Based on ideas and concepts from UnLeader: Rethinking Leadership…and Why We Must, my book to be released by Beacon Hill Press this September, I have worked up a few thoughts on the flaws in the leadership-centric culture that dominate the contemporary church. I am convinced that we will never see a genuine missional movement, or a fully released priesthood of believers, until we lay down the staff and crowns of leadership and pick up the trowel and basin of servantship.
8. The Flaw of “The Big Mo”
Let us cease drawing from our own ways and means of hype and pseudo momentum. Dance to the pace the Holy Spirit sets for your church or ministry. Let the Lord provide the ups and downs. Our job is to be faithful to follow his lead and let him provide momentum when he sees fit.
9. The Flaw of Explosive Growth
We have been taught to focus on “leadership math” i.e. pour yourself into creating leaders, not followers. Our focus should be on being servants who then make more and better servants. Our following Jesus translates into servantship. Do we lead? Certainly…by serving.
10. The Flaw of “Employees”
Regardless of how rare your gifts are, you are to treat no one in the fellowship as your servant. They don’t work for you. There is no biblical precedent for such thinking whatsoever. In contemporary terms an employee is a hireling, a person who performs a job for the money. To boot, the word “employee” is a business sector term. To call the servants in our churches, denominations, or any other ministries an “employee” is to admit, “Yes, we view ourselves and operate as a business.” Just pull out a Webster’s Dictionary and see for yourself: em•ploy•ee, a person hired by another, or by a business firm, etc., to work for wages or salary.
11. The Flaw of Church as Business
Mike Breen has said it wonderfully—“I am absolutely convinced 100 years from now, many books will be written on the phenomenon that is the late 20th Century-early 21st Century American church. And I am fairly certain that it will be with large degree of amazement and laughter that people, in reading about it, will say to each other, ‘You must be joking! Seriously? People actually thought it was a good idea to structure the Church as if it were a business? Honestly?’”
12. The Flaw of Dominance
Within the culture of many churches are leadership patterns of forcible command and control. These structures include protocols and unwritten rules of who can and cannot be questioned, consulted, or criticized. Overtones of fear are sprinkled throughout such ministries. Staff members learn quickly when and when not to speak, and to never speak up. To our shame, this is all too often the case in so many of our churches.
13. The Flaw of Entitlement
Certain perks and privileges are usually reserved for the king leader. He comes and
goes as he pleases, takes a day off here and there, and generally calls his own shots.
On a daily basis he answers or reports to no one in particular. There is absolutely
nothing wrong with this as long as he gets his job done. The troubling issue is that
(other than the Executive Pastor in some cases) the senior-pastor-king is the only
one who is allowed to operate this way. He is the only one deemed competent enough to self-manage. The remaining “ministers” are treated as employees. They are not special.
14. The Flaw of Submission
Trusting the servantship heart in others around us is an essential ingredient of a
humble church culture. To fail to trust and give release to our fellow servants is to
stand on the platform of pride, believing that without our own control of others
and the overall game plan for the church, success will escape our faith community
as a whole. This does not negate accountability. It actually enhances it.
Accountability becomes mutual, as does the concept of submission.
Photo: close to home