Autor: Peter Houston
Category: Integridad y Anti Corrupción, Desarrollo del Liderazgo
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.
One way around this problem is to employ ministry staff to supplement the ordained class of believer. There is a better defined working relationship with the centre, with the possibility of sanction or dismissal to give substance to the power paradigm. This model works wonderfully for churches that have the financial resources. Full-time youth pastors, children’s pastors, worship leaders, and evangelists, among others, make a huge difference. Yet at the same time there is a very real risk of professionalising ministry and undermining the ministry of ALL believers.
I don’t know how many times I’ve wished there was some other way of saying I work “full-time” for the church without, in the same breath, having just undermined the greater truth that everyone is full-time in the church-scattered bringing the Gospel of Jesus to the world. There are no part-time Christians…
Back to the disconnect! Seeing that the authority card can only be used in very limited circumstances, the diffuse power leadership paradigm arising in this century (the Age of Social Connectivity and Facebook) has to major on relationship, integrity and points of connection. Relationship, Integrity and Connection become the key marks of Christian leadership that empower the concept of the church-scattered and give rise to ministry and mission in the workplace and in homes and in schools, and wherever, and everywhere!