I have seen much discussion about who rules or governs the church. Everyone seems to recognize that Christ does, and then the arguments begin. Are elders (or pastors) in charge? Does the congregation have the final say?
I am suspicious that we are too quickly moving past the reality of Christâ€™s rule by assuming there must be a human government in the church. Could it be that it is inappropriate to say that either elders or the congregation rules?
Then, Matthew suggests that elders lead the church by example through relationship and discipleship. He says the most important factor in church leadership is that all of the believers seek to follow Christ. He concludes:
If the shepherds take such an approach, they will develop a caring, trusting relationship with the congregation. The church will have confidence in their teaching and example and will follow willingly. There is a dynamic here that transcends “government”. It is too spiritual and relational to be described as such.
I agree with Matthew. The type of leadership that Scripture describes for the church is not “government” but leadership by example through relationship and discipleship. I think it is possible to govern without relationship. However, I do not think it is possible to lead apart from relationship. Scripture calls Christian leaders to be servants, to lead by example, to disciple through relationships. But Scripture does not instruct Christian leaders to govern.