Is Organic Church Leadership an oxymoron or are there leaders in the Body of Christ today? As the administrator of the website named GodsLeader.com you probably know my answer is affirmative. To those that have left the institutional system and understand they were robbed for many years of their priesthood the word “leader” causes them to break out in hives. I understand the feeling, but I don’t believe the answer is to swing the pendulum to an unbiblical extreme as a reaction to prior abuse.
I think it is important that before we go any further to clarify and give definition to what I believe scripture supports for the word Leader. I believe the statements below in no way usurp the Lord Jesus Christ as the Head and Chief Apostle of His Church.
New Testament Leadership is NOT the same as Institutional Leadership
- A NT leader draws the Body to Christ not to Himself. A NT leader refuses homage and anything that will take the glory away from the Lord Jesus Christ. He teaches the Body to be their own priest before the Lord.
- A NT Leader’s authority is based on his relationship with the Body. The only authentic authority in the Lord’s Church is relational authority. The effects of your gifting are directly proportional to the strength of your relationships. Spiritual Direction is never given as a command but as wisdom and counsel to aid the believer’s growth in Christ.
- A true NT Leader never demands respect based on title, degrees or age. There is no such thing as exercising positional authority among the Lord’s flock. Positional leadership is illegitimate leadership. In simple words, you have no right to lead those whom you have not first loved and cared for. All attempts at positional authority must be questioned and challenged by the Body.
- A NT Leader does not use his fivefold ministry functions as a title. There is no hierarchy among believers. There is a popular saying around organic circles “If you have to tell people what you are you are probably not.” In the Body of Christ as in a family there are fathers and older brothers whom the Lord has raised up for the equipping of the saints.
- A NT Leader NEVER asks for money or support for himself or the work he does. They were called by the Lord; their trust is in Him to provide. The Lord uses His Church to care for them voluntarily as He leads. Any provision by the Body to Organic Church Leadership must be voluntary, and any request for provision that is demanded, required or stipulated is illegitimate before the Lord.
- NT Leader recognizes that He is ministering among the Lord’s portion. A NT leader does not use the pronouns, “my, mine and ours” since the Church belongs the Lord. There is no territorial jurisdiction in the Kingdom of God. NT Leaders enter into a relationship (responsibility for others) by the mutual voluntary consent of both parties and by direction of the Holy Spirit.
- A NT Leader depends on his life (living example) to make room for his gifts. NT Leaders do not need to be seen. Their life is one of suffering and surrender for the good of the Bride of the Lord Jesus Christ. They are also the ambassadors of King Jesus and have no personal agenda in the daily work they do. Real NT leaders are men of honor, humility, transparency who walk in the fear of the Lord. They are easy to be entreated and there is no sign of pride arrogance among them. There is always a plurality of men and women assigned by the Holy Spirit in Organic Church Leadership.
In the Lord Jesus Christ’s time on earth we have the greatest Example of
Organic Church Leadership
The Lord told the twelve to “come follow me” not come and take my classes. Christ himself was their mentor, their older brother and the living example they needed to follow. During the first century the Lord added to His Church those that we to be saved. These disciples did not decide to follow Christ because they were moved by a sermon or like the liturgy in a service. They chose to follow Christ because of the testimony of other Christians.
In essence, someone had discipled them unto salvation. That means that this process did not just happen in a vacuum. Other believers were involved in the life of the Body living the example of the Christ life before the new believers. New believers learned more by observing and participating in the Life of the Body than by sitting down to hear a teaching.
The leadership process existed in the first century but not by position or designation. Organic Church Leadership is not different but totally opposite what we see in the religious system today. Leadership is something that happens naturally (Organic) in the Body. The Love of Christ creates the relationships which form the rails upon which teaching, guiding and equipping can run. Every believer is involved in this process but because of gifting, calling and maturity some more than others.
Are there 5-fold gifts today? Of course, there are! The Church has yet to accomplish the task of becoming Christians “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”
Eph 4:11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ
Here are some questions for prayer and study:
- Is it possible that part of discerning the Body of the Lord Jesus Christ is also to discern those gifts (leaders) the Lord has placed among us?
- Is it possible that submitting to the headship of Christ is also to submit to the Lord’s wisdom coming from a plurality of elders in the Body?
- When a group of brothers with a shepherding gift mark someone as contentious and divisive to the Body Is the Lord still being the Head of His Church?
You must find the answer to these and other questions about leadership on your own. Seek the Lord and ask the Holy Spirit to shed His light on the Lord’s truth concerning these things. Unlike the religious system you can no longer hide behind the line, “this is what my pastor or priest taught me.”
This is what my brother Stephen Crosby says about denying the existence of Leadership;
“Because you may have had a bad church experience with leaders, and now, embrace a philosophy of: “There is no such thing as leadership,” is like trying to deny the laws of aviation just because you were in a plane crash and survived. A plane crash is an aberration. It is a mistake to normalize definitions and expectations based on aberration and dysfunction. Aberrant, dysfunctional, abusive leadership expressions do not negate what is clearly a gift from God, and a basic human reality. You just must find someone who really loves you, whom you can love in return in a family of trust and mutual respect, and leadership will be self-evident.
I may not be an apostle to others, but doubtless, I am to you (1 Cor. 9:2): leadership function defined by familial relationship.
Follow me (emulate me) as I follow the Lord (2 Tes 3:7, 9, Gal 3:1, 1 Cor. 11:1, etc.): leadership influence modeled incarnationally in the sphere of family relationship.
It’s that simple . . . and that costly.”
As one who has been greatly adjusted by the Lord in this area, it is my prayer that the Holy Spirit would find your heart pliable in the Potters hand concerning these things. For your good as the Body of Christ I share these topics with a clear conscience. Today this is where I stand, and I pray that I will not ashamed before the Lord on that Day.
Jose L. Bosque