How we lead at St Paul's

Thursday, March 16, 2017

‘Leadership’ is a word that is shared by Christians and non-Christians alike, but the concept of leadership can often be quite different. Last night I watched a documentary on the rule of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya. He ruled Libya for 41 years, initially as a revolutionary with a vision for Libya’s prosperity then as a despot who would torture and murder anyone who threatened his rule. He declared himself the “King of Kings of Africa” later in his rule. He went mad with grandiose visions of himself before being murdered by his own people in 2011. At the time of his death he had amassed personal wealth of approximately $200 billion (3 times richer than the official richest person in the world at the time), while his country starved under the weight of UN sanctions. 

Jesus gives us a clear vision of the character of Christian leadership when he contrasted it with the standard form of leadership his disciples experienced in their world: ‘You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’ (Mark 10:42-45). These words are the reversal of all human ideas of rank and greatness and personal ambition. If we define greatness as this world does then we end up with leaders (and church members) motivated by self-interest, self-indulgence, and a false sense of self-sufficiency pursuing self-ambition for the purpose of self-glorification. We are surrounded by this definition of greatness and leadership but it is in stark contrast with the pursuit of leadership as the bible defines it: serving others for the glory of God

As a church we desire for all leadership, as we do for all members, to live out our corporate life together under God by embracing our core values: Christ-Centred Bible Saturation, Devotion to Prayer, Radical Generosity, Humble Authenticity, Treasuring Jesus Together, Servant Leadership, Local and Global Impact. All leadership is to united around our Mission, Vision and Core Values, and setting an example in Christian discipleship and maturity. Too often, churches appoint leaders based on longevity in the church, or as a representative of a particular ‘constituent’ within the church. The other danger in our church tradition is to appoint leaders who have Biblical literacy and theological knowledge without really assessing whether they have ‘heart disease’. That is, people who have a dysfunctional personal relationship with the Word of God, where the study of the Bible becomes a world of correct ideas rather than a world of submission to the Lord whom those ideas introduce and define. We want leaders who know the God of the Bible personally and are living it out for all to see.

There is so much more that could be said about Christian leadership but it is the crucial foundation that we are to bring to our Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Monday 20th March. At the AGM we get to elect part of the leadership of St Paul’s, particularly Wardens and Parish Councillors. 

A number of years ago the Parish Council of St Paul’s went through a process of re-thinking the structure of our leadership and governance. In the context of seeking to resource Vision 2020 more effectively, the Wardens and Parish Council decided it is appropriate to move away from a traditional model of governance in an Anglican church, and move towards a model which provides accountability for the Mission, Vision, Core Values and the setting of goals and policies to guide the Senior Minister and staff. 

The following is a summary of the leadership and governance model that fits within the guidelines of the Sydney Anglican Churches Administration Policy, and yet ensures that the key issues of authority, power and humility are addressed for good governance.  St Paul’s Wardens and Parish Council have been working to this model since 2011.

Clarification of St Paul’s Roles

1. The Head of the Church - Jesus Christ

The cornerstone to the structure of St Paul’s leadership is the belief that Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church (Eph. 1:22, 5:23). As a result, God’s will must be sought for our church in all circumstances. In order for this to occur, the members of St Paul’s must acknowledge God’s Word as authoritative and it must be taught with love, obedience and reverence for God himself. The Lord Jesus leads, rules, guides and cares for his people by his Word, as it is read, taught, believed and obeyed.

In the Bible, it is clear that as the Head of the Church, Jesus intends His church leaders to be responsible for leading, teaching and caring for the church (Rom 12:8; cf. 1 Pet 5:1 – 14; Heb 13:17). The leaders of the church are referred to as: “elders” (Acts 20:17;  1 Tim 5:17); “overseers” (Acts 20:28; Phi 1:1); “leaders” (Rom 12:8; 1 The 5:12); and “pastor/teachers” (Eph 4:11). These terms are used in the New Testament to ensure servant hearted leadership in the church. Therefore, the priority of church leaders is to equip and empower the church members for the work of the Gospel (Eph 4: 11 – 13).

2. Parish Council

The Parish Council is a democratically elected body of church members whose primary role is to:

a) seek God’s agenda for St Paul’s policies and procedures and to be custodians of them;

b) keep the Senior Minister accountable to the Mission, Vision, Core Values and ministry goals of St Paul’s; and

c) model personal discipleship.

3. Wardens

The Wardens are members of Parish Council who act in two ways:

a) they have a special responsibility to oversee the finances and property of the church including the appointment of a Treasurer and signing off on the Annual Financial Reports for the church

b) they are the Executive body of the Parish Council who work with the Senior Minister to:

a. make decisions relating to finances and property issues week by week; 

b. assist the Senior Minister as a sounding board on other issues such as staffing;

c. keep the Senior Minister accountable to the Mission, Vision, Core Values and ministry goals of St Paul’s; and

d. model personal discipleship.

4.  Senior Minister

The Senior Minister is appointed to St Paul’s by the Anglican Archbishop of
Sydney. The Senior Minister’s primary role is to: 

a) teach the members of St Paul’s the Word of God; 

b) lead the members of St Paul’s to maturity in Christ and grow God’s Kingdom; 

c) lead the intercession for the members of St Paul’s;

d) cast Vision for the direction of St Paul’s, and organise around the Vision; 

e) recruit and lead a staff team to achieve the Vision; 

f) raise funds for the Vision; and 

g) model personal discipleship.

5. Staff

Each staff member is appointed by the Senior Minister with the assistance of the Parish Council to: 

a) evangelise, teach, equip and empower church members for the work of the Gospel; 

b) fulfil the Vision of the church as a team under the leadership of the Senior Minister; and

c) model personal discipleship.

Decision Making Structure

One of the keys to good governance for any organisation, especially for churches, is for authority, power and humility to line up appropriately for decision making. One way of stating it is that the people who have been given authority to lead, exercise power to make decisions (use power), for the sake of others (humility). Used in this way, power is a positive term. It is simply the ability to implement decisions that one has the authority to make, and for the sake of others (rather than self). My own experience of churches is that too often it is people with power, but without authority, making decisions for their own ‘constituents’ and preferences rather than the pursuit of a corporate vision. In this system there is no accountability for the use of power.  


This new governance model allows for mutuality of authority and accountability for all church members. The Parish Council and Wardens are elected and empowered by the church members to take care of the well-being of the church. The Parish Council has final say in policy matters, finances and property in consultation with the Senior Minister. The Parish Council, in turn, empowers the Senior Minister to lead the church with the staff. As a result, the Senior Minister has final say on Executive Matters relating to theology, vision and direction in consultation with the Parish Council. The Staff and Volunteer Leaders are freed up to make Operational Decisions that will practically assist ministry programs. The following table provides a clear structure to the decision making process.

Decision Making Level

Process of 


Final Decision

Level 1

Parish Council decides Policy matters with input from Senior Minister

Parish Council

Level 2

Senior Minister decides Executive matters with input from Parish Council

Senior Minister

Level 3

Senior Minister decides Executive matters with input from Staff

Senior Minister

Level 4

Staff decide Operational matters with input from Volunteer Leaders

Senior Minister

Level 5

Volunteer Leaders decide Operational matters

Volunteer Leader

“Policy Matters” refers to the governing guidelines by which St Paul’s is run. This includes:

• Financial policies and budget approval 

• Church constitution issues set by the Sydney Anglican Diocese

• Human resource policies e.g. senior staff employment, staff recruitment policy, etc. 

• Major goals for the church e.g. 5 year goals

• Holding the Senior Minister accountable for policies and goals set for the church. 

“Executive Matters” refers to the theology, vision & values and church strategy by which St Paul’s is run. This includes ministry and operational matters such as: 

• Church stand on important issues e.g. divorce and remarriage, church discipline, mode of baptism, leadership structure, etc 

• Ministry vision and direction 

• Ministry strategy, priorities and supporting goals.

“Operational Matters” refers to the practical operational outworking of the Executive matters of vision and strategy via ministry programs and organisation, for example: 

• Ministry programs

• Ministry logistics and administration (operations)

• Ministry details. 

St Paul’s Wardens and Parish Council has changed over the years to accommodate for a larger sized church which brings with it an increase in complexity, staffing, volunteer numbers and administration issues. The Parish Council has an oversight and accountability responsibility in relation to the Senior Minister and Wardens. The monthly Parish Council meetings are an opportunity for the Senior Minister and Wardens to demonstrate how they have been living out the Mission and achieving the Vision, goals and policy decisions of the Parish Council. 

Each AGM we seek church members who have demonstrated a clear commitment to the Mission, Vision, and Core Values of St Paul’s to nominate for Parish Council and Warden roles (and others). Prayerfully consider whether you will stand, nominate another, and who you will vote for come the 20th March.

Richest blessings,

Steve Jeffrey

Senior Minister