Friday, 1 May 2009

The Church I C. E. O.

There's several trends happening in the contemporary church today. Depending on who you listen to, the church is either trending toward a house-church model, a mega-church model, a satellite-extension service model, a multi-campus model or an "Apostolic" model. But behind all this window dressing, two things are observable. Firstly, each model appears to bear some kind of fruit (taking 'fruit' to mean converts to Christ). Secondly, all of the models require a different style of leadership and structure to drive them. We might call this- a "C.E.O." style of leadership.

The C.E.O. leader is growth orientated. Expansion, extension, evangelism, expensive and excellence are all key words in the CEO leader's vocabulary. The CEO leader works through other leaders and demands loyalty, team-work, submission, commitment, and honour from them. If someone questions or challenges the CEO leader they dealt with swiftly and harshly and to varying degrees: publicly.

The CEO leader builds their organisation through focussing more on a younger audience, delivering excellent music, and hosting large conferences. Why do they do this? Because it "works". And like Paul in prison writing to his beloved Philippians, we too should rejoice that the miracle of Gospel transformation in a human soul takes place, and the name of Christ is promoted and honoured.

But there is another model of church which some may wish to explore. It is more of a pastoral model. It encourages community. It seeks to get people involved with whatever God has gifted them with. It is led by a pastoral leader who uses the unfolding of God's Word to direct, discipline, develop and doctrinally inform those he cares for. He doesn't allegorise the sacred text to say what he wants to say. He rarely claims that God told him.

This pastoral-model church looks like young and old living and worshiping together. When they meet, crying babies are present, fidgety youth file in, stressed out mums struggle into the meeting, and exhausted dads takes their seats. The music is good but not slick. The preacher is clean shaven and neatly dressed because he thinks he actually represents the God he is teaching about by more than just his words. When he preaches he knows what's going on in the lives of most of the people in front of him. He sees others in the church ministering in ways that he knows they are gifted in and is not threatened by this.
At more times than he cares to admit he wants to quit because he feels the enormity of the charge that God has called him to- but he goes on because he knows that despite his inadequacies he is indeed called.

This type of leader prays. He cares for his few people. He longs to see their unsaved husbands saved. He longs to see their wayward daughters return home reconciled. He longs to see these marriages harmonious and these children not disillusioned with Christ and His church. He prays that he will be a good example and when it counts most that he will be found faithful.
He doesn't demand devotion and unquestioned loyalty. In fact, he is often challenged over something he said and more often than not realises that he was indeed wrong. His people know that he is a humble man by the way he apologises to them when necessary. His children know this too.

He attends his denominational conferences and is told that he is not blessed by God because his church is not growing like it should if God were blessing it. He listens to the line-up of CEO leaders. He admires them. He wishes them well. He wonders if he should become more like them. But then in quiet reflection the church that he sees is fundamentally different. It uses ordinary people that don't necessarily look good on TV. His church is noisy. His church laughs (not necessarily because someone said something entertaining, but) because something funny just happened. His church eats together often. Prays together regularly. They long to see its community blessed and care about the welfare of everyone in it. They wish other churches well.

Perhaps this is the type of church model you see as well?


  1. Where are these leaders?
    I agree, Andrew, perhaps its not as attractive to do the pastoral work and so people are drawn more to the corporate model, ceo type of role. If this is what is displayed at major conferences as a succesful leader then an aspiring minister would think this is where I need to be.

    Preach it brother

    Peter hall

  2. Very good way of putting it. You didn't attack the CEO style, instead you clearly explained the more pastoral way of being a .... pastor! I know which sort of church I'd rather be a part of!