When Leadership Replaces Discipleship! / by John Hailes

There are times I’m concerned that there is a dangerous culture gaining ground in the Western Church. A culture where leadership is valued more than discipleship. At all levels, from kids to adults, it worries me that churches are becoming more concerned with growing leaders than growing Christ followers.

We seem to care more about people’s role in their Church, than their relationship with Christ.

The sad part is that many people don’t even know the difference between the two. Worse than that though, some people pursue leadership at the expense of their relationship with God. They seek to be the greatest and have the largest ministry, forgetting that Jesus said the greatest among us would be the least (Luke 22:25-28).

We fail to find our modern day leadership principals from the New Testament because they just aren’t often there. Jesus taught people to do things the opposite way from what makes sense to the World and the Early Church sought to lean upon the Holy Spirit and his leadership more than their own.

I’m by no means against raising leaders in the Church. I believe it is an essential part of any healthy church. However we must hold this tension in balance and not allow a leadership culture to rule the roost.

What’s the Big Deal?

1. Shallow Believers

Discipleship brings depth. It grounds us in God’s word and our identity in Christ. Without a culture of discipleship, we are left with our sinful self. Discipleship leads us on a journey to Holiness where leadership takes us to

2. Shaky Believers

Discipleship leads us into deeper relationship with God. It develops a foundation in our life and keeps us rooted in Christ. If this is lacking in our Churches, then we are raising a generation of Christians who are more committed to Church than Christ. It’s a shaky foundation that I don’t believe will last a lifetime.

3. Self-Reliant Believers

I’m convinced God didn’t chose the ‘heroes’ of the Bible because they had the leadership skills. Many of them actually seemed to lack them. This put them in a perfect position to be use by God. In our weakness he has space to move and work. A strong leadership culture often causes us to lean on our own abilities over God’s abilities.

4. Stale Believers

The disciples changed the World because of the things Jesus taught them. The product of our leadership culture is church attendance, not life transformation. Without continual discipleship, we lose our passion and zeal for Christ.

We must seek to find balance and manage the tension of discipleship and leadership. Although we need to be rooted in Christ and growing in relationship to Him, we must not be negligent or act foolishly.

How do you balance this tension in your Church and walk with God?