No, I’m Serious…

crepe04 Connected with some friends today and momentarily slipped into an old familiar story.

I’ve had this idea for a really long time about how leadership in the Church is supposed to work. I’ve spoken it out loud a few times since we started the church here. Usually the conversation goes pretty
much the same way every time. Just like today.

Most Sundays, when I’m behind a mic and welcoming folks to our gathering, I make a point to introduce myself by saying, “…I’m Brian, one of the leaders here at Community Church.” It’s funny how relieved some people are by that little phrase, it’s even funnier how irritated others are. My friend Greg likes to say I’m just “another Bozo on the bus.” Far from disrespectful, I’m grateful. In fact the greatest introduction I can get is, “This is my friend Brian.” As opposed to “This is my pastor…” Yuk.

I believe with all my heart and head that I’m privileged to be surrounded by leaders in our community. I also believe with both of those sweet spots that leadership in the Church has always been meant to be flat. Flat as a crepe.

“But there has to be someone who everyone knows ‘the buck stops here’.” Really? Why? What happens if there isn’t? I’ve had good friends, including my wife, question my sanity on this one. But when I look back at the early days of the church I don’t see a “Buck Stopper”. Why do we suddenly need one now?

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About brianmpei

Stumbling towards what comes next.
This entry was posted in Christianity, Church, emerging church, God, Leadership, Relationship, religion and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to No, I’m Serious…

  1. BrianD says:

    While I can agree in a broad sense that we don’t need a “buck stopper” now, I must be misundertanding your thesis about the early church. I can count several of them who were the “go to” guys whenever there was conflict or a course correction was needed. We still need someone to fill that role, but there are many people who have the capability of fulfilling it.

  2. brianmpei says:

    BrianD, I would suggest there were all kinds of “go to” men and women but no “buck stopper”. The council at Jerusalem was called to come up with suggestions for integrating Gentiles into the Church, not an individual, not even “the apostles”. Peter, Paul, James, Jude and John all wrote letters and addressed specific issues in specific churches but none of these men were perceived by the early church as “buck stoppers”. Even a casual reading of Paul’s letters reveals that not everyone in the church agreed with him or followed his advice on dealing with issues. And to borrow Paul’s analogy, the body only needs one head. Today we’ve created multiple heads in multiple systems of government for the church. Ultimately I think this has undermined both ekklesia and koinonia.

    I would suggest that we’ve left behind Jesus’ approach, “Who do men say that I am?” “Who do you say that I am?” to a more Greek approach, ie. “Let me tell you who Jesus is…” We think it’s about destination (Greek) and forgotten that the journey (Hebrew/Celt) is just as important.

    I realize I’m branching off now from the main point but I think that’s the effect of “buck stopper” thinking. It begins to affect everything from how we relate to how we read and interpret the Bible. If Peter or Paul were the “buck stoppers”, persecution would have worked. Kill the leader, scatter the flock. Only it didn’t.

    I’m not suggesting “leadership” isn’t a gift, it clearly is and we need leadership in various ways for the Church to function. But providing leadership is entirely different from “being in charge.”

    And this is too long of a response. I’ll post more on this. Would love for you to feel free to disagree and help me thinks this through more.

  3. Billy M says:

    Brian, I absolutely love what you write. I stop by here regularly and I’m always left with lots to think about. Good stuff of course, thanks so much for that.

    Church leadership is something I’ve never really understood or appreciated as much as now when I’m actually living it as part of my identity and purpose. Especially right now, one of the hardest things is finding close friends as a spiritual leader in ministry. Sometimes leadership feels like a barrier that I wish wasn’t there. Sometimes I just want to be Billy and not just the youth guy. I guess I’m learning that balance is key and that having real friends in the church and even outside is so important. Sounds like you and Greg have that figured out… all craziness set aside… it’s definitely something I’m learning to be thankful for as the Lord continues to bless me with some great friends and some quality brothers. And you bet I’m echoing the blessing it is to be called someone’s “friend” when you are a pastor.

    Hope you are doing well in the land of the red mud… I think of you often here in Saskatoon and it’s great to catch a glimpse of your journey and thoughts through these random ramblings that I think are pretty sweet.

    Oh, and you should know that there are glimpses of you in so many things that I do in youth ministry. Thanks for pioneering the $5 Challenge, circa 1995. They love it.

  4. brianmpei says:

    Hey Billy, thanks for stopping by. Having a group of leaders in youth group like you has had a lot to do with forming my ideas about leadership. I’ll keep praying that God adds to your circle out there!

  5. BrianD says:

    Hi Brian, sorry it has taken so long to respond. I think you and I really do agree on the point of leadership. We just don’t say it the same way. Jesus spent three years training the apostles to be leaders in His footsteps. They were all very definately leaders and trained other leaders to be like themselves. That is how we got where we are today. So the only “buck stopper” is in Heaven at the moment. I think God’s intention is for all of us to also be leaders.

    The problem with that is that people that come into our lives and into our churches are looking for that one person to be the leader, the buck stopper, and the face of the church. That is human nature. You can’t escape that. The best we hope for is to be surrounded by other great leaders who are an integral part of the team and they will see that as well. It sounds like you have that leadership team in place.

  6. brianmpei says:

    BrianD, couldn’t agree with you more, that is indeed human nature! The key for leaders who follow Jesus is to resolutely refuse the role that others insist we fill.

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