Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Missional Church: Leadership

Another book that is on my list of things I will never write is a book about religious leaders called, "The Devil Inside". It is a book that, if it ever would be written, would deal with the history of the Church from the very beginning and it would look at the patterns of problems that have always existed. One point in this book that will never be written is that as culture changed and the church became more and more Western as opposed to its Eastern roots, it also became more similar to the institutions of the "world". When this happens, the leadership become more "professional" and less Spirit-Led. I don't want to give it all away in this post because then you will never purchase this book and I won't be able to keep food on the table for my family.

The point is that current issues for many "spiritual" leaders is that the people they lead don't actually want them to be spiritual. The way leaders are put on pedestals and then knocked off from those pedestals creates unhealthy patterns of behavior and it often unleashes the darkest sides of these leaders.

In the Missional Church, the leadership emphasis is on a plurality of leaders who serve through a commitment of mutual submission to one another. This form of leadership removes the pressure of being a "senior pastor" and it helps to remove the temptation of leaders to attribute the success of a local church to one individual. The shared leadership structure also models "unity among Christians" that Jesus emphasizes in John 17. It tells the world that in Christ, there is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. It says in Christ, people with different backgrounds and personalities can share a common vision as they are led by the Holy Spirit.

Shared leadership also helps us remove our own "idols of ideas". Sometimes as leaders we think that because we have experience or training, we are the ones uniquely blessed to hear from God and our ideas are the right ones. When we face opposition to our ideas we often do not want to back down because our experience tells us our ideas work or because if we are going to be criticized for our church's direction, it might as well be a direction we choose. But this comes down to the fact that we hold our own ideas as an "idol". It is something that we are unwilling to part with. In holding on tightly to our own ideas we are also saying that God cannot speak through others. With shared leadership, where multiple leaders share an equal voice, we consequently lay down the idol of our own ideas and we trust that God is able to use the collective wisdom of the group.

This leadership also eliminates the idea that we are above reproach from others. This structure actually calls for others to challenge the leaders and hold them accountable for their lifestyles. Of course problems can still occur in this system but many of the challenges of modern Western Christianity are at least diminished.

You might be saying that this system is too idealistic and that it will fail. (In fact I had a person I really respect tell me that this will fail). You are right that this system is idealistic but check the teachings of Jesus and tell me He wasn't challenging and idealistic. You are also right that this system will fail if you are comparing it to the ways of "the world". For the leadership structure of the missional church to be successful, a intentional commitment to humility, love , and grace must exist as well as the realization that only through the power of the Holy Spirit will we ever find true success.

Ephesians 4:1-3 ...Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

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