Original Research

Leadership functions and church decline in the Reformed Churches in South Africa: Considering Ephesians 4:11–16

Ignatius W. Ferreira, Wilbert Chipenyu
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 42, No 1 | a2189 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v42i1.2189 | © 2021 Ignatius W. Ferreira, Wilbert Chipenyu | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 November 2020 | Published: 02 July 2021

About the author(s)

Ignatius W. Ferreira, Department of Missiology, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Wilbert Chipenyu, Department of Missiology, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


Multiple studies from Ephesians 4:11–16 have been carried out that focused mostly on aspects of the believers’ priesthood. This article highlights the significance of adhering to the biblical instructions of God as a means to attain church growth. The church was instituted by God and as such he directs the process of church growth. Nevertheless, the ongoing membership decline in the World Protestant Churches globally and the Reformed Churches in South Africa (RCSA) locally is an indicator that the church is failing to meet the will and purpose of God with the church. In the World Protestant Churches and the RCSA, the decline trends are basically the same, and the loopholes are pointing at church leadership. This article seeks to describe the leadership failure to uphold the blueprint of church health according to Ephesians 4:11–16. These are the keys to real church revitalisation and growth. The exegesis of the problem verse (Eph 4:11) was carried out to indicate the various leadership gifts that are necessary for church growth to occur. The Bible and related literature are the sources of data. This article identifies how an omission of the gift-oriented tasks in a congregation leads to church decline.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: Within the context of the continued church decline within Western Christianity (Christendom), this article reflects on the historical, mostly ‘Practical theological’ focus on church growth by exegeting the source texts from a ‘missiological perspective’. This study is also very conscious of modernity’s onslaught on the evangelical church through the therapeutic and managerial revolutions, which functions with an attitude of anti-clericalism when focusing on church growth.


leadership functions; church decline; Reformed Churches in South Africa; World Protestant Churches; Ephesians 4:11–16


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Crossref Citations

1. The Influence of Teacher Personality Quality on the Spiritual Growth of a Congregation
Yosua Budi Ristiono, Junio Richson Sirait, Paulus Kunto Baskoro, Marlina Eliyanti Simbolon
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doi: 10.46222/pharosjot.103.2048