The New Testament teaches that there are multiple callings to ministry and that all of them are needed for a healthy church (see Romans 12:3-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:4-11). Though God calls all Christians to serve Him in a general sense as followers of Christ (Ephesians 4:1-7), God also calls some believers to a deeper level of service to the church (Mark 3:14-19). Those people who have been called to a deeper level of service should be working together as a team to make sure all the ministries of the church are accomplished effectively. The objective for each team member should be a healthy church that glorifies God. This can only be achieved as a team of people respond to a call to various forms of leadership.
Different churches use various methods to help people discover their different callings in the church. Some churches have very detailed systems to identify and set apart such individuals. Other churches follow less structured methods. Some churches place a greater emphasis on having ordained leaders while other churches are comfortable with leaders who are not ordained.
Different churches use different terms for the people who respond to God’s call. Common terms include: elders, pastors, preachers, messengers of the Word, deacons, bishops, overseers, evangelists and apostles. Alexander Strauch, a noted authority on the subject of biblical leadership writes, “whatever terminology you choose to describe local church leaders will have advantages and disadvantages. In the end, every local church is responsible to teach its people the meaning of the terms it uses to describe its spiritual leaders.” Whatever the methods of identifying the individuals who are called to deeper levels of services and whatever titles are given to them is less important than the fact that there should be a plurality of individuals who are working together as teams to lead churches.
Unfortunately, in many churches today, the pastor is seen as the sole leader. While the pastor is important to the overall direction of the church, if the pastor is the only leader, the church will be limited by the pastor’s time, skills and spiritual gifts. But when the pastor is able to gather a team together, then the number of spiritual gifts, natural talents and time available for ministry all grows significantly. Pastors who find themselves as the single leader in a church should devote significant time to raising up additional leaders. Is your church led by a team? If not, what are you doing to help develop a team leadership mentality?
The above comments are an excerpt from the book, Developing Leadership Teams in the Bivocational Church, which can be found on Amazon.com as well as a number of other online retailers and select Christian bookstores.