The Healthy Church: Embodying Leadership | Christ Evangelical Reformed Church (CERC)

The Healthy Church: Embodying Leadership

Andrew D. Clarke

Churches are often distinguished from each other in terms of their theological position or worship tradition. A further, significant distinguishing characteristic of a church, however, is the nature of its leadership. At a surface level, we can readily describe this in terms of its governmental structures or its office titles, as these may be clearly defined and determined by long-standing constitution or tradition. In practice, however, it is in terms of styles of leadership that more fundamental differences exist. These differences may be more subtle, but more far-reaching, and will often vary between successive leaders or even within a leadership team. Whereas structures of government may be denominationally determined, styles of leadership, together with theological position and worship tradition are all categories that do not necessarily observe denominational boundaries. It is in regard to these categories that most problems and unrest occur within a church community. Significantly, however, it can be argued that the Bible has rather more to say about styles of leadership than it does about structures of leadership. Furthermore, it is this biblical message about style that is most readily transferable to the very different social and cultural contexts that exist today.

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Andrew D. Clarke is senior lecturer in the Department of Divinity and Religious Studies, King's College, University of Aberdeen. His publications include A Pauline Theology of Church Leadership (LNTS; T. & T. Clark, 2008).