A couple of articles I’ve read recently have combined to help me think about church leadership and the gospel. The first comes from the current issue of The Briefing and the second from Church Unique by Will Mancini. Here’s the first:
..we have moved away from parish ministry into church ministry. We are ceasing to evangelise because we spend all our time in church, with church people, running church, making church work, making church better, and trying to grow our church, because church is so important.
There is a great danger of making church the most important thing. When church becomes the end itself then Jesus, people and gospel content are demoted to second place. So we must ask: why am I running this programme or doing this event? And we must be cafreful how we answer. There is a subtle deception which makes us believe that using Christ-centred resources for our programmes and events means we are putting the Jesus, people and gospel content first. But this might not be the case. The bottom line is: do I want people to come to know Christ as Saviour and Lord and so become effective as salt and light int he world? Or, am I running this event or this programme to keep the church alive. Am I really, in my heart of hearts, just wanting to keep the show on the road? I’ve also found it helpful to ask: is my confidence in our programmes and the ability of our people to run them or in the power of the gospel unto salvation?
Will Mancini builds on the “thinkholes” of church life which stop us thinking as gospel-centred missional leaders. These thinkholes absorb time and energy as the life of the church becomes all important in the leader’s eyes and heart.
|Thinkholes||How we neglect uniqueness||The “Thinking” problem||Thinkhole practices|
|Ministry Treadmill||Busyness eliminates time for reflection||No time to think||Add more programmes|
|Competency trap||Presumption decreases appetite for learning||No need to think||Work harder|
|Needs-based slippery slope||Consumerism removes need for discernment||Needs are all we think about||Make people happy|
|Cultural whirlpool: BuzzChurch||Innovation
|Addicted to new thinking||Be cutting edge|
|Change outpaces the discipline for learning||Too tired to think||Glorify the past|
|The conference maze||Success increases the temptation to copycat||Let’s borrow their thinking||Model best practice|
|Denominational rut||Resources disregard local uniqueness||No one helps us to think||Protect theology|
I’ve been a vicar for 2 years and 11 months. I’m learning lessons the hard way. I know I fall into the all of the leadership thinkholes that Mancini describes, especially the ministry treadmill and competency trap. Oh, and the needs based-slippery slope. I also find my tendency is to tire in ministry and so tire of Christ. If I am tired of Christ then the church I lead as servant has no hope of really knowing him. I must get off the treadmill sometimes and just sit at his feet.