The Profile of an EC Leader
This profile defines our expectations and goals for those called to credentialed ministry in the EC Church. We are interested in shaping each leader’s pursuit of God’s calling in the following ways. After credentialed individuals have completed their experiential and educational requirements for ministry, our expectation would be that they would be able to flourish within their God-given calling.
Leaders in the EC Church must understand their own identity in Christ, as well as their calling and gifts in relation to the body of believers so that the church is engaged for the work of ministry in the 21st century. They must understand how to interpret their cultural setting and properly communicate kingdom values and instructions from God’s Word in order to help form and lead a healthy community of believers.
They must be shaped by a character that reflects God’s love in their lives through authenticity, patience, compassion, integrity, and spiritual fervor. They must participate in a disciplined life that reveals teachability, hospitality, forgiveness, and most of all, how to disciple others into these same Christ-like character traits.
They must be able to effectively communicate the faith—what it looks like and how it works—within and beyond their community of believers. They must demonstrate a disciple’s life through their own ways of living the faith—serving, directing, giving, listening, and laughing with others in order to cultivate and empower flourishing among the community of believers and impact the greater community.
They must see God at work around them, enabling others to grasp hold of God’s intentional love for them, and each person’s own individual potential for ministry. They must not neglect the opportunities and threats in their midst, but rather reveal how God’s kingdom intersects with the life of the church and their surrounding community.
Leadership in the EC Church
Leadership within the Church is a particular role performed on behalf of the Church and is one to which God calls particular individuals just as he calls all followers of Jesus to roles of service (Col. 1.25). While all followers are called to ministry, we are herein concerned primarily with the call to a particular kind of ministry within the local congregation including, but not necessarily limited to, what has traditionally been called the pastoral role. This call to leadership within the local congregation is to be confirmed through a process of discernment that includes the existing leadership and membership of the local congregation, the Pastoral Assessment Center, and the denominationally established examination process. This calling is then finally affirmed by the National Conference.
The ecclesiology statement of the denomination states that the Church is “the people called by God to his mission.” The ecclesiology document goes on to describe the local church as a community in which God’s blessing and power have been received through Christ and which exists to bless the world by being a witness for God and partner in his mission. This understanding of Church and the work of the local church requires the identification of leaders for the carrying out of that mission. A core set of graces and gifts have been identified that leaders in this Church must possess.
The three core graces we seek to identify in leaders are teachability, humility and the ability to build a team. It is often easiest to initially identify graces before other attributes, since most potential leaders have yet to experience the maturity of their particular assortment of spiritual gifts. Accordingly, each of these three graces needs to be evident in every candidate for ministry. Yet, the presence of these graces is not fully sufficient to constitute a call to ministry in the local church. The Scriptures additionally speak of leadership in terms of categorical gifts.
In Ephesians 4 Paul identifies five categories of leadership that the church is given for effective ministry—“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up …” (vss. 11-12). When Paul speaks of these categories, he already comprehends that there are a variety of other spiritual gifts that will find unique expression and direction based upon these categories of leadership. Because each category ultimately gives shape to the expression of these other gifts, Paul also identifies these categories as gifts.
As a result, leaders in local churches will need to learn to identify, employ, and work with other leaders within each category in order to most effectively advance the kingdom of God in each local context.
The model of leadership described here stands in contrast to models that highlight only certain of the categories and then elevate those categories over the others. This model is rooted in team and it acknowledges and legitimizes a wider range of leaders than has traditionally been the case. This model also serves to demonstrate a kingdom paradigm where Jesus is the true and only head of the church (Eph. 5) and King of all creation placing all the rest of us under his authority. Jesus, fully aware of his authority, used his position to model a different picture of what leaders in his kingdom would look like as he washed his disciple’s feet and said in John 13:13-17:
“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
Therefore, leaders in the E.C. Church are servants of Jesus, advancing his Kingdom by obediently employing the various graces and gifts in service to His body which, in turn, is to be engaged as His incarnate presence in the world.
To Know Him and Make Him Known!