In the past on this blog I’ve spoken about different leadership styles for churches, but something I’ve been thinking about lately is what a church holds as it’s “central tenants” that a person must agree with to qualify for a “leadership” position in the Church. Which position exactly isn’t relevant, I think there may be higher bars for Elders than pre-k leadership, but I think every church likely has an idea of what they think a leader should believe in order to be eligible for leadership. Now obviously, there are some character and lifestyle traits laid out in Scripture, but I want to know about what they need to believe. What Doctrines so define your community that anyone in leadership must share them? And additionally, even if they acknowledge those doctrines are true, how seriously should that truth impact their life?
What got me thinking of this topic was a conversation I had with a pastor about what positions a gay person could hold in the Church he works for. He acknowledged that they could be members, be baptized and would be welcome in the community, but stopped short of allowing non-celibate gay people, even ones in committed monogamous (marriage) relationships, into positions of authority. And I’m not picking on him at all, he has a well thought out, I think sensitive approach to a difficult topic. Mike was nothing but graceful in our conversation and I don’t want to come off as anything but grateful for his time and the opportunity to sit down with him, but I wonder, if the standard for leadership involves 1) believing the biblical view of homosexuality is sin and 2) being biblically repentant (ceasing it’s practice) of that sin how does that apply to other sins, or is it applied to other sins as well?
For example, if the CEO of Nike was a regular attendee of your church and wanted to get involved in leading ministry, would he have to 1) believe that the unfair exploitation of people in extreme poverty was a sin? 2) would he have to repent of it, and repent in the Biblical sense by ceasing the behavior? Nike shareholders wouldn’t be a big fan of the company going fair trade, but would we ask that of him/her? Clearly Jesus believes that economic exploitation is sinful, Jesus doesn’t even really talk about sex, but talks about money more than ANY OTHER TOPIC. So I don’t think the Christian stance on this topic is hard to understand, so what is our response? Do we tell the guy not until he steps down as CEO? or Until he begins paying a “fair” wage (assuming we can determine that)? I have a hard time conceiving of a church denying this man leadership, let alone the disciple often subject people who are gay within a church.
Now, obviously if the church believes something differently than the congregant in leadership, perhaps they should refrain from speaking on that topic, or make every attempt to address multiple viewpoints (which they should do anyway) when teaching it, so the church’s official position is at least given a voice, but I think we should allow these people to serve in leadership.
For me at least, and keep in mind I don’t lead a Church, the Doctrines that would be required for leadership are those at the Core of the Christian faith. That list would look something like:
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became truly human. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father [and the Son], who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
Now, apart from those issues, I don’t really care what they believe, so long as they are responsible in their presentations of information and considerate of the Church’s established view point when teaching. Does anyone else see my point, or do you think there is merit in keeping the theology of a specific church very homogeneous? I’d love to hear your thoughts!