I suppose every movement is a reaction, to some extent, to that which exists. We would like to think that when we react to an extreme that we are finding the place of balance. Hopefully we do. But when the pendulum swings too far one way, it is very difficult to find the balance without first swinging too far the other way.
I wonder if we, in seeking to get the church out from under the type of ceo-leadership that has been so destructive in the church, don't end up throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Specifically, I'm talking about the area of leadership.
I know that word itself, "leadership," conjures up all of the images and meanings that many of us have reacted against for good reason. Nevertheless, I see such a need, in the Body of Christ, for fathers and mothers, nurturers and shepherds, mature servants, "elders" in the biblical sense who "care for," and even "church-planters."
I'm not talking about creating many titles and roles that speak of "hierarchy," but I am talking about affirming these roles and not losing the importance of our "fathers and mothers in the faith." I long to see the Body of Christ, in a family structure, really caring for one another and that includes the kind of care that only more mature believers can provide for newer believers. I don't want to hamper or create hoops for younger believers to "jump through" as we so often do in traditional church. "You can't do this type of ministry until you have completed this course or that program." That's not what I'm talking about. I want to see ALL believers, young and old, fully released to go and do the "stuff" of ministry. Don't hold anyone back. But in the process of releasing people into ministry, let's keep them "in family," cared about, ministered to, supported... and this is facilitated well by people who are more mature and who are affirmed in the importance of spiritually caring for the younger folk in the flock.
By throwing out the concept of "leadership-as-we-know-it," which I believe needs to be thrown out, I don't want to lose the importance of Christians taking a quality role in the lives of others as mentor/coach/counsellor/helper/father/mother. In fact, I long to see more people more fully equipped for this role... intentionally.
This is not at all a return to traditional-style leadership. In fact, in 20 plus years in traditional church settings, I saw little of the type of "spiritual care" that I am talking about. In fact, when I was a new believer, at age 20, how I wish I had someone who took personal interest in my life, my past baggage, and my future ministry. People pointed to programs, but they did not invite me into relationship where I could be transformed as I experienced deepening closeness with both God and other people.
True "leader-servant-shepherds" must be willing to invest deeply in a few people rather than attempt to minister to "masses." This is one of the ways that we get off track.
But I want to find those who are called to mentor/love/parent others. I want to affirm them. I want to equip them with relational/discipleship/caring tools (and better equip myself) so that we become good at inviesting deeply in a few.
I feel called, this year, to cultivate a deeper understanding of this type of role. I will confess that I have not yet read Larry Kreider's book on spiritual parenting (can't remember the title right off), but if anyone knows of other good resources, I would appreciate hearing from you. I want to cultivate these gifts within myself, I want to affirm these gifts in others, and I want to encourage the healthy use of these gifts and roles whenever possible.