Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Leadership and Church
One great misconception about the Church is that is to be the place where people go to “find God.” It is natural to think this way in a consumer society, where it seems you can always go somewhere to find what you’re looking for. The Church is the place to go to find God.From a Reformed perspective, one could argue that this is an extension of the priestly mindset that the Reformation sought to overcome. But that thought conforms what I have thought all along - the Reformation is far more a political ecclesiastical event draped in theology for public consumption than a theological event.
Except — everything in the Bible protests against that notion. For God is Creator of the world, the Giver and Sustainer of life. In him we live and move and have our being, and he is not far from any of us. The idea that there are particular places where we go to access God, specific places where God “lives,” waiting for us to come and find him, is the essence of idolatry not genuine faith.
For spiritual seekers, churches and faith communities function (or should function) more like signposts, pointing their neighbors to the God who made them, who knows them, who is at work already in their lives, and who loves the ordinariness of their daily worlds every bit as much as he delights to hear praises in the sanctuary.
For people of faith, who have found a home in the Church, this means learning to view our gatherings as only a small part of the story. For God is with us, close to us, speaking and working as much when we scatter into our communities to work and play as he is when we come together. We do not “leave the world” to “come into God’s presence.” I am not denying that there is something special about how God meets his people in worship, especially in the Word and Sacraments, but I am protesting the common assumption that our services are somehow more “sacred” than our daily lives.
Unfortunately, local churches try to make hay on this bad theology all the time.
People need leaders - they always have and they always will. Thus there will always be centers of power. The problem arises when leadership becomes lazy and relies on forms of leadership instead the personal attributes of a leader. Church should be a place that leaders go out from, not a place that lazy leaders call people to.
If the church wants to survive it does not need to do better institutional stuff, it needs to begin to raise up real, genuine and not lazy leaders. Leaders to whom leadership comes naturally and not by virtue of place or office. Ca we do that?