Total Church 26: Success – 2 Models of Leadership

This is part 26 of our series Total Church by Steve Timmis and Tim Chester. Blame and credit for these posts must be shared by the Wednesday morning Total Church reading group: No for these last few posts I am on my own… we finished up for the year before we got to these chapters.

“If we are to reach our cities and towns effectively with the gospel through church planting then we need a radically different model of success.” (p187)

Two models of leadership: performance vs enabling

Most evangelical ministry today is built on a performance paradigm.  Not many of us would put it quite so bluntly but when we consider the structure and style of our ministry paradigm, that is what is communicated.

(a) The activities of the church (sermons, services, vision etc) must all be run to a high standard.  Problem: “The measure of that standard is not simply whether the word is shaping the life of the church and its members.  The measure is the quality of the performance…” (p191)

(b) Even the layout of our buildings speaks this message – there is an audience and there are performers.

(c) Leadership as performance is usually a reflection of the professionalization of the ministry, where the minister is usually an outsider brought in to do a job.  The key issue often is their ability in the pulpit.

(d) The real tragedy of performance leadership is that it devalues the work of Christ in our lives.  Our identity becomes rooted not in grace but in the success of our ministry.  We feel good when things go well and a failure when things do not quite work out. (This is me!)

Could things look different?

(a) Ephesians 4:11-13 reminds us that leaders (word-ministers) have a role of preparing/equipping the people for works of service.  And that it is as God’s people (all of them) engage in works of service that the body of Christ is built up.

(b) The problem with the bringing in of leaders from outside is that often (not always!) it is charisma (in interview or pulpit) rather than character that influences the decision.

“Leaders are those who believe, teach and live the gospel in the daily routine of their lives.  That can only be discerned through prolonged exposure to their lives.  They are recognized rather than appointed.” (p191)

(c) “Who pastors the pastor?” we often ask.  Their answer: “I am pastored by my congregation.” (p192).  Leaders need to share their struggles, their idols etc.  This is not idealistic, hang-out your washing for all to see kind of talk.  They admit that not everybody knows everything (true of all Christians) but there are certain people who know and who challenge their sins and idols.

“I model not a false perfection but progress.” (p192)

“I model the grace of God rather than the goodness of me.  My leadership is in no way undermined as a result.  Rather it is enhanced.” (p192)

(c) There are two reasons Steve and Tim do not feel the pressure to perform:

1. “success and failure are common property.  We all share a sense of responsibility for what happens.” (p192)

2. “ministry is not an event that occurs on a Sunday.  It is a life-style of word-centred activity.” (p192)  Success is therefore not judged by a sermon,  or the attendance figures etc but by “growing Christians and gospel opportunities” (p192).

This point is the key to Total Church understanding of church – identity not gathering, programme or buildings. And if identity is the key understanding of church then our understanding of success must be measured in this category and not any other.

As I said in a previous post this is probably the chapter that has challenged me the most:

I want to be recognised and my gifts applauded.

I want to build something big “for God” – where those ideas and language come from I do not know but they do form a part of the running commentary of my head.

I want to be the recognised pastor-teacher who leads and guides the way forward for the whole congregation.  i.e if truth be told I do not want to share the leadership, I like the performance, and it probably comes easier to me.

But I am convinced that if real discipleship is to effectively happen it must be in the context of small communities of churches (home/cell/small groups perhaps??) scattered throughout the city.

Less impressive perhaps but I think more “successful”.



~ by John on February 6, 2009.

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