Who leads the church: staff or congregation? [video]

Last weekend I was listening to one of Perry Noble‘s messages from NewSpring Church, a pastor I greatly respect and admire who has influenced my ministry in many ways. He was answering questions from the audience and one question pertained to church structure and leadership. I thought Perry’s answer was intriguing and I’ve been thinking about it ever since: Do we leave the church to be ran by the “professionals” who have been trained for ministry or do we let the congregation, parents, church board, and whoever else tell the staff members how to run the church?

I shot a little video recording some of my thoughts and I included the video of Perry answering the question. Watch it here:

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It’s an interesting paradox because Perry makes a convincing case for a staff-led church, but I’m not sure his analogies carry over to a ministry context quite as well as he describes. We’re not flying a plane nor running a bank — we’re a community of believers serving the Lord’s church. However, as a church leader, I totally vibe with his statement, “There is no evidence in the scriptures that a church should be ran by people who don’t actually do the work.” I’m sure any youth worker can shout an “amen” to that!

I wonder how much of this goes back to an ecclesiology that almost models something closer to a YMCA where the board tells the directors what to do instead of a church that’s more accurately a community of believers serving side-by-side. In other words, I think Mark Riddle has it right in his book, “Inside the Mind of Youth Pastors,” when he says the role of church staff is to train and encourage the body to do the work of the ministry, not to actually do it for them.

What do you think? I welcome your thoughts in the comments below. Should a church be staff-led? Congregation-led? A mix of both? Neither? I’m not making any accusations nor judgments about anyone nor any churches — I’m just thinking out loud about how we do what God’s called us to do so that He is ultimately glorified. Let’s make sure the discussion below does only that.

Posted on August 11, 2010

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