Singular or Pluralistic Leadership?

 Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XXXIX

A good pyramidal organization needs many good leaders at different levels, but only one leader can be at the time. His decisions are decisive, and everyone below him obeys his directives in order to be a “company man”. When things run smoothly, everyone is happy. When a problem arises, the man on top tackles it, for that is why his paid so much. Positioning of leaders is crucial to develop “yes men” to follow directives from above. He is your boss not your peer. People who you consider to be your peers, your coworkers, aren’t necessarily your friends but are your competitors for higher ranking positions. By working with one another you appear to be supporting the corporation, but bottom line, you make the boss look good to increase your chance for advancement.              

In the religious world the Senior Pastor cannot have personal relationships with a large laity base, so he concentrates on his leaders. When a problem arises, he too steps forward with authority to solve the problem. His decisions too are final, decisive, and not to be questions. His job as an authoritarian is never easy on relationships. Only professionals qualify; laity can never attain a high position of leadership.

Millennials find that there is no room for leadership for them since they occupy the foundational base of this pyramidal structure. Millennials are looking for linear peer relationships, not vertical relationships based on authority. They want their voices validated rather than always being criticized and dictated to.

Although Jesus spoke to multitudes, he intimately invested in only twelve. He was preparing simple men to be apostles who would see over what the Holy Spirit would do in the lives of believers. The twelve became peers in the faith. Although Jesus told Peter, “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church,” (Matthew 16:10) it was not his intent to make Peter the Pope over his church, but he taught Peter to lead by being beside others, serving them. At the house of Cornelius, he validated the gentile’s experience with the Holy Spirit and defended them at the Council of Jerusalem. For the rest of his life he would be their peer, never dominating over them.

The organizational mind asks, “Doesn’t having so many leaders as peers bring confusion? Someone has to be in charge!” If all the leaders are serving one another, there will be no confusion. The Church can never have enough evangelists, shepherds, teachers, prophets, or apostles who serve simultaneously. The key is all must be listening to the Holy Spirit and network through service with one another. Releasing people into the five fold can prevent domination and control while promoting diversity and plurality. The church multiplied quickly because Jesus invested in only twelve who invested in other believers by equipping and releasing them to serve.

Since power often defines position, I ask you, “Does the leadership at your local church stand over you or beside you relationally? Are they your peers or superiors? Do they come across to you as common believers, peers in Jesus, or as superior leaders better than you?”