Recently columnist Elizabeth Farrelly wrote an article calling for a project to “Rescue Christ from the Christian church.” Her call was a plea for people not to give up on spirituality because of the heinous crimes of the Church and simultaneously a scathing critique on the Western Church because it has lost its way. This fall of the Church, she believes, is evidenced by the church’s lust for power. In my view, Farrelly’s point is not so much that the Church itself is a failure, even though Farrelly chastises it, but rather that the Church has become compromised in the most profound way because of its hierarchical structures, patriarchy and entrenched institutionalism. Farrelly writes Continue reading Rescuing Christ from the Christian church?
I remember very well the time that a wonderful elderly lady from the church I was leading, made an appointment to see me. On the day, she came to my office holding a scrumptious cake she had made so we could eat together. She sat down, then proceeded to tell me what a terrible pastor I was. Even though this scenario sounds terrible, it actually wasn’t a bad experience, we had a good discussion- and there was cake! However I did find it interesting to hear her rationale regarding why she thought I could do a little better at pastoring. The issue lay with my title. Since my title was Senior Pastor, the logic went, that meant that I was the one responsible for the overall care of the congregation. The care of the congregation was ultimately up to me and no other. It didn’t matter that we had a Care Pastor and a care team who were responsible for and gifted to care for the congregation, because I was the Senior Pastor, it was basically up to me. That day I became aware of the expectations that some in the congregation may have had around my role and also that I did not share those expectations. The responsibility was all on me and there was little room for a shared sense of ministry with other leaders in the church. I remember feeling burdened by that sense of responsibility. Of course, a role which oversees an organisation will always have that sense of weight and pressure that comes with it, however I feel that leadership should and can be shared. Essentially, there was a dissonance in this encounter around how my friend and I defined church leadership.
Recently I was at a gathering of church planters and I had a conversation with one planter which made me think again about how we view church leadership.
I’m thinking about planting a church myself, so I am interested in the opinions of others around vision and especially how that relates to church structure. I was in conversation with one planter and I asked him about leadership in his recently established church. I wanted to know what sort of leadership structure he had in place and how it was working. As it turned out, the leadership structure was very similar to that of an established church. It was fairly hierarchical, had different team members assigned to various ministry areas and ultimately responsibility for the church fell on the team leader.