Have you ever thought about the difference between a "baby believer" and a "believer who's a baby" in a local church? I've previously written about the differences, and I'm concerned that too many "believers who are babies" are leaders in churches.
In this post, though, I'm writing about a "middle-ground" believer in a leadership role: one who's been a believer for some time and doesn't carry on like a baby, but who also doesn't show maturity and depth. I don't think anyone intentionally and deliberately thinks, "He hasn't grown, but let's appoint him anyway," but it happens.
Here are some reasons why:
- Churches often don't expect anyone to show maturity. That's because they've stopped their work at evangelism and have failed to complete the other side of the Great Commission—teaching believers to obey everything Jesus commanded (Matt. 28:20).
- We often give lip service to biblical leadership qualifications with no accompanying commitment to test the lives of potential leaders. We might talk about qualifications at an ordination service, but seldom otherwise. At best, we view qualifications only as goals and don't expect anyone to live up to them.
- We tend to grant positions on the basis of faithful attendance more than spiritual maturity. Both can go hand in hand, of course, but they don't always. As long as someone's faithfully at church, we consider that brother or sister qualified for a leadership role.
- We assume that giving a believer a leadership position is one way to lead him to be faithful. Indeed, we ask baby believers to step into mature believers' roles in hopes that their responsibility will grow them. There is much wrong with this idea, but it happens repeatedly.
- Many churches have no strategy to help members grow in the first place. Consequently, we'd be requiring believers to live up to a standard for which we haven't equipped them if they must be spiritually mature to lead.
- Once we have workers in place, we just assume their spiritual maturity. Unless they make a blatant, public choice to sin, we assume they're still qualified simply because we gave them a leadership role in the past. Meanwhile, our choice only affirms immaturity and stagnation.
- In some churches, immature believers and their families run the show. They're already the power brokers, so nobody confronts them about their lack of spiritual growth. After all, it wouldn't change anything anyway.
- We view ability and talent as the most important qualifications to lead. For example, never mind that the baby believer is still struggling with sin and wrestling with his faith—he can sing well, so let's let him lead worship. We could multiply this scenario in far too many churches.
What thoughts would you add?
Chuck Lawless is dean of doctoral studies and vice president of spiritual formation and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. In addition, he is team leader for theological education strategists for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
For the original article, visit chucklawless.com.
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