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A Clash of Two Leadership Paradigms Affecting the Church-Scattered Concept

Autor: Peter Houston
Fecha: 23.05.2011
Category: Integridad y Anti Corrupción, Desarrollo del Liderazgo

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Publicado originalmente en inglés

I may be wrong but I think many of our churches face a clash of two leadership paradigms. One that works well in a centralised hierarchy of power. And another that is diffuse and more like a web. (Just to say upfront, the two paradigms don’t correspond neatly with old and new churches, mainline and independent.)

The Anglican church that I belong too has an unashamedly Episcopal structure. There is a very definite leadership hierarchy and centralisation of authority. A Minister and his or her chapelry comes under a Rector in a parish, which in turn relates to an Archdeacon over a region, all of whom fall under the authority of their Bishop.  This same leadership paradigm emerges in many independent styles of church where a Lead Elder is over his Elders and Deacons beneath that. (There may even be a higher level of modern day Apostle or team providing apostolic oversight.) But the very same dynamic emerges.

The exercise of strong hierarchical power results in the dynamic of a church constantly orientating itself towards a centre. It then naturally follows that the gathered church, where this paradigm is most clearly manifest, stands or falls by its centre.

The scattered church finds a disconnect because if being the church is defined in location to the centre, then the further from the centre one moves the weaker the relationship and identity becomes. The importance placed on the centre, and its high profile in gathered church life, only reinforces the marginal nature of the church-scattered: followers of Jesus working in the marketplace Monday to Saturday.

I’ve seen the disconnect between diffuse and central power paradigms most clearly at the interface of ministries exercised at a local church. Volunteers make or break a successful Sunday service or Sunday school or youth group or music team or outreach programme.

People volunteer because they feel called by God to do so or can see a need to fill or have a sense of Christian duty. The most amazing ministries can grow and take shape with a group of committed, dynamic volunteers. But at the end of the day, church members are always volunteers. Their loyalty to a local church, if pushed, is conditional. (Long gone are the days in many parts of the world when a single local church held sway over an entire village or town and if you fell from grace and left, you waved goodbye to your social standing too.)

We are in a day and age where something is not done simply because it emanates from an authority figure (except in, for example, more rural areas in South Africa where there is a much higher view of authority). This means a command and control approach proves inadequate.

A minister or elder can throw their toys out of their metaphorical cot as much as they like, but there is nothing they can do to actually compel a volunteer to do ANYTHING, except through the last resort of spiritual manipulation (which is a form of abuse). A volunteer as a last resort always holds the trump card because they can decide to leave the church (the threat of which is also a form of manipulation) and join another church in the area.

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Palabras clave: Relationship, Integrity, Connection, Leadership Paradigms, Church-Scattered

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PhContributeBy
Responder Señalizar 0 Pulgares arriba Pulgares abajo skh718 (4)
Estados Unidos de Norteamérica

I have dealt with this issue of ministry and volunteering a lot lately. My husband is a full time youth minister and I am incredibly involved with our youth group. I attend and help with every youth event. I write Bible Studies for small group meetings. I absolutely love doing all of this, but I am not paid staff. Many people in my life are bothered by the fact that I do so much, but I don’t personally get paid. I do so much because I am passionate about our youth. I feel called to be a good influence and an advocate for them. Part of why this works so well is that my husband makes sure that I and all the other volunteers feel appreciated. He lets us know on a regular basis that he could not do his ministry without us. He validates us by reminding us that our individual ministry is every bit as important as anything he does, if not more so. Volunteers need to be reminded that what they do is real ministry. Just because they do not get paid, does not discredit all the work they do.


27.04.2013
PhContributeBy
Responder Señalizar 0 Pulgares arriba Pulgares abajo wjw88 (4)
Estados Unidos de Norteamérica
@ skh718:

Many times, volunteers are not shown the appreciation they deserve.  My dad is in a similar role at his church as you in that he volunteers to help with the youth group and is present at nearly every event.  He is usually the first person at the event helping to set up and the last one to leave once the event is over.  While he does not do this for recognition, it does help the volunteer to serve better when they understand that they are appreciated.  Unfortunately, many times my dad does not get any credit for the amount of work he puts in without being paid a dime.  It definitely places an additional burden on him and my mom when he works so hard to grow the youth group but is not shown any appreciation.  Recognizing the value of volunteers in our churches is crucial in ensuring the church thrives.


01.05.2013
PhContributeBy
Responder Señalizar 0 Pulgares arriba Pulgares abajo ajlt34 (2)
Estados Unidos de Norteamérica
@ wjw88:

The family of faith I am a part of has lots of volunteers.  Unfortunately, these volunteers are the same at every occasion.  The future of the church is reliant on volunteers but I am at a loss on how to recruit new and excited volunteers.  I would appreciate any words of wisdom.


04.05.2013
PhContributeBy
Responder Señalizar 0 Pulgares arriba Pulgares abajo Elizabeth_B (0)
Estados Unidos de Norteamérica

There is a very hard boundary like you said to cross when you become working "full time" or even "part time" for the ministry. Like the passage stated, it is a struggle for we all work full time for the ministry of God. With working for a church even within roles that are not senior pastorate, there are assumptions that are often made. "We have a staff member for that, or why don’t you do it?" Having to find or pull volunteers is the hardest part of my job. To be a leader you have to have followers and this takes many skills most of which I am still aiming to improve daily. Being a leader, though seen often as authorative, requires a humble nature of both listening and discerning to others but also ultimately to God’s will. Through these things eventually comes an idea that is set in motion that may not be what we had originally thought. God provides through prayer and supplication, and it is with that in mind that we press forward in faith to keep our ministries functioning as best we know how.


10.11.2011
PhContributeBy
Responder Señalizar 0 Pulgares arriba Pulgares abajo skh718 (4)
Estados Unidos de Norteamérica
@ Elizabeth_B: I really like that you pointed out the necessary humility for leading volunteers. It has to be a very delicate balancing act when asking people to help you do something for free when they know you get paid. The leader that lacks humility will never successfully recruit volunteers that feel appreciated and want to serve.
27.04.2013
PhContributeBy
Responder Señalizar 0 Pulgares arriba Pulgares abajo pastort (4)
Estados Unidos de Norteamérica

In years gone by the church has asked and expected the impossible from it’s spiritual leaders.  On one extreme, the church wants the pastor to do everything from preach three sermons a week, teach a Sunday school class, work with the youth, keep the senior adults happy, lead the music, visit the sick, counsel the needy, visit everyone in the church, manage the budget, and the list goes on and on.  Then they blame him/her when things go wrong at the church or when their personnel life falls apart.  Then on the other hand many churches don’t want the pastor to do anything, they simply want him/her to be a puppet on a string.  Many times these churches will not let the pastor lead them according to how God leads them.  These churches usually have no respect for the role of the Pastor, and usually have a lifetime deacon board that makes all decisions. They simply want to do things their way and their way only.  Both of these extremes are wrong because we are told to work together in the body of Christ.  If their is a balance in the church between the Spirit of God, Leader, and followers it is a beautiful relationship. Ego, pride and authority are all important aspects for everyone in the church to keep in check.  keeping that balance is one of the hardest things i do as a pastor.  


11.11.2011
PhContributeBy
Responder Señalizar 0 Pulgares arriba Pulgares abajo triedstone1009 (2)
Estados Unidos de Norteamérica

Church leadership must always be God-centered. The problem with leadership is that we get so caught up in what we want and lay it upon God leading you to do it, that it makes people wonder if leadership is God-driven or Man-driven. Sometimes we loose focus and forget the teachings that who is great among you let him/her be servant of all. Leadership should be available to serve and not look for people to serve them. From an episcopal point of view, leadership can sometimes feel as though God is only speaking to them, and in turn they look for you to obey what they tell you without you having an input. The bible teaches that he/she that win souls must be wise. One must choose their battles. When you are lead by God to pastor a congregation, follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit and let God handle the rest. We all are subject to some type of authority, so remember to be faithful others and others will be faithful to you. The church is in a power struggle. I want my way, you want yours. Why not let God be God and let him lead the way.


19.07.2011
PhContributeBy
Responder Señalizar 0 Pulgares arriba Pulgares abajo Harley (2)
Estados Unidos de Norteamérica

Great observation! I also realize that leadership is difficult when it is utilized improperly. Much of what I have observed is that their is no order. For example, many deacons are led to believe that they are to police the pastor instead of supporting the pastor. Their is no cohesiveness in leadership. It is a battle over authority and control. The view of pastor is seen by many as a hireling and not part of the local body. It is an us against him/her mentality.        


16.06.2011

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