THE ROLE OF CHURCH LEADERS IN GROWTH AND SURVIVAL OF A CHURCH
BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Leadership is indeed a dynamic reciprocal process of personal influence by which a manager or a leader shapes the attitudes and activities of others towards the achievement or attainment of organizational objectives (Abogunrin, 1986). Even before the modern concepts of leadership came into being, the apostle of Jesus Christ, Paul in the Pastorals lists the qualifications for church leaders to ensure sustainable growth and survival (Dairo, 2007). These have remained the model for ages. For any church leader to steer the ship of the church successfully, these qualities must be imbibed. But contemporary experience in Nigeria has shown a marked departure from this Pauline list of qualifications for church leaders which has really affected growth and survival of churches. The level of understanding expected from both the leaders and the followers is missing in most cases. This often results in crises within “the body of Christ”.
There are some common features in various definitions of leadership. It will be presumptuous for anyone to attempt a definition that will satisfy the populace especially regarding church leadership. Leadership is nothing if not linked to collective purpose; and the effectiveness of leaders must be judged not by press clippings but by actual social change, measured by intent and by satisfaction of human needs and expectations which on the long term will be visible on the church growth and development.
Oluwasegun (2005) defines leadership as the ability to gain consensus and commitment to common objectives beyond organizational requirements which are attained with experience or contribution and satisfaction on the part of the working group. Leadership could also be defined as the relationship in which one person or the leader influences others to work together willingly on related tasks to attain that which the leader desires. It is a means of direction. Leadership is the ability of management to induce the subordinates to work towards a group’s goals with confidence and keenness. It implies that the leader accepts responsibility for the achievement of the group objectives and it is, therefore, essential for the trust and cooperation from both sides to be evidence all the time (Oluwasegun, 2005). Leadership is an art of getting things done. It can be learnt, improved, developed and perfected. It is the key process of influence and the process always includes a number of key components such as leader and followers, they interact in situations and means of influence which emerge from the leader and from the followers, based on their value system and goals which the leader and the followers seek to achieve (Dairo, 2004).
With respect to church leadership, it implies that the church leader gives direction, motivates, reprimands and develops a set objective along with his group and resolves individual or group needs within the church. This is perceived as the only way towards the church growth and survival. In the New Testament it was more often used as Christological title for the exalted Jesus. The results of semasiological and lexicographical investigation of secular Greek indicate an extremely polyvalent spectrum of meaning for the word “church leader”, the basis being he who is the first, who stands at the head of, who leads. According to the New Testament, the terms "bishop," "pastor," and "elder" are synonymous. Bishop means "overseer," and the elders had the responsibility of overseeing the work of the church (Acts 20:17,28; 1Pet 5:1-3). "Elder" is the translation of the Greek word presbytes, which means "an old man." Paul used the word presbytery in (1Tim 4:14), referring not to a denomination, but to the "eldership" of the assembly that ordained Timothy. Elders and bishops (two names for the same office, (cf Titus 1:5,7) were mature people with spiritual wisdom and experience to ensure the survival of the church of God. Also, "pastor" means "shepherd," one who leads and cares for the flock of God (Vine, 1996:67).
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM According to Dairo (2008), many Churches in Nigeria are characterized with false teaching, preconceived ideas and human-formed regulations which have too often undermined the Holy Spirit’s specification and has militated greatly against church growth and survival. According to Apostle Paul, church leader must be kind of man that can carry the followers along. All church leaders may not possess these qualities in the same measure but a leader must have these quality attributes to a degree that is noticeable in his life to ensure sustainable growth. If a man is known to be harsh instead of being gentle, intemperate instead of being temperate, disgraceful instead of being respectable, he has disqualified himself (Bible Org. 2004). The work of church leadership is a noble task. Such an office needs the right kind of people to serve. Accumulation of material wealth, by capitalizing on the “gross ignorance” of the people about the teaching of the Bible on wealth by church leaders as also limited growth and survival of many churches because of the increased awareness of these dubious strategies. However, the researcher is examining the role of church leaders in the growth and survival of a church.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY The following are the objectives of this study:
To examine the role of church leaders in the growth and survival of a church. To identify the functions and duties of church leaders in a church. To identify the other factors militating against church growth and survival. RESEARCH QUESTIONS What is the role of church leaders in the growth and survival of a church? What are the functions and duties of church leaders in a church? What are the other factors militating against church growth and survival?
1.5 HYPOTHESIS HO: Church leaders do not have a role in church growth and survival HA: Church leaders do have a role in church growth and survival1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY The following are the significance of this study:
Findings from this study will educate the church authorities and the general public in Nigeria on what the church leaders need to do or incorporate into the system to ensure growth and survival. This research will also serve as a resource base to other scholars and researchers interested in carrying out further research in this field subsequently, if applied will go to an extent to provide new explanation to the topic.
1.7 SCOPE/LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY This study will cover the activities of churches in Nigeria with special focus on the roles and duties of the church leadersLimitations of study
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview). Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
REFERENCES Abogunrin, S.O (1986). “St Paul’s Conception of Disciplined Leadership in the Nigerian Context” in S Ade Oluwasegun B.A. (2011) (ed.) Religion and Discipline A Publication of the Nigerian Association for the Study of Religions (NASR). Bible Org: “Qualifications for Evaluation of Elders and Deacons” (Available http//www.bible.org/page.asp.downloaded24/09/2004 Dairo, A.O. (2004). “Church Leadership in Nigeria: Combining Spiritual and Organizational Techniques” in Ade P. Dopamu (ed.) Religion, Leadership and society: Focus on Nigeria. Lagos: Nigerian Association for the Study of Religions. Dairo, A.O. (2007). “Leadership Qualifications for Contemporary Church Administrators”. A Lecture: Organized by Christian Theological Seminary, Ibadan, on Thursday 19th June..