The Book Extreme Ownership is captivating. It’s written by two Navy SEAL officers. The whole purpose of the book is to take the concepts that the authors learned on the battlefield and apply them to other areas of life. This part caught my ecclesiastical ear:
I made all kinds of mistakes when I lead SEALs. Often, my subordinate leadership would pick up the slack for me. And they wouldn’t hold it against me, nor did I think they were infringing on my leadership turf. On the contrary, I would thank them for covering me. Leadership isn’t one person leading a team. It’s a group of leaders working together up and down the chain of command to lead. If you are on your own, I don’t care how good you are, you won’t be able to handle it.
I’ve noticed that in fundamentalist, landmark, and generally unlearnt circles, there’s a general mockery, disdain, and misunderstanding of churches that recognize the Biblical importance and historical precedent for having a plurality of elders within the context of the local New Testament assembly. Rather than having a “group of leaders working together up and down the chain of command,” what you tend to see in these circles is one sole figure who tries to call all the shots and considers any disagreement - however slight - as contentious turf infringement that must be summarily called out and squelched. This often results in a ministry of condemnation and a fear-based submission that is crippling to true growth. A plurality of elders isn’t a silver bullet that makes all of these challenges go away, but it’s a vitally necessary step in the right direction. It’s an antibiotic that makes this kind of rotten infection less likely to thrive.
Call yourself a church plant if you want, but until you have a plurality of elders, you aren’t within the Biblical and historical range of an orthodox, constituted church.
This isn’t a blind ideology — a standard for the sake of a standard. There are grave consequences that inevitably result in failing to prioritize a robust leadership that extends past one person. Indeed, “Leadership isn’t one person leading a team.” Or in the words of Proverbs 11:14:
Where there is no guidance the people fall,
But in abundance of counselors there is victory.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to think twice before you ignore the combined wisdom of Solomon and SEALs.