Leadership in the Church

Today in my Pastoral Ministry class we will be discussing 1 Thess 5:12-13, which is a significant passage on the duties of pastors to congregation and congregation to pastors. Some seek to evade the language of authority in this text, but that is misguided. I think it reveals our discomfort with the idea of authority- which is a problem. Of course, there are examples of abuse of authority, but every good thing God has ordained has been abused somewhere. The way forward is not to reject what God has made but to pursue its proper use.

Greg Beale, in his commentary, speaks to this issue well:

One of the reasons for this predicament is that we too often view church leaders as CEOs of the church “corporation,” whose purpose is to meet our needs.  If the church does not meet our needs in the way we think it should, we find another “church store” to attend.  Another reason for this situation is that the American church has been so permeated with democracy and individualism that these two great American ideals have been taken to an extreme.  Too often churches proclaim that their goal is that every believer become a “minister.”  The implication is that every believer is to be equal with every other believer and that, ideally, there should be no one in an authoritative position over anyone else.  Of course, it is true that everyone in the church is equal in the sense of being in the image of God.  Accordingly, all should grow in their recognition and exercise of the diverse gifts that they have received from God.  But Christians are not equal in the sense that they have functional equality in the church.  Rather, they have different gifts that entail different kinds of functions.  Leadership is among these gifts (Eph 4:11).

We need to be instructed about the important role leaders play in the church and how others who have not been called to be leaders should look upon those in authority over them.[1]


[1] G.K. Beale, 1-2 Thessalonians, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2003), 158-59.


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