Today’s spiritual seekers rarely turn to Christianity or to the church to find the answers they seek because of their past experiences or because of the church and faith’s reputation. Too often, spiritual seekers have turned in desperation to the church only to discover the church so embroiled in “business as usual,” that there is little room for the development of spiritual giants.
Perhaps even worse, although a church’s leadership must oversee significant resources in a business-like fashion, the church was never intended to be operated as a business. Leaders in business are selected for their skills, experience, and abilities in their trade. The church, however, has a different biblical mandate for leadership selection. Church leaders are to be selected based on their spiritual maturity, their integrity, and their model as a spiritual mentor and leader. Indeed, there was no other criterion used for the selection of church leaders in the New Testament. The apparent process for leadership selection was (1) discern a fully committed, faithful disciple of Jesus Christ; (2) select them as a leader; (3) only then train them in whatever skill was needed. However, over the years, too many churches have defaulted to the business model of leadership selection. This has left the church spiritually wanting, and too often spiritually bankrupt. And spiritual seekers are quick to recognize both great spiritual leaders and leaders who simply have great spiritual titles.
The solution is simple. Only place the mantle of leadership on those who are seriously involved in personal, significant spiritual development (and attendance at Sunday worship and Sunday school is in no way a sign of personal, significant spiritual development, nor is serving on some committee or another). As Paul wrote to Timothy, don’t be in a hurry to lay hands on anyone (as a leader). Watch them closely to see if they are people of integrity – that their faith follows them home and to work and to the club. Ask them what they’ve read this week in scripture that intrigued them. Find out how they encourage others in the faith. See how God is working on them and through them. You’ll never find perfection, but you should be looking for leaders who are seriously practicing the faith holistically in every part of their lives. If not, keep looking. There’s no position in the church that is so necessary to fill that the church needs to put a lukewarm Christian there (cf., Rev 3:16).