Moved Mountains

Banner - Mt Trio, Stirling Range National Park, Western Australia - (c) 2007

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Leadership Thang II

The following post is clipped from a reply I made to Shannon's comments on my last post, Growth in the Midst of Confusion (which should probably have been called Patterns in the Midst of Change).

Shannon got me thinking and I have tried to clarify - what is still not terribly clear even in my mind - why I see "pastorcentric" ministry as detrimental to longterm real - as opposed to transferred - growth in the local church.

Please know there are no fingers being pointed here - these are my observations and could be (are very likely are) wrong.

Let's hear what y'all have to say!

As I see it, leadership is essential. A filter for leadership has been given to us by God - it's called spiritual gifts (it's primary role is equipping, but it is also a filter). The leadership will be a representative sample of the wider membership but will still only be small in number - dependent on the size of our fellowship - when compared to the total number of members/congregants. It will be based on leadership gifting, where responsibility is given according to gifts which are recognised by a general consensus of fellowship members.

The pastor will be one of several other leaders, and responsibility for the ministry of the fellowship will rest, first, upon these leaders as a plurality, and secondly, upon the members.

I think there are many missionally minded pastors out there serving in what are outwardly CEO roles (I mentioned a couple who greatly influenced me in my post The Leadership Thang) but - and its a big but - who are going to keep running into problems getting their congregations into a missional mindset simply because of the very structure they are forced to work in and around. I believe this is where frustration and burn-out comes from in pastoral service.

IMO the very operational structure of a CEO-type church leads to an abrogation of God-called ministry within the members. Most members, regardless of what is being preached from the front (the fact that there is a front from which to preach is also part of the problem), will continue to see the primary ministerial role as resting upon or at the feet of the pastor. They will tell themselves this is why they contribute to his salary each week - so he can do the things they cannot do or don't have the time to do themselves. And therein lies the problem.

If you were to come to my fellowship (i.e. the fellowship to which I belong and where I serve - not mine because I own it!) you would see things still very much done in the way I describe above, but it is here - in the structure itself, that we have begun to implement change. A long time ago I started preaching "missionally" but central to this was also an ongoing and gentle encouragement (at least that is how I see it!) to act missionally. And the greatest benefit I had in this was that I was not in a recognised position of pastoral leadership. I was seen as one of the leaders, but I was not "the" leader. In this approach we are seeing change start to take place in our structures. I think - even though there may still be a long, long way to go - this is part of the solution to the problem.

Missional and traditional styles or philosophies of leadership (i.e. traditional in the sense of the form or structure we operate out of - dare I call them "modernist" - and have operated out of for the best part of the last 200 years) are simply not compatible - I would go as far as saying in many ways they are mutually exclusive.
Does this make sense? :)

Again - these comments are based on my perceptions (which have been influenced by prayer and bible study) but are, at the end of the day, still just my perceptions.

Bring it on! :)


Shannon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shannon said...


I better understand what you're saying here. How does one preach "missionally"? I mean what do you say to your listeners that will promote the idea of becoming missional?

I still have a difficult time grasping the full idea of the missional structure as it relates to church leadership. In some ways, what we have at Living Springs would be what you talk about in this post...that being we have a very small "leadership" ensemble in comparison to the size of the fellowship. And that these leaders are selected from and by the fellowship based on their particular gifts that will benefit and edify the body.

I think my lack of a complete picture is that fact I have never seen a missional fellowship in "action" as many are describing it

The Creature said...

Shannon Asked:
How does one preach "missionally"?

Good question, and I guess I can only respond out of my own direct experience. Hopefully some others can weigh in on this conversation and shed further light/criticism etc. on it.

I would say that in what I would call "missional preaching" I am regularly focussing on three points - the kingdom of God, the centrality of Christ and the royal priesthood (or Luther's priesthood of believers).

These are the three core topics I have found myself continually coming back to in so many areas of ministry, and I think all three are key to preaching and living missionally.

Shannon said:
what we have at Living Springs would be what you talk about in this post.

I am not sure it is the same (although I am not sure it isn't - I am still wondering if we aren't just living in denial).

There seems to be something fundamentally different about a fellowship where one person wears all the hats and calls all the shots and where more of a team effort is applied. Of course this doesn't mean we all sit around and make every single decision together. There are plenty of things I make decisions about - there are also things others make decisions about, but each one in their area of expertise. Where we come together is where we overlap or where there is uncertainity.

Getting to this point hasn't been easy. There are still those who want to come back to (what I beleive is a completely unworkable) place where all decisions are made corporately - even to the point of involving the membership in some pretty mundane decision making. It's a work in progress!