Moved Mountains

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

Monday, April 23, 2007

Church leadership - Pastors

This is a subject I have been chewing over for quite a few years now - if you've been a reader of this blog for a bit you probably know what I mean (look here and here and here). Leadership is a big issue (and worth big bucks too) in the church today, and the missional/emerging church isn't excluded from this by any stretch.

Much of what I have read about leadership on the net, seems to head in one of several different directions (these are intended as examples only and yes, they are probably gross generalisations):

1) The "house church" approach - Characterised by the following sentiments "we're all leaders" or "there is no such thing as a leader".

Now to me this is just down right ridiculous, at best naive and at worst dilusional. Egalitarianism (is that a word?) is an ideal that is very, very, very difficult to achieve. There will always be leaders - the question really is, will they be recognised or not, and will they be the right kind of leader or not?. Obviously the danger of having an inapropriate leader is greater in a situation that refuses to recognise any leaders.

2) The "traditional church" approach - While this approach can take on many guises and polemic extremes, it is best summed up as the "CEO" approach to ministry. The church is a corporation and the pastor is responsible for ensuring all KPIs are met, the shareholders are happy, and the programs run smoothly.

This is the way most churches have operated for centuries.

3) The "missional church" approach - I actually don't know what this is. Everything I have read (and that list isn't exhaustive) seems to stop just short of describing the way leadership - especially pastoral leadership - looks in a missional fellowship. Their are flavours of the "house church" approach present in some responses, and flavours of the "traditional church" approach in others (see my comments on the APEPT model, which I think is a good starting point but doesn't take things quite far enough).

What are you thoughts on this? How does Pastoral leadership work in a missional setting?

While your thinking about that one, have a read of John Smulo's recent post, The Charmed Life of Pastors. He's right - however you look at it, on the whole, these guys do the thing they do out of a love for Christ, and it isn't an easy job.


Nancy said...

Is it possible that leadership depends upon the various gifts given various people in a church group? Some lead by pastoring, some lead by teaching, others lead by prophesying, others lead by interpreting a message, others lead by volunteering, others lead by sharing scripture at appropriate times. (One for you might be Joshua 14:10-12 "give me this mountain!")

The Creature said...

Hi Nancy,

Thanks for dropping by and sharing those examples. I wonder though whether they are truly examples of leadership. They appear to me to be particular actions that could be associated with leadership in some way, but I struggle to see them as leadership in themselves. I guess the kind of leadership I was referring to related to the specific function of the episkopos or overseer or pastor or elder or whatever you want to call it(1 Tim 3) - it is a distinct, direction setting, responsible for others kind of leadership. It is also a leadership that requires, I believe, very specific giftings(yet not ranked or hieracichal - see 1 Corithians 12:14-20).

I asked this same question on a mail list I am on - one of the repsonses really grabbed me. I'' post it to this blog later on in the day. You can check back and see what you think - I'd like to hear your thoughts Nancy.


John Smulo said...


I've posted on leadership a few times too and keep hoping someone will help me re-figure out what it is! Is say "re" because it all used to be so clear. Ahh, those were the days :-)

I'm definitely on the same page as you that leadership exists. I think it's easier to discern what leadership is than isn't.

Anyhow,good post. Please let me know when you've worked it all out!

Moosemusicman said...

I too am trying to work it out. I think the key to missional leadership is getting people to live their lives like Jesus lived his life. I don't necessarily think that missional is a style of leadership as much as it is a new term for what Christians are supposed to be doing anyway - hanging out with non-Christians.