For many among the emerging or self-described reforming church there lies at the back of their mouth a bitter taste that their taste buds tell them is leadership. For some, they have tried to get rid of this bitter taste by sticking their fingers to the back of their mouth and, in process, have gagged themselves often to the point of seeing their lunch again. Any time that you see your lunch for the second time you know that something has gone horribly wrong.
The truth is that in many cases leadership has indeed left a bitter aftertaste for some and, much to the delight of local media, has even at times gone disgustingly sideways. People are naturally becoming more and more wary and less and less trusting of their leadership; whether at work, in the political arena, at church, or otherwise. Leadership, it seems, has become to the churched, disoriented churched, and maybe even the unchurchable a word, idea, and system that does not allow for honest community. Why? Because we don’t trust leadership. And so we do not trust.
The backsplash that surrounds the leadership sink is a ‘popular among the emerging church’ idea that suggests we can have leaderless church and leaderless structural organizations. If you are one of these ‘bad aftertaste’ people then this is a really sexy idea because now there is no leader and there is a group of people who are gathered around a common cause. Sounds good doesn’t it? Too bad that it actually doesn’t work.
Most often the leaderless organization is set up as a backlash to an existing ‘personality driven’ style of leadership. However, leaderless leadership (yes I recognize the oxymoron) and over zealous personality driven leadership are both at unhealthy ends of the same continuum. The goal is neither a leaderless leadership nor a one man band leadership but rather a type of connected matrix of leadership.
Leaderless organization is a very appealing ideal that at first tries to pass itself off to the eager consumers as very community driven. The problem is that the consumers of this ideal are likely more selfish-driven then community-driven. Let me generalize; proponents of leaderless organization often struggle with submitting to authority. In fact, leaderless organizations actually perpetuate personality driven leadership because someone will eventually emerge as ‘the leader’ and, because there are no other leaders or leadership development, the organization will become focused on that emerged leader.
Leaderless church can quickly become the very thing that it was trying to avoid.
Leaderless church rejects one of God’s spiritual gifts to the church; leadership.
What else will a leaderless church reject? God himself? Maybe.
There is a fear out there that says we must not base our ministry on a specific person; we don’t want personality driven ministries. Leaderless leadership structures do not fix this. Yes, I would much rather a group rally around a cause and not rally around a person…but what proponents of leaderless organization do not recognize is that there still needs to be some rallying people to a cause.
technorati tags: leadership, emerging leadership, church leadership