Service Without Leadership Can Kill A Church

During an elaborate pastor appreciation dinner, First Church celebrated Pastor Lee’s fourteen years of faithful service. His love for his church and her members was heard in the numerous testimonies shared by members. “The pastor has always been there for my family. Every time my wife was hospitalized, he was there to visit and sit with us every day while we waited for mom to get better….”

 “I am thankful for the leadership of Pastor Lee. He has been a tremendous help to every committee I served on in this church. He was always there to guide our decisions and help us take care of the details….”

 “We were really worried about our youth program when the previous volunteer moved away, but Pastor Lee willingly stepped in to teach our young people ….”

 “Pastor Lee is practically a member of our family. I don’t think he’s missed a single birthday party or reunion since he arrived….”

The testimonies of members continued long into the night as this church honored their faithful pastor. Pastor Lee is serving his church well and this banquet will encourage him to continue his selfless ministry to his members.

And while each affirmation was worthy of recognition, I was left wondering how Pastor Lee is leading the church he serves? How is he mobilizing others to accomplish God’s mission of making disciples? How is he equipping the saints to accomplish the work of the ministry if he is doing most of the ministry himself?

Service without leadership can kill a church.

For many pastors they have been “called” to a ministry of task performance instead of Biblical leadership. [quote]For many pastors they have been “called” to a ministry of task performance instead of Biblical leadership.[/quote]

“They hired me to be the pastor and with that come certain expectations.”

 “They don’t really want a leader. They just expect me to be there for them and make sure the church stays open.”

These expressions of frustration and weariness are repeated in almost all of my coaching conversations with pastors. I can almost predict their response when we talk about their role as a pastor. Far too many pastors as serving as employees of the church, doing far too much of the work of the ministry in the church and slowly killing the church they serve (not to mention the wear and tear on the pastor and his family).

How can a pastor serve his members well and still lead them to accomplish God’s mission in the community? A careful reading of 2 Timothy 2 will reveal that a pastor must depend fully on God, enlist and entrust ministry to others and persevere with the right motivations.

1You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men[a] who will be able to teach others also. 3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.

1) Be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus (v. 1)

Your strength as a pastor and follower of Christ comes not from performance but from God’s grace. Your performance before God did not exalt you to your position as pastor/leader, but God called you by his grace to lead his flock at the church you serve. Your strength to persevere is tethered to your dependence on the grace of God to sustain you as a leader.

2) What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men (v. 2)

Paul did not send Timothy to do the work of the church, but to develop leaders. Through intentional discipleship, Timothy was commissioned to install and develop leaders to accomplish God’s mission in the community. Teach them, train them, and “entrust” the mission to faithful followers of Christ.

3) Who will be able to teach others also (v. 2)

 Timothy’s charge was to build a leadership development process in the local church. With sights set on multiplication of leaders and disciples, he set out to entrust the truths of God’s Word to others with an expectation that they would replicate the development process. Leadership development should be an intentional multiplication process that continually enlists and equips faithful leaders for the work of the ministry.

4) Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus (v. 3)

Paul never said ministry would be easy, but the battle is worth the sacrifice. You have been enlisted to serve with eyes set on the eternal reward of faithfulness to your calling. Your sacrifices are worthy of honor as you seek to follow Christ’s example and serve the Church well.

5) His aim is to please the one who enlisted him (v. 4)

Lastly, your motivation to lead must come from God’s call to ministry and not the calling of a local church. Our calling to ministry and by the local church work together to accomplish God’s mission of making disciples, but ultimately your aim should be to seek the affirmation of Christ as you serve faithfully and wait to take your seat at Christ’s eternal banquet.