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Fear and Loathing in Church Leadership

I must begin by saying I’m not against learning from the world of business and secular leadership as it intersects church. I’ve read more than my share of books from that sphere with all their buzzwords, catchphrases and sayings. I found many, if not most of them, very helpful for insights about leading.

It’s just that lately I’ve found myself being more protective of letting the church devolve into an spiritually impotent, crowd-chasing, goods and services supplying organization which takes unhealthy pride in its well-oiled systems, clean org chart and articulate vision statement. Now let me be clear. I don’t believe my church is like that…at all! It’s just that when I swim in the waters of marketing strategies, brand development and all the bells and whistles associated with that arena for a long period of time there’s a part of me which says, “This is all for naught if it threatens the main thing from remaining the main thing!” What is the main thing? The Gospel, of course.

The Gospel is the only reason I do what I do. It’s the lifeblood of the church and sometimes, frankly, after a spending a lot of time examining business models, discussing the value of “values” and wondering if our goals are big, hairy or audacious enough, I reach my fill. I want to push back from the table and say, “If I hear one more discussion on our ‘brand functional impact’ I’m going to scream because the Gospel cannot get lost in the morass of systems and schemes! It can’t be trivialized or trite! It can’t be managed or massaged! It’s not always ‘positive’ and ‘happy’ because it beckons men to take up their cross and die. It’s not the fix-it-all answer to everything because somehow sin still exists on this planet. It doesn’t make us better ‘Rich Young Rulers”, it makes us slaves!

Then I realize I’ve overreacted, made some straw men and was getting excited at the prospect of burning them up. But there’s still a little voice inside telling me that my little internal emotional blow up was a good sign because when I take for granted that my church keeps the Gospel central to what we do and say (especially as leaders) that may very well be the day my church has become the very thing I loathe.

Picture of Yancey Arrington
Dr. Yancey C. Arrington is an eighth generation Texan, Acts 29 Network and Houston Church Planting Network fan, and Teaching Pastor at Clear Creek Community Church in the Bay Area of Houston. He is also author of Preaching That Moves People and TAP: Defeating the Sins That Defeat You, and periodically writes for Acts 29 and The Gospel Coalition.

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