There are at least three different way to lead a church. They are named Prophets, Priests, and Kings. These derive from Eusebius of Caesarea, an exegetical-Christian polemicist, along with other Reformation leaders. Prophets tend to love sound doctrine and great teaching, Priests have a natural love for, and drive to help people, Kings are great vision implementers and can strategically get things done. All pastors will fall under at least one of these classes.
Jesus himself, being a perfect man, was all three. Some people relate to him best as a Priest caring for all people and healing the sick. Some relate to him as the King casting vision, “ . . . and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:18) Many times in the Gospels we see Jesus, just like a prophet, defending sound doctrine and proclaiming the truth to everyone that would listen.
Just as Jesus was a King there are many pastors that lead in this way. They have been blesses with the spiritual gift of administration. They can build systems, manage recourses, lead from behind the scenes trough strategy. Kings, although they may not be the most popular of all church leaders are vital to the survival and growth of all churches. There is a downside though. Kings can be, at times rigid or inflexible, refusing to change. It is imperative that pastors bend and flex to their culture in order to be relevant. A lot of times Kings make too many rules and can be overcome with self-righteousness with their policy.
There is no question that Jesus loved people. When there was a guy that had a rough life, say he was blind like in John chapter nine, Jesus stopped and took the time to heal them. More than once Jesus fed thousands of people who would have gone hungry. Just like Jesus, Priestly leaders see hurting and needing people and cannot stand it if they don’t do anything to help. Priests tend to be mainly about compassion and mercy and justice. They are the ones who have a big emphasis on small groups and want to get involved in other people’s lives to see if there is any way they can help you.
Priests have been gifted with the spiritual gift of encouragement and the ability to lead through relationships. They would tend to focus on the “ground war” and counsel people one on one. They have a high want of friendship with other people and sometimes this will make them want to exchange what the Bible says in order to keep these people in their church. This is happening certainly today in churches that would say, “It’s okay to be gay,” when this is contrary to scripture. (see Romans 1:18-32) Priests are sometimes self-righteous with compassion and love.
In the book of Hebrews, which some scholars think is a sermon, Jesus is described as a Prophet. There is no question that Jesus was a preacher. At every town he visited people would leave what they where doing at the time and come see him. They did this because of His reputation. Paul writes to Timothy and tells him to read scripture in public and exhort one another. The church has a duty to preach and teach the Bible without adding it’s own ideas, but contextualizing it for today’s audience. John Piper calls it, “expository exultation.”
Prophets have the spiritual gift of knowledge and the natural gift of preaching and teaching to larger audiences. These pastors are best as communicators and have a focus on being in a visible preacher and teacher. They lead through communication and focus on the spiritual “air war.” A lot of times Prophets become conceited, harsh, cold and self-righteous with their knowledge. Prophets tend to follow pastors like John Piper or reformers like R. C. Sproul and Jonathan Edwards. Prophets are key for the growth of theology and knowledge within the church.
All three have major importance in churches today, just as they did in the early days. If one area is lacking there is going to be a severe hurt in that organization. If there is a Priest and King but no Prophet, a whole bunch of good works will be done but that is it, no salvation. If there is a Priest and King there will be great ideas for getting things done and a lot of Biblical truths, but no counseling, no small groups, and not healing or love. All pastors will fall under at least one of these classes and every church should realize the need for the correct leaders.
*All info about prophets, priests, and kings was learned from the book Church Planter by Darrin Patrick and theresurgence.com
*The Photo at the top of this post is also from theresugence.com