Question #4

“Here I am. I stand at the door of the church and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with the person, and they with me” (Revelation 3:20).

“What do you mean by asking, ‘Is Christ really head of our church?’ You might answer automatically, “Of course he is for the Bible tells me so!”

You have a point. Paul does affirm that Christ “is the head of the body, the church” (Colossians 1:18). So let’s ask the question differently.

Is Christ a figure head or the functioning head of your congregation?  In other words, Does Christ govern the life and ministry of your congregation by His Word and by His Spirit?

Those questions may be foreign to you so let me provide some clarifying questions that flow from my experience as a pastor and church consultant:

  • Does your leadership validate complainers?
  • Does your congregation handle personal offenses biblically by encouraging the offended person to speak to the one who has offended him or her?
  • Does your congregation handle conflict in a manner consistent with the Bible?
  • Is the fruit of the Spirit visible in your fellowship of believers?

Where the answer is “NO,” there, in that particular place, we may be certain that Christ is nothing more than a figure head.

You may think that statement harsh unless you are familiar with John’s letter to the Church of Laodicea, recorded for us in Revelation 3:14-21. This letter, one of seven recorded by John, is unlike the others which each include a compliment before a soft warning.

The letter to Laodicea does not include one positive word. Instead it includes a stern condemnation by describing a congregation in a most surprising position. Christ, the Head of the Church, stands outside of his Church, knocking on the door of His Church, seeking entrance into His Church. 

Isn’t that an incredible vision? Contrary to popular opinion, Jesus is not portrayed as knocking on the door of someone’s heart! He is seeking entry into his lukewarm but overly confident religious organization. Jesus Christ is outside knocking on the door, seeking entrance into his church!

I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking that Jesus the Head of the Church made certain that John included this letter in the book of Revelation. Surely this letter was included to encourage every Christian congregation to ask, from time to time, a simple question: “Is Christ really head of our Church?”

There are several reasons why a congregation should answer that question before beginning a search for a new pastor. First, the willingness to ask the question cultivates a spirit of humility. Second, the answers to the question will reveal areas in the life of the church that need to be addressed before a new pastor arrives. Finally, we want Christ to be Head of our church so that he leads our search by His Word and Spirit.   

Prayer Prompt: Lord, help us affirm your headship of our church.   


ChapterNext is a pastor search and church consulting firm led by Rev. Sam Hamstra. They assist congregations through a handful of services, including staff development, weekend worship workshops, leadership retreats, congregational mergers, and ministry reviews (vision and mission statements, budgets, building renovation, and marketing plans). These services grew out of ChapterNexts’ founding purpose which is to help congregations turn the page so that they can begin writing new chapters of dynamic and life-transforming ministry.

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