PERCEPTION AND PRACTICE OF CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP IN THE DEEPER LIFE BIBLE CHURCH

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ABSTRACT

This thesis examined the perception and practice of Christian leadership in the Deeper Life Bible Church. The problem that necessitated research in this area of study is the fact that, Christian leadership has been criticized by many within and outside the church. Many allegations have been leveled against some leaders of the Deeper Life Bible Church. Thus, issues that were prevalent were compromise of leadership roles and characteristics. Others were immoral acts, lack of attention for the youth, disparity of remuneration between junior and senior pastors and lack of supervision, among others. This seems to suggest that some leaders within the church are violating the „holiness principles‟ the church stands for. To ascertain the truth of these allegations, the study sought to find out how leadership is perceived and practised in the Deeper Life Bible church today. Primary data was collected by means of one-on-one interviews with non-members and some prominent leaders of the church who know the history of the Deeper Life Bible Church. These leaders ranged from the Regional Overseer to Home Caring Fellowship leaders. Participatory observation was used to confirm information gathered through interviews and relevant literature on Christian leadership were also consulted.

The leadership pattern of Jesus Christ as presented in Luke‟s gospel was used as the assessment criterion. In view of this, the leadership characteristics and style of Jesus were discussed. These leadership characteristics include holiness, humility, compassion and love. Jesus adopted the servant style of leadership to accomplish his earthly mission. The study also discovered that Jesus always prayed before and during his ministry on earth. His call to save and serve humanity was confirmed by God during his baptism. Jesus was empowered by the Holy Spirit to overcome

principalities and powers during his ministry. After analysing how leadership is practised in Deeper Life Bible Church alongside the leadership pattern of Jesus Christ, it was discovered that ideally the church wants to follow Jesus‟ example in leadership. In practice however, the church experiences some lapses. The study suggested some recommendations to correct the lapses in the leadership style. The research recommends that some policies and processes be reviewed in order to bring sanity in the financial disbursement and supervisory role of the Church. The research is important because it will contribute to knowledge in church history, as well as teachings in the Deeper Life Bible Church in Ghana and the world at large. The study also serves as a catalyst in renewing the moral life of members, especially leaders in the Deeper Life Bible Church.

CHAPTER ONE GENERAL INTRODUCTION

  • Background to the study

Leadership appears to affect every sphere of life. Lack of proper and efficient leadership seems to have resulted in many crises, especially in Africa and the Middle East. The wars in Congo, Egypt and Yemen, among others, can all be traced to issues surrounding leadership. When leaders belonging to any domain of life start to deviate from the known and acceptable principles guiding leadership the aftermath is not always the best. It therefore becomes unquestionable that leadership in all human institutions cannot be under estimated.

Munroe (2005:18) observes that, there is nothing as elusive as leadership; you can inherit a fortune but never leadership. Yet there is no greater need in our twenty-first century world than effective and competent leadership. Our greatest challenge is that of a leadership vacuum. The number one need all over the globe today is not money or new government, it is quality, moral, discipline and principle-centered leadership. The church as a human institution is not exempted. It has faced several inconsistencies in its leadership procedures in contemporary times. This can only be solved by quality leadership with a sense of morality. Leaders of the church need to be principled and disciplined when carrying out their responsibilities.

Newman (1997:5) elaborates on the principles of leadership in his book Ten Laws of Leadership Leading to Success in a Changing World. He mentions that various sectors like business, industry, government, labour, education and the church need positive, constructive, and effective

leadership in contemporary times in order to achieve success for their goals. In view of this every human institution needs leadership to run and champion its affairs for the achievement of desired goals. Leadership in any capacity therefore is inevitable and cannot be ignored. Leadership may be defined as the ability to gather people for a common purpose. A leader must have the character which inspires confidence (Orr, 2001). The role of leadership in the Christian religion has no exception to the above characteristics.

In Luke‟s gospel 22:24-27, Jesus specifically gives an example of a true Christian leader. Odgen (2007:184-185) in his book Leadership Hand Book of Management and Administration: The Meaning of Leadership; states that Jesus instructs his followers to walk away from prevailing Gentiles and Jewish models of prideful leadership where dominance (“lording it over”), coercion, titles, and public recognition were their goals. Thus, emphasising that, the leader must not lord over others instead be a servant to all and sundry. It is to be noted that Christian leadership moves along with responsibility and a call to serve God‟s creation, but not a call for public show as observed in Jewish models of prideful leadership.

Despite all the warning against worldly form of leadership by Jesus, it appears some pastors are too worldly. They are interested in material things such as the creation of wealth, purchasing of expensive cars, adorning themselves with gorgeous attires and constructing magnificent buildings. This is believed to be their main concern at the expense of the spiritual development of their members. For example, it was reported of a pastor who claimed he used very expensive clothes more than any member of his church. Against this background, Sanders (1967:125)

explains that the true leader is concerned primarily with the welfare of others, not with his own comfort or prestige. In the church, many people have needs that their ministers have often overlooked. These problems should be addressed with concern because the Christian leaders‟ role is to seek the comfort of the members under him.

Preliminary research has shown that there are different perceptions of leadership in the Christian church today. Among other things, some perceive leadership as a position of power, authority and autocracy (Mahoney, 2001). Christian leadership should not be placed on a platform of rivalry where one wishes to be greater than the other, since this practice is worldly. Jesus corrected his disciples when he heard them arguing about who should be first among them. This is to testify that Christian leadership is not all about the desire for position.

Leaders, as illustrated by Fernando (2000), are like parents who should train their children to be like them in good morals as Paul in his relationship with Timothy made him a disciple of Christ. Many people are occupying leadership positions in the Christian church today but there is the need for true leaders who are able to respond in the right direction to the call of leadership according to the laid down principles by Jesus Christ. Ginthinji (1997:38) summed up the attitude of the disciples in seeking positions for themselves. He admitted that they were not resolute in carrying out the leadership principles of Jesus Christ. He added that the leader‟s mentality towards his work should change from power to service.

From both the opinion of Ginthinji and Fernando it appears from various claims that leaders are deviating from the standard of Jesus Christ. This deviation has brought differences in the practice of leadership principles by various denominational churches in contemporary times.

This present thesis focuses on the perception and practice of Christian leadership in the Deeper Life Bible Church. It deals with how leadership is perceived and practiced, its structure and some problems associated with leadership of this church in contemporary times. The leadership of this church has been designed and structured according to the pattern of Jesus. This makes it possible for the church to assign roles and responsibilities equitably among leaders. The effectiveness of every institution whether secular or spiritual, may be guarded by the right set of leadership principles.

It is to be noted that so long as the church is concerned, it is important for one to know what Jesus taught about leadership in the church. In this way the correct assessment may be made when dealing with Christian leadership. For this reason all who have dedicated themselves to serve in the church in one way or the other need to know what Jesus expects from leaders of the church. Christian leaders of today appear to be changing biblical leadership principles to suit modern times. It could be observed that during his earthly ministry Jesus laid down his life as an example for the disciples who supported him in his missionary work. He expects the same from leaders of the church today.

The Deeper Life Bible Church seems to have experienced a tremendous growth spurt when it started in Ghana in 1979. From this time on until in the mid 1980, it was claimed to be one of the

fastest growing churches in the country. The growth was said to have resulted from aggressive evangelism of the gospel and soul winning by both members and leaders of the church. The Home Caring Fellowships were multiplied and spread across communities in other to reach out to its members. New converts were introduced into the Home Caring Fellowships through effective evangelism. These converts were visited and followed up. Through this many had their problems solved and they stayed in the church as members. This was made possible by some leaders and dedicated members who preached in buses, hospitals, car parks and market places. Unfortunately, in recent times some members and leaders are too busy to engage in visitation and evangelism which are the core principles of the church.

       Statement of the Problem

It appears that the question of leadership in the Deeper Life Bible Church has become a challenge and a worry for many in and outside the church today. It appears from various claims that the way leadership is perceived has not been so practised by some leaders of this church. Informants have claimed that some Deeper Life leaders are involved in cases of immoral practices. They have observed that this canker is gradually destroying sanctity and dignity of the leadership of the church.

The quality of leadership in most cases depends on the type of training given. In view of this the appointment of pastors without full theological or seminary training (optional) has been claimed as not equipping leaders adequately for pastor-ship. Recruitment of some converts into the discipleship class without reading ability creates difficulty in the practice of their leadership. It
has been alleged that home caring fellowships are no longer experiencing growth thereby affecting the growth of the entire church. Disparity in remuneration among senior and junior pastors seems to pose a major challenge in the practice of leadership. It has also been claimed that the youth of late are leaving the Deeper Life Bible Church for other churches. In view of the mentioned allegations, the primary goal of this research is to find out how the above claims have affected the practice of leadership in the Church today and how Jesus Himself conceives of leadership in the gospel of Luke. The research strategy is to use the latter as a point of reference

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