|Book: Creating a Secure Church: BOOK TWO|
Part 1 : Objectives & Obstacles
Part 2 : Secure in Relationships
Part 3 : Secure in Ministry
Part 4 : When Things go Wrong
Part 5 : Concluding Thoughts
Chapter 7: Secure in Team
“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.”
Security in the local church starts at the top! We've looked in Book One at personal security and so now in this chapter we'll look at some aspects of leadership, particularly the benefits of team leadership, the difficulty some of us have coping with team, and ways we can work it out.
I will repeat this later in the chapter, but since originally writing this chapter, I have witnessed and been part of a number of changing leadership structures, some of them in retrospect not helpful, and some of them which worked very well. At the time of rereading and updating this chapter, I have been retired for a year and have thought a lot more deeply about the things here. I have updated the chapter by putting some of the personal testimony language into the past tense. I wonder, with hindsight, that I had the temerity to write this chapter but, nevertheless, I still think that much of the thinking found here is valid but could probably be taken a lot further.
Leadership, more than most other things in church life can be a struggle and definitely not easy. As I look around 'the Church' today, there are a surprising number of hurt and damaged leaders around, who have suffered at the hands of others. It should not be. Here, for what they are worth, are some thoughts on leadership teams.
7.1 Team is ‘in'
Fads come and go - as much in the Christian arena as in the rest of the world. In management circles it is just as common. A number of years ago a leading News magazine suggested the world was suffering a crisis of leadership, indicating their belief that real leadership was thin on the ground. Perhaps it was just that the world was waking up to the benefits of team leadership. However, for Christian leaders you need to be quite secure to be able to operate as part of a team. Business management gurus fluctuate between management by team leadership and management by hero-specialists but it seems that at the beginning of the twenty first century, for many in the Christian world at least, team is in, but is this a passing fad or are there real lasting benefits?
Specialists or team in the Bible?
Does the Bible show us one man ministries or ‘team'? The answer seems to be both. Let's examine it:
a) One man ministries
There is a strong case for recognising specific ministries in specific people. In 1 Cor 12 where Paul lists spiritual gifts he says (v.8-) “To one there is given… to another.. to another” etc. Then later in v.28 he says “God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers” etc. Similarly he says in Eph4:11 “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be evangelists and some to be pastors and teachers”. Similarly the Romans 12 verse at the head of the chapter opens the way for Paul to again explain different gifting. This is the language of specialisation, so clearly God does gift different people in different ways to perform different tasks.
In the life of the Acts, at first sight, Peter seems to be a one man ministry in Acts 9:32 - yet when he is invited to the Gentiles he takes some of the other brothers with him (10:23).
Philip in Acts 8 is probably a better example of a man apparently ministering on his own, yet it has to be said he was really ministering out of a crisis situation (persecution). Apart from Jesus, in the New Testament it is fairly difficult to find men ministering on their own. If we were desperate we would point to John the Baptist but he was clearly pre-kingdom (Lk 7:28), more in the mould of an Old Covenant prophet.
b) Team ministry
Set against the above verses are the constant references to us being a body, e.g. 1 Cor 12:12-27, where Paul makes the point that all the members of the body need the other members and no one is more important than the other. In Eph 4:12 the gifts of ministry are shown to be used to prepare the bulk of the church for service, acting as a body. In Rom 12:4,5 before Paul explains gift differentiation, he explains that we all belong to one body. Thus the individual gifts of ministry are not to operate in isolation but together in harmony, just as the parts of a natural physical body operate.
When we consider Jesus' ministry we see that he taught and enabled the twelve and then the seventy so that they could then go out in teams of two. On the day of Pentecost when the Spirit was moving so powerfully, we find in Acts 2:14, that “Peter stood up with the Eleven”, i.e. he ministered with a 'team' around him.
As Acts develops we find more and more indications of 'team ministry'. In 11:25,26 we find Barnabus and Saul acting together in a teaching ministry in Antioch. Immediately afterwards (v.27) there is reference to travelling prophets, indicating a team. In Acts 13 on when Luke takes up Paul's story it is team all the way along.
7.2 Facets of Team
Benefits of team
We need to consider the practical issues of team versus the man on his own. For many of us in leadership, especially in smaller churches, all we've ever known for so many years has been one man ministry, and therefore it is difficult to think of working in a team. But is this because we've grown used to being alone, or is it that we are fearful of what it means to be answerable to others. I said earlier that you have to be secure to be able to be a leader working as part of a team.
Working in team
Over the years I have operated as a second string to a one man ministry, then as the one man ministry alone, then as a one man ministry with a younger man alongside, and finally as a primus inter pares - a first among equals in a team. The particular part of the church that I functioned in is one that has elders or, in more recent years, simply ‘leaders'. Our church operated at one time with three couples as the primary leadership team and then we had a number of other leaders who lead various activities within the church. Yes, in the main leadership team we had three couples - which of course means it includes three women. Later we changed it to just six men.
Each of us reading this chapter come from different parts of the Church, and thus we have different experiences.
Friendship team first
Failures are so often to do with communication. If a leadership team meets on a weekly basis and talks, prays and drinks coffee together - it communicates! When we come together it is then not on a formal organisational basis but on a friendship level. The most important thing is not the Agenda but “how are you?” Our relationships become more important than business. You can have a working relationship but if it isn't bedded in friendship it's a formality which is vulnerable to attack.
Perhaps one of the reasons these words may create negative reactions in some of us, is that we've turned ‘church' into business, and business is run by professionals, ‘hero-specialists'. Unfortunately businesses also turn out standardised, uniform ‘products' which is not what Jesus was doing! The Gospels and epistles are a testimony to the differences in men. In God's creation there is amazing variety. Because a leader is often paid to ‘do his job', does this make him a professional? No, it depends on his outlook, how he views what he does.
For others of us, words about friendship ring hollow because we don't know or haven't experienced what real friendship is. In the church it is supposed to be based on love and acceptance but frequently that is missing. It means therefore that this is an area that maybe needs more work putting into it than any other. It means laying down barriers and becoming vulnerable to one another, but for some of us that is scary and we don't know that we can do it. It means about being honest with each other and again, many of us fear this. Some of us are so locked in our fears and fixed thinking that the thought of throwing our arms around one another and declaring, "I don't care about rights and wrongs, I just want to bless you, how can I do that?" scares the life out of us. It's not where we've come from. As I said, perhaps this is an area that needs real work.
I said above that at one time we had a leadership team of six and the responsibility for what went on rested there. But that doesn't mean they were the only ones involved in ascertaining from God the direction for the church, or planning its implementation. At various times we did it in different ways, but one way or another we sought to meet regularly with our other leaders and give them an opportunity to share anything they felt God was saying, comment on anything we were proposing or make suggestions in respect of anything we did. We genuinely wanted our wider leadership to feel that their views, their input, was important, that what we were and what we did was partly because of them. Ultimately our primary leadership team was responsible, but we'd involve as many others as possible in formulating and implementing direction.
Do you see where security comes into this? Do you see why it is so important? It may be in respect of the leader himself, it may be in respect of the people. It may be that we lead the way we do because we lack security. It may be that because of the way we lead we either create security or perpetuate insecurity. If you are a strong character, a strong, dynamic, authoritarian leader you may appear to have the church running with you - and growing - but what have you got in reality? Perhaps a people who follow a man (not Jesus!), a people who follow the rules, a people who conform to the human expectations laid upon them. What happens when either the leader is taken away or leaves? Loss of focus, awareness of spiritual immaturity or spiritual poverty that was masked by reliance on a human being or a human structure.
A Need for Understanding
If team is to work well and is to create the security I've been talking about, it is vital that we understand the gifting and roles of the members of the team. Let me illustrate this by reference to another small church I knew which operated with a leadership team of two couples.
All four people were wonderful people, although they had not been moving in leadership very long and they had had tensions which they found difficult to cope with. In this foursome, one man and one woman (not marriage partners) were highly pastoral and caring. The other husband and other wife were both highly prophetic, but in completely different ways. The prophetic man had amazing insight into the reality of what they were doing in the present, and he smelt out unreality at a dozen paces! But he wasn't very good in seeing into the future. The prophetic woman was a visionary who caught sight of what God was bringing their way months before anyone else got a glimmer, but she wasn't very good at seeing what was going on under her nose.
So what happened? At a leadership meeting the two pastoral people were concerned with the general needs of the church as it was. The prophetic couple found this frustrating. Every now and then the prophetic visionary lady came up with a new idea, and the others all looked at her blankly. They, not realising she was catching God's heart for nine months down the path, were not enthusiastic and she, not understanding the dynamics of what was happening, felt rejected. In the meantime the prophetic man was aware that in certain of their activities they were playing games and not being real with one another. When he shared this with the others, it was his turn to receive the blank stare. Life in team was not easy. They needed understanding of their gifting and an ability to recognise and accept the other members of the body with their functions.
The Christian fallout rate, as I've said elsewhere, is great at the change of the centuries. Many people are disillusioned with religion, disillusioned with ‘church'. Unreality is rife, with people filling pews but feeling unfilled, or unfulfilled! Team, if it dare be real, is an ideal vehicle for revealing unreality. If there dare be one person in the team free to say, “I think we've missed it, I think we're kidding ourselves, I think this is boring”, then we have a hope. Church that continues week in, week out, doing the same thing with little sense of the dynamic of God's presence is in a rut, and if you walk up and down in the rut long enough you've dug a grave.
But ‘being real' without grace can be selfish and harmful insensitivity. Some of the things I've said in the chapter on Disagreeing Gracefully apply here. If we are to bring our team into a place of security, a place where people can be real, and a place where people can voice their genuine concerns, we sometimes have to learn how to be graceful in the way we speak in both proposing new ideas and in disagreeing with them.
For instance, in our own team, I recognised (with the help of my wife!) that as the prime initiator, I very often put the team in an awkward position. My language used to be, “God said to me that we ought to do this….” (and I was quite genuine in my belief, and often right). Where did that leave the team? Shut down! What can you say to that? You're either disagreeing with God or you're saying to the prophetic character, “You're wrong!” Either way it is awkward and very difficult, and if the listeners haven't had time to think about what you've just brought you may be rushing them into a wrong reaction. It puts an unnecessary pressure on the others to either conform to my way of thinking or scrabble for grace to disagree without causing major confrontation.
So what is the alternative? Simply to change the language: “You know I've been having a feeling which could be from God that perhaps we could…… what do you feel about the subject?” This is less dogmatic, less definite, this allows room for discussion and offering of alternative opinions. I might be wrong, I may not have heard from God but I'm secure enough in Him and in my team to believe that if I've heard from Him, He'll confirm it and show them that it's Him. If I am wrong then their gentle disagreement may have saved me from looking a fool!
So what about disagreeing gracefully? How do we disagree with one another without appearing to attack or reject one another? Retorts like, “That's crazy!” or “I can't go along with that” have an element of attack about them. The alternative approach that doesn't put the previous speaker down may say, “That's interesting, that sounds good. Could……. be an alternative solution perhaps?” or “Yes, that sounds a possibility, yet I've got a little nagging worry inside. Are there alternatives we could think about, or even go away and pray about?”
In doing that we are actually acknowledging that what the other person has come up with is a valid possibility, and unless it's something absolutely crazy - which is fairly unlikely - it could be right, even though I disagree at first sight. This opens the door to consider other possibilities without it writing off the original person. You may come back in the discussion to agree that their original offering was right in the first place!
In each of these situations what we're doing is saying indirectly, “I respect each of you, and I want you to have space to express your thoughts and feelings so together as a team we can arrive at the right answer before God”. Our inability to see these things is probably an indication of our insecurity, our need to always be right. While we are like that, we will be a hindrance to creating a secure team and a secure church.
One of the things that seems to go wrong in church life is that people are appointed to roles and at some later date, because it doesn't seem to work out, are stepped down, often causing hurt and upset. Rather than create rigid organisational structures which later cause problems, sometimes it is better when creating a team, to simply invite people in for a while to fulfil a particular role for a set term.
For instance in your team you might say to an individual or a couple, “We'd like to get a wider viewpoint for a while, yet we don't want to burden you, so would you like to come and be part of the team for the next two months, just to shed some new light for a bit.” If after the two months the individual or couple doesn't seem to be fitting in and are instead simply causing tension by their presence, then you simply thank them for their time with you and their time comes to an end. If on the other hand it is obvious that this is where they should be, then you can invite them to stay for a further two months. If after that, they seem an integral part of the team now, you just invite them to stay on.
Our aim here, in seeking to create a secure church, would be to love and respect this couple in such a way that we don't put them in an awkward position where they are functioning beyond the grace that God provides for them. If, in the example I've just given above, we don't feel the new individual or couple are right for a long term role in the leadership team, we don't want them to feel that we are rejecting them; it's just that we are coming to a realistic assessment of their grace gifting and releasing them back into their ‘grace zone'.
The insecure person feels threatened by the thought of being accountable to another, but in fact accountability brings an amazing sense of security. Imposed or structured accountability brings tension, guilt and shame and control of one person by another. Accountability that comes out of a relationship provides protection, love, care, security and freedom. Accountability comes through many different levels.
Below are five suggested levels of accountability. I would suggest that we need a minimum of three if we are leaders, if not all five. Senior leaders in particular, are very vulnerable and as I have watched over the years, I have seen leaders, major national speakers and have felt on occasion, "Are they accountable to anyone, because if they are, then they will be pulled up for that behaviour."
That's not being unduly critical, but it is acknowledging that when we are speaking publicly, there is no room for being derogatory about others, or chiding the sound technicians or whoever else it is who is struggling to create the event, and when we are seen to do that regularly it is clear there is no accountability and the impact of the word is diminished. So what are the areas of accountability that will protect us?
1. Me with God
Ultimately I am answerable to God and hopefully I am open to hear God, yet history shows that leaders go off the rails, which means they either don't hear God or reject what they are hearing. So yes, we need to remind ourselves if we are leaders that we are accountable to God, first and foremost (1 Pet 4:5)
2. Accountable to my Partner
My wife holds me accountable when no one else will say anything. There needs to be a gentleness and grace in this but truth is important. She needs to be able to praise me when I do well but point out when I missed it. There are times when I'm very much aware of my failures, but at other times we can plough on in blissful ignorance and it needs the gentle word of the one closest to us to bring us to the truth.
How many of us in leadership are separated from our partners by our ‘work'? How tragic! If we've never come to the place where we can communicate openly together without it being seen as an attack, we've really missed out on something. My wife is my best encourager, but she also needs to be allowed, and encouraged, to tell me when she feels things are not right.
I have heard 'behind the scenes' of leaders and their wives who are at odds over his ministry. That means it is a very dangerous situation. I would suggest that unless our wives are completely with us we are prone to major attack and deception. If you are a leader and your wife has a problem with you and your ministry, I would suggest that here is a simple warning from the Lord that there is an area of your life that needs attention - working with your wife to bring harmony, working with the Lord to receive wisdom.
3. Accountable to my Leadership Team
Because I was much more involved in the life of the church than the rest of my leadership team, I needed to keep them fully informed of what I was doing and what I intended to do. They encouraged me and up-built me, but they also protected me by warning me off when I was moving more by presumption than by faith, when I was moving in unwise ways.
If they never checked me then I couldn't feel secure. It's a bit like me with my wife's clothes. If she is buying new clothes she'll ask me, “What do you think?” She needs an honest answer - although she may not always like it. If I always say, “That looks great” my judgment is meaningless. If from time to time I say, “Well you've got things that look a lot nicer than that” she knows that I feel negatively about what she's trying on, and unless I'm able to be negative about some things, my approving comments become meaningless. The same thing applies to team. They need to be free to express unhappiness about things being proposed, things being done. The negative things they say bring a sense of protection and caring, the positive things are just direct encouragement. We need both and they bring it.
4. Accountable to my church
This really stretches your security! I said earlier that we had a monthly meeting called News & Views where anyone could come and ask questions about what we were doing as a church or make any comment they like about what was happening. That gave people an opportunity (which not all take) to feel part of what goes on, and if we as the leadership were off beam, we hoped people would tell us so.
It just provides one further means of accountability. Once some of the teens criticised the preaching on a Sunday morning. My reaction to that was, “Well what I would like you to do is listen to the preaching, tell me what you think is really wrong and suggest how that could be remedied.” I even gave them a sheet to fill in! The reaction of one of them was then, “Oh blow! We'll have to start really listening now!” Excellent, and if you can come up with some constructive comments, those of us that preach will really appreciate that, and if it means our preaching improves, the church will be pleased as well. We may not agree with everything said, but at least we'll really listen and check it out.
5. Accountable to my mentor
I will be suggesting elsewhere in this book the benefits of having a personal mentor, someone with age, wisdom and maturity to whom my life is open. I have actually said to such a person, "I would like you to hold me accountable and feel free to pick me up on anything in my life that you see and are not happy about. I would like you to feel free to ask me about any area of my life and I will endeavour to give you and honest answer." I believe if we are unable to do that with someone, if we are a leader, it is an indication of our insecurity.
Big powerful leaders at this point object that their mentor may not have the will of God. That is simply a defence mechanism that tries to cover up our personal insecurity. If we are sufficiently secure in the love of God, then we can afford to have people who we trust, say things that may challenge or check us. If my ministry is of God, then I can afford to put it on pause while I check out with Him that things others have said. The inability to do this puts a serious question mark over our security in God.
7.4 Other Accountability Features
So far we have just considered a leadership team as being a group where there is a need for security to create security, but there are also other team situations where the same is true. In fact any area of service in the church benefits when it is being done by a team, whether it be administrative functions, children's or youth work, evangelism or music. Let's focus on the last of these to illustrate some of the problems and some of the blessings.
I have to admit as I have watched over the years in various churches that the musicians or ‘the worship group' seem to have a greater potential than most for causing difficulties. I will be very honest and say I am not a musician, the only non-musician in our house, and I speak as a leader who has looked in from outside. So what are the main difficulties that seem to need to be overcome to avoid problems?
If you are a musician you are specialists, you play music, and many of us don't. You have musical ability, you have practised and maybe you have even taken exams. To play publicly you have a measure of natural competency and therein is your vulnerability. Very often musicians are performers, they are often specialists with a particular instrument. They have the potential for creating something beautiful, something stirring, something soothing, something with an element of heaven about it.
They are, therefore, in line for praise - and pride! The better they are the more difficult it is for them to receive suggestions from mundane non-musical spiritual leaders. They believe they have technical ability (and they may indeed have great ability) but in a church worship context they are to bring a spiritual dimension through music to the congregation. Herein, in all this, there is danger which is only countered by servant heartedness and humility.
But what is true of musicians is true of any ‘ministry'. As we've indicated already in a previous Chapter, wherever there is a specialism, there is a potential danger. Listen to an evangelist and saving people is the most important thing in the church. Listen to a pastor and caring for the sheep is the most important issue. And so we could work our way through a range of ministries. Because that is our ministry we feel it is the most important and when we're doing it well, it's the most fulfilling thing going! And because of that we can become Prima Donna's, or a hero worthy of adoration.
That's the temptation, and that's where being part of a team helps keep us in check. Working with others, relying upon others, being open to others in deepening relationships means our egos can be confronted and checked. Watch any Christian superstar and you are watching the potential for disaster, disaster in the form of pride or arrogance or even illicit relationships.
John Sandford in Why Christians Commit Adultery admirably catalogues the downfall of the Christian leader working alone. The pressure of work means he's away from home, increasing blessing and more work means extra tiredness. Tiredness means strains on relationships at home. Meanwhile in the office, the secretary or whoever the other woman is, recognises the great ministry, understands the pressures and feels for him. Concern becomes care, becomes a wrong relationship, all because the leader is a hero, a success, a great man of God. Yet if our man had been working in a close knit team, accountable to the team, warnings could have been given, steps taken and disaster avoided.
3. Spiritual Weariness
In every area of ministry weariness is a common feature. Constantly giving out is tiring whether you are a musician, a teacher, an evangelist or a counsellor. Working alone means that we plough on regardless, loosing a sense of perspective and burnout is the end product. When we work in a team other members of the team spot the signs and start making warning noises.
We all of us need looking after, especially after we have just been involved in intensive ministry. If we're away from home we're vulnerable to the wrong sort of caring advances. If we're part of a team we can be protected.
7.5 An Ongoing Update and Concern
It is now a number of years since I first wrote this book and quite a lot has changed. Our church has changed and developed and our leadership structure changed a number of times. We, like any church, had our struggles and difficulties in growth. The Church across the country has also changed a lot and struggles and difficulties are not uncommon. Eventually I have retired and am giving more time to thinking about these issues more fully and often I find a concern, if not an anxiety, about what I see or hear about leadership.
For instance I have heard comments about accountability and some of what I hear disturbs me. For example, the church which, in its efforts to clarify accountability has its paid leaders fill in time sheets, accounting for every minute of the day. This raises questions which, I believe, few outside full-time leadership are qualified to answer.
Why shouldn't spiritual leaders be accountable for their time in the same way that say an office worker is. Why shouldn't the flock know what their leader does, especially if they are paying him? Why shouldn't they ask if they are getting ‘value for their money'? At first sight, at least, these appear reasonable questions. There are, however, questions that lack understanding, I believe, of Biblical principles and pastoral concern. let me explain it by putting my concerns under three headings:
1. Theological Concerns
i) Failure to recognise ‘calling'
It seems that this demand fails to take into account the uniqueness of the full time calling of a spiritual leader. If we are referring to the position of an elder or other spiritual leader in God's Church, we could hope that a) they have a calling from God and that b) they are in their present role as a result of that calling which has been recognised by the local church and, where applicable, this by apostolic roles. Ideally this calling has also been ratified or ‘energised' by tested prophetic words.
ii) Failure to bring honour to the call
A case could be made from Scripture that such roles come under the heading of ‘anointed leadership' for those the Lord calls He also anoints. What this does is add a further dimension of respect or honour to the role as well as direct accountability to God. Thus the concept of the ‘hired man' should not be applicable. This is not a man ‘hired' by the people and at their beck and call. He is first and foremost at God's call, which is serious accountability.
iii) Failure to distinguish between shepherd and hired man
The pictures of shepherd and hired man that Jesus used (Jn 10) reveals that the shepherd (called by God) will be one who lays down his life for the flock and does not run away in the face of hardship. Those who see themselves as ‘hired' easily give up and even leave when the way gets tough. Love for the flock is burned in the heart of the true shepherd. From the viewpoint of both the leader and the flock, it is important to know that this is a shepherd and not merely a hired man.
2. Practical Concerns
i) Struggling with Expectations
From the outset, most people going into full-time leadership struggle initially with the expectations that they believe are upon them. “Am I using my time wisely, am I being seen to be using my time wisely?” and “How do I determine the extent of the expectations upon me?” are common and familiar questions that those in full-time ministry experience and it is rare for those outside of such ministry to understand these particular pressures. For many in full-time ministry it takes a long time to overcome such pressures.
ii) Struggle with Legalistic Analysing
For those who wish to impose control on ‘their' spiritual leaders by the implementation of strict guidelines or job descriptions, this may seem a legitimate requirement, but this invariably leads to a legalistic analysing of the role which then requires more and more directives to satisfy such critics. What is a legitimate activity in this leadership role becomes the key question and this pushes aside the theological considerations and submerges the pastoral concerns which follow.
iii) Struggle often means Human Effort and not Spirit
The more the individual is put under scrutiny the more he is likely to struggle to rise to the expectations laid upon him and the less likely he is to be flowing in the Spirit. He becomes more concerned with what men think than what God thinks. To combat this tendency (which is possible) means additional (unnecessary) struggle.
iv) Struggle inhibits Ministry
If the leader is struggling in the ways indicated, it is likely that he is receiving a very wrong view of church and is therefore likely to be passing on a legalistic view to those to whom he ministers. What he receives he passes on. To avoid that becomes yet a further struggle.
3. Pastoral Concerns
i) Imposing a bureaucratic burden
The desire to impose strict procedures upon the full-time worker may arise from a variety of motivations. It may be because of a belief that the Law requires it, or it may be out of a belief that this will help the leader be reassured about his role, but the reality so often is that it simply adds a bureaucratic burden which distracts the leader from his work and detracts from his calling. In his role he is likely to be someone with an especially highly tuned conscience (before God) and he is unlikely to administer this casually and may tend to fall into over-conscientiousness which imposes worry where it should not be.
ii) Imposing a ‘watched and not trusted' mentality
The requirement to account for his every minute imposes on the leader a sense that he is being constantly scrutinised (to a level very much higher than in many businesses) and that he is not trusted. It actually imposes a divide between him and those who seek to hold him accountable.
iii)Imposing Distraction to his calling
The role of a spiritual leader should, surely, involve him being more concerned than average to ‘hear' the Lord and to be able to receive His wisdom and revelation for the caring for the flock. Stress, pressure and anxiety all detract from this ‘hearing function'.
iv) Submerges Pastoral Concern: Law over Grace
Possibly the greatest harm that this approach brings is to push pastoral concern for the leader into the background. As with almost anything in the Christian realm these things can be done by Law or Grace. Everything about this approach considered so far falls under the heading of the Law.
The approach of grace substitutes love and concern for suspicion and mistrust. The primary questions to bless the leader, and keep him on the right track must be ones that involve love and encouragement, such as “How are you doing? Are you feeling fulfilled in what you are doing? How can we help you in your new role to feel better in it and feel you are achieving God's purposes for you?”
The genuine pastoral-concern approach releases the spirit of the leader with a sense of being loved and cared for. This naturally opens up the leader to whoever he is accountable to. Thus in that way he feels far more free to openly talk about what he is doing and his concern about it without threat.
I am aware that for some leaders in specific parts of the church where they form part of a large organisational hierarchy, these thoughts may seem strange yet I believe the latter ones about pastoral concern especially, are vital to the creating of a secure leadership whether that is one man or a team.
7.6 And So?
What have we covered in this chapter?
The New Testament seems to indicate both individual ministries and team
working; the two are not exclusive.
A team based on friendship relationships provides a much better
environment to create security.
For a team to work well we need to understand and respect and honour
one another's different gifts or ministries.
If we dare be real in a team, the ensuing security becomes very strong.
Attention to language in a team opens the door to greater openness,
honesty and subsequent security.
Rigidity of team structure is to be avoided if we wish to avoid hurting
Accountability is an important safeguard that is brought by the use of a
Within the team are means of overcoming the dangers of specialisms, of
being a hero, and of over tiredness.
So, can we check those things out in our closing application questions:
Do I know the experience of working in a team, or does my church have teams working within it?
Do I understand the different gifts and ministries we have in our church that cause people to have differing priorities in outlook?
In our leadership in my church, dare we truly be honest with one another as to what we feel about all that happens in the life of the church?
Do I see the need for accountability and to whom am I accountable?
Is our experience one of rigid team or of flexible/changing team where people can come and go without being hurt?
Do I see the value in a team of overcoming the vulnerabilities of specialist ministry, of overcoming the pride possibility of me being seen as a hero, and of me becoming over worked and over tired?
Where I see the value of these things but fail to see them being worked out in practice, how can I receive the grace and wisdom of God to bring them about?