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July 10, 2005


rev mommy

That would make you an idealist -- keep dreaming. I hate the structure we call "church" -- what happened to having a good meal, communion, prayer and teaching?
Yes, keep dreaming.


But rev mommy,

who gets acreddited to do the teaching? Is it always going to be scholarship based? If so then only a certain type of person will get to teach, lead, etc.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking scholarship. I have found it the most liberating and practical thing in my life,


we need to find new ways of relating that promote the voices of all, that create space for each to contribute to the trajectory of our community.

Finally, I'm a pragmatist and a revolutionary, Rev Mommy, I don't want to dream; I want to change ..


maybe we can have top down and bottom up. at my church recently, the pastor talked about increasing the size of the tent (we have just gone to two morning services) but pointed out that whilst the leader could give the command and the coordination, it was up to the individual stakes and guy-ropes (yes these are mentioned in the passage) to drive themselves in deeper, lengthen the influence they have and make their bit of the tent bigger.
In this way, the pastors lead the church, but the people make their bit of the tent bigger and in doing so force the pastor to lead the church to be bigger, etc, etc.
the trick is to enlarge all parts of your tent at once otherwise it gets very lopsided - it seems to me that lots of churches are like this, eg, great in kids work, naff in personal disciplines, great in outreach, naff in the Word.
our pastor basically got all the leaders together and challeneged them to enlarge their bit of the tent - seems to be working. he also pointed out that this involved handing over control to that person/stake to lengthen their cord/ministry and that the leadership team really wouldn't know what was going on unless it got screwed up, the cord snapped, the stake came out and the canvas started flapping...


I still think it's an over-simplification to suggest that the lack in the followers is the fault of the leaders. Have you ever been at one of those school meetings where a large group of people, with no specific leader, are faced with a task (raise some money/put on a community event/ ...whatever. ) No one creates the leaders or the followers. But someone will be willing to take the initiative, and a few more will volunteer to co-lead, and a few more will say "I'll help out if you tell me what you want doing." And another layer of people will sit on the back row, do nothing, take no responsibility, and then moan later about how they could have done it better. Even if you start with no institution, no chosen or authorised leadership, the followers don't just naturally fall in with good following skills. I am (as you know) all for good critique of structures and roles etc. But to suggest that all the ills of the church are the fault of either the structure or the leader is too much, I think. Some people will moan and grumble becuase they'd far rather do that than take any responsibility, which is what getting involved means, whether you call that leading or following. Ask Moses.


But I'm not saying that poor followers is the fault of particular leaders,

rather I'd suggest that all the 'roles' played out in the scene you describe are learned, rehearsed and 'perfected' over years.

the way leaders are expected to lead is something much larger than just one leader, we've been rehearsing this particular leader-in-charge performance for many, many years

so of course we slip into performances that feel comfortable

but could we learn a new performance of leading?

one based on action and conversation rather than on people? and this is not the sole responsibility of a selected leader, but of us all, we all need to 'play act' new roles of co-constructing our world.


Caroline, your words here resonate with a recent discussion I had concerning a robed choir not too far from here... a choir which contains many people with rich experience in church music yet has been rendered passive and/or has chosen passivity, remaining paralysed until the next music director comes along (if they ever will). The role they are now playing - and have played for years- is damaging them and others. There's no easy assignation of 'fault' here (although some are looking to do that): they have been constructed as passive followers, a construction with which they continue to collude. How to change things?

Richard L

I fear as "leaders" we often "lead" in ways which push people into passivity and "feed-me" mentality. In other words we foster a "client-provider" relationship.

There is a place for showing people your strength (Nelson Mandela said that there is nothing clever in concealing our strength from people and worrying about how we come across), but there is a place for being a mirror and trying to reflect back to people THEIR strength, and I guess good leadership is going to involve both in some way.

Ruth S

Hmmm, interesting. Perhaps part of the problem is that much leadership in the church is based on leadership patterns in the workplace etc.

Leadership in the church though, is about leading people to Christ - surely? Whereas the leadership in the workplace, community group requires different strengths/abilities.

I agree with Maggi that there will always be people who are initiators and people who tag along grumbling. Particularly in their broken, unsanctified state.

That doesn't mean that they are therefore constricted to that behaviour, but in my experience, it happens a lot.

Just recently, together with some brothers and sister, we've been trying to do church without the 'top down effect'.

First we met for prayer and worship. Some days were good, others not. Then I felt we ought to be doing a bit more regular, 'structured' stuff. Some wanted to, others didn't. We had to find a whole new way of reaching a decision, which took in everyone's thoughts etc. It was very exciting, when we reached agreement on the outcome. However, this was quickly dampened when 'other' stuff came up which was more to do with personal preferences.

I think what I'm saying is, is that it's hard. and does very, very much depend on the people in the group.


To be better leaders, we need to admit 'I don't know' instead of being like Jim'll fix it all the time.

What's more when we don't know, we can take a look around our church fellowship.
I honestly believe that for most of us, all the gifts are in the house, underused and undervaluded, because they buried.

Let's release the gifts. That's what the 5 fold ministry is all about. Not being budget watching CEOs.

End of rant. Be blessed


"most exciting examples of this co-creative, body-of-Christ(like) living will continue to be seen in non-christian communities. "Sounds like you are describing the Quaker/Friends way, Caroline. At least as I have experienced it in my meeting.


Hi anj, welcome to the site and thanks for your comments.

Yes, I suspect that at their best a Quaker community will work in ways similar to what I'm suggesting, thanks.

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