The Meaning of the Passage of Scripture: I Peter, 5: 1-4
The passage of Scripture is related to the issue of leadership at church. “The elders” refers to the wise and experienced members of the congregation. These people have respect and authority, and others tend to follow their advice. “A fellow elder” means that Peter considers himself as the one equal to these experienced men (5:1). The passage explains the need for being sincere and devoted leaders of the people – “God’s flock” – who belong to one’s parish.
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Peter explains that being a good leader is not about having to take care of the “flock” but wishing to do so. Also, the goals of the leader should be righteous and not “dishonest” (5:2). Peter emphasizes the need to be a positive example to one’s parish rather than “lording” over people (5:3). Finally, it is mentioned that when Christ returns (“when the Chief Shepherd appears”), good leaders will receive a reward – “the crown of glory” – which is the recognition of their honorable and dedicated deeds (5:4).
The Relation of the Passage to the Ethical Perspective
The passage is connected with the ethical perspective because it dwells on the need to be particularly attentive when targeting specific populations in a ministry. The words of encouragement, which are expressed in the final verse, both emphasize the need for communal relationships and suggest advice on “living through the end-time sufferings” (Perkins, 2012, p. 75). From an ethical perspective, it is noted that caution is necessary for religious leaders.
The reason for such discretion and attention is that singling out vulnerable parishioners will allow the minister to focus on these people’s difficulties and promote their dedication, which will eventually lead to salvation. Being cautious when targeting potential benefactors is also highly important since the church needs financial support (Perkins, 2012). Particularly, a minister should be self-conscious and persuasive enough to show the donors that the church is leading a righteous life and that it is worth supporting it. Therefore, the ethical perspective helps to explain the core goals of church leaders’ activity.
Clear and Distinctive Positioning
Developing a successful church growth strategy involves clear and distinctive positioning as the core element differentiating church from other services in the community. To establish such positioning, operationalizing marketing is applied. Odia and Isibor (2014) consider two aspects of churches when analyzing them from the marketing perspective: (a) as non-profit organizations and (b) as service providers. Due to churches’ non-profit nature, it may be difficult to apply market concepts to them. The reasons for such complications are:
- churches do not distribute net earnings;
- they are focused on societal welfare rather than customer satisfaction;
- churches have many stakeholders, but few employees and consumers;
- not all cases of non-profit organizations can be analyzed through market and exchange;
- demand for services is insistent;
- it may be complicated to evaluate performance (Odia & Isibor, 2014).
Viewing church as a service provider is possible due to its intangibility and the high degree of consumer involvement. Odia and Isibor (2014) outline several features of churches as service providing organizations: heterogeneity, perishability of offerings, quality of services, the impossibility of selling church offerings, or assessing its productivity. Taking into consideration the fact that churches are non-profit service providers, it becomes possible to speak about the importance of their positioning and marketing. The major reason why scholars consider it applicable to view the church as a market is that religion presupposes the exchange of value (Odia & Isibor, 2014).
Thus, church marketing is the process of analyzing and planning an exchange between a religious organization and its constituents to gratify the needs of both. The successful positioning starts with investigating and comprehending the mission of the church. Further, the religious organization should select its desirable relationship type based on two aspects: the direction and focus. By direction, churches can choose a vertical or horizontal relationship, and by focus, the connection can be internal or external.
Since churches are not the only non-profit service providers in the community, clear and distinctive positioning is the factor that affects their successful activity. According to Zait, effective positioning involves such factors as goal identification, placement, marketing mix, marketing plan, and the message (as cited in Juravle, Sasu, & Spătaru, 2016, p. 338). To identify its goals, the religious market needs to understand what its main audience is and what objectives it ultimately wants to achieve.
A clear placement is another aspect of successful positioning since it allows finding the niche for a particular church and then identifying the consumers of its services. Creating a marketing plan is crucial since it will allow supervising the activities and checking whether they are performed timely. Finally, a church needs to have a clearly articulated message, which incorporates its mission and vision. With the help of these components, it will be easier for any church to become a successful non-profit organization. People will realize the difference between the religious market and other community services, and they will be more likely to join the church, which will lead to the growth of this market.
Juravle. A.-I., Sasu, C., & Spătaru, G. C. (2016). Religious marketing. SEA – Practical Application of Science, 4(2), 335-340.
Odia, E. O., & Isibor, F. O. (2014). Operationalizing marketing in the church. Nigeria Journal of Business Administration, 12(1-2), 48-71.
Perkins, P. (2012). First and Second Peter, James, and Jude: Interpretation, a Bible commentary for teaching and preaching. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.