November 5, 2017: Reframing Leadership


To The Saints is partnering with!. We are doing another topic in our reframing series. We are doing a podcast on reframing Leadership to kick off a series of blog posts on what is leadership according to Christ.




  • All of us speaking today have been in some type of institutional church/parachurch leadership
  • Each of us has experience in traditional church leadership
  • When believers in Christ leave the IC there are usually two responses
  • Find a group with a better leader or a leader that I can follow or learn from
  • Reject leadership altogether
  • We believe that there is a third approach to leadership for believers meeting outside of the institution

What is leadership according to the world standards?

  • Man does the leading
  • Individual-Focused (self-centered)
  • Force, fear, tyranny, oppression, and deception
  • Trying to be the top dog; cutthroat (me first)
  • Based on natural abilities
  • typically naturally charismatic people end up leading
  • Character flaws ignored (ex: Presidents)
  • Hierarchy–climbing the corporate ladder
  • Idea that I can do the most “good” by being in the highest place
  • Titles
  • Visible expression of man
  • A select individual or group of individuals make decisions for the rest of the community
  • Much more concerned with efficiency (or control) which is why there can’t be too many cooks in the kitchen.

What is leadership according to modern Christianity?

  • Job description (titles)
  • Pastor, Associate Pastor, Doctor, Reverend, Bishop, Apostle, Evangelist, etc.
  • Can be education-based, personality-based (natural abilities)
  • Appointed or “called” (trying to be top dog)
  • Servant leadership
  • Committee (select group of individuals makes decisions for the rest of the community)

Problems with bringing worldly view of leadership into the body of Christ

  • Stunted and/or abnormal growth
  • Underdeveloped or nonexistent spiritual instincts
  • Spiritual senses are underdeveloped, nonexistent or abnormal
  • They become lazy and apathetic
  • Pastor upset church because he didn’t do everything the previous pastor did
  • Does not prepare them to co-reign with Christ
  • Does not follow the Life of Christ–focused more on external structure
  • Unhealthy pressure on the “leaders” or those in leadership to do it all

What is leadership according to Christ

  • Spirit does the leading through the many members
  • Servant; laying one’s life down for another; based on Christ’s abilities
  • No worldly Hierarchy – submitting to Christ in one another as we live corporately by the Spirit
  • Functions/Family
  • There is the cross
  • Denying oneself
  • Meets the desire of the Lord’s heart: to have a home where HE can call the shots;
  • The picture of a family and a body describe leadership according to Christ
  • Visible expression of CHRIST

“In sum, leadership according to Jesus is a far cry from what it is in the institutional church. Our Lord dealt a deathblow to both Gentile/ hierarchical and Jewish/ positional leadership models. These ego-massaging models are incompatible with the primitive simplicity of the organic church and the upside-down kingdom of Jesus Christ. They impede the progress of God’s people. They suppress the free functioning of the believing priesthood. They rupture the image of the church as a family. They do violence to the leadership that exists in the triune God. And they place severe limitations on the headship of Christ. For these reasons “it shall not be so among” those who bear the name of the Savior.” Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity, by Frank Viola 

Comment from an attendee of the To The Saints Conference this past July in Austin, Tx.

Without going into everything we appreciated, learned and experienced that weekend, I wanted to mention just one simple yet significant thing that really spoke to me later on.

A few days after the conference, we were describing the event to the others in our group when the Lord revealed a unique aspect of the conference I had not thought of before.  Other than Christ, there was absolutely no leader the whole weekend, no facilitator, no one person that seemed to be in charge.  Even the panel seemed to function as one.  Yet there was absolutely no lack of leadership.  I was suddenly struck by the significance of that because I hadn’t noticed it during the conference and I have never experienced that before in that type of setting.   

What a beautiful picture of the body of Christ, with one head and one head only.  The body functioning in perfect unison as directed by the head.   I am not sure if that was intentional or not, I suspect not and it was just everyday life for you but I wanted to express the significance and beauty that had for me.  

Thank you all for your hard work and for expressing the fullness of Christ.

The leadership in the expression of Christ can be situational:

Analogy: Body working together to drink water

  • During certain seasons of the life of the church, Christ equips specific members of His body to function in a leadership role (“initiate”)
  • This may or may not be official but it certainly is evident (we don’t think about it or focus on “who is the leader at this moment?”)
  • The group is sensitive to this and open to the fluidity of these changes
  • For particular situations, there may be a group of individuals that the Lord has placed a burden on to facilitate His life and walk with others for a specific time. Family Issues, Marriage problems, Offenses, Sin in the life of an individual (known or unknown)-with the goal of restoration 🙂
  • Leadership is not a permanent position
  • The body is always discerning

How can it work with a fallen bunch of people?


58 to 0 How Christ leads by Jon Zens

Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity by Frank Viola