Thursday, April 26, 2007

Leading from below

I don't know if others are having this trouble or whether it's a London thing or is unique to us, but we're having real difficulty recruiting and retaining 'leaders'.

I think a major part of the problem is that people aren't sure what's required of them when they are asked to consider it. There's an assumption by an older generation that everyone knows what's involved and an assumption by younger people that it's going to be dull and anyway they haven't got the time even to consider it.

The time thing is an issue - people have less of it because they work longer hours, commute further and have other things they need to attend to (cooking, eating, spending time with family, friends, work colleagues, keeping fit, getting entertained - all of which are important).

So, what to do? Answers on a postcard, please...

The idea I'm mulling over at the moment is turning the way we do leadership on its head (and perhaps bringing it more into line with the New Testament). Instead of looking for people who are not too busy in church and getting them to stand for general leadership roles (the diaconate) and then find them a specialism once they've got used to meeting every month with a bunch of strangers, let's look around the church and see where people are already exercising leadership.

There are lots of them in various areas of the church's life - home groups, kids work of all kinds, building maintenance, technical support on Sundays. There's a small army of people doing jobs and taking initiative in order to do those efficiently. Some of them are even organising small groups to get those jobs done. Now, if that's not leadership, then I'm not sure what is.

I know we want something terribly spiritual - to do with praying and discerning the voice of God and spending hours talking about deep and exalted things. Well, that can be somewhat over-rated. I assume that people doing any role in the church are praying, seeking to discover how God wants them to do it and learning with others about God and how to serve better in this particular role.

Sometimes I wonder if wanting to do something 'spiritual' is actually a cover for not wanting to do anything difficult that might involve relationships and hard work in partnership with others. I don't want to sound unduly cynical (why change the habit of a lifetime I hear you say...?!) but I wonder if we've made leadership harder than it needs to be just so we look desperately important. I wonder if it doesn't just make us look desperate.

So, I'm suggesting to the good folk of our church on Saturday that we do leadership from below. We look at where people are already exercising leadership, recognize what they're doing, get along side them to see if we can resource them in any way to do what they're doing better and then help them recruit others to work with them in a team - a group of experienced people and folk being discipled into a particular role.

I look forward to people's response.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the question needs to be asked: are we bored to tears with church? I'll put my hand up to that, but I don't think many others will. Simon, you also have a problem that people look to you to tell them what Jesus is saying to them in their lives. They don't hear him for themselves neither do they want to make the effort. Walking in the light is a wonderful experience but can also be painful. The further that one walks in the light with others, the more intense the light becomes! there's more - see you Saturday.