Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Church Hierarchical Leadership

Jesus had an upside-down view of leadership.  The basis for this organization chart comes from passages like Matt 20:25-28, Matt 23:8-12, Luke 22:24-27, Matt 19:30, Matt 20:16, Mark 9:35, and Luke 13:30.

However, it bothers me when I see top-down church hierarchy leadership structures like these:

This last organization chart bothers me the most.  It looks as if the Senior Pastor is the link between God and the church.  But we know from 1 Tim 2:5 that the only mediator between us and God is Jesus.

I've often wondered where the church got off course.  I know that to a degree the leaders in the church do serve others, but when did the church get the idea it was OK to have top-down hierarchy structures the same as other institutions of the world.

I came across a research paper yesterday called  The Rise of Hierarchical Leadership. It is an academic paper, not written necessarily for the masses.  It helped identify some of the reasons why there was so much change in this regard in the first 400 years or so of the church.

For example people like Clement of Alexandria and Origen had also been students of Platonism which saw the whole of society separated into classes or levels, and that people were actually predestined to their level in society.  They also thought in terms of dualism, where there was a need for priests and clergy to be mediators between regular laymen and God.  The concept of priesthood of all believers was soon largely overlooked.

There is a lot more to it than this. There are some quotes I may discuss at another time.

I'm not sure why this bothers me.  Some people fight leadership and authority because they wish they were in charge. I have no desire to lead in any manner other than leading by example of what it means to serve and care for others.  Biblical leadership doesn't have to be about making decisions for other people, or exercising authority over others.

Does anyone know of any other good resources that explain well how and why things changed?

Related Posts:


Frank Prescott said...

This is so relevant to my situation. I will read the linked article/pdf you use. Thanks!

Jonathan said...

Thanks Frank, hope it helps some. :)

Anonymous said...

Hierarchical church leadership is anti-Christ. Jesus told us that we have one Father/leader and we are all brothers.

Ralph Polendo said...

Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna is an excellent resource to trace the historical origins of our modern church practices.

Dr. James Willingham said...

Such views of leadership, especially of the hierarchial variety, spring from a failure to study the meaning and usage of ekklesia which is clearly a body of equal members.

Jonathan said...

Sorry a bit slow at responding to these comments.

Thanks Ralph, I took a second look at Pagan Christianity, and that prompted me to look into some quotes from ignatius that I posted here:

oikoskrk and James, yes unfortunately I think I can agree.


J.R. Miller said...

I appreciate the comment on my blog brother and we share the same concernes about these leadership structures. I will deal with some of these very same issues in my current series on Eldership

Keep in touch.