Power, pyramids, and the modern pastorate

Somehow this post from Jimmy Shaw reminds me of my previous post of an e-mail from Edward Fudge (See Below)

Sally Morganthaler has a post (which is actually an excerpt from this book) at the Leadership Journal blog in which she assails the transformation of church leadership over the past thirty years. As a result of our having embraced more mechanistic organizational models, she opines — rightly, I think — that the dominant model of leadership has moved from shepherding to the management of CEOs.

Any pastor, elder, preacher or church leader who has been to most any leadership conference in the past ten years can see that the speakers and leaders who are held up as models for “growing churches” are almost universally the CEO-type. We’ve been shown this model so often and reminded of the success of these men so convincingly that we are left with few ways to imagine leadership outside the dominant model.

They have been told repeatedly that this is the only leadership model that will ensure success. (And make no mistake: in new millennium America, success equals the greatest number of seats filled on Sunday morning.) Theirs is a mono-vocal, mono-vision world—one that affords the most uniformity and thus the most control. It is a world of hyperpragmatics where the ends (church growth) can justify the most dehumanizing of processes.

Pity the member who questions the machine and develops any significant influence. Sooner or later, that member will be disposed of—shunned, silenced, and quietly removed from any position of authority on staff, boards, worship teams, or within the most lowly of programs. Unwittingly, this member has run headlong into an industrial age anachronism: “the great man with the plan” methodology. And he or she has lost.

LONG RANGE PLANNING (from Edward Fudge)

An acquaintance of mine was recently asked to lead a committee charged with producing a five-year plan for his Lutheran church. He searched the New Testament but found nothing about long-range planning. My own investigation yielded the same results. Throughout the Gospels, for example, Jesus simply goes about doing the Father’s will. Jesus’ miracles and parables, his encounters and teachings, occur almost incidentally. “As he was going along,” the Gospel writers will say, “a certain woman came to Jesus” — and the next thing we know something happens about which we still read and talk 2,000 years later.The same is true in Acts. Luke does not record one single planning session regarding evangelism. The early disciples are praying and waiting when Pentecost happens. Peter and John are walking to the Temple for regular prayer when they meet — and heal — a lame man. They are called into account, so they tell their questioners about Jesus. Persecution scatters the believers, and some go to Samaria. Phillip preaches there until the Spirit sends him into the desert where he meets the Ethiopian. Peter is praying when the Holy Spirit sends him to Cornelius’ house. The Antioch leadership team are in prayer when the Holy Spirit tells them to “separate Barnabas and Saul” for a special assignment which we now call the First Missionary Journey. And so the story goes.

Perhaps there is a place in church for human wisdom and long-range planning, for budgets and business meetings and strategy sessions. But God’s work certainly doesn’t depend on them. Too often, our own ideas become confused with God’s agenda, and our own plans and proposals simply blind us to the higher purposes of heaven. Perhaps we ought instead to spend our time seeking God’s will, waiting on his guidance, praying for his enabling, surrendering to his leading, following his direction, and walking in the Spirit. We pray, “Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory.” This is God’s thing. He has to make it happen. And he gets all the credit.

For more on church leaders, click here or go to http://www.EdwardFudge.com/gracemails/attention_approval.html .

For more on divine guidance, click here or go to http://www.EdwardFudge.com/gracemails/guidance_means_of.html .


Copyright 2007 by Edward Fudge. Permission hereby granted to reprint this gracEmail in its entirety without change, with credit given and not for financial profit. To visit our multimedia website, click here or go to http://www.EdwardFudge.com .


1 Comment

Filed under Church of Christ, Edward Fudge, Jimmy Shaw, Religion

One response to “Power, pyramids, and the modern pastorate

  1. Thanks for posting this; I confess that I was not familiar with Edward Fudge. It is for the very reasons that he cites that I have been intrigued by a shift to something called scenario planning for churches, which is less about planning and more preparing for God’s future. There is ample Biblical instruction to prepare, and to prepare for anything less than what God has in mind is to construct an idol.

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