The Difference Between Teachers and Leaders in the Church

Justin Johnson

One reason there are so few properly functioning grace churches is the lack of good church leaders.

You may say, “we don’t need a pope telling us what to do”, or “there is one mediator between God and man, and it’s not you”, and you would be right.

You can study to show yourself approved unto God without a Ph.D. You can be saved without a priest waving his hands over you. You can teach the Bible to people privately or online without claiming any authority or dominion over them.

There are many teachers of the Bible, and with modern technology you do not need a church to benefit from them.

Even so, there are more false teachers than true ones. How do you know the difference? Who corrects them? Who is in charge? Where is ministry work being done?

Teaching vs. Working

God did not write a book just only to create teachers of the Bible. He wrote a book to create faithful unashamed workmen (2 Tim 2:2; 2 Tim 2:15).

There is a difference between a teacher and a workman.

When workers collaborate to accomplish a task, it requires leadership, order, and direction. This is why God ordained offices of leadership and authority in the local church so that ministry could be performed.

Ministry is more than just knowing things. Ask the Corinthians whose ministry was broken, not for a lack of teachers, but from a lack of order and authority.

“…ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers…” – 1 Cor 4:15

Using Paul’s pattern and epistles we can learn the difference between teachers and leaders in the church, and why we need more church leaders in grace churches.

If you want to know God’s will you need a teacher, if you want to do God’s will, then you need a place and person where leadership is practiced and patterned. A properly functioning church has both.


A teacher explains.
A leader rules (1 Tim 5:17).

A teacher can easily puff someone up (1 Cor 8:1).
A leader can easily put someone in their place (1 Cor 8:2).

A teacher can teach any doctrine.
A leader must charge others to teach no other doctrine (1 Tim 1:3).

A teacher suggests for your consideration.
A leader charges, commands, and directs.

A teacher builds according to the blueprint.
A leader sets the blueprint (1 Cor 3:10).

Teachers can teach without agreement with others.
Leaders cannot lead without agreement with others.

Teachers can teach anything from the Bible.
Leaders must emphasize that which is important.

A teacher teaches ideas.
A leader governs behavior.

Teachers have students.
Rulers have subjects (1 Tim 3:4).

Teachers have no authority.
Leaders are told to ordain authority (Titus 1:5).

Teachers don’t have to do what they teach.
Leaders must do what they say for others to follow.

A teacher is not responsible for what the student does with his lesson.
A leader must consider what affect his actions has on the group.

An impure teacher can teach a right thing.
An impure leader has lost his ability to lead.

Teachers don’t have to deal with sin.
Leaders must respond and deal with sin in the church.

Teachers help others know God’s will.
Leaders help others do God’s will.

Teachers mark mistakes on paper.
Leaders mark mistakes by avoiding people (Rom 16:17).

Teachers verify the right answer.
Leaders approve workmen.

A teacher will teach anyone no matter what they believe.
A leader can only lead those who are willing to follow.

Teachers strive in debate and argument over long periods of time.
Leaders withdraw from wrong teachers (1 Tim 6:3-5).

A teacher is not concerned with poverty, sickness, and honoring others.
A leader must communicate with these issues in the church.

A teacher speaks at people he teaches.
A leader must listen to people he leads.

A teacher is not required to reprove, rebuke, or exhort.
A leader is required to (2 Tim 4:2).

A teacher labours in doctrine.
A leader labours with people.

Teachers and Leaders

Leaders in the church must know right doctrine and be “apt to teach” (1 Tim 3:2), but their responsibility goes beyond doctrine toward the outworking of God’s will in the church.

Without leaders and keepers of the church there are no boundaries, no protection against error, no nursery for babes to grow, and no discipline for the children. Leaders establish the pillar and ground that teachers teach from.

The Corinthians needed a father, a leader, an authority, to get them in order and working for the Lord in unity and responsibility. Paul gave it to them in two long epistles, and by sending leaders to their church (1 Cor 16:15-16).

We need more good church leaders if grace churches will get any work done.

“Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.” – 1 Timothy 5:17

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Published: January 28, 2017
Last Modified: December 21, 2021
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