Leadership Together

Healthy churches are no happy place for lone wolves. Especially in leadership. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus’s apostles assume and instruct that his undershepherds do the work of Christian leadership together.

In Acts 20:17, it is the plural elders of the Ephesian church that Paul calls to come to him on the beach at Miletus and whom he calls overseers (plural). It’s the plural overseers whom he addresses, along with the deacons, as he begins his letter to the young church at Philippi (Philippians 1:1). The apostle summons respect from the Thessalonians not for a single leader, but for “those (plural) who labor among you and are over you in the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 5:12), and he mentions a plurality of official leaders — “the council of elders” — that once laid hands on Timothy (1 Timothy 4:14).

Hebrews enjoins its readers to remember their plurality of leaders (Hebrews 13:7) and obey these leaders and submit to them (Hebrews 13:17). Many more texts could be cataloged, but perhaps most memorable of all, in Peter’s solemn charge to the leadership in his first letter, he writes, “I exhort the elders among you” (1 Peter 5:1).

Christian leadership isen’t for lone wolves, but those ready to join a team. It is leadership together — a privilege and responsibility for those patient enough, and humble enough, to be part of a plurality and willing to work well with others.

In this new 14-minute episode of Theology Refresh, we talked Christian eldership with the ever helpful Kevin DeYoung, author and pastor of University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan. We touch on the importance of plurality, as well as several other topics in the eldership bucket, in hopes that Christian leaders of all stripes — whether office-holders or not — will be refreshed as to the nature and practice of leadership together in Jesus’s church.

To check out this episode, subscribe to Theology Refresh in iTunes, watch below, or find audio and video at the resource page.


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David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor at desiringGod.org and an elder at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis. He has edited several books, including Thinking. Loving. Doing., Finish the Mission, and Acting the Miracle, and is co-author of How to Stay Christian in Seminary.