By Juan R. Sanchez
We were a small, rural, friendly congregation. It was my first pastorate, and it was my first members meeting.
I had never led a members meeting before, so I was curious as to how it would unfold. Thankfully, in a room of less than 50 members who knew and loved one another, it was a pleasant time together.
But after our meeting, I realized there was a glaring problem.
The meeting lasted well over two hours. There is nothing inherently wrong with that, except there was no reason for it.
As the meeting unfolded, I watched as committee reports became committee meetings in the midst of the members meeting.
The committees had failed to do their work prior to our meeting, so they did it during our meeting. Needless to say, the friendly meeting was an inefficient meeting.
When it comes to leadership in the home, we’ve already established the pattern from Genesis 1 and 2. We also have a working model to follow in Jesus.
But, when it comes to leadership in the church, how exactly is the leadership pattern to be displayed?
In that first church, there was one pastor— me—and deacons, who were regarded as the spiritual leaders of the church. We also had trustees who were responsible for the property.
The congregation looked forward to the members meetings because it was their opportunity to hear from every leader and ministry of the church.
As they saw it, they had a responsibility to approve or reject everything the church did.
Such a leadership structure can be inefficient, as I quickly learned. And inefficient structures quickly become exhausting.
But the question I was left with was, “How is all this supposed to work?” Are we to work toward efficiency in church leadership?
That would have been more convenient for me, personally. Or, is this what church leadership was supposed to look like? What guidance does the Bible give?
Many established churches, like in my first pastorate, tend to follow the model of church leadership that was left to them. It may be a historical form of church government, and the church may have convictions about it.
But the leadership practices they view as historical may have been adapted to meet their needs, preferences, and traditions.
In reaction to these inefficient traditional approaches, some churches have adopted more efficient, business models of church leadership.
Such models are efficient because they require less communication. The decision-making process has been narrowed down to just a few key leaders.
Still, other churches simply adopt the leadership style of their pastor.
If we’re not careful, we may be tempted to institute worldly models of leadership in the church. But the church is led neither by chief executive officers nor presidents, committees nor mass rule; it is led by godly, humble pastors.
Again, while Adam and Eve failed in their God-given task, and while the leadership pattern became distorted due to sin, God did not abandon His original plan.
In fact, it is God’s eternal plan to have a human Son who would truly image Him by reflecting His sovereign rule over creation and representing His loving care for those under His charge.
This faithful Son would fulfill the God-given task for humanity: reproducing the image of God until the whole earth is filled with the glory of God.
And in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, we learn that God’s eternal plan is fulfilled in the exaltation of Jesus, His beloved Son, as King over all things.
Jesus is the true image of God who faithfully represents God’s loving care to the world, exercises His sovereign rule over the creation, and gathers a diverse people into the church.
To fulfill His mission, Jesus has structured His church with gospel ministers who gather God’s multi-ethnic people into the one body through the gospel and equip the body so that as members speak the truth to one another in love, they grow in Christlike maturity until they reflect the divine image in the fullness of Christ.
The promise that Eve would have a Child who would one day crush the serpent allowed God’s people to look forward with hope to a coming Conqueror.
Throughout the Old Testament, the promise of Genesis 3:15 is further clarified as the hoped-for Child is progressively revealed (Genesis 12:1–3; 2 Samuel 7:12–17; Isaiah 9:6–7).
The hope of God’s people would be fulfilled in a promised King, anointed by God to restore the fallen kingdom on the basis of a new covenant established by His own sacrificial death (Isaiah 52–56).
Jesus is that promised King. He ascends to God’s throne not by gathering an army to conquer His enemies, but by going to the cross in apparent defeat, only to rise from the dead as the promised serpent crusher (Hebrews 2:14–18).
Because Jesus proved Himself to be the faithful Son, the Father placed Jesus on his throne (Psalm 2), giving Him the name that is above every name and declaring Him to be the King of kings and Lord of lords—the true image of God (Philippians 2:5–11).
Now, King Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:19).
And, through Jesus, the King who faithfully represents God’s rule on the earth, God is uniting all things in heaven and on earth (Ephesians 1:7–10) and subjecting all things under His feet (Ephesians 1:22).
JUAN R. SANCHEZ (@manorjuan) is the senior pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church. His most recent book is The Leadership Formula: Develop the Next Generation of Leaders in the Church, from which the article is excerpted and adapted with permission from B&H Publishing.