I’m following up my Analog Conversations post with a few other articles which further thoughts/discussion we started previously.
Lucas Land is also following up on a previous post of his own (with comments following) when he asks, Was Jesus a Pastor or a Leader? Lucas is being (happily?) influenced by Frost & Hirsch, The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21 Century Church (a book I’ve been recommending fairly heavily for a guy who hasn’t finished reading it yet, but it’s that good). He quotes a comment from his earlier post, which asks, â€œAre there sources, other than Frost (may biblical ones) that promote the flat model over effective servant leadership?â€? Problems here are (a) the flat model is not non-analogous (by the way, what’s the opposite of analogous, anyway?) to servant leadership, as I would argue servant leadership will naturally exist in flat structures; and (2) effective servant leadership is not necessarily heirarchical (this facet is redundant to the prior point) and I’m becoming increasingly skeptical that heirarchical structures can demonstrate effective servant leadership. Heirarchies distribute power, and power corrupts. Heirarchies imply position, which feeds pride and, for lack of a better word (I’m stuck for words all of a sudden), snobbery (which is a stronger word than I mean to imply here).
Meanwhile, Kester Brewin opines the question of the validity of full-time work in the church versus what he calls “distributed leadership” in Sustainability | Full-time Church Work | Distributed Leadership (HT:Wendy Cooper). And while browsing there, hello, I notice that Kester speaks my language: Accountability and Responsibility – how can they work in EC’s?
It is REALLY weird to read a question that I has been in my head for the past week or so.. but I have not yet blogged my thoughts on it. It’s a great question that does push our comfortable categories.. and shows them to be culturally captive.
Speaking from the APEPT or fivefold perspective.. maybe we can say that Jesus was the first Apostle-Prophet-Evangelist-Teacher-Pastor.. though interesting, from scholarly work done in Luke-Acts.. from the perspective of the writer of those Gospels.. Jesus was “the prophet who is to come” the ultimate “Spirit-man”.. (see Stronstadt, Talbert and many others). It isn’t until Paul comes along and post-ascension that we have this “fivefold” perspective.
thanks for the link… this is a really good conversation and important moving forward. your point about servant leadership is spot-on. well done.
To start, the opposite of analogous is antilogous. Thought you might find that interesting.
It is odd that Michael Frost should come up today, as I just really learned about him this week, having emailed him about a message of his I had downloaded. We are trying to get him out to Winnipeg in the near future.
I wonder if some of the functional structures of hierarchy, without the power structures, are possible? Within YWAM, we have regional leadership going from local to global. It is a system of accountability (eldership, really). Ultimately, though, the leaders have no power to make demands or changes on anyone “below” them. Rather, if there is something to be corrected, it is done with relational authority and gift-centred people.
I thought I should further explain. One might ask, about YWAM leadership structures, then why do they exsist? The role of the leadership structure is to maintain a relational matrix within the global mission, so that eldership is not positional, but relational. It is a servant leader role, in that they function to protect us so that we can serve God free of top-down directives. Hope that helps.
While I understand the problems associated with a heirarchical keadership structure, I can’t help but notice some that are just as alarming in more “democratic” models. When the congregation rules the church there is potential for some serious division, which I’ve experienced at a church I’ve been to. What happens when half the congregation thinks one thing, the other half thinks another, and there is no shepherd to lead them in either direction? Sure, they had a pastor, but he was elected by the congregation as a whole, not by a group of elders/deacons. Any decision made by the “leadership” could be quickly overturned by the congregation, and often was. Kinda like a minority government… there seems to be a good biblical precident for heirarchical leadership. Are the examples paul gives us descriptive or prescriptive? Are we to follow them or is there room to develop a new model?
I think it is important to differ between hierarchal leadership structures, which is about upward mobility and positional authority. However, by abandoning these values does not mean that there will not be those who will have authority. However, authority is relational and a reflection of the communities trust in that persons specific vocation & giftings. Additionally, it into about a pyramidic structure that narrows in numbers as it goes up, but rather a multi-faceted team of empowered servants functioning with authority in their spheres, all mutually accountable, etc.
Jut remembered this article by Matthew R. Malcolm, “Worldly Woes for Christian Leaders” [the eBriefing, No. 298 (July 2003)]. Here’s an excerpt:
There are certain ways of ‘making it’ as a leader in Christian circles. There are certain, almost expected, ways for church leaders to attain a desirable level of respect and honour.
Let me guide you through the process, step-by-step:
1. Establish a teaching ministry where there is distance between yourself and the people that you’re teaching. The distance gives your hearers the impression that you have a complete grasp of your subject, and that you don’t need their help in practising what you preach.
2. Allow yourself to be made an example for others in terms of your successes-how people have come to the Lord through your ministry, or whatever success it is.
3. Gladly accept honoured treatment from other Christians-when they are introducing you as a speaker, for example: “So-and-so spent fourteen years doing such-and-such, during which time his congregation grew significantly in numbers and maturity. He’s well-known as a speaker, and has vast experience in the area about which he speaks to us this evening.”
4. Make the most of honourable titles, depending on your particular tradition- Father, Reverend, Worship Leader, Pastor …
I wonder if this process is not out of the ordinary among Christian leaders. And I wonder if Jesus Christ is displeased.
In chapter 23 of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus’ intention seems to be to train and prepare his disciples for life as the new leaders of the people of God. In verses 1-12, Jesus contrasts the leadership style of the Pharisees and Scribes with the style that he has in mind for his disciples.
… The New Testament does envisage leadership and order within Christian churches, but it never uses terms like “dynamic anointed leadership,” or “the Very Honourable Right Reverend.” It uses terms like “servant”, or “elder”, or “shepherd”. It’s a way of reminding ourselves that all of us are under the leadership of one Lord, Jesus Christ.
We need a radical view of leadership-one like what Jesus provides in Matthew 23, and embodies in his own life of service. But let’s make sure we don’t take this too far and disregard the value of leadership altogether. The issue, of course, is not whether we should honour Christian leaders, but that leaders should not seek honour in the eyes of men and women. Leading matters, but it is conducted by loving servants, rather than lording professionals.