7 Verses About Church Leadership

This blog article examines what the Bible says about church leadership, including the importance of humility and equipping believers for the work of the gospel.

Susanna Fleming

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If you type the word “leadership” into Amazon’s search bar, over sixty thousand books will show up in the results. These books cover everything from leadership in the workplace to leadership in the home, and many of them are world-renowned for their ability to articulate essential leadership principles. 

But what does the Bible have to say about this topic? While I highly recommend that everyone read a few leadership books to grow in understanding and leadership capacity, the Bible is the best place to start for commentary on church management. From Genesis to Exodus, the Bible is full of God-breathed wisdom for church leaders. 

If you want to learn to lead and serve others in a way that honors God and reflects His character, check out the verses below. 

7 Verses About Church Leadership 

Matthew 20:26-28 (NIV)

Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Church leadership requires great humility. 

Just ask James and John – as well as the other disciples who became upset when they learned that James and Johns’ mother had asked for special favor for her sons. In Matthew 20:26-28, Jesus teaches his disciples about the true nature of greatness and leadership. He emphasizes that it is not about authority, power, or a special seat of honor. Instead, he explains that true greatness is about serving others. 

As church leaders, we must always seek to follow Jesus’s example. Rather than coming to earth as a powerful king, he came to serve. 

Ephesians 4:11-13 (NIV)

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Why do leadership roles exist in the church? 

According to Ephesians 4:11-13, they exist to equip the people of God for the work of the gospel and to build up the body of Christ. This means that church leadership is not an end unto itself – it is a means to an end! 

As church leaders, we must remember that we don’t create programs for the sake of filling the church calendar, nor do we teach just to show off our knowledge. Instead, we use our gifts and leadership positions to empower other believers to do the front-line work of the ministry. If our leadership isn’t equipping our congregation and bearing the fruit of unity, Ephesians 4 is a great reminder of the biblical vision for church leadership.

Galatians 6:9 (NKJV)

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Church leadership requires great endurance. 

While there are seasons in which we can readily see the positive fruit of our ministry, there are other times that it feels like we are running on a treadmill at full speed without water. But Paul offers us good news in Galatians 6:9. If we don’t lose heart, we will reap the good we have sown. Even if it is difficult to imagine now, we will see God’s goodness. As church leaders, we must continually remind ourselves of this powerful truth when we face difficult seasons. 

James 3:1 (NRSV)

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

James may have written these words to address an influx of self-designated teachers within the church. He may also have been warning people who desired the influence of teachers but lacked the gift of teaching or didn’t meet the character requirements. In either case, this is an important – and somewhat sobering – reminder for church leaders. 

What and how we teach deeply matters to God. We should work with all diligence to ensure our teaching is scriptural and comprehensive. We should also proceed with humility, as teaching should never be about personal gain. We should not, however, be deterred from teaching because we are afraid of messing up. Teaching is a much-needed role in the church, and we need teachers who are gifted and committed to a life of holy pursuit.

Proverbs 11:14 (ESV)

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.

Church leadership requires a lot of decision-making. 

Leaders must determine how to organize events and activities, how to allocate resources, what church management platform to use… and the list goes on. Proverbs 11:14 reminds us that having knowledgeable and wise advisors can lead to enhanced decision-making and a better outcome. Church leadership was never meant to be a solo act! 

While it can be tempting to rush forward with decisions due to either lack of time or confidence in our own wisdom, this verse reminds us that it is always best to seek advice and counsel from others.

1 Corinthians 3:4-7 (NKJV)

Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of  Apollos,” or “I am of  Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.

Selfish reliance and competition are two of the greatest threats to church leaders. 

In this passage, Paul articulates that the success of a church is not dependent on the talents, charisma, or personality of any one leader. We may plant and water, but we would see no results without the power of God working through us. 

Additionally, we should not rally around individual leaders in a way that promotes idolization or competition. Everyone who does the work of the ministry is on the same team, and it is God who brings the increase!

1 Peter 5:1-3 (ESV)

So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.

This passage is full of straightforward wisdom for church leaders. When ministry becomes taxing, it can be easy to feel like something we are obligated to do. We can slip into the trap of going through the motions but resenting our calling. Here, we are exhorted to pastor our people willingly and eagerly. We are also reminded that church leadership has nothing to do with our personal gain, and we are not to mimic the way of the world in our leadership. The Christian leader offers an example of self-giving love rather than domineering authority. 

Practical Tools for Church Leadership

Church leadership requires great humility, intentionality, and practice! Thankfully, we have Jesus as our example, the Bible as our source of wisdom, and the Holy Spirit to empower us as we seek to grow in this area.

There are also many practical tools we can rely on as we work to become more effective church leaders. One of these tools is a church management system. A ChMS can greatly impact your church’s organization, people management, finances, and more!

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