Phil over at Signposts has some good thoughts on leadership.
Leadership structures are important as they define expectations of accountability, responsibility and communication. One of the worrying signs in the emerging church is the fear of leadership and structure. It is likely that this is a reaction to the institutionalised leadership and structures that people have experienced and felt smothered by. Yet, not all structures and leadership are inherently bad.
It remains to be determined exactly where the proper balance lies, but it does seem evident that some form of leadership must be found and practised which is non-authoritarian and non-heirarchical. Servant leadership. Complete lack of leadership isn’t good either, and even consensus forms of governance grow weaker as an organization grows eventually threatening to paralize the organization. Balance may be hard to strike, but it must exist. As John Mellencamp says in the song Between a Laugh and a Tear, “I know there’s a balance, I see it when I swing past.”
Also from Phil’s post, “Without good communication, accountability and process, a leader may not realise when he or she has lost the understanding or even support of ordinary church members.” Unfortunately, I’ve seen that one happen as well… and it forebodes pain for all concerned. As with so many bad situations, the preventative solution is often so simple… so simple in fact, it isn’t given due consideration as important. After all, how could something so small be so important? Ah, but it is. One small reminder of the necessary things within an effective servant leadership structure… if we can just find that balance.
Lord, may we all stop “swinging past.”
I think the distrust of leadership has some to do with authoritarian leadership but it can also
have something to do with harbored bitterness. I think their are easy ways to get around the leadership
1. Don’t pay leaders. Maybe a little but dont make professionals
2. Avoid bureaucracy. Don’t make ministries have to go through a bunch of hoops to do stuff. If you seperate
government (regulation) from the ministries than there really is no authority (which is good).
Avoid committees like the plague. Don’t do consensus or anything like that. Total bureacracy.
BUT in meetings, I want to hear a good speaker not just a free for all. In worship, I want the band to be good.
3. Be values based. If we have values and we articulate them well we can guide our decisions.
Organizations get messed up when they can’t articulate their values well. I think this is what happened in the Vineyard
I went too. They thought the real value was “gifts” when it really was “moral beauty” or “honesty”
I think this is crucial aspect of the postmodern/emergent journey that needs to be processed before the movement can mature. However, I am not sure we are engaging the issue on the right terms. First, the word/concept â€œstructuresâ€? might be part of the problem. Structures is often defined as a construction of something and the arrangement of its parts. This reflects our continued dependence on a mechanistic paradigm. Rather, I believe we need to conceive of structures from a more organic, systemic paradigm. This will not only mean a reexamination of our continued use of â€œclockworkâ€? thinking, but also a exploration and experimentation with more natural models for organization.
The other thing that worries me is that, as we attempt to remove authoritarian leadership, we too often rid ourselves of authority altogether. Hierarchy is more of the issue, with authority being a central aspect of the teaching, life and impartation of Christ. In our pendelum swing response to authority abuses in the church and our culture, we risk abandoning the authority that has been giving us all.
Authority and leadership begin to develop their true role within the Body of Christ, IMHO, when we begin to embrace true community. This process, however, is a costly one that will surface the best and worst of us all. However, I believe this is a foundational necessity to achieve the organic movement that we seek to be.
Good thoughts, gents. Brad, I like your three points… esp. the professional one. I was thinking the other week, “What’s a professional theologian?” The answer I came up with was “God the rest of us are all just amateurs.” I think we’d do well to remember this with respect to theology and clergy. Actually the other two points you make are just as good… I remember when I was still in an institutional church, after a while I started telling them I didn’t want to go the their meetings unless they could tell me what was on the agenda beforehand; there seemed so many that were a waste of my precious time.
Jamie, I think one difficulty in processing this issue is that with the the EC there are differing answers which are acceptable. Some ECs are denominational and retain that structure of leadership (albeit loosely in most cases) whereas others are more ‘deconstructive’ in these areas, including house churches and the like… some of whom have no identifiable leadership structure at all. I think you’re right wrt true community though.
btw, let me know how your week shapes up and we’ll try to grab a coffee (or cold bevvie).
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Leadership. We all need it and we all seek it. I theink the problemmisi with the Structures we put in place around it. They Smell Like Sheep was a pretty good book about leadership in the church. It defined a leader as someone who has a “flock”. It uses the term moral suasionm to describe the way a true leader gains a flock through their walk/witness. You can’t get a flock by assuming a position or by having a flock assigned to you (as happens in structures). You earn it. The leader position develops as the flock forms. Authority comes not through a granted power, but rather through willing submissions from those under the suasion.
Everyone should, at some level, be a leader–at least in your family. And everyone, at some level needs a leader (as someone who “goes before”).
SOrry for the crappy spelling, I’m still having a problem with the comments text box. English really is my primary language.
My father has just gone through major lung surgery and is recovering, so my time is quite limited. I will likely be bringing them home to Northwestern Ontario when he is released in order to help them further. Do you have any time early this week? Drop me a note.
P.S. Did you know that Firefox won’t allow me to leave comments? I had to go to Internet Explorer