Once upon a time there were two churches located within a big city. Both churches had been established for decades, were sound in faith and size, and had elders in leadership. However, one church continually excelled in growth through the years while the other was fraught with ups and downs. The bigger church had a preacher who had been there for decades and served as an elder. The smaller group changed preachers every so often through the years.
One fateful month, the preacher at the bigger church preached a message that offended some of the brethren. Nothing unscriptural, but these brethren had been chirping about wanting to get rid of this preacher for years, and now this was their newest opportunity. They approached the elders and told them how dissatisfied they were with the preacher, how dissatisfied they were with his sermon, and that if the elders didn’t do something about it then they were going to leave. The elders said, “We are so sorry about this. We are going to do something right away. We are sorry that you have such an ungodly attitude towards this godly servant, and we are going to ask you to repent of that wicked and divisive attitude right away. This preacher has served this church faithfully for decades. What he preached was truth. And the problem is not so much with how or what he had to say, as your attitude in how you heard what he said. We love you, and we don’t want you to leave. We want you to reconcile your relationship with this preacher and the Lord.” The family left. Coincidentally that very same month, the preacher at the smaller church also preached a sermon that offended some of the brethren. Nothing unscriptural or unseemly, yet they took offense anyhow. They approached the elders and told them how dissatisfied they were with the preacher, and how dissatisfied they were with the sermon, and that if the elders didn’t do something about it then they were going to leave. The elders said, “We are so sorry about this. We are going to do something about this right away.” And then the elders met with the preacher and asked him to move.
The bigger church continued to thrive while the smaller church stayed on the rollercoaster.
What is the difference in these two churches? (Aside from their size of course) It’s their leadership. Leadership is key to a thriving church. But not just leadership – Good leadership. Good leaders is what the God-breathed gospel trains Christians to be. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (II Timothy 3:16-17 – NKJV) The gospel trains good leaders. The church needs Christians who are being trained by the gospel. Not by the world.
Good faithful bible-believing, bible-studying, bible-applying Christians ALWAYS produce good strong faithful leaders. Leaders that are led by the spirit and not by the flesh. (Galatians 5:13-26) Leaders that do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment. (John 7:24) Leaders that do not follow the will of the sinful, but follow the will of God. (Acts 4:19; 5:29) Leaders that will stand strong in the face of unjust adversity, and will hold fast to the faithful truth in which they’ve been trained. (Acts 7:51-60) Good leaders will lead the faithful, not follow the unrighteous. (II Timothy 2:22-4:8) Good leaders will serve and sacrifice and love, not self-serve, be self-willed, and treat others worse than they’d treat themselves. (Titus 1:7-9) Good leaders will not seek to overcome evil with evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:23) Aren’t these the leaders we want? Then they are the leaders we need to be diligently training and working to be ourselves!
Many people reading this will be wondering “What two churches is this preacher talking about?” “Are they even real?” (Yes) “Does that sort of thing really happen?” (Yes. Even in “churches of Christ”) But go back and read the previous paragraph again. Instead of looking to those attributes of Good vs. Poor leaders as they relate to the two churches in the original story, instead, look in the mirror and apply them to yourself. How are you as a leader? The bible doesn’t just train leaders in/for the church. The bible trains leaders in every facet of life. Are you a good leader in the home? Are you a good leader in the workplace? Are you a good leader in the community? Are you a good leader in your own life? And yes, of course, are you a good leader in the church? If the answer is “no” then that’s a problem.
If you feel like you are riding a roller coaster in your personal life, financial life, spiritual life perhaps it’s time to look in the mirror, reevaluate leadership in your life, and take responsibility. It’s time to stand on principle like the elders of the thriving church, and not be “tossed here and there” by every encumbrance that comes our way. We must trust in the ways of the Lord, for He is the one who will lead us to be the person, and the church, we need to be. Churches, like the individuals that comprise them, rise and fall on leadership. May the Lord bless us to be the leaders we need to be… by trusting and following Him. (Proverbs 3:5-8)