Leadership in the Church (3 of 3)
Mark Yarbrough:Welcome to DTS Dialogue - Issues of God in Culture. I'm your host, Mark Yarbrough, Executive Director of Communications at Dallas Theological Seminary, and today our discussion topic is "Leadership in the Church."
Mark:OK, let's move beyond those comments on pitfalls and dangers. Thank you for those comments. Good discussion. A lot of times when we talk about leadership in the church, unfortunately, our thought is just on the pastor. We could list issues of elders and deacons and Sunday school teachers and volunteers and everybody that it takes in terms of leadership. It's not just the pastor, is it?
These issues that we're talking about go far beyond just a person or a pastoral team, regardless of what your church governance is and how it is set up and established. Leadership is more than just a person at a church, isn't it? Sure it is. How can we talk about these traits needing to be carried out at all levels of leadership?
Dr. Aubrey Malphurs:Well, in the 20th century, again, it's rather interesting. Earlier, people looked to the pastor in particular to be the leader. They could more or less act like Moses coming down with the Ten Commandments. "Here's what we're going to do!" And everybody would tend to follow in line. Those days are gone for the church. Today what pastors are discovering is that they have to develop leaders, because a lot of people in their church want to be involved in leadership and in the leadership process. And I think that's wonderful.
When I go out and work with churches, a lot of what we do is strategic envisioning or strategic planning. I always ask them to come up with a strategic leadership team of 25 to 30 people. These are your key leaders in the church, and these are the people that I want to work with. That's the way that leadership works today. You're working along with a team and through a team, and they must have ownership of what you're doing. When they do that, they'll support the direction in which the church is going.
And then you've got other people out there seeing where the leaders are going and it just works beautifully. But you have to understand that it's not about you as a pastor alone. It's about developing and cultivating leadership to go along with you.
I find that this tends to be lacking in our churches. I think a big reason is that a lot of pastors say, "I just don't know how to do this." Again, "I didn't get it in seminary, " or "I've not gotten it along the way, somehow, somewhere."
Dr. Andy Seidel:I think as the church grows, it needs leadership at every level there. You think about the Sunday school leader. We didn't used to think in that way. They just need to be able to organize the Sunday school and everything. But the reality is, without some good leadership at that level, you're going to always be having to beg for volunteers to teach Sunday school classes.
Unless that leader can present a vision for what this ministry is accomplishing in the lives of these children, and how it's impacting them and making a larger contribution. People will then say, "Oh yeah, I'd like to be a part of that." So leadership is required really at just about every level you can talk about in the church.
Mark:It really is. When you talk about casting a vision, I've heard before that it's the age-old recruiting... "We need another Sunday school teacher!" It's almost presented in this context of negativity. "Well, if you, at minimum, can give this much time... We're going to require very little from you..."
As opposed to this issue of saying "You know what? Here's what's needed. We need somebody to help change the life of a seven-year-old." It's a total different perspective of how you lay it out in front of the group. We should be motivated, as believers, for opportunities to serve through leadership roles.
Mark:And to be able to communicate that in our churches, every church that I know of, and the church where I pastor at, it's that same issue of being able to help unite the body to see that. And to realize that it is a corporate responsibility. It is not just the responsibility of one or two.
Aubrey:To do this very practically, the church where I go - which is a large mega church here in Dallas. An excellent church will periodically interview someone on video and then run it during the service: maybe a minute or two of how someone in the church has caught on to this, and is just so excited about what they're doing. They'll interview them and project this. That has a tremendous effect because it's visual, and you hear what's going on.
I just played one last night for my students from my church. It's a guy working with hispanic ministry. He has learned Spanish to become more effective as a leader in this hispanic ministry.
Andy: That was his purpose. How fantastic.
Aubrey:He almost cries, because it's meant so much. It's changed his life. And again, this is not a "professional ministry" type person.
Mark: That is great.
Aubrey: When you look at that, you say, "Gosh, I can do that."
Mark:It is contagious, and that's what we say about one of the marks of a good leader. They are someone that you just see a transformation in their life. And you can't help but have this mirror effect. Then you look back at your own and you say, "Why am I not being transformed in that regard?" Then you should be driven back to that great vertical relationship with the Lord. Where I am on it, and what's going on in my spiritual walk? That's good stuff.
Andy: That's really one of the core principles of leadership: and that is, you lead by example.
Mark: You lead out of who you are.
Andy:You lead out of who you are; you lead by example. Aubrey brought up the passage in Matthew, or you could take the one in Luke 22, same thing, where Jesus said, "Don't lead like the Gentiles do," who are leading basically for themselves. Then he talks about servant leadership. The disciples had a hard time getting that.
By the time you get to First Peter 5, Peter is writing there and he's gotten it, because he goes back to that time with the Lord when he's talking to the elders of the churches. And he says "Don't lord it over those under your charge, but prove yourselves to be examples for your church." So the basic principle of leadership is that you lead by example.
Mark:Good stuff. Let's move on to another question, and this really turns the coin over. Leaders need followers, and by definition if someone is leading, there is someone who is following.
Aubrey: When you turn around and look behind you, there needs to be somebody back there! Because if there isn't...
Aubrey: There's a joke about that.
Mark:What advice could you give or provide for those who are in the position of following servant leaders? And in one sense - I also want to put this caveat on that - that's all of us.
Even the greatest leaders, especially in our Christian context, must also be followers. Let's interact with that one. We may be having someone who's listening right now who says, "Hey, that's great. You've listed off a few roles: pastor, elder, and a deacon, and a Sunday school teacher; and I might not find myself in one of those. Right now, in the position in my life, maybe because of circumstances, I'm not in a position to lead in one of those areas. Right now, at the local level, I need to be in that role of a follower. What words of encouragement would you give to that individual, and that's interact on that topic for a little bit.
Aubrey:I would like to stress the importance again of servanthood and again, that Matthew 20 passage that we keep going back to. Jesus says I came not to be served, but to serve.
And as I'm working out there with churches, I find in every church there's a group of people that are there to be served, and they just don't get it. And when they're not served, they complain. And I would say, please, if anyone in the listening audience, if they would honestly look at themselves and say, "Do I do this sometimes? Do I find myself complaining a lot?"
This is starting to get to me as I work with these churches and I see these folks, and I just want to say, look at Jesus. Look at the purpose why he came. He came not to be served, but to serve.
Yes, we want the church to help us, but if we could take this attitude of "I'm here, and it's nice if I'm helped, but I'm here to help. I'm here to serve as well."
And so, for people who maybe consider themselves more followers at this point than leaders, I would ask them to take a good hard look at themselves and the kinds of things that they say about the church. The kinds of things they say about the leaders of the church, is it positive or is it negative? I'm really getting tired of this. I feel spent sometimes when I come back, and I've been around some of these people in the church.
And so I would plead with those in the radio audience that, if they sense this in themselves, or if they're not sure, to ask a spouse, ask somebody, "How do you perceive me in my view of the church? Am I becoming too fault-finding, too critical? Have I missed what Jesus says about being here to serve, or to be served?"
And he says, look, our attitude is that we're here to serve, and that comes first. Yeah, the church should be serving us to some degree, but we don't start there. I would hope that everyone in the audience would think through that.
Mark: That's great.
Andy:You know leadership and followership, that's a cooperative relationship. And I think what I would say to followers is: engage your leader. Communicate with them, talk with them. Don't be passive, in the sense that his job or her job is to tell me what to do and I do it.
But let them know what's going on. Make suggestions. Engage with them in talking about the whole leadership situation, because hopefully you'll have a leader that will welcome that. And for a leader, I'd say: encourage it, because you will function better if you do that. The ministry will be better if you actually listen to your followers. So followers, engage them.
Mark: And in that regard, see, a follower is involved in leadership in many ways.
Aubrey: A part of leadership is following.
Mark:It is. Well, even in our terms that we've had thus far, we're going to come back around to that issue of servant leadership. I mean a leader in our Christian context of how we're divining it in terms of the biblical teachings of how Christ defined it, lived it, modeled it, is through serving.
I mean, it's this paradox change for us. It is a new way of thinking because we see different patterns in the world, clearly. And so, I think that's great to make that point to someone who is wrestling with that.
I hear your plea, Dr. Malphurs. I appreciate that. You know, of individuals, where is their heart attitude in this, and to realize that they need to be part of that contributing factor, even to those that are leading, in a different way. That's great. Good stuff.
Well, gentlemen, we've talked a little bit about resources. We've talked about the Center for Christian Leadership, and some of the tools that are available. You can go to the main DTS website and go to the Howard G. Hendricks Center for Christian Leadership and find out some of the resources that are there. Not just books and publications, but also of conferences and seminars, continuing education opportunities.
Andy:Right, we do conferences and seminars really throughout the year every year. And our whole purpose is to find those issues that ministry leaders are dealing with and try to provide some input on those, and bring in speakers who are experts on that area.
We just did, a year or so ago, a three-conference series on postmodernism and how the church relates to that, and the whole emerging church issue.
And so we really desire input from pastors to know what they're dealing with, and our whole desire is to serve them and other ministry leaders, and business leaders in ways that we do as well, but particularly ministry leaders with conferences, materials. Any way we can.
Mark:That's great. Dr. Malphurs, where could they contact you. If someone's out there and said, I'd like to talk with him, or we've got an issue at our church, how is the best way for someone to reach you?
Aubrey: Well, again, outside the seminary, I have a ministry called the Malphurs Group, which would be www.malphursgroup.com. And they could email me at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. And I get a number of contacts that way, and if someone needed some help along those lines, that would be one way. The other way would be to buy books. We've written on a lot of different areas, and I think they would find those helpful as well.
Mark: You can those at major book publishers?
Aubrey: Just about anywhere. Amazon is great, because they have just about everything out there.
Mark:Sure, sure. Good deal. Well, gentlemen, I thank you so much for your time today. Dr. Seidel, greatly appreciate your ministry here at the seminary.
Andy: Thanks, Mark.
Mark:Thank you for the time. Dr. Malphurs, greatly appreciate your ministry here at the seminary, and again in the midst of a busy semester, thank you for coming out and taking some time to hit this very important topic.
We'll probably come back around and be able to get more specific on certain events down the road. We're hearing a lot from our listening audience of different topics that they would like, and a lot of them are related to leadership.
Aubrey: We didn't exhaust that area, did we?
Mark: No we did not. Well, let's have a word of prayer, in fact, Aubrey, if you would lead us.
Aubrey:Father, we thank you for the privilege of interacting on such an awesome topic and we know in our hearts that you have addressed this area, you have not left us without content, and we thank you for that. And I want to pray in particular for the listening audience any that might be struggling in this area that they might go away with hope as a result of what they've heard. And if any are struggling deeply that they might look for assistance. And we thank you for those who are servant leaders out there, and what they're doing in the body of Christ. We thank you for them in Jesus name, Amen.
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