As I’ve been reading through the early chapters of 360-Degree Leadership by Michael Quicke, I have been struck by his clear point regarding preaching and leading – they should not be divided into two mutually exclusive camps. While it is possible to lead without preaching, it is only in contemporary churches that this distinction has become more absolute in recent years. I may quote Quicke again, but first I would like to share some thoughts from my own perspective:
1. Leading without preaching is possible, but should not characterize the entire leadership of a church. The biblical pattern and instruction is that a church should be led by a group of qualified elders (use whatever term you choose, I’m not getting into terminology today). What is important to note is that the elders are not qualified by gifting, but by qualified Christian character. This means that some may not be gifted or effective preachers. However, it is important to be able to communicate and interact with people as individuals. Leadership without preaching is possible, leadership without communication is not. Leadership without preaching, although possible, has become too common in some churches.
2. Preaching without leading is possible, but what kind of preaching is that? Even when a preacher does not have an official leadership label, the act of preaching is an act of influence. By life, example, instruction and encouragement, the preacher influences the congregation. However, two things undercut the leadership of a preacher. (1) Preaching what Michael Quicke calls thin-blooded sermons that are individualistic and confined to personal spirituality. (2) Having that preacher be a guest preacher, rather than a local person of influence. There is a very significant role for guest preachers, but when the majority of the preaching is done by guests, especially if they preach “thin-blooded” sermons, then leadership and preaching have been effectively divorced – a strange state of affairs for the church.
3. When preaching and leading work together, there is great potential. Not every leader has to preach, and not every preacher has to be an in-house leader, but when the majority of the preaching in a church is leadership preaching, there is real potential! Guest preachers can be used to supplement and bring something unique (either insight, or energy, or as a draw, or supplementary perspective, etc.) But when leadership and preaching go together, then the church isn’t functioning merely as a business, but as a spiritual community responding to the Word of God and participating in the dynamic reality of the Christian trinitarian life . . . the life of a God who speaks . . . (can I really end a post there?!)
I’ve reached my limit for a post, so I’ll save the quote for another time.