Last Saturday we had the privilege to be part of Georgetown Baptist Church’s (GBC) 60th anniversary service and the dedication of their new building, IMPACT. Sometime during the service, Kok Aun, the senior pastor, asked the congregation to gather in small groups to pray for the new building, that the church will know how to utilise it for the Kingdom. By doing that he moved the spotlight away from himself to God and to the people. The thought hit me — GBC is not a church with super egos. It is a church of servant leaders.
I know GBC. It was the church I joined when I began my journey with Christ, back in 1969. It was the first church that I had the privilege to pastor. It was the church that ordained me. I have always considered her my home church. One of her strengths is a leadership team of clergy and lay leaders who are united and who genuinely practise team leadership. I remind the GBC leaders often how fortunate they are to have a united leadership that is committed to working together. I know of too many churches where the leadership is divided and locked in conflict.
GBC’s united leadership should be the norm in all churches. We need different leaders with different giftings to mobilise the church.
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 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11–13 NIV)
And different leaders make different contributions in different points of a church’s history.
What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building. (1 Corinthians 3:5–9 NIV)
In recent times I have come to see more clearly that team leadership is rooted in the very nature of God Himself. Our God is this wonderful God who is one yet three. The three persons in the godhead, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, have different roles to play in God’s purposes. God is one, yet in the godhead is a team working together. And if we are made in His image surely we are made to function in teams as well. Indeed God’s first team was Adam and Eve, each contributing different things to fulfil their mission to be fruitful and to multiply.
But for team members to complement and not to compete they must love each other with 1 Corinthians 13 love. That is what makes the leadership in GBC so special. The members of the leadership team genuinely care for one another and for the Lord. And their love for the Lord and for each other provides the context that makes teamwork possible. The team members will be the first to admit that they are not perfect and they have a long way to go. Still, they have much to be thankful for.
When I shared my sentiments with one of the pastors, he said that there were times when a first-time visitor to the church found it difficult to make out who was the senior pastor. I can understand how that may happen. On any given Sunday, various pastors and lay leaders share the leadership duties of the day. They do it seamlessly, supporting each other. Makes it difficult to identify the senior pastor.
As GBC celebrates her 60th birthday, she looks back with gratitude even as she embarks on a new chapter in her pilgrimage. There will be fresh challenges and difficulties. But they already have a few things going for them. They have a great God. And they have a leadership team that knows how to serve together. No super egos. Only servant leaders.