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Lessons in Leadership Part 1: Who is in Charge of Your Church?

By January 23, 2018April 29th, 2022Discipleship, Ministry & Leadership6 min read

All of us who occupy a pastoral leadership position in a church, will at some point in time be faced with a very critical question:

Who is the head of your church?

It will be asked by people seeking to talk with the “guy in charge,” “the senior or lead” pastor, “the guy who makes the decisions”– and 100 other ways. It is in that moment we have a choice—and the choice is critical. The answer to this question will actually set the course of everything that follows—the words, the counsel, the plans, the purposes.

So I ask again, who really is the head of your church? Who is the captain of the ship? Who is the master? Who calls the shots?

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:15-18).

Short answer: Who is in charge of your church? Hopefully not you, or any other human with spiritual gifting.

Whoever is on the throne, that person is the head.

“In every Christian’s heart there is a cross and a throne, and the Christian is on the throne till he puts himself on the cross; if he refuses the cross, he remains on the throne. Death to Self brings life in Christ…We remain king within the little kingdom of Mankind and wear our tinsel crown with all the pride of a Caesar; but we doom ourselves to shadows and weakness and spiritual sterility.” – C.H. Spurgeon, Lectures to my Students (1897-1963)

Let’s unpack this issue. The greatest problem I see consistently is that I lose sight of who Jesus is as Lord of my life–First and foremost—Master—Head—And my need for Grace is just as great as anybody and everybody else on this earth—the one answering our question is the one who also is a sheep!

Sure, I teach and preach, counsel, yes, solve problems, of course, build stuff for God, yep—My life is full of stuff I am doing for the Lord, and hopefully, my motivation is His glory alone…but…

Do I personally give Him devotion and worship to Him as Lord??

Do you ever reach the place where the answer to this dilemma is—“If I have time in my busy schedule, perhaps after I take care of problems He has me handling”—How often are we a one person show!

We are NOT supposed to do this alone!—We are one body.

We need to make sure He is first in our lives, and then we will have all the help we need and not be over tasked shepherds who are out of patience, stressed out and ready to blow up if the next sheep we see says, “BAHHHHHHHHHHHH,” the wrong way.

The plain and simple truth is that on many days I am struggling just like every last person sitting in the pews, my life needs the power of grace to rain down on it. I am frail and fragile, and I need somebody to speak into my life.

We actually need each other! And your success and my success are inextricably linked!—If you fail to some degree, so do I!

“For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them…” (Romans 12:4-6).

No group, organization or denomination can claim to be “the exclusive body of Christ,” for the body is composed of all true believers. Each Christian is a member of this spiritual body, and Jesus Christ is the head. We should be complementing…not competing with each other.

In Greek usage, the word “head” meant “source” and “origin” as well as “leader, ruler.”

Jesus Christ is the source of the church, His body and the leader—We all take orders from Him!

Paul called Him “the Beginning,” which tells us that Jesus Christ has priority in time as far as His church is concerned.

The term beginning can be translated “originator.”

No matter which name you select for your building, it should affirm the preeminence of Jesus Christ.
The church had its origin in Him, and today it has its operation in Him.
As the Head of the church, Jesus Christ supplies it with life, vision, instruction and direction through His Spirit.
He gives gifts to men, and then places these gifted people in His church that they might serve Him where they are needed.
Through His Word, Jesus Christ nourishes and cleanses the church (Ephesians 5:25-30).

No believer, pastor, teacher, administrator on earth is the head of the church, because we all need Jesus to lead each of us.

This position is reserved exclusively for Jesus Christ:

• Various religious leaders may have founded churches, or denominations; but only Jesus Christ is the founder of the church, which is His body.
• This church is composed of all true believers, and it was born at Pentecost. It was then that the Holy Spirit came and baptized the believers into one spiritual body.
• The fact that there is “one body” in this world (Ephesians 4:4) does not eliminate or minimize the need for local bodies of believers.

I may not minister to the whole global church, but I can strengthen and build that church by ministering to God’s people right where he has me and let Him lead His church.

Jesus Christ is the head of the church.

Pastor Jeff Gill has been the senior pastor of Calvary Chapel South Bay in Gardena, California, since early 2015.