Thoughts on Church Leader Qualifications (The Modern Church Vs the New Testament Church)

This morning there was a fun discussion happening on a friends Facebook thread. Basically, it revolved around a call to the church to focus more on character than charisma when it comes to church leadership.

Below are some of the thoughts that came to my mind in response, but expanded.

First, I 100% agree!

I always find it interesting when I look at job descriptions from churches versus the qualifications laid out in the New Testament.

Church job descriptions almost always revolve around 3 things:

  1. Accomplishments
  2. Education
  3. Charisma

This is based on my reviewing a lot of church job descriptions. Especially back when I was looking to have a full time church job.

Basically…Churches want to see what sort of things a pastor or church leader they are hiring have personally accomplished. What sets them apart? How big did they grow a church? How many staff did they lead? How many programs did they start? Did they successfully lead building programs? And so on.

Churches want a seminary trained professional. Many will say “Bachelors degree acceptable but Masters Degree preferred”. Just serving in a church rarely qualifies someone.

Churches want a pastor or church leader who have a charismatic personality. They should be able to speak and keep the attention of listeners. They should be able to emotionally connect with people from a stage. They should look and sound like someone you want to follow. And so on.

What the New Testament puts out there, however, revolves around the following:

  1. Loving God
  2. Loving others
  3. Character

The NT values how people loved God and loved others. They valued the character of a person from how they dealt with unbelievers to how they handled their spouses and children. Education wasn’t bad, but formal education wasn’t remotely a requirement as education takes on many forms.

Now, let me be clear, I’m not diminishing education. Education is very important. Shoot…I have a BA in Youth Ministry from an accredited Christian University.

The reality, however, is that education takes on many forms, and some of the most impactful and meaningful education that I’ve received in my life didn’t happen in a formal institution, but by doing life with someone.

This is why in Acts 4:13, Peter and John were seen as “uneducated”…because they were in the most academic sense, uneducated…but they had been educated in a far more impactful and life changing way…they had been with Jesus. They had walked with Jesus. They had spent every waking and sleeping moment with Jesus for 3 years.

And it was this that the most “educated” men of their day recognized about them. They knew they hadn’t been formally educated (apparently it was painfully obvious), but when they spoke and when they acted…the fact that they had been with Jesus overshadowed their lack of formal education.

In other words, we should care more about if someone spent time learning at the feet of Jesus than if they were schooled by the universities and educational institutions of the day.

So to summarize, we (the church) need to look more at people who have clearly been with Jesus, and it shows in their words and life…and who have been truly discipled and who are discipling others, and less at a piece of paper hanging on someones office wall, or the list of accomplishments that they can give you, or how cool and charismatic they are.

When you look at what churches expect and what God expects, it’s a pretty stark difference! So the question I have is this…How do we change that? How do churches move to a place where they place more value on what God values versus what the world defines as valuable?

Because if we are honest with ourselves, that is the difference.

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