Saturday, October 30, 2010

Up the Mountain Syndrome - Leadership lessons

I spoke recently with a couple, hurt from a previous church, predominantly because of the senior pastor of that congregation. Without delving into discussions about particularities of the situation, here are some lessons of leadership that correlate to the hurt of this couple:

* The pastor entered an existing church, and did not acknowledge the value of the existing ministries within the church. Whether it be church or a new manager of a business, or a new foster familily, we must acknowledge the good and the bad of the situation we enter. To storm into a new situation, in which you have become the leader, and immediately voice your desire for radical change, smells of arrogance and is not a wise leadership action.
* The pastor chose to shut down vibrant ministries, not because they weren't fulfilling the purpose and direction of the church, but because they just did not fit his 'philosophy of ministry'. If you are a pastor and you are assigned (or begin a job at) a new church - if a ministry is vibrant and fits into the mission of the church, then, whether you culturally connect with it or not, surely you must resource this ministry, and find ways to make the ministry even more vibrant and successful. If the only reason you disband a youth ministry or an mature-aged social group is because 'you don't connect well' with this subculture, you have chosen to merely run ministries that YOU enjoy and that YOU are comfortable with. Now, if the program/ministry is volatile or heading in a completely different direction to the church, then the closing is probably beneficial in the long term to the growth of the church. Though, if you struggle because you live in a different cultural bubble to the existing program, then maybe delegation and support is the way to go.
* Up the mountain syndrome. Ever met someone that thinks all they must do, is pray and listen to God, and the rest will fall into place? Prayer is vital to the church, but there needs to be a balance between comtemplative prayer meetings with God, and the living out the gospel Jesus calls us to. I am inspired by the story of some of the early monastics - especially the ones that did not live their whole life seculuded from the world, but spent lots of time in prayer, and then went back to the streets and preached the gospel of Jesus and even healed the sick among them. We could argue some have 'down the mountain syndrome' and they never take time out to climb the mountain and spend time with God. We are called to have a Spirit inspired balanced between chunks of time in prayer, and time in ministry. God help us.

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