Lay Leadership Is Serious Business


By: Robert Kline

Membership in a true New Testament local church is an honor indeed. The highest honor a layman can ever receive is to be
church. However, none should look upon his office as a position of honor only. The responsibility to faithfully discharge one’s duties in this office is perhaps as that of a pastor. There are some minimum standards for those who aspire to an office in a local church. Many of these may be found in I Timothy 3:8,13.

Consecrated Life

A lay leader in a local church should live a consecrated life. In doing so, his influence will not bring reproach on the church or the cause of Christ.

Paul wrote, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect, will of God.” (Rom. 12:1-2).

An unconsecrated lay leader cannot truly discharge the duties of an office in a local church.

Spiritual Vision

A lay leader in a local church must be a person of spiritual vision. A church is poor indeed if the vision of the lay leaders of that church does not exceed the vision of the average member.

God has an exciting plan for every one of His local churches. He has positioned it where it is in order to “build His church.” It is to be a living, powerful, growing body of believers. If this happens it will be because the pastor and the lay leaders have been transformed by a vision of what can be – no, what must be, if God is in control.

A visionless lay leader will never see the splendid power of God in a local church, and the community suffers as a result. “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” (Proverbs 29:18).


A lay leader must be faithful to the program and events in his church. He should attend all services unless hindered by something that even the Lord would account a good reason.

It is a sad commentary on the church that is led by those who are not concerned enough to attend scheduled meetings. Progress and growth are virtually impossible.

“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Heb. 10:24-25).

A lay leader should be committed to the program of his church.


A lay leader must care enough about his church to support it with his tithes and offerings. A layman that does not systematically tithe to his church is unworthy of leadership responsibilities.

I question if a local church can be effective without its leaders being committed financially. Rarely, if ever, do you find nontithers that do not have commitment problems in other areas. Failure to consistently support the local church with tithes and offerings evidence a distorted concept of biblical stewardship.

And, finances given to favorite projects should not take the place of faithfully giving of tithes and offerings. This, too, is an erroneous concept of biblical stewardship at best, and a selfish attitude toward our possessions at worst. Remember, it all belongs to God anyway. We are only to be good stewards.


A lay leader must be evangelistic and missionary in spirit. He should be deeply interested in the salvation of mankind. It is inconceivable that one would aspire to lay leadership in one of Christ’s churches, and not be concerned about reaching those for whom He died.

A lay leader should set a good example in evangelism by scheduling time to visit the Christians and win others to Christ. Door to door, house to house, person to person, evangelism is still the most effective method of reaching the lost.

Call it friendship evangelism, or whatever, the unsaved must be found and witnessed to if the churches are to grow.


A lay leader must be cooperative with the pastor. He is God’s under shepherd where he serves. He has been called by God, yet he cannot be effective unless the laymen stand with him. The load on the back of a pastor can be lightened considerably by a supportive lay leader.

In fact, the battle is often lost because of uncooperative subordinates. Joshua was only successful in the battle when Moses’ hands were raised toward heaven. Moses, the leader of Israel, became weary. His hands dropped. Joshua and his army retreated. Aaron and Hur came alongside of Moses and held up his hands. Joshua triumphed in the battle. Amalek, the enemy was defeated (Ex. 17:11,13).

Notice, it took Moses, Joshua, Aaron and Hur in leadership positions, not Moses alone.


A lay leader must be one of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost, and wisdom…” (Acts 6:3). Transparency is a rare commodity today. It is often considered counterproductive and foolish. But in spiritual leadership,transparency is necessary.

God and the whole world know we have witnessed the opposite of this on the part of prominent Christian leaders. Performance without sincerity has done a disservice to the church. Skill and expertise cannot replace honesty and transparency in the Lord’s work.

Get academic excellence, but along with it, contend for spiritual wisdom, and this can only be found at the place of prayer. Appreciate achievement in secular enterprise, but remember, the values of the world often cut across the grain of spiritual values.

A success by world standards does not in and of itself qualify one to be a leader in the church.

First Things First

A lay leader must be one whose main business is the extension of Christ’s Kingdom in the hearts of mankind. His other business is merely to provide for those of his household. He will not neglect his family in the process, but a lay leader will be zealous for the Lord’s word. His priorities will be in place. In everything he does, he must be committed to the expansion of the church.

The church is the greatest institution on earth. To be elected a lay leader in a local body of believers is a great honor. Esteem it highly. Carry out your duties prayerfully and carefully. Give yourself to it. You are a part of a spiritual army that reaches around the world. Take it seriously, for you are handling the most valuable possession of man – his eternal soul.

(The above material appeared in the August 1992 issue of Pulpit & Bible Study Helps.)

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