"A spiritual message cannot be conveyed by an unspiritual medium anymore than deep philosophical ideas can be conveyed by smoke signals. The form of secular leadership excludes the spiritual content of the gospel message, and is therefore an unfit medium of conveyance. True spiritual leadership is the servant leadership of Jesus Christ and Paul. It has as its source not expert power or personal power, nor resource power or positional power but spiritual power "

Natural Church Life

Why the Debate?

The above quote has spawned debates in churches, boardrooms, classrooms, and chat rooms. It is also written about in journals, articles, and blogs. The nature of the debate hinges on the ideological and philosophical framework from which leadership is deployed. Leadership is a word that has varied meanings depending on the context it is used. It is reasonable to say that there is a vast difference between leadership approaches and techniques for the broader society and leadership in the church. Ultimately, the debate stems from using secular leadership approaches in the church.

Is the secular approach a viable solution for the church? Since business leaders are paid handsomely and given significant bonuses for their efforts, one would think that their approach to leadership in the church would achieve similar results. After all, many of these business leaders are also leaders in their local church and bring their understanding of leadership with them to the church of their choice. So, why the debate, shouldn’t those who are successful in the world lend their talents to the church?

There is A Difference

On the surface, there seems to be a compelling argument for utilizing secular leadership principles in the local church. Recently, some church related books began to take on a corporate feel; Jesus CEOCEO: The Christian Entrepreneur’s Outlook, and Church Marketing 101. While these books have catchy phrases and buzz words, the methodology contained in each book goes against the grain of what Jesus taught in the Great Commission and Great Commandment. Again, a spiritual message cannot be conveyed by an unspiritual medium anymore than deep philosophical ideas can be conveyed by smoke signals.

Leadership in the Church

Much as been said about secular leadership, and there are volumes of books to support adopting its use. However, when it comes to the church, the primary resource is the Holy Bible. We are compelled by the Lord to go, baptize, and teach; we are to also love our neighbors as ourselves. Notice the differences in secular leadership and church leadership jargon. The stark contrast in jargon has everything to do with the purpose of the leadership. 

Secular Leadership Jargon







Church Leadership Jargon


Long suffering





Does it matter? 

Yes, it matters, especially if you are followers of Jesus Christ. As Christians, if we do not deploy leadership pedagogy and methodology grounded in the Word of God, our results will not reflect church based (spiritual) leadership.