corporate or political?

September 16, 2004 | 3 Comments

I’ve been thinking for several months about what leadership in a church should look like, and I know I’m certainly not alone. I have Summoned to Lead by Len Sweet on the way, and I’m curious to see what his thoughts are. (I’m open to other recommendations as well, so post a comment if you’ve got one.)

I’ve seen the model of pastor as CEO critiqued in many places (here is a recent example) and I tend to agree with those critiques. On the other hand, I’m not ready to toss the notion of leadership completely out the window as many choose to do. I think there is a scriptural precendent for it. But, if the notion of pastor as CEO has too many shortcomings, what can it look like?

I certainly don’t have the answers yet, but a recent conversation with a friend brought an interesting thought to mind. Perhaps we should look more to political leaders as model to see what we can learn from them. Political leaders are more like church leaders in that they have a consituency of people to lead, rather than a bottom line to accomplish. I recognize there are lots of problems with this as well, beginning with the fact that the word ‘political’ has lots of negatives associated with it. Pastors needn’t become politicians (any moreso than they sadly already are), but perhaps we can learn from the many experiences in leadership that politicians have had.

  • jamie

    I think it goes back to the attacks on “spectator Christianity” too. Christ picked disciples, and he didn’t minister to the crowds the same way he ministered to his twelve. How much time and effort do modern day pastors spend on a select few? I ask because I have no idea having never worked in a church.

  • Gary

    I’d have to say that in my humble opinion, the image of church leadership comes from the most commonly used term – pastor (in otherwords, shepherd). The imitation of political leaders doesn’t work because political leaders are primarily responsible to their constituency, and is forced to please it. A church leader, on the other hand, is responsible to God, and his/her goal is not to make those being ministered to happy, but to lead them in the proper direction. A politician (or a CEO for that matter) isn’t going to be a politician for very long if they don’t tell people what they want to hear. It is the responsibilty of the church leaders to teach the truth, whether or not the people like it or not. In light of that, just a shepherd doesn’t point the sheep in the right direction and tell them to start going that way, but instead leads them in the way the ought to go, the church leader needs to be willing to journey with the people. At least that’s how I see it…

  • Gary,
    I agree with your assessment that in no way can we completely follow a CEO or politician style of leadership. However, since so many are trying to study the CEO style and learn what they can, and I’m suggesting that maybe we can learn more from how politicians lead. The basic form of a politician is to be aware of their needs and represent those needs. In the same way, a pastor must be aware of the needs of the people in order to lead them…