My heart is broken for the body of Christ. I have people come to me constantly asking, “Where is the power of the “Church”? Why is there such a difference between what I see in scripture and what I am living”? My reply is generally a shrug at first because I doubt that they really want to know. Eventually, if they persist, we will end up in scripture and look at what is happening in their Christian living, then find in scripture where there are examples of our plight or position. We then look at what the bible says and how that applies to our experience. Inevitably we find that our problem is not believing and living in obedience to the relationship we say we have with Jesus. For the most part, believers are upset at leaders and leaders with believers. All seem to be caught in a no-win situation.

One thing is certain and that is that what the Book says it means. Living a compromised, “traditions of man” type Christianity will not bring Jesus presence, power and love into our families or communities. That love is what most Christians are looking for, a naturally supernatural kind of love that changes what can’t be changed. To get to the place we want to live in will take a paradigm shift in what we are doing. That is going to take strong, courageous leadership, sold out for Jesus, willing to pay the price so the Body can walk like Him and so the world may know Him.

In the Christian community we tend to surrender living the truth to embrace compromise when the truth messes with our comfort. We do not know how to stand in the face of ridicule and rejection by our peers or family, so, for the most part we don’t. Our focus is on the things of this world (trying to keep fleshly or worldly peace) rather than “living for the audience of one” the way Jesus did, (Jesus living can be summed up in this one statement, “I came not to do my will but the Father’s—regardless of what happens to me–because I trust Him in whom I have committed myself to”). (Paraphrase of several scriptures—all mine). To live the life we see Jesus depicting and asking us to model can be a very lonely place.

In discipleship/intimacy trainings we do around the world, we have found that on average 93% of the church is sitting. {in over 300 trainings we have given to traditional church leaders/groups in a variety of countries the reported percentage of sitting “believers” is – 93%}. 7% of the body is actively engaged in the resurrection commands or as Paul calls them the elementary principles of Christ (Heb. 6:1-2.)

Believers (not that they want to) for the most part are doing very little, exhibiting little faith, a powerless love, and have very little hope that anything will change in the traditional church setting. They are frustrated, and feel insignificant, rejected or neglected by Christ and leadership. They are tired of not seeing what is written in the Bible in their lives. They pray but have little power. As a result they feel helpless. Because they are frustrated, they go from building to building, meeting to meeting looking for something new or real. As a result of not finding what they are looking for by doing this, they are walking away from “traditional church gatherings” in mass. Believers are tired of being considered not good enough and being restricted to the position of spectators. Their lives have become insignificant in traditional church settings. In leaving, they are finding many who share their frustrations, but still few are finding a different place to live in where they see what they are looking for. What the body needs is leaders willing to embrace a paradigm shift into a place of serving and scriptural function that will produce the presence, power and love of Jesus in the lives of His children.

Relevant, scriptural leadership of the body is a desperate need in this day. We need leaders that are humble and willing to change upon seeing they are not being scriptural. They need to demonstrate a walk of integrity in word and example. They need to be willing to confess their faults and change, not living according to the world’s standard or in the traditions of man. They are not to be “Lords” over people.

One pastor at a training we were doing asked me, “Where are the true prophets of God who will stand up and guide us back to the teachings of Jesus rather than “prophesy about our great future”. Many are tired of “good or nice” words that do not edify (build people up into the nature and likeness of Christ).

As leaders go, so goes the body. All through the bible there is the reality that what the leaders of Israel and the Church do, so goes the people of God. Thus, the direction, attitudes, and the modeling that leaders do are paramount in the direction the church goes. In the Word, leaders (teachers Jms.3:1) are more accountable – because they are leading. Because we are more accountable as leaders we need to ask ourselves this question each day,

“Where are we taking those following us”? What are we actually teaching and modeling for those watching us? Leaders’ example and living declares to the body what they should really model to the world. The examples we set as leaders and the traditions followed by us or exalted in our modeling reveal to the people what they should think important. If leaders model the traditions of man and compromise with worldly ways, that is what the body will accept as “the norm” and practice in spite of what the Word says.

I believe the leaders in the body of Christ are as frustrated as the body, but are caught in a hard place. What they have been taught and what has been modeled to them has placed them in an impossible predicament. If they do differently than what they are taught and what denominational leadership says they must do, they will be rejected and possibly lose their “position”. If they do break the mold they have been cast in and do what they see in scripture, this will say to them that, for the most part, they have been living more for the traditions of men than what the Word says. The enemy then tells them that they are failures. To this I say, “Maybe today was the day of revelation and discovery; simply ask forgiveness if you find yourself in the wrong place and begin to live the truth that has been discovered.” Change, it is ok.

Because the body is so indoctrinated to the “command” to sit they rebel at the command to “go”, so they tend to reject the leader trying to bring them back to the reality of scripture or leave to find a better place to sit (their comfort zone). This leaves the leaders frustrated, crying in prayer for something to change.

The role of believers in scripture and the position of leaders in the body are pretty much at opposite positions to what the Word shows they should be. If we want the body of Christ to mirror what we see written, I believe we leaders are going to have to make a paradigm shift first, in thinking and living, before the body will move. We leaders need to be willing to see where the body is truly at and what we are producing with what we are speaking and doing. What people do as a result of what we have been teaching shows what we have actually taught. We may need a check-up from the neck up as we may have “stinkin” thinking. We have not modeled the Kingdom style of leadership that is depicted by Jesus life and ministry for the most part.

All the trends and statistics gathered on the Church show that in very few years traditional church will become irrelevant in western countries. Because of the extremely fast exodus of people from it we may already be there. Christianity is in crisis in the western world. Though we rant and rave about laws passed that are contrary to our beliefs, the church has no influence. (Most believers think that laws will bring neighbors to Christ or “save” our country). Laws will never bring people to the Lord. You cannot legislate morality or Christianity. Morality and Godliness are heart issues. Trying to legislate righteousness or morality to cause unbelievers to change distracts us from sharing the Good News and only makes people hate us and our narrow-minded ways. Where is God’s love and presence in what we do. I think that many times we do what we do because we lack the presence and power of God †hat we should have. So we try to “legislate” people to believe. God tried to get people to trust Him by giving them “laws” in the Old Testament. It did not work. Man’s law and obedience to them will never produce right standing with God.

The world does not want Christ or Christian morality. Why would they? What do we have to offer them in our present state, a gathering on Sunday, with what? A prayer meeting on Tuesday, for what? Only the power and presence of Christ in our lives will change people and our world. The body of Christ needs leaders who will take us back to the place where the promises of God prove to be true.

Leadership has always been held responsible By God for the condition of the people in the Bible. Their influence was what directed the path of Israel and is what directs the believers. A leader’s ‘modeled behavior’ was what the people of God became. It is still true today. When we look at the body and see that 93% are sitting, we leaders must look at the leadership model we have been taught and are living. The reason that people sit is because, in-spite of what we think we are teaching and preaching, WE leaders have taught the people that sitting and giving money is the acceptable form of obedience that proves they are good Christians.

How many leaders are making disciples – like Jesus modeled and commanded us to? How many exhibit Christ’s attitude toward other denominations or fellowships? Where is Christ’s love and powerful presence? How many compromise Christ’s word for the sake of “pseudo-unity”? Most have “good” reasons for what they do, but we must look at the fruit. Compromise and excuses are invalid reasons for neglect of duty. Compromise has become an “acceptable sin” to avoid persecution and rejection.

Insignificance lives in the heart of many Christians. As a result of the “traditions of men’s” precedence in the churches, compromise with the world is the norm for Christianity. The world has demanded of Christians to be more tolerant and compliant to their ways. They have done an excellent job of evangelizing the Church into irrelevance and insignificance.

We leaders and the Church or body have need of going back to Jesus’ teachings on leadership, then put Paul and Peter’s teachings on the subject under Jesus’ words and stop justifying and exalting the traditions of men. To get back to Jesus example will take a paradigm shift in attitude and example for all of us who call Christ Lord. It will not be easy but if we change, we will see change. If we obey we will see the “book of Acts” alive again. The body of Christ needs to stand up and demand scriptural behavior of its leaders. There needs to be accountability for us all to model Jesus and what is written.

Elders, deacons and leaders throughout the NT writings had to be men of faith. That is men in whom the Holy Sprit was manifest with the miraculous signs that Jesus said would follow believers. There had to be evidence of their commitment to Jesus and of His presence in their living.

A side note on Jesus, the only time recorded in the Gospels that He passed the plate was to give food to those who came to hear Him. The plate or basket was not to get money out of those who came but had fish and bread for them. The apostles at the beginning of the book of Acts told the people who were following Christ to set deacons into leadership to take care of the money. – It is not recorded that they took any of it. It was for widows and orphans. Is that the attitude of leaders in the body today?

Mt 20:25 –Mt 20:28 (NKJV)

But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Emphasis mine)

We need to see a radical shift from the leadership style that surrounded Jesus in His time, existed before His time and throughout the world,- still rampant in the church today- back to a place where leaders serve like Jesus told us to. If we believe that what Jesus wrote here in Matthew 20 is actually the truth… Worldly style leadership found in the church needs to be confronted by we who are the church.(the church as a whole needs to be confronted by Holy spirit). Jesus was not suggesting how leaders should lead the Church; He was confronting and instructing His disciples in exactly the way leadership in His Kingdom was to be. He gave them and us a command on how to do it. PERIOD. Why have we walked away from His example, teaching, direction, and commands?

If we are to see Jesus be Lord in our age, we must find out what the relationship is between compromise and disobedience. Compromise makes disobedience look less repugnant. Compromise is the justification to disobey or remove a standard to keep peace or pseudo unity, rationalizing that what we are doing is not so bad. It exalts the traditions of men and the ways of the world. “Everyone else is doing it, so I need to not be so harsh and narrow-minded”. Compromise destroys integrity. Holiness can have no part in a life of one who concedes a truth for the sake of the cooperation of others. Holiness can only be found in being totally separated unto the Lord, His Word and purpose. “No Compromise” needs to be written afresh on our foreheads!! The whole world system that we find has infiltrated the Church is based on compromise. The worldly system of leadership has infiltrated and overtaken the church in many ways.

Eph 4:11 –Eph 4:13 (NKJV)

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the “equipping” of the saints for the work of ministry, for the “edifying” of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; (all emphasis is mine)

Paul and Peter’s writings must be put under Jesus’ words. Their writings cannot stand alone. When what they wrote is put under Jesus command for leaders, it takes away the right of “ministers” to do the work of the church body by doing all the preaching, sharing, praying, teaching, and hearing. It changes everything about leadership. To edify (build up) and equip (give tools to) is to come alongside or be under and lift up those we are amongst, so they can do the “work of the ministry”. The Church should do all that Jesus did. Leaders are to edify and equip the body until they walk like Jesus, in the fullness of His nature. (see Paul’s correction of the out of order Corinthian church, 1 Cor. 14:26)

1Pet 5:1 –1Pet 5:3 (NKJV)

The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; (again emphasis is mine)

“Serving as Overseers” ; one who supervises (observes and directs the execution of a task, project, or activity) — denoting a person appointed by a testator to assist the executor of a will).

“Among”; surrounded by, in the company of.

“Nor as lords but being examples; if leaders are not making disciples, going and reaching the lost, living in humility and selflessness, walking naturally supernatural lives then how do we expect the flock of Christ to do it. WE are to be the i.e.

Leaders are to be examples and servants. We are to raise everyone else up to walk like Jesus. We are to serve, not take the glory or control. Leaders are to be selfless like Jesus. We are not to bring a message, We are to BE the message… like Peter, John and Paul. We are to be examples. If we are really Christ’s leaders we will exhibit power in the Spirit, not so we can be great, but so Christ will be exalted through us. Leaders are to suffer so the Church might live the life if Christ. We should be fulfilling the suffering of Christ so the body may find grace. Leaders are to go, give, and die for the Church. They have Jesus heart of serving others and living for the audience of one (FATHER GOD), not the audience of people. It is evident to those around Christ’s leaders that God not only speaks through them but moves through them.

The scripture that says ”obey those who are over you in the Lord” (Heb.13:17) has a total different meaning when it is put with Jesus teaching on leaders and Paul and Peter’s other words. The meaning would be more like; honor, trust and follow those who serve you and lift you us so you may walk like Jesus.

Father is not going to do any more. Jesus has given us all there is to receive. Holy Spirit is here, willing, able and ready to be what the Word says He is – if we become who we are to be – starting with leadership.

It is only the truth that sets us free. Are we willing to really see where we are, what we have created and what we are doing? What have we to lose by changing? Our traditions, Our worthless, without power meetings, Our religious status, The religious Church or the world’s distain, Failure? …

I wonder what Jesus thinks of our unwillingness to return to and walk out the biblical example He and other’s set? I wonder if He will accept “our need to compromise for the sake of unity” excuses? Will He say, “well done good and faithful servant”?

One regional denominational leader in an Asian country that Dana and I taught servant leadership/discipleship to along with the 200+leaders under him told me after the training was over that he would be kicked out of his denomination if he committed to do discipleship and become a servant instead of a “lord over” style leader. He shared with us that he had spent 20 years “attaining” the position of regional director in his denomination. After 3 days of discipleship/leadership training he realized that he had actually never obeyed Jesus and had actually built his own kingdom instead of serving Jesus. He was so broken and ashamed of what he had done that in front of the pastors in his region he committed to make disciples the ways Jesus did and to stop being a lord over them. He committed to be their servant and model the life Jesus wanted him to live. (He told me he would probably resign as he realized that what his leaders and teachers had taught him was not scriptural). He became a discipleship trainer, left the position he had worked 20+ years to attain and went to an unreached area to make disciples like Jesus.

Following Jesus and His style of leadership could cost us a position as a leader in traditional church setting. But I do not think that is necessarily what must happen.

I believe that the body of Christ is so hungry to be needed and used by Jesus that if we, begin to serve them and help them begin to walk like Jesus, we will find that they will follow us as we follow Jesus. The members of His body are looking for relevance, reality, love, and His Word being true. His body is looking for significance and a way of becoming relevant in today’s society. That will only happen as we leaders submit to Jesus word and become the example they need so they might find the boldness and strength to be—like Jesus…


All Scripture referenced are in the NKJV.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email