Tag Archive: leadership


Image by weirdvis (Lynne Lancaster) http://www.rgbstock.com/user/weirdvis

Image by weirdvis (Lynne Lancaster)
http://www.rgbstock.com/user/weirdvis

God’s Way Sacrificed

To many, the idea of church leadership through consensus sounds like leadership is taken from God and given into the hands of men. Nevertheless, it is precisely God’s way of seeing His will done in and through the Church. Sadly, the church is full of stories of leadership abuse, which could have been prevented if we had implemented God’s way of directing the church.

Authority

Church leadership only has authority to implement God’s leading concerning the whole church when group consensus is reached by the whole church. While one person may have God’s word on a subject, and with that the authority to share it, he or she still needs to obey God’s way and seek consensus before action can be taken.

Consensus Builds True Unity

This may seem like a painful process, but in the end it builds real relationships and true unity around issues. Outside of consensus, leaders easily default to the sin of preeminence where they employ the world’s ways and steam roller their ideas into action. Sadly, many church leaders justify this style by the success of their ministry, but the end never justifies the means! An environment of love is the only way to the outcomes that we seek and may often be more important than our goals.

Consensus Protects the Group and the Individual

Consensus is a way of protection. For example, in the case of church discipline in the New Testament, consensus is sought by involving everyone. This way a fair judgment can be reached through unity and also the fear of the Lord can be on everyone involved.

Consensus is the Fruit of Faith

Seeking consensus puts faith into practice. It is the belief that Jesus really is the head of the Body of Christ and is able to lead each member in unity.

Right and Wrong Examples

Acts chapter 15 is a good example of how the whole church is involved in resolving serious decision making and of how everyone was involved. Conversely, 3 John 1:9-10 shows Diotrephes as a leader who sought preeminence and bullied his way in the church.

For more on this subject you can read these related posts:

Church Leadership

Hierarchical Leadership – The Main Hindrance in the Body of Christ Part 3

Who Calls the Shots (Decision Making) in the Body of Christ?

Rank or Respect

Church Governance 101

Does the Bible Support the Position of a Senior Pastor?

The Super Guru Culture

Rob

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2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Dear Readers,

Thank you for all who participated through reading, commenting and sharing on Real Church Life. I trust that you found things that were meaningful, helpful or even challenging. And, whether you agreed or not, that you considered God’s word, the Bible for your answers to life.

Let’s be constant in fervency for the Lord as we see the end approaching.

God bless,

Rob

Seek Jesus more and share more of Him with each other.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,300 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 38 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Being Different

Being Different

Exploring the possibility of real unity under one roof despite differences of opinion

When Seeing Beyond is Unwelcome                            

Consider what happens in a church group when a member or two begin to think differently, and perhaps even see beyond the horizons of their group. Most groups don’t facilitate open sharing, and even where some do, anything outside of certain domains of thinking is quickly shut down. And, where there is openness to be heard by a leader or pastor on a subject, you are generally herded by their reasoning into their camp of prescribed denominationalism or particular church bias.

In these environments, members cannot co-exist under one roof with openly professed diverse thinking, never mind different practices. In fact, if you don’t withdraw and conform (religiously called “submit”), then you are likely to hear something resembling, “If you don’t like it here then perhaps you need to find a group that thinks like you do and rather meet and worship with them.” But, is this a suitable outcome?

Prohibited from comfortably sharing their new found views with their brothers and sisters to reflect on, and unable to explore possible growth with others in that area, people may feel the need to then leave the group and fellowship elsewhere. When this happens, those enjoying life within the “safe” parameters of the original group can be very unsympathetic toward those wanting to leave. They can consider them to be rebellious and un-submissive to leadership and their church’s established views.

This type of leadership and group control is destructive both to individual and corporate growth which require personal freedom along with mutual submission to bring about true unity. Also, true unity does not come through controlling people’s behavior, but rather through recognizing that foundationally unity already exists through each member’s inclusion into the body of Christ. We can flow with unity and grow it, but we cannot undo it at its starting point. That said, all fellowship should be founded on this basis alone despite our differences in points of view.

Unfortunate Dilemma

So, the problem with denominationalism, and most groups for that matter, is that if a person’s ideas start to become too varied from that of the group, then depending on the issue, they may be faced with the predicament of needing to choose between staying or leaving. It’s a sad dilemma where they may feel that by staying they would be compromising their growth and that by going they would compromise the fellowship that they have enjoyed.

Clearly, denominationalism, guru following and fellowship based on uniformity of thinking are flawed ways for building on the unity that we already have as members of Christ’s body. Yet, people are content to feed off teachers rather than Christ, be happily ignorant of God’s word and find security in environments that easily fuel division and that one day may serve only to spit them out too.

So, how can we enjoy safe healthy fellowship with one another despite, at times, holding conflicting views?

In my next post I’ll share more on this.

Rob

Other posts in this series:

Part 1: God’s Home

Part 2: Issues and Opinions

Part 3: Blissfully Ignorant in My Church

Part 5: Dividing over Issues

Part 6: Loving the Wacky, Not Their Wackiness

Part 7: Preeminent Leaders and Super-Gurus

Very useful post by Jim Wright, Crossroad Junction, on healthy leadership within authentic organic church plants.

The Super Guru Culture

Suoer Guru

Suoer Guru

The Making of a Super Guru

Some gifted men and women of God are unfortunately elevated to super-guru-status in the Body of Christ. Be they world renowned or local favorites, some individuals are treated as though they were a cut above everyone else. Sometimes it’s in part their doing, fueled by how they carry themselves, but it’s always as a result of how they are perceived by those around them. In other words, they are never totally self-made.

I am not saying that men and women of God cannot be greatly used by God and in some cases become world renowned. But, when these individuals are treated with more reverence than everyone else and people dance to their every tune and hang on their every word then they have gone seriously off track. This often appears as a form of honoring, which it may be, but this type of über-honoring is exclusive to them and is not only counter to God’s design, but also cripples the Body of Christ. (For more on this see my post, No Rank, Only Roles in The Body of Christ.)

Those positively affected by the teachings of an individual, or the signs and wonders associated with them, or even by the love they’ve received from them, easily fall prey to follow, and even elevate, a human and not Jesus Himself. People seem to fail to see that when they were touched through these individuals that it was Christ who touched them and that apart from Christ these individuals had nothing.

Sometimes, these gifted men and women are innocent of creating this super status given to them, and it’s simply the carnality of those in the church that helps make super-gurus out of people. The church in Corinth had this problem with some saying,“’I follow Paul,’ or ‘I follow Apollos,’ or ‘I follow Cephas,’” (1Cor.1:12), and Paul spoke strongly against this. Others carry themselves in a way that demands superior treatment and people fall for it. John spoke a certain “Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them” (3John1:9).

Church created super-gurus can easily fall into the trap of enjoying this status given to them.  And, then, somewhat deluded, these gurus find support and defense for their delusion from their followers. This cult-like following that arises reinforces the sense that the delusion is truth and creates a feeling of security for those caught in it.

Nip it in the Bud

It’s one thing expecting a reasonable man to be accountable to others in the Body of Christ and God’s word, but far harder a deluded one, and then on top of it, supported by a band of deluded followers. Now, I’m not talking about those we generally all think are whacko, but rather the gifted men or women, pastors, teachers, etc. who are pretty much on the straight and narrow with their views. It’s by allowing these individuals to speak and act with an air of superiority and the false notion of God-given preeminence, or by allowing them to be thought of in such an elevated way that we help to create these untouchable personas.

Many a regular pastor, Christian teacher and blogger have been tainted by this to some degree or another, but it becomes easily magnified in the more well known “apostles”, teachers, etc. We are responsible for creating and allowing this problem and we need to nip it in the bud before it begins. Nip it in the bud in your own thinking about gifted people. And, nip it in the bud in the way you carry and think about yourself. Deal with it in your fellowships when you hear people wrongly elevate others.

Personally, I don’t kowtow to hierarchy in the church anymore or to illustrious gurus. I disdain any hierarchy in the Body of Christ and also this guru culture that feeds this problem. These are the ways of the world that we have brought into the church and that causes partiality, the unhealthy dependence on individuals and is the cause of people going astray.

Rob

Organic Church proponents, of whom I am one, are in danger of throwing the baby out with the bath water when it comes to our view on preaching, teaching and big meetings. The typical style of a modern church meeting in the west, where teachers and preachers speak to large audiences sitting in rows, is getting a bad rap from some in the organic church.  Frustrated by the stifling of their gifts and the lack of participation of themselves and others in church life, some have responded by seeing the activity of meeting in buildings and listening to a teacher or preacher while looking at the back of another person’s head as the problem.  But is it? Isn’t the problem rather that this kind of meeting has usurped the many other expressions of church? In fact, hasn’t this happened to the extent that this meeting is even commonly known as “church?” And, isn’t it true that these meetings get handled as if they had premier status over any other that the church may have?

Firstly, is the idea of sitting in a large building to hear a man teach or preach unbiblical? While homes were undoubtedly the most commonly used venues for church meetings in New Testament times, nevertheless, these larger meetings played a major part in Jesus’, Paul’s, Peter’s and others’ ministries.  And, this was not only in the temple while it still stood, and in the Jewish synagogues, but this practice of speaking to large groups in ad hoc and formal setting happened at various times in various places. Jesus addressed crowds on many occasions, for example, on a mountain with the Sermon on the Mount, and similarly in a valley, and also from a boat, in the Temple and in synagogues. Peter, Paul and others did so too. In fact, on one occasion, Paul chose to use a hall for the ministry he had in Ephesus and he did so for two years.

“But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation (synagogue), he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus.  This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.  And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them…many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices” (Acts19:9-12,18).

While it can be rightly argued that the home became the common place for church meetings, they certainly were not the only place. In the above text we see that while Paul was in Ephesus he chose to use a “hall” as a place to minister from.  Although homes became wonderful venues for the church to meet in, larger venues were great and effective places for certain forms of teaching and preaching.

Let’s not bark up the wrong tree!

I believe that the problem is not with these larger meetings, but it’s rather with the typical church governance practiced in most churches. Up-and-coming preachers or teachers usually embrace the common system of church governance in front of them, unaware that it’s unbiblical. In its basic form, they get given the title “Pastor” and get to preside over a church. An unbiblical hierarchy is established and as a result, these “pastors” are treated differently. Unintentionally, but nevertheless automatically, they come across as being above the common folk (their brothers and sisters).  With a system that puts such a “man of God” is in charge, it’s easy to see why Sunday morning becomes the premier meeting and sadly often times the only meeting. It’s also easy to see why his gifts become the focus at the expense of those in the flock.

To counter this, let’s not swing the pendulum away from having these larger meetings or from championing those who teach or preach effectively to large audiences, as most church pastors do. In doing that we would not only be losing out on a valuable form of ministry, but also be in danger of not growing teachers and preachers for the next generation. Preaching or teaching to a large gathering is not a problem. Rather, wrong church governance is!

Rob Morley

Equality in Marriage – 2

Rob and Tina Morley with their kids, 2010

Continued from part 1

Countless times I have heard it preached that married women should submit to their husbands and that the man is the head of the home. It is preached straight from the scriptures. Are those who preach submission really preaching straight or are they preaching skew?In the past, Rob and I tried to apply these “truths” at home.

Today I want to use an example from our own marriage to illustrate how head-ship by the husband is not helpful. Immediately after reading this, some of you have alarm bells going off in your heads.  You might be surprised to find out that in this context “head” doesn’t mean “authority over.” This article, The Head of the Epistles, explains it nicely. The story below is a portion from my chapter “Who’s in Control?” from my e-book, Happy Moms, Happy Homes.

[My husband and I] were no experts at conflict resolution. I felt caught in the middle of a tug-of-war. Or maybe it was more like a three-way tug-of-war with my husband, God, and me. Fortunately, God won the war, but He had to first teach us how submission works in a marriage. It’s not as simple as some would have us believe. I had come from a highly conservative Christian background where godly women were meant to “know their place.”

I tried the submission route only out of desperation. Did it fix our problems? No, it fell short of expectations and it sometimes flew right back in my face…

I can clearly remember one incident where our idea of submission showed its flaws. At the time, we were staying at my in-laws’ luxury country inn. My husband and I were sitting outside one of their suites while the children were down at their grandma’s house. It had been a lovely day, and the kids had been running around barefoot.

Later that afternoon, as the air began to cool, my husband became concerned that the children could catch a cold. He thought that I was being negligent and told me that I must go down immediately to put socks and shoes on them. I didn’t feel that going right then was a good idea because my mother-in-law had said that she was resting and I didn’t want to disturb her. Also, the kids were indoors so I didn’t think the cold air would bother them for another half-hour or so.

Well, my husband became annoyed. He wanted me to respond to the situation as he thought I should. To keep the peace, I went down, despite my reservations. I tried to be as quiet as possible, but my in-laws’ house was small and their room was right next to the living room where the kids were watching TV. I didn’t stay long, but long enough to have disturbed her rest. I had become trapped between my husband’s expectations and my own conscience. Clearly, submitting in every situation did not always have a favorable outcome.

Why do the scriptures say things like “wives, submit to your husbands” (Eph. 5:22)? There is a verse right before verse 22 that says, “submit one to another” (Eph. 5:21), but it’s easy to glance over this as someone has added a paragraph break with a title above verse 22 that wasn’t in the original text. Chapter breaks, subtitles and even verses can hinder the flow of the author’s original intention.  To actually go in depth into the scriptures regarding the portions that people get hung up over would take too much time. My husband and I have given hours to the study of these things and have been richly blessed by other scholars of the Bible. Hopefully, we’ll be posting in more detail on these difficult passages in the future.

One key to good interpretation is context. Another key is to use scripture that is plainly clear to help interpret portions that are hard to understand. One fundamental truth states that there is no longer slave or free, male or female, because we are all under Christ (Gal. 3:28). This scripture was written in order to unify believers. Where there is unity, God commands a blessing. We are not to lord it over each other anymore. We are all heirs of the same promise, and if Christ set us free, then we are free indeed.

I hope I have managed to wet your appetite, because I have more in mind to write and share in the near future.

by Christina (Tina) Morley

Equality in Marriage – 1

Rob and Tina Morley with their kids – 2007

Why is it that there are so many messages on the subject of godly women submitting to their husbands and husbands being the spiritual head of the home? Is it because this message is so hard to swallow that we need to keep being reminded of it? I think if we had half a chance to consider how this so-called truth hasn’t improved the lives of Christian married women, we’d chuck it out for something better.

I took my older kids to see the Hunger Games movie. In the beginning of the film, the people of the districts are given a televised message by the mayor. This message is propaganda that serves as an important reminder as to the necessity of the games. Of course, it’s a twisted message that is presented as truth. A message cloaked as truth, if presented often enough, is all too easily embraced by the people.

People follow influential leaders like sheep and this is true of Christians as well. We were given minds to reason and the Holy Spirit and Scripture for instruction, but we too easily accept the majority opinion as truth and fact. This traditional message that says that the husband is the spiritual head of the home is like a pair of shoes that are too tight and cause discomfort and harm. They need to be replaced with a pair that fit and support the feet.

Earlier on in our marriage, when my husband and I disagreed on a matter, he would sometimes play the trump card that he was the leader of the home and it was my role to submit. I have written a chapter in my book, Happy Moms, Happy Homes, titled “Who’s in Control?” Here is an excerpt from that chapter:

Through books, testimonies, and searching the Scriptures, I began learning and experiencing more of the Spirit. I became more attuned to His leading. For me, it became a surrendered life. I no longer wanted to be the one in control, because God knew how to do things better.

Then I got married. My husband and I didn’t live the Christian life as well as we thought we did. We thought we were more Christ-like than we really were. Marriage brought out all our imperfections. When we couldn’t agree on something, the issue of submission would sometimes follow. Neither of us knew exactly how submission was meant to function in the marriage. I, especially, had doubts….

Now, I had no fear in submitting to the Lord, but I did have a few misgivings about submitting to my husband in every situation. How could I let him take the place of God? Was it biblical that I should be controlled by him? Was it my duty just to submit? Well, through it all, the Lord was teaching us both a hard lesson. At the end of the day, the Lord wanted to be the One in control of both of us.

Continued in part 2

Hierarchy

Part 5 (Go here for part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4part 6)

While we have taught and even encouraged complete dependency on Jesus as our Head with mutual submission to one another, in reality we have also erroneously instituted and taught hierarchical leadership in the Body of Christ as being Biblical. The two are at odds with each other in the Ecclesia and this hinders the flow of the Spirit. Instead of members growing into the full dynamic of a body where every member is in connection to the one head, Jesus, we have leadership with rank which easily and all too often short circuits the flow.

Through our leadership structures we have not only inadvertently created partial dependency on Christ, but we have also expected complete submission to leadership. This is one reason that we have a perpetual babyhood of believers in the Body of Christ. Granted, submitting does not necessarily mean agreeing, but mutual submission would at least allow for a two way street that our typical structures often hinder, especially when it’s not in the interests of leaders with so-called “authority over the flock”.

To those in the body of Christ in hierarchical leadership rather than relational leadership, I would say, “Come out of her my people.” That is, come out of the world’s ways of doing things. I would add to this, “Let my people go!” That is, don’t hold the body to ransom to a false leadership style. Be an elder amongst many elders and become one with the body. Let the Spirit teach and lead through you, but don’t presume to have rank leadership. You, like everyone else in the Body of Christ, should never have a hierarchical position in the Church, only a relational and functional one. There is One who is the Head! If we get out of Jesus’ way, He will be able to work in and through each member in the Body the way it was ordained to be.

(Go here for part 6)

Rob

serving alongside

Part 4 – No Rank (Go here for part 1, part 2, part 3part 5, part 6)

To justify the existence of leadership in the Body of Christ, some say that it is found throughout the biblical narrative. While it is true that leadership is seen throughout the Bible, we need to recognize that hierarchical leadership is brought to an end in the Body of Christ, except, of course, for Jesus, the Head. While oversight is given to elders, it is carried out through relational and not hierarchical leadership. Each member in the Body is personally and directly accountable to, and directed by, the Head.

Jesus’ leadership does not need intermediate hierarchical leaders. Yes, elders are called upon to teach and admonish among other things, but this is because of their experience and gifting and not any supposed rank. Surely, one might ask, “Doesn’t admonishing require that the one admonishing is above the other?” No, because the word teaches that we are all to admonish one another.

Once we entertain hierarchical leadership, we frustrate the flow of the Spirit in the Body of Christ, which is designed for mutual submission.

But, someone might ask, “Doesn’t Romans 12:8 (and elsewhere) use the word ‘leads’ or ‘rules’ to do with leadership in the Body of Christ?” Yes, however this has some possibilities of meaning and also application. Often a hierarchical interpretation of “leads” or “rules” is how many would read it, because that’s the paradigm they’re used to. However, “leads” or “rules” (Gk. proistēmi) as used here can mean any of these: to set or place before; to set over; to be over, to superintend, preside over; to be a protector or guardian; to give aid; to care for, give attention to; profess honest occupations.

In Hebrews 13:7, 17 and 24 the author speaks of “those who have the rule over you.” “Have the rule over” comes from the Greek word hegeomai which could also have be translated, account for or guides.  These latter options are more in keeping with the Spirit and the word of God elsewhere and Jesus’ express prohibition on hierarchical leadership.

In the light of Jesus’ words in Matthew 20:25-27 and 23:2-12, I believe we have no choice in how we interpret these passages. Jesus is not only saying that we mustn’t lord it over one another, but also that we are not to have authority over one another. Simply put, Jesus is saying that we are to serve one another and that He doesn’t want us to have authority over one another.

We do ourselves a disservice by creating positional leadership for God’s gifted men and women in the Body of Christ by turning roles into titles with rank. Experience, calling and gifting has given them knowledge and wisdom to impart and the means to do it, but they have no authority to rule over anyone.

We cannot easily imagine church without rank-style leadership. This is because we are so conditioned to experiencing church being governed in structures like those of this world. You might say, “Surely, having no rank is only for the mature.” Yet, isn’t such a statement a lack of faith in Jesus’ ability to lead His people? Also, just as learning to swim by running won’t help at all, so too, learning to respond to one another in mutual submission cannot be taught properly where rank exists.

(go here for part 5)

Rob

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