Church governance

SERMON TOPIC: Church governance

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 14 April 2019


Sermon synopsis: A look at the different types of church governance:
- Episcopal
- Presbyterian
- Congregational
- Connexional
- Download notes (4.78 MB, 584 downloads)

- Download audio (11.10 MB, 557 downloads)
- All sermons by Gavin Paynter

- All sermons on LEADERSHIP

- All sermons on ELDERS

- All sermons on THE CHURCH

- All sermons in ENGLISH


Zebedee was the father of James and John, two former fishermen who became disciples of Jesus. The gospels suggest that his wife’s name was Salome. 1 Whether it was prompted by her sons James and John, or whether it was her own idea is not clear, but in Matt 20:20-28, Salome comes to Jesus with a request:

Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favour of him. “What is it you want?” he asked.

1 Whereas Mark 15:40 names the women present at the crucifixion as “Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses, and Salome”, the parallel passage in Matt 27:56 has “Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children.”


She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”

You don’t know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?

We can.

You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.

When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers.

Jesus called them together and said:

You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.

Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—

— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Why did Salome want James and John to be seated on the right and left of Jesus?

It was a desire for pre-eminence, honour and power. The indignant response of the other ten disciples confirms this. And why were they angry? They also wanted these jobs! They too had selfish ambitions.

Jesus said that the Pharisees liked to “have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets” (Mark 12:39). It was something Jesus disliked and spoke out against. On an occasion when he was eating “in the house of a prominent Pharisee” we read:

Luke 14:7-11 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honour at the table, he told them this parable:


When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honour, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this man your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place.

But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honoured in the presence of all your fellow guests. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

The Pharisees believed in domineering and autocratic leadership. They loved the recognition that came with the position. When Jesus denounces them, he says:

“Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honour at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the market- places and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.” (Matt 23:4-7, NIV)


But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant.

But in Matt 23:8-12, Jesus goes on to say that his followers are to be different.

Jesus taught what today we call “servant leadership”, a philosophy in which the main goal of the leader is to serve.

Qualities of servant leaders:

they are humble and selfless

they are empathetic and listen to their followers

they are collaborative

they mentor others

they don’t abuse authority.


The Pharisees were poor examples to their followers:

Matt 23:1-3 (NIV) Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.”

In contrast Peter encourages church elders to be “examples to the flock”. (1 Pet 5:3)


Church polity (church government) refers to how a church’s leadership is structured. While there are many variations and nuances found within individual churches (and these are too numerous to list), essentially all are variations of one of the following: episcopal, presbyterian, and congregational. 1

Don’t be confused by the fact that there are denominations known by each of these three names.

Every church is either independent with no higher authority outside of that local church, or it is part of a larger group or denomination with leaders who exert control from outside the church. 1

1 https:// church-polity.html


The main types of regional church governance are:





Episcopal governance is a very hierarchical structure in church governance in which the chief local authorities are called bishops.

In some systems, bishops may be subject to bishops holding a higher office (variously called archbishops, metropolitans, or patriarchs, depending upon the tradition). They also meet in councils or synods. 1

1 https:// wiki/ Episcopal_polity


Examples of Episcopal polity are found in the Catholic Church, Episcopalian / Anglican, Eastern Orthodox.

In the Catholic church, the cardinals act as an advisory panel to the pope. The bishop and archbishop are on the same level, but the archbishop has a larger area that they are responsible for.

















Holy See / Vatican


Roman Catholic Church hierarchy

Church of England (part of Anglican Communion) ranks

Often associated with Episcopal polity is the idea of Apostolic Succession, which is the claim that bishops derive their authority from an unbroken, apostolic succession from the Twelve Apostles of Jesus.

Churches claiming some form of Apostolic Succession include the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox Churches, the Church of the East and the Anglican Communion.

E.g. Catholics claim Apostolic Succession back to Peter, who they maintain was the first pope.

Most Protestants deny the need for this type of continuity and question the validity of the historical claims used to justify it.


Roman Catholics also teach the Primacy of Rome whereby the hold that all bishops are to be subject to the Bishop of Rome (i.e. the pope).

Luther’s rejection of the primacy of the Pope led to the start of the Protestant Reformation, during which numerous Protestant sects broke away from the Catholic Church. The Church of England also broke away from the Catholic Church at this time, although for reasons different from Martin Luther and the Protestants. 1

Most Pentecostals teach that the only head of the church is Christ (Col 1:18) and that “the sole guarantor of apostolic faith, which includes apostolic life, is the Holy Spirit.” 2

1 https:// wiki/ Papal_primacy 2 The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought


In Presbyterian polity each local church is governed by a body of elected elders. The presbytery is a body of church elders and ministers, representing all the local congregations of a district. Presbyteries can be grouped into a synod, and presbyteries and synods nationwide often join together in a general assembly.




General Assembly









This type of governance was developed in Geneva under John Calvin and was introduced to Scotland by John Knox. It is strongly associated with the Reformed and Presbyterian churches. In contrast to the Episcopal model:

There is always plurality of leadership – elders in a church (rather than a priest), presbyters over churches (rather than a bishop).

Bishop and elder are viewed as synonymous terms.

A bishop holds the highest office of the church (there is no Patriarch or Pope over bishops).

The Presbyterian system makes no claim to Apostolic Succession or to any kind of continuing tradition passed down across the centuries.


The pastor’s authority in Presbyterian polity is an authority shared with all the elders and exercised jointly through the Session and the other courts of the church. Whether a church has elders and pastors as two different offices (like most Reformed churches), or teaching elders (i.e. pastors) and ruling elders as different designations within one office (as in most Presbyterian churches), the net result is more or less the same. At the local level, the authority to receive members into the congregation, exercise discipline, and establish rules for the government, worship, and theological integrity of the church rests with the board of elders (usually called the Session, or in Reformed polity, the Consistory). 1

1 https:// blogs/ kevin-deyoung/ what-is-the-nature-of-pastoral-authority-a-presbyterian-perspective/


In congregationalist polity each congregation is independent or autonomous, self-supporting, and governed by its own members. E.g. Congregational, Baptist, Anabaptist, Quakers.

Some churches band into loose voluntary associations with other congregations that share similar beliefs.






Pastor / elders & deacons

Loose association

Pastor / elders & deacons

Pastor / elders & deacons

Pastor / elders & deacons

Some Methodist churches use what is known as Connexional polity. Unlike the Episcopal, very “top-down” hierarchical structure, this is a “bottom-up” structure.

E.g. in the United Methodist Church, local churches elect delegates to different conferences, from which delegates are elected to the highest decision-making body, the worldwide General conference, which is half lay and half clergy. 1 Bishops are elected by the lay and clergy delegates to the jurisdictional and central conferences, which meet every four years following regular sessions of the General Conference. Any active ordained United Methodist elder in good standing is eligible to be elected a bishop. 2

1 https:// How-do-Catholics-and-Methodists-differ 2 what-we-believe/ ask-the-umc-how-are-bishops-chosen-in-the-united-methodist-church


The Assemblies of God US is defined in its constitution as a “cooperative fellowship” of “churches and credentialed ministers”.

The fellowship’s polity is a hybrid of presbyterian and congregational models. This tension between local independence and national authority is seen in the A/G’s historical reluctance to refer to itself as a denomination, preferring the terms fellowship and movement. 1

The A/G has, however, elements of congregational polity, which are limited by the powers of the districts and General Council to license and discipline ordained ministers. 1

1 https:// wiki/ Assemblies_of_God_USA


What of local church governance? Is the pastor the head of the church?

Our Statement of Faith reads “We confess the Lord Jesus Christ and no other, as head of the Church (Col 1:18).”

The support Scriptures are:

Eph 5:23 (ESV) For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body…

Col 1:18 (NASB) He [Christ] is also head of the body, the church…


Some churches adopt a system whereby a single “lead elder” (or pastor) has a board of deacons. But the NT church had a plurality of elders within each congregation.


What about priests? This is a term we avoid. In our Statement Of Faith we state “There is no separate office of priest, as was practiced in the Old Covenant, because we are a kingdom of priests.”

1 Pet 2:9 (ESV) But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood…

1 Pet 2:5 (ESV) you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Rev 1:6 (NASB) and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father… [cf. Rev 5:10]


What about fathers and popes?

In the Catholic church, the head of a local congregation is called a parish priest or “Father”.

The English word “pope” comes from the Latin “papa”, which in turn is derived from the Greek “pappas” meaning “father”. The Catholic pope is sometimes referred to as “Holy Father”. 1

We distance ourselves from any title meaning “father”.

Matt 23:9 “And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.”

1 According to Wikipedia in the early centuries of Christianity, the title of pope “was applied, especially in the east, to all bishops and other senior clergy, and later became reserved in the west to the Bishop of Rome, a reservation made official only in the 11th century.” https:// wiki/ Pope


What about apostles and prophets?

There are some Charismatic churches who propagate the teaching that the end-time church should be led by apostles and prophets (rather than the deacon and elder / pastor model). This was a central teaching of the heretical Latter Day Rain movement.

The Latter Rain movement emphasized relational networks over organizational structure. They taught that there would be a restoration of the five ministerial roles mentioned in Ephesians 4:11 (apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher). The roles of apostle and prophet were considered foundational, but were said to have been lost after the time of the very first apostles.


The Latter Rain movement believed that God was restoring the ministries of apostle and prophet in the present day. These ideas form part of what is called the “prophetic movement” and “New Apostolic Reformation”. 1

They felt that the church should be divided on geographical, not denominational, lines. Their expectation was that in the coming “last days,” the various Christian denominations would dissolve, and the true Church would coalesce into city-wide churches under the leadership of these newly restored apostles and prophets. 1

These restored ministries are deemed greater than those of the “Early Rain” of the Biblical period. 1

1 SOURCE : https:// wiki/ Latter_Rain_ (post%E2%80%93World_ War_II_movement)


While these teachings later gained inroads into Charismatic circles, the Assemblies of God US deemed the Latter Rain movement to contain heresy from the very outset.

The 1949 General Council of the A/G, in Seattle, Washington, adopted a resolution disapproving of the doctrines.

The teachings were also rejected by other classical Pentecostal denominations.

Eph 4:11-12 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.

Classical Pentecostals understood the fivefold ministry not as offices or authority designated to any particular person, but as functions available to the entire Spirit-filled congregation, been giving at the discretion of the Holy Spirit. 1

Note: Some see it as a fourfold ministry with the pastor / teacher being combined.

1 Shane Jack Clifton, An Analysis of the Developing Ecclesiology of the Assemblies of God in Australia, [PhD thesis, Australian Catholic University, 2005], p. 150.

Eph 2:19-20 speaks of the members of God’s household, as being “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone”. This is referring to the establishment of the church. Once the cornerstone and foundations are laid, we build on that – we do not put another foundation upon an existing one. Thus we believe that Jesus and the original apostles constituted the foundation which the church builds on.

Referring to “The problematic teaching that present-day offices of apostles and prophets should govern church ministry at all levels” the A/G US website says:

The aorist participle in [Eph 2] verse 20 is best translated “having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone”—a past occurrence. The reference to apostles and prophets in Ephesians 3:5 speaks of their role in recording the inspired Scriptures as a past occurrence. 1

Eph 3:4-5 (NIV) … the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets.

1 https:// Beliefs/ Position-Papers/ Revival-Endtime-Revival--Spirit-Led-and-Spirit-Controlled

They continue to say that “The leadership of the local church, according to the Pastoral Epistles, is in the hands of elders / presbyters and deacons.” 1

While rejecting the continuing offices of apostles and prophets, they hold that “the ministry functions still continue.” 1

Prophets in the New Testament are never described as holding an officially recognized position… We affirm that there are, and ought to be, apostolic-and prophetic-type ministries in the Church, without individuals being identified as filling such an office. 1

1 https:// Beliefs/ Position-Papers/ Revival-Endtime-Revival--Spirit-Led-and-Spirit-Controlled

In summary: The AG does not recognize titles or offices of “apostle” and “prophet”. It does, however, believe there are those in the church who “exercise the ministry function of apostles and prophets”. Apostolic functions relate to evangelizing previously unreached areas or people groups, while prophetic functions “occur when believers speak under the anointing of the Spirit to strengthen, encourage, or comfort”. “Prophecy is a continuing gift of the Holy Spirit that is broadly distributed as the Spirit wills throughout Pentecostal churches”. Predictive prophecy that proves false, or prophecy that “departs from biblical truth” is false prophecy. The AG believes in the 4 ministry gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor/ teachers but notes that there are no biblical instructions for the appointment of apostles and prophets today. 1

1 https:// wiki/ Assemblies_of_God_USA

Our Statement Of Faith reads: “We believe that there are only two officers in a local New Testament church namely elders and deacons”.

Phil 1:1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers (Greek: episkopois) and deacons (Greek: diakonois)…

Polycarp (69-155 AD), the disciple of the apostle John, speaks of only two officers in the early church.

Wherefore, it is needful to abstain from all these things, being subject to the presbyters and deacons, as unto God and Christ. 2


Likewise Clement of Rome (c.35 – 99 AD) confirms the Biblical practice of the apostles appointing only 2 officers:

The Apostles received the Gospel for us from the Lord Jesus Christ… Having therefore received a charge, and having been fully assured through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and confirmed in the word of God with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth with the glad tidings that the kingdom of God should come. So preaching everywhere in country and town, they appointed their firstfruits, when they had proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons unto them that should believe. 1

1 1 Clement 42:1-4

The Didache (1st century AD) speaks of only 2 offices:

Appoint, therefore, for yourselves, bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord, men meek, and not lovers of money, and truthful and proved; for they also render to you the service of prophets and teachers. 1

In fact, Ignatius is the only known early Christian writer who refers to a single bishop in each city (or diocese), assisted by both presbyters (elders) and deacons. 2 Other writings of this period mention either bishops or presbyters, or use the title interchangeably.

1 Didache 15:1 2 Letter to the Magnesians 2, 6:1 “Take care to do all things in harmony with God, with the bishop presiding in the place of God, and with the presbyters in the place of the council of the apostles, and with the deacons… entrusted with the business of Jesus Christ…”

As they reflect an ecclesiology that was clearly a later development, the writings attributed to Ignatius are believed by some to be fraudulent, written in an attempt to justify the idea of a single bishop per city by getting the unwitting endorsement of Ignatius. 1

The belief that all bishops should offer allegiance to the bishop of Rome (the Pope) is an even later development.

1 There are 15 books attributed to Ignatius of which 8 are clearly forgeries. 7 are considered by some to be genuine, while others believe all to be forgeries. E.g. Philip Schaff writes, “The whole story of Ignatius is more legendary than real, and his writings are subject to grave suspicion of fraudulent interpolation. We have three different versions of the Ignatian Epistles, but only one of them can be genuine; either the smaller Greek version, or the lately discovered Syriac. In the latter, which contains only three epistles, most of the passages on the episcopate are wanting…” (History of the Christian Church, Vol 2, ch 4)

Titles for leaders were descriptive of the function, not the position. The basic definitions of the leadership titles are:

Deacon (diakonos): One who renders service to another. The word just means servant and is the same word that is translated “minister”.

Elder (presbuteros): Elder or senior, older and more advanced in years. This term refers to those whose age and experience have brought them wisdom.

Pastor (poimen): A shepherd, the feeder, protector, and ruler of a flock of men.

Bishop (episkopos): An overseer, guardian or inspector. A bishop is a man charged with the duty of seeing that things to be done by others are done rightly.

So why do we say there are only two officers?

What about bishops? While the term “bishop” is a Biblical word, it is simply the older English term in the KJV rendered in modern English versions as “overseer” – which is the equivalent of an elder i.e. not a separate office.

1 Tim 3:1 (KJV) … if a man desire the office of a bishop [Greek: episkopé], he desireth a good work.

(NIV) … Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task…

(ESV) … If anyone aspires to the office of overseer

(NASB) … if any man aspires to the office of overseer

(NLT) … If someone aspires to be an elder


What about pastors?

The same logic applies to the term “pastor” (shepherd). We believe that an elder, bishop (overseer) and pastor are one-and-the-same ministry. 1 In the NT the terms “elder” and “pastor” are used interchangeably. Likewise the earliest Apostolic Father, Clement of Rome, uses the terms ”bishops” and ”elders” (presbyters) interchangeably.

Some churches use the term “pastor” to designate a full-time elder, “teaching elder” or “ruling elder”.

1 The A/G US position on elders is that “the words ‘elder’ or ‘eldership’ refer to the office of pastor, bishop, or overseer.” https:// Beliefs/ Position-Papers/ Qualifications-and-Responsibilities-of-Deacons-and-Trustees 2 Our own Statement Of Faith says: “A pastor is simply a fulltime elder and the same office ‘episkopois’ is variously called a bishop, elder or pastor.


The Greek word:

“poimen” means shepherd

“episkopos” means overseer

“presbuteros” means an elder

All three words are sometimes used interchangeably. For example Paul uses elder and overseer (bishop) as equivalents:

Titus (NIV) 1:5-7 The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders (presbyterous) in every town… Since an overseer (episkopon) manages God’s household, he must be blameless…


Luke writes as follows about Paul’s meeting with the Ephesian elders:

Acts 20:17-18,28 (NASB) From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders (presbyterous) of the church… And when they had come to him, he said to them… “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers (episkopous), to shepherd (poimainein) the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”

To use modern “title” terminology, Paul is telling the ELDERS to PASTOR the church over which the Holy Spirit has made them OVERSEERS (bishops).


And likewise Peter writes:

1 Peter 5:1-2 (NASB) Therefore, I exhort the elders (presbyterous) among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd (poimainó) the flock of God among you, exercising oversight (episkopountes) not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness

Again, to use modern “title” terminology, Peter is telling the ELDERS to PASTOR the church and to OVERSEE (bishop) them.


Yet in many churches, a pastor is seen as a notch higher than an elder, while a bishop is again regarded as higher than a pastor.

Methodists, Episcopalians, Anglicans, Lutherans and Catholics recognize bishops in roles above the congregational level.

Catholics have added positions like archbishops (a bishop over a larger city) and cardinals (an advisory panel for the Pope). The head of a local church is called a parish priest, Father, Reverend or Pastor (in the US).

Some Protestants (in particular Charismatics) have adopted further offices like senior pastor and associate pastor, while some have started using bishop as an office more senior than an elder or pastor.


Writing in the 5th century, Jerome admits that bishops and elders are actually equivalents and that the early churches were ruled by a plurality of elders. A single bishop was a later development to counteract heresy and to try ensure doctrinal consistency in churches.

The presbyter is the same as the bishop, and before parties had been raised up in religion by the provocations of Satan, the churches were governed by the Senate of the presbyters. But as each one sought to appropriate to himself those whom he had baptized, instead of leading them to Christ, it was appointed that one of the presbyters, elected by his colleagues, should be set over all the others, and have chief supervision over the general well-being of the community… 1

1 Comm. Tit. 1.7.


He makes it clear that there is no scriptural precedent for the episcopal system, but that it was later development.

… it is fitting that the bishops, on their side, do not forget that if they are set over the presbyters, it is the result of tradition, and not by the fact of a particular institution by the Lord. 1

Admittedly the same can be said of some modern Protestant churches. Having all decision making and power invested in a single pastor (or ruling elder) has no Scriptural precedent. In many Charismatic churches (in particular megachurches) the single “movie star” pastor has similar power to a bishop in an Episcopal system, yet without being under any authority themselves.

1 Ibid.


Let’s briefly consider a modern congregational church and what a typical structure could look like.

There are four areas of the local church which can be represented by four relationships the church has: between the church and those outside of it, the church and those within it, the church’s relationship toward God, and God’s relationship toward the church.


These four relationships can be indicated by four directional words describing the direction of the relationship to the church. They are:

Out-Reach: The church reaching out to those outside the church. (Evangelism, Missions)

In-Reach: The church reaching in to those inside the church. (Encouragement, Fellowship)

Up-Reach: The church reaching up by communicating and giving to God. (Praising, Prayer, Worship)

Down-Reach: God reaching down by communicating and giving to the church. (Bible Study, Preaching, Teaching, the Holy Spirit)







Senior Citizens





Foreign Language



(Worship, Prayer)


(Bible Study, Teaching)


(Evangelism, Missions)


(Fellowship, Visitation)


(Elders, Pastors)


The world judges a man’s greatness by how many people serve him.

Matt 20:25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.”

God judges our greatness by how many people we serve.

Matt 20:26-28 “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

In the Christian realm, all leadership should be servant leadership and not an attempt simply to exert control over others.


John 13:3-5 (NIV) Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

As an object lesson to his disciples, Jesus practically demonstrated the servant style of leadership. Despite being their Lord, he washed their feet, thus teaching them to lead by first serving others.

John 13:12-17 (NIV) When he had finished washing their feet, he … returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”


Paul tells us to imitate Christ’s servant attitude (we consider others better than ourselves, we do nothing out of vanity or selfishness, we look out for the interests of others).

Phil 2:3-7 (NIV) Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.


It is sad commentary in the church today that we have many celebrities but very few servants. There are many who want to “exercise authority” (Matthew 20:25), but few who want to take the towel and basin and wash feet. 1

Our own STATEMENT OF FAITH reads as follows:

The Greek word for pastor is “poimen” and simply means shepherd or overseer. The terms pastor, elder and deacon describe ministries and are not meant to be titles, in accordance with the word of Jesus.

Matt 23:9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.

1 https:// servant-leadership.html


This must be the attitude of church leaders. Note how when Peter speaks to elders he simply calls himself a “fellow elder”, not an apostle (or the pope or universal bishop).

1 Pet 5:1 (NIV) To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed:

He then encourages servant leadership:

1 Pet 5:2-3 (NIV) Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.


The focal point of servant leadership within the church is “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Ephesians 4:12). This means, with Christ being the head of the church, the entire church body is served in the act of providing leadership. It’s not just the church leaders who become acutely aware of their place at the foot of the cross but all those within the body of Christ. We all mutually submit ourselves to Jesus just as He was in submission to the Father. From a biblical perspective, servant leadership frees the church of the abuse of power and coercion and promotes mutual respect and love for one another. 1

1 https:// servant-leadership.html


A servant leader seeks to invest himself in the lives of his people so that, as a whole, the church community is challenged to grow to be more like Christ. This is demonstrated in the leader’s willingness to give of himself to meet the needs, but not necessarily the wants, of his people. Like a good parent, the true servant leader knows the difference between the needs of his spiritual children and their selfish wants and desires. The bottom line to the application of servant leadership is that we don’t emulate the examples of the world; our example is Jesus, who came as a servant. Therefore, our mission is to serve one another, to give of ourselves. Christ came to give His life. We are to give of our lives not only in service to Him but to our fellow man, including those in the church and outside it (Mark 12:31). 1

1 https:// servant-leadership.html


The rewards believers will receive at the Bema Judgment are called crowns. The Crown of Glory is given to Christian leaders who serve well and in humility.

1 Pet 5:4 (NIV) And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.



Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV: THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (

Scripture quotations are taken from the ESV: Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.