Thursday, April 10, 2008

Redefining leadership

Barry Maxwell has been comparing present-day leadership ideas with the New Testament and is uncomfortable with the idea of pastoral leadership as currently defined:
I discount "Google stats," but I thought a quick survey might help the cause. A search (as of writing) for "leadership conference church" revealed 700,000 related sites. A search for "pastors conference church" revealed 229,000 related sites. And I'm sure the advertising for leadership conferences was directed mainly at pastors. The larger church culture has (unwittingly?) shifted its emphasis from the pasture to the boardroom. Now the church no longer needs pastors, but leaders. Not shepherds, but executives.

I don't think this is merely a matter of semantics. Some might say that "leaders" are simply the new "pastors." It's a distinction without a difference in the name of cultural relevance. But any drift from biblical language is a slippery slope. For instance, "life partner" is the new "spouse." "Issues" is the new "sin." Redefining biblical words leads to redefining biblical categories. Redefining biblical categories leads to redefining the biblical community.

There is something qualitatively different about pastoring than leadership. And we do well to redefine the redefinition of the office.
You might well benefit from reading Barry's whole article. I don't remember now who first pointed me to this post, but I'm grateful nevertheless.


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