The lid on the coffin of my Salvation Army officership was probably the series of articles I wrote on leadership which didn’t just appear on my ‘Army Renewal’ blog, but appeared a few places in online journals and stuff. I can’t really think of anything else which would have provoked the cold shoulder we eventually received from the Army here in the UK. If you want to read it, it is still in the archives of the Journal of Aggressive Christianity Issue 66.
By way of summary I was exploring for the following:
- the non-clericalisation of leadership (and re-thinking the theology of ordination in the Army)
- the roots of heirarchical leadership and asking if it fulfills the purpose God has for his people
- the use and abuse of authority in leadership
- the recruitment and development of leadership
- the ‘pastoralisation’ of leadership (ie why has the role of ‘pastor’ become so elevated)
- the funding of leadership
None of the theology we do is, in my opinion, ever helpful to be set in stone. So I was asking myself ‘was there anything that I’d add as a comment or revision to that writing?’ Incidentally, the questions I was asking myself which produced the article were simply part of the discussions we had with Army leadership about our future within it. I mention that simply because you’ll realise these were pretty strong convictions that we felt we had to follow through on.
So, on reflection, here are some things I’d say now in addition:
- with an experience of churches with a much heightened view of the ordained person, much thinking is still needed by the church on this whole issue. It still lacks biblical support for the credence we place upon it as a concept. Where I work, I’m not recognised as an ‘ordained person’ and come under the rather derogatory term ‘lay’ which is as unhelpful in these circles as it is in the Army. In many ways, I can say with greater clarity how important it might be for the Army to utterly avoid the clerical trap, but I doubt the Army is listening to the likes of me (as if they ever did). Any changes to my views in this area? Well, not significantly. Quite simply, I believe the Spirit witnesses to each of our calls to ministry. I don’t particularly have a problem with the church recognising and confirming that and if a church wants to do that publically so be it, but I really believe that we still must guard against making distinctions between the calling of one and another. We CAN still do that without compromising the theology of the priesthood of all believers.
- heirarchical leadership: I’m now almost at the opposite end of the scale here in the bowels of the Methodist machine….where everything is democracy albeit with a slight heirarchy. I have found that there is less heirarchy, much more collaboration but still, there isn’t always a full appreciation of the functions of the body of Christ in the decision making process. Less heirarchy doesn’t necessarily mean that a better system has been found. Democracy and voting reign and it seems to me to be slightly at odds with Spirit-reliant Christian community. Just because members have a vote, that doesn’t mean to say that the right result is always produced. Acheiving a consensus ‘body’ decision is surely more difficult at times, but I think its the goal.
- authority: well, incidentally, General Linda Bond spoke so passionately about this issue on her election as general. I’d emphasise with her that any leadership is spiritual, we needn’t get entrapped by any wordly concepts of authority. ‘Not so with you…’ says Jesus. We lead in a different way to the world and with a different kind of authority. Lets continue to learn from Jesus in this.
- recruitment and development of leaders: well, I’d still love to see a full five-fold leadership taking place in the body of Christ not as heirarchy, but as ministries building up the body in those roles. If we’re going to have full time workers, lets make sure they are equipping leaders and others as a priority. This is, if anything, the biblical pattern handed on by the apostles and I don’t think you can improve on it. I think any sensible leader surrounds himself with a full-compliment five fold input.
- pastoralisation of leadership: linked to the last post, I still hold to the fact that the Christendom model
isn’t helpful and that a missionary church needs a five-fold collaborative ministry. It doesn’t make any sense that churches should be lead primarily by pastors.
- funding: I think pragmatics will dictate this much more in the future, but that there is great insight in the New Testament about this with regards to how the church supported itself and its apostolic workers (I’ve made the point that it was often only the apostles/apostolic workers who were funded in their work due to the nature of it and that its the institutionalisation of churches and the clerical model which has led to paid ministry). I think we must be more open to bi-vocational ministry and one of the reasons I am developing a relationship with one particular denomination (Church of the Nazarene) is simply because this situation is the norm amongst their leaders rather than the exception. The church of the future needs to be thoroughly creative in the area of funding ministry – we all know that.
So, there you go. A few thoughts from me. Still on the journey of making sure my leadership and ministry is increasingly Jesus shaped and true to scripture as I read it. Its an exciting journey and I’ve never been happier.