Working in redeveloping a small rural congregation, one of our objectives has been to instil a sense of purpose to our church. For a long time, we were “The Free Church”. Being “Free Church” coloured everything. For example, our worship was “Free Church” style. Our teaching ministry was also “Free Church” style, as one dear person in my church put it, “Free Church preaching seems to really emphasise the Old Testament.” There’s nothing wrong with the OT – I’m hoping to begin an evangelistic-focused series on King David this winter – but often that emphasis equates to a law-focused teaching, that doesn’t quite reach grace often enough.
The problem is, aside from that one person who thought “Free Church” means “Old Testament”, nobody was able to articulate what the congregation was really about.
We’ve put a lot of effort into trying to change this. These days we have a very John Stott-influenced vision for the Church. There’s a simple way to remember this vision – the Church is Christ’s bride, his W.I.F.E. Sleat & Strath Free Church‘s vision is to be a church that serves God through:
- Worship, focused on Jesus Christ
- Instruction, based on God’s Word
- Fellowship, around the Good News
- Evangelism, showing God’s love in word and action
We’re now starting to tackle some of the ways this affects how we think about leadership – in terms of eldership, deaconate, Sunday School, our cafe work, and so on. We want to identify leaders based on this way of thinking. So today, I drew a very Abraham Maslow-esque pyramid.
The base tier is “Commitment to Christ” – basically, are you converted / born again? This should really be a given in Churches. Our desire to be a true worshipping community means Christ has to be worshipped by our leadership. Operating on the Biblical assumption that without faith it’s impossible to please God, we need people committed to Christ to lead.
Building on that, we want people who shape their outlook on life from the Bible. We want people who’ll submit to God’s way, revealed in Scripture. Of course we’ll find people disagree about things, but as long as we have leaders proposing a way forward based on their understanding of the Bible, that’s got to be a good thing.
We also need people who’re committed to the Church’s fellowship. The key to fellowship is of course, Philippians 2 – in a Christ-like way, think of others more highly than yourself. We shouldn’t be interested in putting people with a “me-centred” attitude to church – who shun bible studies and prayer meetings because “I don’t get anything out of it” – into leadership roles.
Ultimately, this is because leadership is about service. We want to cultivate leaders who serve, not leaders who demand.
So we’re thinking about this model – have we got it right? We’d welcome any thoughts you have.