I was at the Church of the Resurrection in Kansas City, Kansas in September. Thursday evening, there was a special program so I hung around campus after the final afternoon session. Sitting at one of the patio tables outside the huge building, I tried to work on Sunday's sermon while simultaneously enjoying the lovely autumn afternoon. It all became a bit more challenging when the lawn service people showed up.
I paused to watch them as they worked. Two were maneuvering what looked like industrial-sized weed whackers. Another swung a large leaf blower around like he’d had lots of practice. The two John Deere vehicles seemed like crosses between Segways and riding mowers. Their riders standing on back looked like they were having a blast zipping over curbs and around parking trees, winding this way and that. But the job got done, and – it seemed – with very few extra runs. They were most efficient.
This seems like a perfect example of what we in the church would love to do, but seldom actually achieve. Often we want to do a new thing but in old ways – ways that are inefficient and part of what made the old things ineffective. Or, we mean to do some good thing, but we get lost in the "how-to" details. I don't know about other denominations but United Methodist Churches has been around long enough to have a fair amount of "red tape." Do we really need to run our idea past this committee and that one? Maybe not; if we know what we're doing and what it requires of the church – members, time, money – maybe we only need to ask one and inform the rest. Too often good ministry doesn't happen because too many people are involved, too many can slow down the process, too many can say "no."
The Accountable Leadership Model seems like an excellent way to revamp our old, comfortable church structures. I attended a workshop last summer and have been reading and considering possibilities since then. In an Accountable Leadership structure. ...
- All church leaders are selected for their discipleship first.
- One group takes the place of all church committees, with the more experienced or knowledgeable ones taking the lead when conversation moves to, say, human relations or stained glass.
- Are so busy with committees or ministry teams that they don't have time actually to be involved in a local mission or ministry; or who
- Believe they're doing enough ministry simply by attending those meetings.
So, anyway, I'm promoting that churches consider whether an accountable leadership model might work for them. It might not work for the largest churches, they may need more structures, but most churches aren't that big. And anything that has the potential to get more of us out outside the church walls and outside our own assumptions ought to be considered. Talk to your (other) church leaders about it.
And blessings in the Christmas season.