Wednesday, February 04, 2004


Last Monday, Roland Kuhl of Norther Baptist Seminary led our up/rooted gathering in a discussion on "leadership" in the church.

We began with the by now well know outline of the business leader: the visionary- motivator-bottomline guy, telling everyone where we are going, why we are going there, and how we will get there. Now everyone in the room is pretty much against this image of the leader, esp. the idea of "vision caster" because when a strong, concrete vision is cast in a congregation two things happen: one, some (or many) don't fit in or see themselves in the vision; and two, a high level of stress accompanies that vision for those who buy in.

In contrast to this business model, Roland pointed us in the direction of how he sees leader used in scripture, namely as those who are among, alongside, and with. They lead through example and imitation. Leaders in don't set direction, but come alongside people and help everyone hear/see what God is doing. Part of this coming alongside is the role of articulating/interpreting what is going on in the community, saying what is already in the hearts of the people, rather than selling them on a vision or direction not arising organically from the community. Roland was really advocating a Mennonite version of Church leadership, or community leadership through consensus, 100% agreement. The reason for this is that decision making is not about getting things done, but about the spiritual formation of the community.

We discussed how an overly purpose driven or vision lead church teaches people not to discern the Spirit. The people look to the leader instead of Christ. As is commonly said, "He who cast the vision is the lead," but Roland pointed out that Christ cast the vision for the church and therefore is the only leader.

We also discussed group dynamics. How a group may gather for a common purpose/vision, therefore ordering the group. But then this ordering principle breaks down, and the group enters a chaotic time, disordered and headed toward death. But if there is a real value for relationships the group persists and finds its integrity within itself (rather than externalized through the vision), thereby becoming an actual living community. Through this discussion we realized that the presence of a strong vision actually hindered the formation of a strong community.

Much more could be said about leading through serving, our endless redefinition of leadership as a means of holding onto leading people, of the difference between men and women and leadership, but I’ll end here. It was a great time and very thought provoking.