Leadership, Real Church

Hierarchical Leadership – The Main Hindrance in the Body of Christ Part 1

Part 1 (Go here for part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6)

The best lies are those that appear most like the truth. Hierarchical church leadership is one of those. Appearing to be Biblical, and even a necessity to church life, hierarchical church leadership has become entrenched in the psyche of the regular church member as correct, normal and fitting. Over the centuries it has held many captive, whether through multi-tiered hierarchical governance on the one hand, or single pastor leadership on the other.

It came about through our own doing when we once again defaulted to the same mindset that the Israelites had when they rejected God, wanting “a king like the other nations.” It exists wherever anyone thinks or acts as though he is above another, and it is entrenched whenever rank is given to anyone, creating a top down structure. The word of God alone is the only authority to which we should be accountable. Neither the Pope nor a local pastor has authority over you.

Do we need leadership in the Body of Christ? Yes, but not the type that we are generally used to, where ranking and reigning over one another is the order of the day. We need something that I believe Jesus and the New Testament advocated. We need to be submitted under the One Head, Jesus Christ, in relationships of mutual submission to one another, recognizing the roles and gifting each of us have.

The ministries of pastors and Christian leaders that have been part of this flawed tiered system have for the most part been very effective despite this flaw. I’m sure that the successes they have achieved make reflecting on this problem seem to many unnecessary and superfluous. Yet, if these pastors, and the churches that they are with, recognize this burdening and restrictive system of leadership and are unshackled from it, just imagine how much more effective they can be.

What I advocate is not the removal of the ministries of our local pastors and other Christian leaders, but rather the raising up of all in the body to be seen as equal to them. All rank should be removed. Many elders, able to teach and oversee should be appointed from within the church.

And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed. Act 14:23

These elders are to be like older siblings in a home who are without rank and unable to effect change in the younger siblings except by influence and sharing the parents’ word. The younger siblings can equally hold the older ones accountable to the parents’ word to the extent that they know it. (In my analogy, God’s word is likened to the parents’ word in a family.)

So many will be helped, including the leadership, and many other hindrances will fall wherever this hindrance of hierarchical church leadership is removed.  I will follow on with this in Part 2.

By Rob Morley

10 thoughts on “Hierarchical Leadership – The Main Hindrance in the Body of Christ Part 1”

  1. This is so true i live in lynchburg va and i and my Wife were part of an organic Church or so they say…The ones who were The planters of The fellowship .the people esteemed higher than they should have been …the planters stepped down for reasons they did not make clear..after that The Group stayed together for a while Then some begin to pine for a leader ..which i understood Was to be christ and him alone ..i said something ..about equality in The body .they accused me of not Being subject to athority …an gave me an alternative to either be a part of their body only, or not at ALL …i chose not at ALL…they cut us Off like a bad Habit and said we should apologize The The whole body..for saying what we felt God wanted us to say..it hurt Very badly.. Thats been two years …NO one fellowships with us to this day …

    1. Keith, thanks for sharing this. I am so sorry for your awful experience! Alarmingly, it seems far too common that people get treated like this.

      I’m not sure how you and your wife came to be in the organic fellowship that you were in. Many people find themselves rightly changing from one form of church to another with the hope of a better experience. And, while they often gain the much needed benefits from the change that they had hoped for, things can go very sour in the new environment.

      Whether inside an institutional church or an organic church, we are faced with the same nature of man and the misuse of God’s word. This is normal and to be expected, but where there is a spirit of inflexibility, with the lack of openness to embrace other views, and where there is control, it becomes very diffiCULT.

      Sadly, wherever the fellowship has been deeper, the personal hurt can be deeper when we are ill-treated as you have been. Also, any high hopes of a better way that we often come to a group with are easily dashed. Nevertheless, be encouraged, the Shepherd has a better way and we hope and pray that you and your wife will find some wonderful and loving people to enjoy getting together with in the Body of Christ.

      Out of my own experience, I would like to remind you to guard against any bitterness that may want to take root in your lives toward those who treated you badly. Forgive them and continue to bless them as you and your wife move on.


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