I remember the first time I saw a chicken with its head cut off.
I was a young boy visiting my grandparents on their farm in southern Missouri. Granny decided we’d have fried chicken for supper, so with a machete in her hand she marched off to the chicken coop, and the next thing I knew, a chicken with its head cut off was walking around in the front yard. It wobbled, then flopped around for a while, and then… well, you know what happened next.
My analogy maybe a bit crude, but hopefully it helps my point stick.
Like Granny’s chicken, anytime we disconnect Christ from the head of the church, we may wobble and flop around for a while but it isn’t long before… well, before we die.
One writer explains it this way,
“If institutionalism is to be avoided, focus on the headship of Jesus Christ in His church is pivotal. An adequate grasp of this principle will serve to correct and safeguard against either pastoral or lay abuse of power. Furthermore, it may keep us from giving undue attention to the structure or organizational components of the church and will redirect us to give proper focus to prayer, worship, and guidance by the Holy Spirit. We must never forget that the hope of the church rests not on its own strategies and wisdom but on the living God alone.”
Most of us would agree doctrinally that Christ is the head of the church, but too often we don’t act accordingly. Many times, instead of seeking and responding to His leadership, we run the church by leadership principles and practices adopted from current corporate models.
I’m not suggesting that many of these practices aren’t needed or important. They are. Having a clear vision with a corresponding strategy and having the right people in the right place doing the right things accompanied by efficient structures that help us manage our vision and measure our effectiveness are all important.
But my appeal is that these leadership practices must be implemented in response to what God is saying to us and where God is leading us, and then and only then respond with wise and effective leadership to help us get there.
I was at a conference a few years ago where one of the great statesmen of the Christian faith was asked during an interview, “What’s your greatest concern for the church in America?” His response, “We have come to believe that if we build the right structures, offer the right programs, and do the right marketing, we can build a successful church without ever needing God.” (ouch!)
As a pastor, my concern is more than we’d like to admit it we are building people into a belief system, a church vision, a denominational structure, a charismatic leader, or a religious cause instead of what Jesus said we must do—remain connected to the vine—and what Paul exhorted us to do—grow up into Christ.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen a chicken running around the yard with its head cut off, but unfortunately it’s still a temptation within much of the church.
Let’s make sure we remain firmly connected to our only leader and our only source of life—Jesus Christ, the head of the church. I believe our very life depends upon it!
Ken L Roberts