Andy Stanley calls for more secular approach to church leadership
Praising God using worldly songs may be an obvious sign of unhealthy church leadership. Adopting secular concepts of leadership would be another. However, many churches today would rather have an MBA than an M.Div. as their pastor.
In 2006, Christianity Today sat down with pastor Andy Stanley to discuss his philosophy of leadership. In the award-winning interview (!), he advocates a corporate, “get-it-done” approach to leadership in Christ’s church.
The interview begins with a clear admission on Stanley’s part: “There's nothing distinctly spiritual [about my church’s leadership].” He continues,
One of the criticisms I get is "Your church is so corporate." I read blogs all the time. Bloggers complain, "The pastor's like a CEO." And I say, "OK, you're right. Now, why is that a bad model?"
A principle is a principle, and God created all the principles.
That’s quite a leap, but he continues by throwing out a distinctly biblical approach to ministry. He opines, “The church wasn't an organization in the first century. They weren't writing checks or buying property.” (Let’s ignore the spiritual leadership the Apostles provided in Acts 4:23–5:11, then.)
He continues by advocating a redefinition of pastoral leadership to exclude the concept of shepherding.
Q: Should we stop talking about pastors as "shepherds"?
A: Absolutely. That word needs to go away.
Stanley goes on to explain that the concept of a shepherd is lost on a contemporary audience, rendering the image culturally irrelevant. He argues that, if we want the right kind of leaders, we need to adopt a more familiar (i.e., secular) model. Otherwise, he warns that our mission as a church will be hampered by a board ignorant of basic business principles; the Spirit can’t use that kind of church as effectively.
Despite the sprinkling of biblical terminology, this interview represents a mindset that is 180° opposite of Scripture. He answers a problem in churches (unqualified leaders producing a “chaotic” atmosphere) with another problem (making the church more like the world). God is not pleased when those leading His church add to or remove from His words. Only a commitment to what Scripture says about spiritual leadership can help us avoid both errors.
Considering this, what are good alternatives to the advice we are receiving? Here are some basic resources that I recommend you take your leadership team through:
- Spiritual Leadership: A Commitment to Excellence for Every Believer by Oswald Chambers
- The Master's Plan for the Church by John MacArthur
- Biblical Eldership: An Urgent Call to Restore Biblical Church Leadership by Alexander Strauch
- Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever
- Pastoral Ministry: How to Shepherd Biblically edited by John MacArthur