" Even if one allows considerable latitude for differences of interpretation, it is hard to believe that an objective observer (who did not make observations on Sunday mornings) could readily tell most of the baptized from the non-baptized on the basis of their observable actions.

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