Saturday, 1 June 2013

Leader or Manager?

More and more I find myself taken up with people who want to be safe in their own little pool. They don't want to see the congregations grow because that would change things and make the place uncomfortable for them!

They don't want to see new buildings; and to be honest, neither do I unless the need is real and the members have the vision and drive to make it happen, after all the biggest curse I know of us that of a dogcollar building because they wanted it.

The issues, for me at least, are bound up in people who are wanting to be leaders. What this means is that they want to be in charge! I meet few leaders but many (poor) managers and though this sounds like a put down, it isn't meant to be, it is merely a statement of what is. This is due to the fact that we are so very often caught up in the business of running a business where 'doing' and 'being efficient' are the twin gods of success. I meet so many 'cost effective' clergy who present a bank balance approach to Church and it is here that the problem lies.

We are called to be 'effective', that is to be out there making a difference because of the difference that being Christian confers upon us. We are not called to be sustainable but to be fruitful and it is here that the problems of Church are grounded.

I have had some who want to be 'up the front' because that would fulfil their needs and yet, regardless of how fulfilled they never were, the people remained unconvinced by them and the fruit they produced. Oddly though, others who had neither education or wit or experience (life, Christianity and Bible related) have proved themselves to be willing and effective conduits for the Gospel (despite the often sneering opposition).

As June arrives our tiny church is blessed as we celebrate one of ours ordained this month - our gift to the wider Church. We celebrate as others move along the line to discern their calling and vocation, seeking to bless and serve those around them and to look like Jesus, the Christ.

We are looking to touch those members of the community we serve with the Gospel made flesh - the Church that is made of living stones, not self-seeking and process-heavy but seeking to honour and worship God in all that He is and does to, for and through us.

Recently I was asked for goals, objectives and timescales for a place I had seen for minutes and whose people I did not know (but warmed to immediately I met them) and this holds up  a mirror to the problems we have time and time again in the wonderful world of Church. We are a visionary place regulated by God's call and the vision that burns in us - not managers bound by good management techniques and effective processes (and I'm not saying we don't need them - it's all a matter of perspective and balance).

Those who fail to plan might well plan to fail but those who are bound by goals, objectives and timescales are condemned to manage decline and call it sustainability. I don't want to merely exist, I want the Church to triumph and expand. Anyone else ready to storm the gates with me?


UKViewer said...

Are not some of these issues about the church playing catch up with wider society?

Because, most of the issues raised recently such as Child Protection are about vigilance, perception and overall oversight and pastoral care.

The balancing the books issue is one that has to be faced, because burying our heads in the sand is the option of failure.

Sensibly encouraging giving, while showing how the resources are used not just for maintenance, but for mission and outreach.

In some ways, we'd be better off handing heritage church buildings over to secular people to preserve, while we move into the centre of communities in halls and homes perhaps in small groups to if we really want to grow the church through empowering our communities.

Vic Van Den Bergh said...

Balancing the books us essential and yet the money is already there. The problem is that it's used to do the wrong stuff or not given in the first place; and as we become fixated on money (not Jesus) this situation gets worse.

There is an element of 'catch up' but all too often it's because we're trying to manage like a company rather than live like a family :-)

Bob said...

I made the mistake of calling those who worked in the church as Lay Ministers and team leaders the 'Leadership Team' and then all hell let loose as they wanted to be 'in charge' and run things (whilst doing nothing in real terms).

Soup D said...

I'm reminded of a comment by Billy Connolly about politicians: anyone having the desire to be a politician should be automatically baned from becoming one. I sometimes think church leadership is the same: those desiring to be leaders should be automatically banned from such a position ;)

On a more serious level, I was taught that the hall mark of a leader is that others follow you: so if you think you are a leader, look behind and see who is there. Often leaders emerge naturally, while those who strive for the position of 'leadership' have no real ability, and inspire no-one to follow them.

What we really need is honest and wise discernment, and the humility to be subject to it.