Motivations vary considerably, from a genuine conviction and leading of the Spirit of God, to a desire to resolve power struggles, to a superficial interest in imitating another church. A presenting problem may serve as an impetus for leadership change. For example: leadership conflict, the presence of a “Diotrephes” (that is, a domineering individual), unequipped/unqualified/ineffective leaders or a lack of confidence in leadership.
All of these things affect how you approach the church with the goal of leadership change. We will address each of these as we go along. However, many of the implementation principles are universal regardless of your particular scenario.
Model the Goal As You Begin the Process
First off, it is best when aiming for plurality of leadership in the church, that the process begins with more than one change agent. This will avoid putting undue focus on one individual pressing for change, which would be counter-productive to your objective. The goal is to make the Lord Jesus Christ prominent as you begin to model, in seed form, plurality of leadership.
Although we will be addressing the reader as a single individual, we suggest you consider inviting one or two others who can join you in being co-catalysts and work through the process together.
Honestly Evaluate Your Motivation
It is absolutely critical that your motivation is based on a clear and convincing understanding of what BE is. If you are uncertain of this, we recommend going back to the section of this website, “What is Biblical Eldership?” BE is not just one of many optional forms of church government; nor is it simply just a preferable kind of leadership in the church. As the term indicates, it is biblically based and reflects God’s teaching for leadership in the local church. Regardless of whether it proves to be strategically better than other forms of church government (and we think it is), the fact is that this is the pattern taught by the Word of God. Foundational to everything else in this task is the desire to be faithful to God as he speaks in his Word.
Desiring to transition to BE will probably involve an inter-play of motivations. We have given you a worksheet to help you work through these. Here are the steps you can take to maximize the benefit of this:
- Download the “Board Member’s Motivational Worksheet.” Don’t just breeze through this, but deeply consider it, giving it thought and prayer.
- Ask someone close to you (your spouse or close friend) to give you feedback on your answers to the worksheet.
- Pray, asking God to reveal the “thought and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).
If there are any conflict issues or tensions involving others in leadership roles, these need to be addressed before moving on in the process. We cannot stress this enough.
Modify Your Motivation
If your motivation needs modification, we suggest the following:
- Be committed from the outset to promoting and preserving unity in the church. Change of this magnitude may cause disunity and division even in the best of circumstances, so your commitment to unity is essential.
- Confess any sin uncovered: pride, over-sensitivity, fear, people-pleaser attitudes, envy, etc.
- Ask the Lord to help you, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind …” (Rom. 12:2) as you take, “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5b). Clear focus on the glory of the Lord and the love of his people must be the core of your motivation.
- Ask for wisdom in dealing with any conflict (open or subtle) among the current leadership. This must be addressed in a biblical manner, or the move to BE will be seen as a power grab in the struggle of leadership. We recommend two excellent resources for working through conflict:
Agape Leadership: Lessons On Leadership by the Life of Robert Chapman, by Alexander Strauch and Robert L. Peterson (Lewis & Roth)
If You Bite & Devour One Another, by Alexander Strauch (Lewis & Roth, 2011)
The Peacemaker, by Ken Sande (Baker, 2003)
Once you have completed the motivation worksheet, and you feel ready, it’s time to move ahead to the “Board’s Preparation” step. This will help you get spiritually ready for the task in front of you.