Wednesday, 10 June 2009

How to pick a new leader

  • What do we look for in a lead elder?
  • What marks a lead elder from one with elder ability?
  • How do we confirm that a lead elder is God's man for now?

When a church looks for leadership it is tempting to evaluate candidates on such matters as personality, likeability, presentation and other subjective criteria. We can attempt to compare a new leaders credentials or character against another’s and resolve to understand what they might bring to enhance or be different from previous works, or we might look to ensure that a new leader works well with existing leadership teams and projects. But it seems to me this is no real way to determine who should lead.

God First:

King David was set apart by God when he was a shepherd boy. He was discounted by his Father Jesse who left David tending the sheep and was only brought forward at Samuel's request. God then instructed Samuel to anoint David with oil. 1 Samuel 16 We may look at fine candidates and determine their qualities, but what we need to hear is what does God want?

One man:

We are prone to think that like any job interview, having more than one prospective candidate to choose from is helpful as a comparison can be made. But it would seem that so often God has ONE MAN earmarked for leading in a season. (Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Saul, David, Joseph, Samson, Jonah etc etc etc )

I think this may be why New Frontiers model of church leadership is Lead Elder with plural eldership as it recognises one man who instigates and is responsible for the direction. 

It is important then that when looking for a lead elder, we find the one man that God has anointed for the job. If God has anointed a person then what role does the congregation have?

Leaders need followers

It is entirely possible to have every good leadership idea and be a useless ‘leader’ because no one follows you!  A congregations job then is to determine 2 things.

  1. Has God set this man apart for leading us?
  2. Will I follow?

All other considerations are secondary, even if they are important.  Change can be difficult, sometimes painful, but if we can see (even if we don’t understand) God’s anointing and clear direction then whatever reservation or concern, whatever joy or excitement we need to examine our heart and determine if we will work with God or against him.  No leader can lead if people won’t follow. It is the responsibility of the leader to ensure that they are the man for the job and that they know the direction to head. It is the job of those that recognise God’s anointing to follow the one man anointed for the task.

New Frontiers

Following last years Brighton Conference where Mark Driscoll carefully encouraged us to recognise that Terry Virgo ought to find the new ‘husband’ for New Frontiers (forgive me, I don’t have his actual words to hand) much discussion and prayer has been focussed on how New Frontiers should move forward and under what leadership structure.  New Frontiers is not quite like a denomination in that it does not issue edicts or policy which must be abided by from those who call themselves part of the family of Churches together on a mission. Rather it is built on relationships grounded on core values that are shared by all.  Though Terry brings apostolic leadership and direction to the movement, it is expressed on the ground, in local congregations in many different ways as the spirit leads. Each New Frontiers congregation then has similar values but can have a very different feel and core application according to local need and the Spirit.

Since the small beginnings the movement has grown to have relationships on many shores, and though relationships have grown to accommodate the growth, so too has the stature of those released to support the work in those nations.  It is easy to see how God has set apart one man in several places to lead the work and it would appear that New Frontiers will release those to be apostolic in their own right (like lead elders) to continue the work in those nations (including the UK).

It will be interesting to see if a new leader will be anointed by God for the task of moving New Frontiers on, or whether a council of elders might replace the input from Terry.  Certainly ‘succession’ is not the right language, even though what comes next ‘succeeds’ the former.

But it’s clear that what comes next must honour what comes before. For we must remember it’s God that appoints and directs (however we feel about it) and it is for God to vindicate or validate himself, not our opinion on the success or comparison with another leader.


So then, what one thing connects a leader (or leaders) of a movement with the leader of a local congregation? VISION.

As the proverb says’  18Without guidance from God law and order disappear,  but God blesses everyone who obeys his Law.

It is essential then that any person who wishes to lead God’s people in any location (national, local or trans local) desires a good thing, and should be a man recognised worthy of respect according to 1 Tim 3, but that only qualifies him to stand. What identifies him as the man is God’s anointing. And God’s anointing comes with communicable vision that encourages the heart of the hearer to say YES and AMEN.


Dan Rodger said...

I've always wondered about this , what exactly is the biblical mandate for a lead Elder?

Rob said...

Hello Dan

I think I hinted at that in the 'one man' section in my post.

Thanks for the comment