25th March 2011

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Blog :: Who is in Charge?

I've read a couple entries from this blog when they've been posted on reddit. It's an anonymous blog by a man who is visiting 50 Churches in his neighborhood this year and blogging his thoughts about each one.

Recently he attended a Church of the Brethren congregation and wrote about his experience. What struck him most about his Sunday morning stay was the sense in which the Church seemed to belong to the congregation instead of to the Pastor. I'll let him explain...

Most of the churches Iíve attended, even visited, in my life have been pastored by a personality. There is nothing wrong with the spokesman having some moxie; it helps make their messages memorable. The truth is, the identity of a church is usually established by those in control; those in control are usually those in out front; those out front are usually the ones leading the way

By contrast at this congregation it seemed that each person he met took ownership of the Church. Many people participated in the service, several people helped him find his place in the Congregation, and the Pastor's charisma was not the center or focus of the service. In particular:

The pastor finally did get his time in the order of the service, and he brought a thoughtful message for the church to prayerfully consider and apply. What it lacked was visionóby that I mean that I noticed the absence of the pastor trying to sell me on a program, a direction, or a ministry to sign up for. It was really refreshing!

This particularly caught my attention. I've recently had conversations with fellow believers recently where we talked about the desire for CEO-style leadership in the Church: someone who has a plan, tells us what to do, and becomes the point man for the whole Church. This is very much the style of most large sucessfull Churches in the US. And yet I'm happy to have leadership that functions as shepherds of the flock. Why don't I place a high value on pastoral charisma, why don't I feel a need to see the pastor as the public face of the Church? [1]

Perhaps it is that the other side of that coin - the Church expressed by the gathered saints - seems to me to be much more like the depictions of the Church in the New Testament. I believe the Body is best expressed by the gifts distributed among the Body and a stranger who enters a healthy Church is ministered to, no matter who it is that he meets. That, more than a single charismatic figure, seems like a mark of God's presence among us and answers the question Who is in Charge? by pointing to Christ.

1. One thought that occurred to me in that conversation is that as an observer of the open source software community I've seen very effective groups with totally different organizational structures. I know from personal observation that you don't have to have a charismatic and powerful leader to successfully accomplish a great deal.

Posted on March 25th 2011, 11:13 PM

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