The church is in the midst of a leadership crisis. This crisis isn’t unique to the Christian Reformed Church—many other denominations and ministries are experiencing the same thing. But the effects of the leadership vacuum are beginning to be startlingly real.
Congregations feel the need for leaders at every level of church life. Councils struggle to find people willing to serve as elders and deacons. There is a significant shortage of pastors in the CRC. It’s getting increasingly difficult to find people willing to teach church school or lead youth groups.
The crisis is felt in our CRC agencies as well. Calvin Seminary has space available for people seeking to become pastors, church educators, and youth leaders. Home Missions is seeking qualified leaders to become church planters. World Missions needs leaders who feel called to be missionaries (both short- and long-term). CRWRC is looking for people who are willing to serve in ministries of Christian community development. Leaders are needed everywhere.
So what makes a good leader? Not long ago our denomination crafted a position paper on the meaning of leadership. You can find it on our website (www.crcna.org). The basic premise of the paper is that leadership and service are biblically, spiritually, and practically intertwined. All leadership should be wrapped in a commitment to service.
Leadership is not the same as “spiritual gifts,” although the ability to lead is one of the spiritual gifts. Leaders, if they are to be effective in ministry, need to be servants willing to give themselves “to the work of ministry.”
The best church leaders don’t seek a platform to advance their own vision, ideas, agendas, or inclinations. Effective leaders model vision, ministry agendas, and servanthood.
We live in a time when there is a lot of emphasis on being your own person, pursuing personal goals, seeking to do what you want. Our culture values these things highly. But there is more to living in God’s world than personal achievement. The church needs people who are willing to devote themselves to excelling in ministry leadership.
Such service is not limited to a fixed set of skills, and the opportunity for service isn’t limited to those who believe they have exceptional abilities. The kind of leaders the church needs are those who develop and exhibit the gifts God has placed within them and who make their gifts available for the benefit of others. That kind of leadership can be exercised by everyone and in every place.
Please consider how God is calling you to the adventure of church leadership.
About the Author
Rev. Peter Borgdorff is Executive Director emeritus of the Christian Reformed Church.