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You could think of these two styles as preferences, like Coke and Pepsi. Some folks prefer one over the other, and neither one of them are wrong. Of course, if you push either to its extreme, it could be horribly wrong.
I’m not talking about the “worst versions” of these two styles but the pros and “acceptable” cons. Instructively, the authoritarian and delegating pastors operate according to their preferences in their families, too. The pastor given to ruling with an authoritative hand will tend to micro-manage his wife and children. The same is true for the authoritarian para-Church ministry leader. The delegating individual will provide his wife and children the leadership, opportunities, and freedom to grow in their unique gifting.
The upside to this model is that the pastor builds it to be small. If you don’t want to grow beyond the leader’s ability to manage everything, you would like this model and the close-knit community that it provides. Many Christians talk about how they want “small churches” because they feel closer to everyone.
Authoritarian pastors provide the “small church feel” because they cannot manage beyond their ability to control things. You can only control so much. And if the church is small enough, the people can receive marvelous care, enjoy deep friendships, and have that “place” where they can get away from the world. These churches can be good fits for young families. For example,
A non-exhaustive list of the limitations:
These churches can grow large because the pastor is not a micro-manager. The downside is apparent: you can feel like you walked into a large mall at Christmas time. You feel lost in the “perceived chaos” of it all. If you’re not intentional about “building small” inside the large church, your soul will suffer. Here are two more negatives.
A few examples of the upside:
Neither of these models has to be wrong; it’s a matter of preference. Do you prefer Coke or Pepsi? I like Coke. As you think about the best fit for you, perhaps these questions will help.
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).