While the Bible is limited in the number of verses that deal directly with team leadership, the Bible is rich in illustrations and narratives which provide the principles of team leadership. The Apostle Paul demonstrated the principles of team leadership in his missionary journeys and wrote of it in his epistles. Ephesians 4:11-12 reveals his belief in team leadership as he gives advice to the church in Ephesus (Barna 2001). I believe this is foundational to the whole idea to team ministry because in it, Paul points to the gifting of individuals to fulfill the roles of different offices inside the church. Paul writes, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers…” (Eph 4:11).
In this passage, Paul points out that each member is gifted to a different aspect of ministry as well as to different types of leadership. Notice that Paul did not write that God gave all to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers but he used the word “some”. This points to the fact often neglected in church leadership and especially in the small church with one pastor. “There is only one ministry superstar: Jesus Christ” (Barna 2001). Too often, the pastor fails to observe what John Maxwell (2007) refers to as the “Law of the Inner Circle”. This is simply the principle that a leader’s potential is tied to those around him (Maxwell 2007, 127-140).
Whereas, Maxwell (2007) writes of this concept in modern times, Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit pointed out the necessity for team leadership in the church. Each of the offices mentioned by Paul was gifted in different ways to carry out the Great Commission. Paul also elaborated on this concept in his writings to the Corinthian church about the spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12:12-26) and used the human body to illustrate his point. In modern times, surgeons are able to graft the big toe to the hand to replace a missing thumb but the grafted toe is neither as effective nor efficient as the missing member. This is true in the church even today. A member not suited to a task cannot effectively take the place of a member whose aptitudes lie in the area of ministry being addressed.
In conclusion, Paul exhibited his belief in this principle of team leadership as one examines the team he built to go with him on his missionary journey. It is a diverse group of early believers ranging from Barnabas to Luke. Each of Paul’s companions were gifted in different gifts, skills, talents, and aptitudes. In this way, by surrounding himself with an elite team for each mission, the Gospel was spread to all ends of the Roman Empire. This type of vision for leadership is needed now in the church to carry the Gospel to all ends of the earth.
- George Barna, The Power Of Team Leadership: Finding Strength in Shared Responsibility (Colorado Springs, CO: Water Brook Press, 2001), 31-35.
- John Maxwell, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You, rev. ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2007), 127-40.
You might also consider the book: Developing Leadership Teams in the Bivocational Church (Bloomington, IN: CrossBooks, 2010).