Here is the thing: if future church looks like it might be dependent on more fluid, scattered and missional expressions of the body, even although it has ‘gathered’ aspects, what does that do to leadership?
It won’t surprise you that as a ‘professional Christian’ this is something which often occupies my mind. It can often, also, prevent me from pursuing more radical expressions of the body of Christ, because lots of the time it would seem that it would be working me out of a job. Its an occupational hazard. And, there in, I believe, lies a big part of the challenge for the church in these days. I’ve gone through the agonising journey of appraising our current forms of leadership in the light of our missional challenge. Whilst a church like Trinity can sustain, at the moment, current patterns of leadership there are many churches that just can’t…right now, not even tomorrow. I take my hat off to colleagues leading 3, 4, 6, ‘inherited’ churches, its amazing what they do, but I also have to say that I’m not sure its the best way forward.
Yet the crunch is this: if we aren’t investing in disciple-making on the ground, the problem of Christian leadership is always going to be there. If we are not working in such a way as local people are equipped to minister, then the church really hits a bottleneck dependent on ministers and professional leaders.
One of my key focuses at Trinity is the multiplication of disciples, and disciples who feel equipped to lead. Whether thats small groups, or even in the larger setting of gathered church, it has to be the key. The more difficult we try and make that, the bigger our challenge. Training is important, but you don’t need a degree or course of study to bring a message to God’s people. I believe that we need to see a shift in leadership. Predominantly, church leaders are pastor-teachers at the moment. And that is fine if you run on a Christendom picture where all people need are pastoring and teaching. But we are missing out great swathes of the gifts that Jesus gave to the church if that is our only focus. What of the apostolic, evangelistic and prophetic functions in ministry? How can you have a whole body without them? There will, quite simply, not be a church to lead if all we are trying to do is pastor and teach them. Thats not to minimise the importance of pastoring and teaching. I’m just saying that we need to be more wholistic.
Enough of the technical jargon….when it all hits the fan, what is it that will be needed?
1. Ministry focussed highly on equipping, envisioning and releasing others.
2. A realisation that a pastor-teacher only model of ministry is a new invention and that other biblical roles are crucially needed.
3. Building teams of other people to lead in these 5 areas (apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, pastoral and teaching) to better serve the church/churches in question, thus facilitating the crucial functions of the church.
4. Create scenarios that will work and continue without you…work yourself out of a job…give ministry away.
This is what I try to do, I see it as one of the only sensible options with the future in mind. It is, at least, what I’m aiming at. Not so easy when people are working in different paradigms (or on different planets!) It helps knowing which kind of ministry is your ‘base’ ministry too. This can save you heartache and frustration and be very releasing. But, if you’re leading a church and not a ‘base’ pastor, then you might have a battle. Worth the fight, though. Worth the fight.