Church Leadership 101: You’re Under Authority

I’ll make this brief: Anyone in ministry is a person under authority. From the senior pastor answering to…

I’ll make this brief: Anyone in ministry is a person under authority. From the senior pastor answering to a board or the congregation (depending on your governance) to the executive pastor answering to the senior pastor, to all staff (paid and volunteer) answering to the executive pastor or senior pastor. Everyone reports to somebody and should be held accountable.

Ultimately, we all answer to the Head of the Church: Jesus Christ. Colossians 3:23 tells us “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” But on a practical, day-to-day working relationship, how does this whole concept work itself out?

Basically, we need to keep in mind that there are no lone rangers in ministry. Ministry should be done as a team and everyone should have someone that holds them accountable for goals set, discipline, and growth as a professional and a leader.

In a meeting, when something is being discussed, you have every right to speak up, voice your opinion and fight for something you’re passionate about, but once the decision has been made, you must get on board and champion that cause as if it was your idea.

Last week, I spoke at the National Outreach Convention in San Diego. I met a man from a known church in Texas and he told me he was on staff there and I went on to share with him my experience of visiting there and taking a tour. My team and I, years earlier, had been led on a tour by a disgruntled staff member who bashed the pastor and begged us to hire him. It was horrible. I remember driving away from that church and hearing our pastor say, “Don’t ever act like that to visitors.”

If you have something against your senior leadership (pastor, executive pastor, or elders/deacons) – keep that to yourself and take the initiative to seek them out (Matt. 18) and discuss your grievance with them privately. Don’t bad mouth your leadership to others inside or outside the church.

So, what about you? How do you handle issues of authority in your situation? Have you ever fought hard for an idea and had it shot down? How did you respond?