Church leadership is not and never was a solo act. Church leaders: We are called to replicate ourselves. Our primary task should be the raising up and empowering of people. In doing so, we not only help the church fulfill it’s God given potential, but we also accomplish much more than we ever could on our own. Why then are there so many churches with only one “pastor” or “leader” doing all of the work? I would argue that this is unbiblical and unhealthy. Here are a couple of passages that will shine light on this concept.
Jethro Knows Best
Moses was leading thousands of newly released Hebrew slaves through a desert wilderness. While in the early stages of his journey, his father-in-law, Jethro, came to him and said,
“What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening?” And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God; when they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I make them know the statutes of God and his laws.” Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone. Now obey my voice; I will give you advice, and God be with you! You shall represent the people before God and bring their cases to God, and you shall warn them about the statutes and the laws, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do. Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. And let them judge the people at all times. Every great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. If you do this, God will direct you, you will be able to endure, and all this people also will go to their place in peace.”
Exodus 18:14-23 (ESV)
Moses was given some great advice and he took it. It wasn’t good for him to lead all by himself. Sure, he was still in charge, but his leadership became infinitely more effective as he delegated responsibility to other Godly men within the assembly of God’s people.
The Early Church Model
When Paul writes to the early church he talks about the raising up of Elders/Overseers/Pastors. Many scholars agree that these are all one position within the church and in most instances he references the plurality of elders. This shows us that there were multiple church leaders in each context empowered to lead. In fact he gives this command to Titus,
This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you—
Titus 1:5 (ESV)
Titus was given the charge to delegate authority and responsibility to the leaders in the local church. In so doing the local church exploded by the power of the Spirit through His people.
Church size doesn’t matter. Whether you have 100 or 5000 people, your charge to make disciples remains the same. Don’t hold onto authority. Instead, release it into your leaders and see what happens. If you are a worship leader, you should identify worship leader candidates and pour your life and wisdom into them. If you are a preacher, identify Godly leaders within the church and teach them to preach. And the great thing is that you don’t have to take a class or special training to begin this journey.
This begs the question: What responsibilities are we holding on to that we should be releasing to our people?