September 27, 2015

Effective Church Leadership

Written by:
Rev (Dr) Prabhudas Koshy

It has always been my earnest prayer that the Lord will grant our dear church, Gethsemane Bible-Presbyterian Church, an effective leadership. We cannot cease from praying and constantly working towards developing and maintaining a church leadership that is efficient and fruitful. Even for those who have been in the church leadership roles for a long period of time, this must be a constant desire and aspiration in the Lord.

After being in the pastoral ministry of Gethsemane for more than 20 years, I am fully convicted that no leader has complete mastery over the work, challenges, temptations and trials that he will encounter in the ministry. Constant vigilance is necessary from the leadership, individual leader and every member of the church to maintain an effective leadership in the church.

The Leadership’s Collective Responsibilities

The Church Session (Pastor, Elders and Deacons) and Preachers of the church must assume a collective responsibility to safeguard and guide the church in the truth and holiness of the Lord. They must be cooperative and accountable to one another to provide mutual encouragement, correction and support. They must remain united and harmonious as they serve the Lord together. The failure of a leader to submit, collaborate and join forces with others will affect the efforts of the rest of the leadership.

The apostles had been blessed with responsible men who maintained a reciprocal relationship with them in the ministry. The apostle Paul often expressed his boundless joy in men who served along with him in the

  • “Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you” (2 Corinthians 8:23).
  • “Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier” (Philippians 2:25).
  • “Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer” (Philemon 1:1).
  • “Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer” (Philemon 1:1).
  • “Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ” (1 Thessalonians 3:2).

The church leaders are not in a competition among themselves. There should be no rivalry among the leaders of the church. When those in the leadership are like-minded, the church will greatly benefit from their congenial spirit and efforts. This is well demonstrated in Paul’s testimony about Timothy: “For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state” (Philippians 2:20).

Together, they must give of themselves to protect and to feed the church. In Acts 20:28, Paul commanded the elders of the Ephesian church, “Take heed therefore . . . to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”

The apostle Peter advised the elders, “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, … Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:1-3).

The Leaders’ Individual Responsibilities

Every church leader must be diligent in ensuring his daily growth in the Lord. Every church leader’s maxim ought to be “grow or die”. In the church leadership, when one stops growing spiritually, he has started to die.

Every leader must also be cautious to discipline himself in order to remain holy before the Lord. He must examine himself to recognise and avoid everything in him that could damage his testimony and effectiveness as a church leader. The apostle Paul did just that, for he said in 1 Corinthians 9:25-27, “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible … But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” (Please read 2 Corinthians 6:1-10 and learn from Paul’s firmness of purpose and tenacity as a devout leader of the church.)

Here is a checklist for all in the leadership on appropriate conduct that befits effective church leaders:

  • Am I godly in character, manifesting the life of Christ and the fruit of the Spirit?
  • Do I pray fervently, and commune with the Lord?
  • Have I been leading my family in the Lord?
  • Have I cultivated the good relationship with fellow leaders in the service of the Lord?
  • Have I increased in faith, knowledge of God’s Word and service?
  • Have I been responsible, prompt and devoted to the Lord’s work that is assigned to me?
  • Have I been self-sacrificial in being generous and helpful concerning the needs of the church?
  • Do I stir my heart to give my very best for the Lord?
  • Do I encourage others in the church to love and serve the Lord?
  • Have I shown resilience in the face of difficulties and even setbacks?
  • Have I patiently endured my trials with an unflinching spirit?
  • Have I given myself to improve and build up the areas of my responsibilities and the lives of those who are under my care?

The Church’s Cooperation with the Leaders

To have an effective church leadership, members of the church have an important role to play. Hebrews 13:17 reminds us that our leaders will have to give an account to the Lord about our souls; hence, we must not oppose or bring hardship and grief to their spirit. “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”

Disregarding divine counsels, as is warned in Hebrews 13:17, is to be a hindrance to the work of God’s appointed servants in the church. Unnecessary criticism, rude remarks, disrespect, an uncooperative attitude, threatenings and all such conduct that would bring sadness and struggles in the leaders’ hearts, are spiritually dangerous to oneself and to the church.

Giving your leaders cause for groaning is of no advantage to you. If they struggle with the burden of the ministry, please patiently and lovingly avail yourself to help them in a Godhonouring manner. Let every member of Gethsemane be a great joy to our church leaders, be it pastor, elder, deacon or preacher.

May our leaders truly be able to say of our dear church, such glorious things as the apostle Paul wrote about the early churches. He said of the Thessalonian church, “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?” (1 Thessalonians 2:19). So brethren, I would like to beseech you with the words of Paul to the Corinthians, “Wherefore shew ye to them (the fellow-labourers like Titus), and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf” (2 Corinthians 8:24).

Gethsemane Bible-Presbyterian Church adheres to the system of faith commonly known as the “Reformed Faith” as expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith together with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms.
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SingPost Centre
Level 5 Auditorium
10 Eunos Road 8, Singapore 408600
(next to Paya Lebar MRT station)
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Gethsemane Media Centre
33 Ubi Crescent
Singapore 408584
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