I am regularly asked about what gospel community leadership looks like in Bread&Wine. We’ve had several iterations of GC leader role descriptions that have focused on a variety of things over the years. Below is our current leadership role description that I’m sure will change over the years. A few notes before you examine it and develop your own.
We have not included things we expect from all believers in our church:
- Missional engagement in daily life and with their community
- Generosity with their time, possessions, and abilities
- Personal spiritual formation through reading the Bible, prayer, worship, study, and other spiritual disciplines
- Participation in worship gatherings
We fell these things are clearly what it means to be part of any church and don’t need to be on this role description other than to say, “our leaders are examples of following Jesus faithfully”. We don’t want to create two categories of Christians: elite leaders and normal people. We expect leaders to be on mission because they are Christians not because they are leaders.
We have explicitly listed expectations for leaders in this role description that are for all believers (gospel motivated, relying on the Holy Spirit, praying, servants, honest). We include them as expectations and qualifications for leaders because we want to be explicit with the type of leaders we are looking for and what maturity in Christ looks like as a leader against cultural and recent historical assumptions about leadership. For example, we want to be explicit that leaders ought to be motivated in leading a community by the gospel instead of gaining influence, control, or proving themselves.
We want to confront the notion that leaders have achieved holiness and maturity that looks like always doing the right thing. Instead, we expect our leaders to regularly confess their sin and confess Christ–to not disregard sin and to not hold to moralism. We want maturity in leadership to look like repentance and faith.
Finally, our cultural has the expectation that leaders are super heroes that can fix us and usher us into our best life now. Our role description counters that by clarifying what is and isn’t in their control. We expect our leaders to know this and lead in this way. It is highly dysfunctional (and heretical) to send leaders to start communities who think they can solve the world problems.
This role description only works if you have a structure of coaching leaders one-on-one and in large groups. This role description is admittedly broad. It is through coaching relationships and being connecting with the others leaders in our church that gospel community leaders are equipped and gain clarity on what they ought to do month-to-month and season-to-season as leaders. Because Bread&Wine has a coaching structure that encourages and enables leaders come up with next steps, ideas, and strategies, we don’t have to articulate those in this role description.
I wrote more on our philosophical and big-picture view of leadership in the articles “What Makes a Good Leader?” and “Being a Good Leader.” The following qualifications, posture, and practices are based on those longer explanations of leadership.
GC Leader’s Role Description
Qualifications of a Leader
- Motivated by the gospel. It seems like a given, but many leaders can lead for other reasons.
- Have a desire to help others grow in faith and obedience by pointing them to Jesus.
- Committed to the long process of helping others grow in faith and obedience. It will take time and will not feel great or exciting most of the time.
- Prayerful and dependent on God. The Holy Spirit dwells within you. God is your helper that empowers you to love others. Leaders are those who pray and listen to the Spirit.
- Servants to Jesus as Lord. You are not building your resumé or gaining God’s approval by leading a community. Instead, you are selflessly serving Jesus.
- Honest with their own mess as they repent and believe the gospel. Leaders who are honest and open about their struggles to believe the gospel.
- Understands they can’t make people change. Leaders are faithful in sharing the gospel and trying new things, they are also quick to turn to God in prayer and learn from others.
- Submitted to elders of Bread&Wine. This means they consider with great weight what elders have to say and do not view themselves as lone rangers.
Posture of a Leader
The leaders of a missional community are examples of repentant and believing people. Being an example has often been the mark of a leader in Christian circles. However, the example being displayed is one of perfection. Someone with all the answers, free from sin and harmful vices, has the Bible memorized, and always knows the right thing to do. This however, is a picture of Jesus, not leaders within a community or church. Instead, the example and model we find within the Bible is that the best leaders are humble, repentant, dependent on God, boast in nothing except God’s grace in light of their sin, and servants.
Practices of a Leader
As a leader, you will point people to the gospel in the Bible, speak the gospel in your own words, connect the gospel to people’s stories, pray in light of the gospel, and call people to serve as demonstrations of the gospel. Leaders create an environment where community can happen.
- Prayer for each individual in in your community.
- Regularly ask how your people are doing as individuals and families? How are you all doing together?
- Regularly ask what what does it look like for our community to walk in repentance and faith? What does obedience look like for us? What is God calling us to?
- Shares leadership. This means they trust others to lead in specific ways and makes times to get with the other leaders to process.
- Regularly attends leadership huddles and retreats where they share in the learnings of other leaders.
- Connected to a coach who cares for them and helps them process all of the above.
Creating Your Own
What level of theological agreement, sanctification, maturity, and abilities do you want leaders to have?
What is essential for our leaders to do in our current season as a church?
What are unspoken expectations we have for leaders?
What strategies or structures do we want to make explicit for our leaders?
What images would you use to describe leadership for your community?
How many hours a week do you expect leaders to be doing “leadership” stuff beyond being Christians in your church?