The topic of leadership in context is an interesting and broad theme. In Christianity, it becomes even more important to the health and growth of the Church. Specific to this discussion, major questions evolved on the issue in Christianity of whom is qualified to lead, and on what authority did these leaders rely? These questions have their roots in the evolution of Western religions as the issue of restorationism became a splintering device for many religious believers. From a basic secular perspective, leadership through effective communication is the capacity to translate vision into practical application (Maxwell, 2002). Leadership and vision in Christianity is consistent with this view and comprised of many secular beliefs relative to leadership components including understanding effective communications and the ability to persuasively to motivate. In essence, it’s the capability to lead organizations and individuals, to accomplish specific goals and objectives.
As spiritual restorationism became a reality, the concept is clear that early Church leaders formed the basis of diverse protestant denominations different from what many may believe today were the original teachings of Jesus Christ. To get a sense of the differentiation of dissenting groups, several models have been reviewed during the course of this study including the belief that the Pope was Christ’s vicar, the Episcopal view (bishops as leaders), the Presbyterians who lead through “elders” of the congregation, the Congregationalist who make up rules unique to individual congregations, and The Evangelicals who are open about salvation even without church structure.
As a result of these differing views, ultimately the various groups separated themselves from other each other, although in some cases this was over relatively small theological issues. Often differentiation was memorialized in confessionals composed as a roadmap for followers, which outlined the belief system and the code believers should follow. Confessionals were often fairly similar because they were based on the same historical tenants and basic religious beliefs. There is a tremendous amount of historical information associated with these unique groups, and it's interesting to look at the similarities and differences. As a component of this review two major factions, the Episcopal and the Presbyterian factions, were selected from the list selected to compare and contrast relative to leadership style and structure.
The Episcopal religion is based on a leadership system that comes from the top and leaders are known as Bishops, Elders, and Deacons. Bishops are the spiritual leaders of a specific parish or church, Elders are call priests, and the role of Deacon is designed to help Church leaders so that they are free to preach the Gospel. The Episcopal religion has a military top down style of organizational structure and discipline. Its biblical basis for that structure has its roots in the New Testament which seems to support the doctrine of Apostolic Succession which allowed the apostles to operation with total authority over the local church as if divine authority was passed on to them.
Structure is based on ancient doctrine and ideology
Structure produces strong leadership
Structure has a unifying effect
Has an authoritarian leadership structure
Insulates leaders from laity
Structured without flexibility
The Presbyterian Church is defined as being ruled by Elders, chosen from the congregation by the other Elders and the Pastor who is often known as the teaching Elder. The groups know as Elders provide basic leadership to the Church and its people, and the Pastor and a representative become members of a local Presbytery. Representatives selected from each Presbytery are selected to a General Assembly, who has the authority to be the ruling making body for the Church in general. The Presbyterians believe the many New Testament passages (e.g. Acts 20), refers to the leaders of the Church as Elders