How Your Thoughts Can Help

by | Jul 29, 2016 | Church, The Church | 9 comments

Part of mission leadership is gathering all the right resources to get the job done. That’s true for most of life’s endeavors, not just missions and ministry. It’s true if one is:

  • A parent
  • A spouse
  • An employee
  • An employer
  • A disciple
  • A disciple maker
  • A mission volunteer

But what if one is gathering thoughts and researching the subject of leadership?

Leadership Arenas

It seems there are two broad areas of leadership. Let’s call one the secular area. That will distinguish it from leadership in the church. So the first question to wrestle with is:

Is leadership in the Church different than leadership outside the Church?

Why ask the question? There are various reasons. First, the history of the Church is filled with examples of embracing worldly methods for Kingdom work. I am not talking about simple resistance to change. Sadly, there Leadershipare many otherwise humorous accounts of church leaders refusing to use the latest technology in connection with the Gospel. But there is also the principle of doing God’s work God’s way. Does this apply to the ways we lead?
In one of my education seminars I was required to research and present a biography on D. L. Moody. He embraced that ‘new thing’ called radio to spread the Gospel. Others were reluctant but he was not. His example and spirit of innovation is still evident today in the Moody Radio Network. So my question isn’t really about innovation. It’s something more basic.
Earlier this year I said we had some ongoing writing projects. This post uncovers the subject of one project. It’s correct to view this and a future post or two as research. That is why your thoughts are important and very much desired.
LeadershipSo I’d like to ask you to answer the question above. It would be very interesting to do it in the ‘comments’ section below. For whatever reason, many people don’t want to engage in a public forum. If that’s you, then feel free to send an email. But if you would, let’s try to build a discussion so we can have some ‘back and forth’ with our comments.
So for this round, let’s wrestle with the nature of leadership in and out of the Church. Is there a difference? If you think there is, what is the difference? How is it accounted for? How does your answer determine the qualities you want to see in a potential leader (pastor, elder, committee chair, teacher, etc.).
Please help us out by sharing your thoughts!

Soli Deo Gloria! 



Questions or comments? Connect with Keith via email.

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  1. Jeremy

    In my humble opinion I’d say leadership in the church and outside of the church aren’t different. For one, we are the church, are we not the church sometimes? For two, as leaders anywhere if no one is following you then you’re just taking a long walk. And third, leadership, in a job market and in a pastoral role is best done by example.
    My fear is that many folks inside and outside of the “Church” just done understand what leadership really is…..we lead by surrender to God…

    • Keith Burnett

      Thanks for engaging! The intent here is to define a very fine line. There is a Biblical model of leadership. There is a leadership model espoused by the corporate world. You are absolutely right about the example. That is a key element of the Biblical model and we see it in I Peter 5. Now, because God’s truth is always truth His principles will always work inside or outside the world of church and ministry. What I am working to help people see is another model of leadership (corporate) which exists. If the premise is correct that there is a leadership model not based on Scripture, then what happens when/if that leadership model is applied in the church? The graphic in the post about BOSS vs. LEADER begins to show the difference between what I believe are separate schools of thought.

  2. Wayne Terry

    “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.
    – Dwight D. Eisenhower
    According to the idea of transformational leadership an effective leader is a person who does the following:
    Creates an inspiring vision of the future.
    Motivates and inspires people to engage with that vision.
    Manages delivery of the vision.
    Coaches and builds a team, so that it is more effective at achieving the vision.”
    So, given the above statements, there is no difference if we limit it to “things of the church; e.g. church growth, church projects, etc. However, if we look at the vision of the church’s purpose, it should be God’s vision which is given to us in the scriptures, not the pastor’s.. Once that vision is made clear to the church, the other attributes of leadership apply.

    • Keith Burnett

      Thanks for engaging! Let me pose one question in response to your thoughts. In which leadership arena (the church or the secular world) does a leader CREATE a vision and in which does a leader RECEIVE a vision? There is another thought somewhat common to your comments and Jeremy’s. See those in the reply to his comments.

  3. Jeff S. Mann

    I think a lot of the problem with leadership in the church stems from our failure to understand the purpose of the church and therefore, how true success is determined. If bigger buildings, budgets and/or attendance are the goals, then one would think a corporate model of leadership would work. Our purpose, however, is given to us by the Lord Himself as is stated in the Great Commission. The New Testament speaks much more about following than leading. Even God’s chosen leaders are themselves to be the first followers of Christ.
    In contrast to the world’s ego driven paradigm of success which typically only glorifies the leader, Christ always pointed to the will and glory of the Father. Perhaps His style of leadership is best summed up in His own words, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life — a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45 HCSB) You won’t find this in the corporate world too often and sadly, too seldom is it seen in the church today.

  4. Stanley Bramlett

    Is leadership in the church different than leadership outside the church? Yes. But having said that there are traits/aspects/points in which the secular individual or institution can copy the church and train a person to be a good leader outside the church. The military is famous for developing many individuals that displayed leadership and led to great victories. The same can be said for the corporate world.
    What is the difference? The Holy Spirit indwelling the church leader so that he/she is being remade into the image of Jesus Christ. Even a brief overview of the leadership styles and results can be seen from King Saul and King David in 1 Samuel. When a person is apart from God, Jeremiah 2:5 tells us that person becomes worthless and apart from training will tend to make poor leadership decisions. But the person who has Christ, he/she is declared righteous/worthy and therefore will lean toward making wise leadership decisions.

  5. Stanley Bramlett

    Another thought on leadership. Who’s learning from who? Often times church leadership have made the mistake of reading the latest fad in leadership from the NY Times Top 10 list of business books. While it will be acknowledged that these authors get some of it right, they in general are looking at it from a pragmatic point of view. For the Christian leader we are called to look to the best leader the world has or will ever see – Jesus Christ for our instruction and motivation. We should be setting the example and let the world copy us.


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