Thursday, April 20, 2006

Take Me To Your Leader(s)

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. (Hebrews 13:7)

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. (Hebrews 13:17)

There's something about these verses that should catch us Americans off guard. Instead of speaking of a Christian leader, singular, they speak about Christian leaders, plural.

Churches, whether massive or tiny, are often driven by a singular charismatic personality. Yet the New Testament envisions a Christian community that also has a leadership community. The disciples traveled two by two; Paul journeyed with companions; and Timothy was urged to apoint elders. Jesus seemed to think, and I observe, that the witness of multiple leaders is much stronger and safer than the lone pastor.

You would think that those who live in a representative democracy, with its multiple leaders providing checks and balances, would have an appreciation for a church structure with multiple leaders. Yet in America, as everywhere, the human heart tends to desire one strong leader - whether named king, president, or pastor. It's ultimately the desire for a Savior.

Yet in the church, may we always recognize Jesus as the only Savior - and the leaders, plural, as his representatives.

1 comment:

njcopperhead said...

Perhaps people do not fear a single "leader" because they deny the authority and governing power Christ gives the church. If such minister (or independent church, for that matter) becomes unpalatable, then the easy remedy is to just to find something more to your liking.