There is no shortage of reading materials when it comes to church leadership and governance. This is a topic that people like to write on because so many struggle through these issues. I am no exception. This May 20, I am celebrating the 5-year anniversary of restarting Valley Baptist Church. We started with about 12 people with a vision and hope from God. The ride has been amazing to say the least, but throughout the journey I have found that I have been stretched consistently as a leader. Just when I think I have figured things out, everything has changed. I guess this is just life.
Through this journey I have had great freedom to lead–for this I am thankful. Up to this point, I would describe our structure as “Pastor led, church affirmed.” To assist the leading I have utilized a group of about 8 men that carry the title of “deacons” and a lady who carries the title of “treasurer.” This structure is in place mainly because this was the structure (not the people) I inherited on paper. The development was intentionally slow to grow trust with the church. In June of 2009, I updated the constitution to expand and clarify some points, but not to radically alter the constitution. The main change was concerning the appointment of official leadership of the church. Before it followed more of a congregational-led model whereas now leaders are appointed annually by the senior pastor and approved by the body at the annual meeting. After five years, I feel like I am truly entering the season where I am free to lead the church. There is trust. I’m not going anywhere and the people know that I am here for them and am acting in the best interest of the church.
Here are some questions I have been wrestling through. Where did your style of church governance come from? A piece of paper, traditions, your denomination, or who knows? Do you have a board? Why? Because business’ do? I like asking a lot of questions and I find myself asking the all important question related to this subject, “What does the Bible have to say about this subject and how should it workout practically in my church?”
I’ve reached a point where I can no longer push the weight in a healthy manner. If everyone showed up on a given Sunday, we would have about 150 people in attendance. I cannot shepherd this many people alone, nor do I think we are done growing, so how do I lead the church into the next season? From Scripture I am convinced the church is to be led through elders (along with a number of synonymous titles), with a leader amongst them, deacons that support, and a church of believers that fulfill the ministry. The question is, “What does this look like practically for me in this setting in the coming years?”
How has this worked itself out in your ministry setting? I would love to hear your input!
Here are some books that have encouraged me on this journey…
On Being a Pastor, Alistar Begg and Derek Prime
On Church Leadership, Mark Driscoll
Sticky Teams, Larry Osborne
The New Testament Deacon, Alexander Strauch
Saying it Well, Charles Swindoll