Friday, December 14, 2007

Is Love a definition of Leadership?

If we use a defintion of love as leadership, we are all called to leadership - Jesus said "they will know you are my disciples by your love..." We are to love God and our neighbours as ourselves...

I have always equated love with maturity. When you look at a 3 year old their whole world revolves around them and their needs. As they get older, they hopefully begin to see how they fit into the whole world and that other's needs are as important as their own, and basic needs (like food and shelter) are more important thatn things like entertainment and doodling. Love and maturity are about the ability to think outside of yourself, putting others needs before your own with wisdom (ie, put the oxygen mask in the airplane on yourself first, then help your child).

Leadership is a matter of gifting (Holy Spirit). I think our confusion of leadership (definitions) stem from bad models. The Bible likes to use the Body and a building as analogies for the church. Where is the leader in the body? Sure you have a brain, but without the heart pumping, the veins to carry the blood, and the feet to get the food that the hands put in our mouth while the armpits cool us all down...We fail to see our interconnectedness when we ascribe special priority to the leader. He or she is just as important to the body as followers, for without anyone to lead ...

So a definition of leadership? It is one of many gifts for an individual within the body of Christ. It is a place of ministry ("others" focussed), exercised in servanthood (c.f. the washing of the feet) and maturity (completeness, love), designed to facilitate the coordination of the body to the common cause of becoming more Christlike, both corporately as well as individually.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Pastors verses the People of the Pews - Round One

The saying is, "Christianity would be great... except for the Christians"
There can be an issue of hero worship in the church, that sets up pastors above everybody else. A guy can look at a pastor and say, I could never be like that!" The system and the people in the pew all add to this. Some people are called to be pastors and teachers and equippers, some are called to quieter gifts of helps and encouragement, and then there are those really loud ones...
I think the friend's first issue was one of comparison. He wants to be someone that he isn't, something that he is not. Trouble always follow those kinds of thoughts. We shouldn't be comparing ourselves to anyone but Jesus (and if the friend thought trying to follow in the footsteps of his pastor was hard, imagine trying to emulate the sinless Jesus!)! And to want the same gift someone else has (just because "we" think it is special or neat) isn't the proper response to anyone, nor the way to go about "getting" it (the dichotomy between pastors and the people of the pew is a gross misunderstanding of the purpose of the "body of Christ").

A person who recognizes his/her spiritual gift and then takes 7 years of education to be the best they can be at it, well, kudos for them. That is not obviously for everyone. If God wanted you or I to do that, He would certainly provide the resources and the way for that to happen. Money, education, status - these are just tools. Anyone can use them for personal gain or for the sake of God's kingdom. Being a professional has nothing to do with gifting unless God has called us to be in that position. One person can handle riches effectively for the Kingdom, another has to give it all away (Francis of Assisi comes to mind). We are a child of God first, then everything else flows out of that (whether we are a teacher, a stay-at-home mom, a student, a garbage man, a pastor).

My attraction to the church is partly because it has a place for everyone. There is a place for people who like academics. There is a place for people who like up-front in-your-face ministry. There is a place for people who like the hymns for the theology or just because they grew up with them. There is a place for the one who likes to worship to rap. There is a place for the person who wants to sit on the sidelines for a while and take their time about where God wants them, or even what this whole journey is about. And it is not the same place necessarily for you and me.

If the playing field is undulating, we have 3 choices: work to make it level, find a new field, or find a way to make the differences part of the experience.

Parity with the States

I am a Canadian. I grew up in a great church that I always called evangelical because it was active in helping its people share their faith. It aligned itself with the edge of Protestantism that places a personal relationship with Jesus as a priority. There is a part of me that has always seen the church as bigger than just the building and place I was in. Involvement in camps and a para-church organization in those years helped me to appreciate the universal church - the one that exists around the world.

I am a Canadian. As I look at some of the discussions around the emerging church, and mega churches and philosophies of ministry and such, I am reminded of some differences between the American Church and my experiences in the true north (strong and free). Evangelicalism is much more political south of the border. Though we may have Christians in the political realm we are not considered a "Christian nation" and our desire to keep a specific faith out of governmental life is much more prominent and acceptable than the US. The American disenchantment with church (the structure has become the end in and of itself, rather thean the means to an end) is not the Canadian experience. We have our churches that are more social clubs than anything. We have our health and wealth churches where the ultimate pyramid scheme allows the pastor at the top to attain much fortune; but the "evangelical" church for the most part understands its mission to fulfill the great commission. We have more issues in being a pluralistic society - like Israel entering the promised land and not being synchratistic (absorbing other faiths into their own so they ended up with a spiritual blend of many faiths).

We are Canadians. We like our hockey and Grey Cup (though not as rah! rah! rah! as those to the south - Go! Riders! Go!) but we are not so keen on megachurches - 300-500 max is what most Canadians are comfortable in (and our biggest church is a multi-site church so it is still a collection of smaller "churches" - http://www.themeetinghouse.ca/).

All this is to say that we as Canadians in the church are emerging from a different place than our American brothers and sisters are. Our discussions and understanding of certain words will come from a slightly different perspective. Our churches look different. Our reactions are to different things, and we react in different ways. We are a lot more skeptical of leaders (maybe that is why we never grow too big). We don't like to buck the status quo, and God seems to be doing something in the church, from the inside out.

Relationships have always been at the heart of true ministry, always will be; and Grace is more important than we will ever understand.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Practically can mean "almost there for all intents and purposes", or it could refer to "something connected to the outworking of everyday life" (almost pragmatic in a sense). Being I am a pastor in a church from the Wesleyan tradition I'll let you decide my intent.

I do want to discuss some of the issues appearing on blogs about church, the emerging church, discipleship issues, and maybe some key people in movements and the like. I will also post the occasional sermon.

I am the pastor at Louise Street Community Church (www.saskatoonnazarene.org) in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. At this time of writing we have approximately 40 people on a Sunday morning, 80% of whom are older than 50. We had a lady turn 93 and another one 92 in October.