Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Church Leadership #2

A couple of days ago I began a discussion of church leadership in a missional context, and briefly described three roles of leadership: decision making, example, and relational. My thesis is that the relational aspect of leadership most closely parallels the missional work of the church in the community, but often gets the least intentional focus.

My perception is that the decision making function gets an inordinate amount of time and attention. I think there may be a couple of factors at work here. One is a cultural expectation. In modern America we expect to have a voice in decisions, and we have an expectation that leadership is representative. There is a tendency to project our concept of democratic government onto church leaders, and leaders often have those same expectations of themselves. We follow established rules of order and methods of conducting business as though we were an elected board of directors. (And when we do focus on the relational aspect of leadership it is often from the perspective of getting to know our constituency so as to better represent them)

A second factor is the inability or unwillingness to let go of control. We can get so focused on details and minutiae that we lose the perspective of what are the more important matters. We get tyrannized by the urgent and are unable to focus on what should be higher priorities. I believe that in Acts 6 the apostles recognized that the same thing was beginning to happen to them and that they appointed deacons to take care of operational details so they could focus on more important matters.

A third factor is frankly that it is easier to deal with the mechanics of budgets, programs, theology, and permission than it is to grapple with spiritual transformation. We do those kinds of things professionally and operate within a comfort zone when we spend our time dealing with them. It takes more energy and personal risk to nurture and develop open and accountable relationships.

These sound like criticisms and I don't really intend them that way. I do, however believe that the process of becoming more missional will require that we rebalance the amount of time and energy we spend on decision making and the amount we spend in prayer, mentoring, and spiritual transformation.

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