Should Church Leadership Be Inclusive?

When Jesus began his ministry, he was thrust into a diverse community of social dynamics where Romans oppressed Jews, wealthy oppressed poor, men oppressed women, and religious elite oppressed unlearned religious commoners (Hurtado, 2006). Jesus’ teachings addressed this issue by making unclean things clean (Mk. 7:14-23), healing an unclean woman shunned by the community (Mk. 5:25-34), and including the Gentiles in his invitation for an eternal relationship with him (Rishmawy, 2015). As a result, the church has attempted to be inclusive in every way to not exclude individuals from the message of the Gospel, with various levels of success in its long history (Gonzalez, 2010).

This presents a challenge in leader development. Everyone is considered a leader by the general call to influence given by Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20, so should ministry leaders allow each individual to define their leadership development and growth for themselves, or should there be boundaries on how leaders are developed?

The Apostle Paul would probably argue that though the Gospel of Jesus Christ is all inclusive, there are standards of conduct and qualification for those who aspire to positions of leadership (1 Tim. 3). Since leader development is an expansion of one’s capacity to be effective in whatever leadership roles and processes they are a part of, and since leadership roles and processes facilitate setting direction, creating alignment, and maintaining commitment in groups of people (Van Velsor et al., 2010), there is a need for standards and conduct for qualification not everyone will meet. The call to leadership should be inclusive, encouraging participation in standards set by the group (Roberson, 2006), but should be determined by the degree one is willing to comply with those standards. Though leadership is an opportunity everyone has, it is a privilege only some achieve.


Gonzalez, J. L. (2010). The Story of Christianity, Vol. 2: The Reformation to the Present Day (2nd edition). New York: HarperOne.

Hurtado, L. (2006). New International Biblical Commentary – Mark. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers.

Rishmawy, D. (2015, July 15). How to Really Be Inclusive Like Jesus. Retrieved September 2, 2016, from

Roberson, Q. M. (2006). Disentangling the Meanings of Diversity and Inclusion in Organizations. Group & Organization Management, 31(2), 212–236.

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