As I went through my formal education, I was under the sincere yet immature assumption that the pastoral ministry “path” led to what is called a “senior” pastor. As I’ve “grown up” and become convinced of a plurality of qualified pastors comprising a church’s leadership, I had to ask myself if I’d be content being in a support role or “just” one of several equal leaders (a church leadership concept called parity).
Churches must be “in the business” of training leaders. They are, what Dr. Harry Reeder calls, a leadership “factory and distribution center” (The Leadership Dynamic, p. 8). This goes from internships to elders. But it goes farther back from that. It has to do with its ‘everyday’, ordinary means of grace discipleship of the members. In other words, no pastor or church membership should be content with just one guy leading indefinitely. Eventually, there’s got to be a plan for replication. Practically speaking, though, it is helpful to have one visionary leader over an organization; one with whom “the buck stops.” But that doesn’t translate into a dictatorship or autocracy.
St. Paul gave us a blueprint for the church leadership “factory”: “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).
If maturity is the goal for every believer as part of a church’s mission, then, it is not unreasonable to think that you would want as many potentially qualifiable leaders preparing to lead the church “waiting in the wings” and serving the church with their gifts. Realistically, leaders age, move away, change jobs and sometimes (unfortunately) defect from the faith. A church needs to ready herself for the storms of life together as a congregation, and one of the best ways to do that is to train leaders. When potential, godly leaders are identified, developed and deployed, a local church is better off.
Let’s pray that God would continue to endow our church with the right leaders for its mission now and in the future. To him be the glory!