Monday, October 31, 2011
Leadership for Today's Church
Too many of today's churches are filled with stiff-necked and stubborn nitpickers, naysayers, and negatives.
Isaiah: "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way."
Especially in America, anybody's word is lauded as good as anybody else's word on any subject.
Radio and television talk shows - not to mention where two or three are not gathered together in His name - come to mind.
Of course, rejecting God's plan for order/authority is why our world, country, churches, and families are going to...
Click on the last KD for more on that ("Four Things Missing in Dying Churches").
This is especially true in mainline churches that, more than less, have connectional polities: confessional/constitutional democracy in which order/authority is vested in ordered groups rather than individuals.
Hierarchical polities don't have this problem. They have other problems; like leaders being a little too full of themselves and acting like no one knows Jesus like they know Him. They haven't read Romans 12 or 1 Corinthians 12.
Congregational polities don't have this problem. They have other problems; like the one mentioned in the third sentence of the previous section. They haven't read Romans 13 or 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13.
Ah, maybe they read 'em but, obviously, blew 'em off in favor of their egology.
Be that as it is, how can someone called/gifted to lead, uh, lead in today's church?
Specifically for those of us in connectional or even congregational polities, how can we pastor or undershepherd or guide/protect the sheep who prefer to wander around according to their own impulses with little thought of how they're matching up to His intentions?
More than less, though I know some would dispute this claim, I've always been more of the moderatorial type with ordered groups like trustees, deacons, and elders; cheerleading good ideas and refereeing so people don't kill each other for Christ's sake (a literal reality rather than profane blurt).
While I've always had staff members, officers, and members who'd like me to be a bit more directive as long as I'm directing according to their dictates, I've resisted that temptation; even when I coulda gotten away with it.
Yeah, I've had staff members, officers, and members who'd like a nanny; but I haven't been feminized yet. Besides, when I've inherited staff/officers/members, I've figured they musta been appreciated/affirmed by, uh, somebody; so I hang with 'em even if I wouldn't have been a part of calling/ordaining/membering 'em. And when I'm a part of calling/ordaining/membering 'em, I don't look over their shoulders because I've got my own job to do and wouldn't have been a part of calling/ordaining/membering 'em if I was gonna have to take time from my job to do/dictate theirs.
I was just trained to undershepherd in a franchise/denomination that lets laos - check out that word in a Greek dictionary sometime with special attention to synonyms for clues to the inherent problems in connectional/congregational polities - do their thing for better or worse, richer or poorer, as long as we both shall...
After spending almost four decades undershepherding like that, I was kinda tickled/relieved to get some confirmation from the really famous guy that four of us met with in Montana a few weeks ago.
He said he led by preaching and prayer; and only offered direction when asked.
He only attended committee meetings if asked to, uh, lead.
When he moderated boards, he never interfered/commented with/on decisions.
He said he did not feel called to fix the church: "I did not try to get people to do anything. I preached and prayed with the intention of nurturing our identity as God's people so that we could model Someone better."
Personally, he prayed and labored to model Someone better for the staff, officers, and members: "It's not what you are doing that's important; but who you are in doing it."
He does not believe in motivational speaking for two reasons: "It's often a sly way of manipulating people...You don't have to motivate Christians."
He talked a lot about trusting each other as trusting God and expressing that trust by submitting to Godly authority through Godly officers, staff, boards, denominations, and so on.
He had no problems letting the church fail without his help.
Knowing he knew how to do it better than laos by Godly call/gifting, why didn't he insist, direct, fix, and the like?
His answer was simple: "People are stubborn and like to do it their way. They can be stiff-necked. You know the saying. You can lead a horse to water... But when they trust and are humble enough to ask for help, that's when you can be most effective as a pastor. Only when people are trusting and humble can you lead them."
Recently, I told some elders how I was confirmed in my leadership style by all of the above; and pledged to ratchet it up to my Montana friend's modeling.
We'll, uh, see.
Dennis, a new deacon in our family of faith, gave Kyle Idelman's Not a Fan to me.
A few lines remind me of our friend in Montana who has done a much better job of modeling Someone better than me/most: "I was struck by the fact that Jesus doesn't chase...[after people]...He doesn't soften His message to make it more appealing. He doesn't send disciples chasing after them with a creative handout inviting them to come back for a 'build your own sundae' ice cream social. He seems okay with the fact that his popularity has plummeted...It wasn't the size of the crowd Jesus cared about; it was their level of commitment...I think over the years my intentions were good; I wanted to make Jesus look as attractive as possible so that people would come to find eternal life in Him. I was offering the people Jesus, but I was handing out a lot of free bread. In the process I cheapened the gospel."
Several centuries earlier, a novice recorded this experience with Brother Lawrence: "...[He said]...God would give light concerning those passions to those who truly desire to serve Him. That if this was my design, sincerely to serve God, I might come to him (Brother Lawrence) as often as I pleased, without any fear of being troublesome; but if not, that I ought no more to visit him."
Those lines sum up a lot of what I/we re-learned in Montana.
It's a choice to drink deeply from the living waters.
Jesus asked the ill man, "Do you want to be well?"
Asking precedes receiving.
Jesus said a lot about that; and if we're gonna model...
Blessings and Love!