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PROJECT TOPIC: THE ROLE OF CHURCH LEADERS IN GROWTH AND SURVIVAL OF A CHURCH (A CASE STUDY OF SELECTED CHURCHES OF CHRIST, URUEOFFONG ORUKO, L. G. A)

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1       BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

          Leadership is indeed a dynamic reciprocal process of personal influence by which a manager or a leader shapes the attitudes and activities of others towards the achievement or attainment of organizational objectives (Abogunrin, 1986). Even before the modern concepts of leadership came into being, the apostle of Jesus Christ, Paul in the Pastorals lists the qualifications for church leaders to ensure sustainable growth and survival (Dairo, 2007). These have remained the model for ages. For any church leader to steer the ship of the church successfully, these qualities must be imbibed. But contemporary experience in Nigeria has shown a marked departure from this Pauline list of qualifications for church leaders which has really affected growth and survival of churches. The level of understanding expected from both the leaders and the followers is missing in most cases. This often results in crises within “the body of Christ”.

          There are some common features in various definitions of leadership. It will be presumptuous for anyone to attempt a definition that will satisfy the populace especially regarding church leadership. Leadership is nothing if not linked to collective purpose; and the effectiveness of leaders must be judged not by press clippings but by actual social change, measured by intent and by satisfaction of human needs and expectations which on the long term will be visible on the church growth and development.

          Oluwasegun (2005) defines leadership as the ability to gain consensus and commitment to common objectives beyond organizational requirements which are attained with experience or contribution and satisfaction on the part of the working group. Leadership could also be defined as the relationship in which one person or the leader influences others to work together willingly on related tasks to attain that which the leader desires. It is a means of direction. Leadership is the ability of management to induce the subordinates to work towards a group’s goals with confidence and keenness. It implies that the leader accepts responsibility for the achievement of the group objectives and it is, therefore, essential for the trust and cooperation from both sides to be evidence all the time (Oluwasegun, 2005). Leadership is an art of getting things done. It can be learnt, improved, developed and perfected. It is the key process of influence and the process always includes a number of key components such as leader and followers, they interact in situations and means of influence which emerge from the leader and from the followers, based on their value system and goals which the leader and the followers seek to achieve (Dairo, 2004).

          With respect to church leadership, it implies that the church leader gives direction, motivates, reprimands and develops a set objective along with his group and resolves individual or group needs within the church. This is perceived as the only way towards the church growth and survival. In the New Testament it was more often used as Christological title for the exalted Jesus. The results of semasiological and lexicographical investigation of secular Greek indicate an extremely polyvalent spectrum of meaning for the word “church leader”, the basis being he who is the first, who stands at the head of, who leads.

          According to the New Testament, the terms "bishop," "pastor," and "elder" are synonymous. Bishop means "overseer," and the elders had the responsibility of overseeing the work of the church (Acts 20:17, 28; 1Pet 5:1-3). "Elder" is the translation of the Greek word presbytes, which means "an old man." Paul used the word presbytery in (1Tim 4:14), referring not to a denomination, but to the "eldership" of the assembly that ordained Timothy. Elders and bishops (two names for the same office, (cf Titus 1:5,7) were mature people with spiritual wisdom and experience to ensure the survival of the church of God. Also, "pastor" means "shepherd," one who leads and cares for the flock of God (Vine, 1996:67).

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