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The Challenge of Ethical Leadership in the Church


The 2019 summer issue of ChinaSource Quarterly, “Leadership Ethics” comes out next week. We are delighted to once again have mainland scholars Mary Li Ma and LI Jin guest editing—this will be their fifth issue of CSQ![i]

A foundational scripture passage for this issue comes from the apostle John:

If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son, purifies us from all sin.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. 

1 John 1:7-10 NIV

In a timely and relevant way the editors and writers of this issue have chosen to bring the subject of leadership ethics within the church in China into the light. This is a sensitive topic. In the majority of cases, we are thankful for spiritual leaders—for pastors and shepherds who have sacrificially invested in our well-being and the nurture of our souls. Also, we know the Holy Spirit has facilitated the rapid growth of the church in China through the lives of countless faithful leaders.

However, as we will read in the coming issue of CSQ, if we romanticize our leaders we will miss the opportunity for godly redemption, healing, growth, and kingdom fruit that remains.

We are reminded that all—even our leaders—“have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

As a local church pastor for twenty years, the Lord regularly reminded me that “his power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). All authority and power is his, and my calling was to daily receive and offer his grace and mercy, the distinguishing features of our walk in Christ.

It was often a bumpy ride because I wanted to be great for God instead of strong in him. I wanted to do great things to see his church grow and his kingdom advanced. He was calling me to be his humble worshipper and follower.

Leaders must be vigilant in waiting on the Lord and walking his path with their brothers and sisters, or they will easily become isolated outside of Christ’s community to their peril. I resonate with the themes of this issue because they are so relevant to my own experience and, I believe, to the life experience of leaders who have ears to hear and eyes to see throughout the global body of Christ.

So watch for the summer issue of ChinaSource Quarterly and wait on the Lord as you read the words from our brothers and sisters in China on leadership ethics.  

This is an adaptation of the coming ChinaSource Perspective column of the 2019 spring issue of ChinaSource Quarterly, “Leadership Ethics.” 

Kerry Schottelkorb

Kerry Schottelkorb

Rev. Kerry Schottelkorb is the president of ChinaSource. For twenty years Kerry was involved in local church planting and youth ministry, both in the US and Hong Kong. He was the founding pastor of the Cle Elum Alliance Church in Cle Elum, Washington and one of two founding pastors of... View Full Bio


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