So what do you think about the need to change leadership models for the church?
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Good insights Dave, perhapse the concept of servant leadership fits into the new perspectives. Fostering an atmosphere of awareness for the open-door to spiritual oportunity within the missional church comunity involves all people not just the leadership. Being a functioning part of a true local spiritual body is a joy-full rewarding experience! God help all ages to be strong and courageous living stones!
Dr. Dunbar, you raise some interesting points. You introduced Harvie Conn’s critiques of Western concept of ministry leadership that include the pastor as pedagogue and the pastor as professional. I would agree with the false concept of the latter, but it is harder to biblically critique pastor as a teacher (2 Tim. 2.2). I think that a misconception of that function would be that teaching would involve merely content to the exclusion of modeling biblical truth. Biblical Christianity includes knowledge of the indicatives and the implementation of the imperatives (ie. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians).
I have read Dr. Piper’s book and agree that pastoral ministry has implemented too much professionalism. I can also attest to the paragraph on pastoral burn-out wherein pastors often attempt to live up to the unrealistic expectations that congreagations have of the “professional” Christian. In our church, we are currently seeking to communicate to our folks that pastors are not called to do the ministry but to equip all Christians to do so. Pastors have the same responsibility as any other Christians (with perhaps a higher accountability). We are also moving in an intentional discipleship direction that allows us to model what biblical Christianity looks like in the home, workplace, neighborhood, etc.
I do think that any change in “leadership models” needs to be driven by interpretation of Scripture and not the change in culture. Merely stating that the church is becoming less “effective” doesn’t always suggest that it isn’t being faithful. Dr. Piper has also pleaded that pastors (and Christians) are called to faithfulness, not fruitfulness. My understanding of Scripture indicates that it is God who saves through the proclamation of the Gospel and not by schemes of man. This does not suggest a monotone presentation of John 3:16 broadcast over a loudspeaker, but a faithful explanation of God’s good news coupled by a life that has been transformed by it.
I would appreciate your thoughts…
Thanks for your thoughtful comments. Certainly the pastor needs to be a teacher, and Harvey Conn does not question that. His concern is rather with the intellectualizing of ministerial qualifications and the assumption that because someone has a theology degree they are ready for ministry.
And I agree with the idea that we are called to be faithful and leave the fruitfulness to God. On the other hand, I have seen cases where I think “faithfulness” has been used as an excuse for ineffectiveness, etc. So I guess we need balance, right?
I have not been recieving these blogs, but I will address that with IT tomorrow.
I was visiting with my pastor this afternoon and he asked me if I had recieved the blog. First I was surprised that he even mentioned it because I am sensitive to his struggles with the missional stance Bilical takes and how it has always seemed to be redundant or construed as dismissing the missionary work of the contemporary church to him and many of his contemporaries. But I braced myself and listened as he began to tell me how he had e-mailed the blog to all of his ministerial staff. You can’t realize the significance of this. He even went as far as to remind me of conversations we had over the years concerning my missional DNA and how it was diffilcult for him to embrace but nevertheless, he supported. Now the Lord is revealing to him another facet of this gospel jewel. And he is hearing what the Spirit of the Lord is saying to the church, today’s church, and tomorrow’s church. Your blog was instrumental in altering the course of a man who loves the Lord and is pliable in His hands. I am truly excited and grateful for the vision Biblical has recieved and I will continue to pray for the Lord’s sustaining grace as you navigate and chart the course of future leaders of Christendom.
Grace & Peace upon your journey!
Thanks for taking the time to write! I am hopeful that we are beginning to see a movement of the Spirit in our churches that will reverse the present widespread decline. And I hope that Biblical Seminary is graced with the privilege of being part of that renewal.
I am encouraged to hear such good conversation regarding changes in the role of church leaders and pastors. I have to agree with your statement: “The expectation is that ministry leaders can (or should) know it all and do it all. This of course puts more pressure on pastors to “prove” themselves in a culture of rising leadership expectations.” Like you explained, it is a danger both to the leader (burnout) and to the congregation (less emphasis on using their gifts) & is something we should be more intentional about. But the existing mindset is hard to shake. I was reminded of a church that was looking for a new pastor, and created a list of the kinds of gifts they sought in this leader. Beside it was a list of the gifts in the congregation. But what was interesting was that the number of gifts represented for each side was about even (a little more on the pastor side). So the unspoken expectation was that the new pastor be as gifted as the entire congregation! Which meant that this was going to be one long job description (not to mention a lot of pressure). On the other hand, I’m becoming much more aware of how I, as a pastor, need to stop falling into the “do it all” trap, realizing that I’m enabling this kind of behavior when I do so. I appreciate the reminder to be an encourager and equipper.
Thanks for your reflections. The anecdote about the pastoral job description certainly illustrates the problem beautifully. Your comment about falling into the”do it all” trap leads me to the additional thought that it is hard for us as “professionals” to give people permission to fail as they undertake ministry tasks. Our own egos feel slightly tarnished if we don’t control the outcome.
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