Part 1 of this short 2 part series on leadership development in the North American church can be found here: How Leadership Development is Crippling the Church.
Leadership development is a mainstay in contemporary church development and with it the production of specific kinds of leaders built to largely manage the function of the institutional church. Over the past century churches have shifted from the parish model and size, into the mega and corporate function we have today. Organizational structures have had to change out of necessity. Those changes brought an erroneous assumption to fix the rising problem of crumpling Christendom: mobilize enough leaders, and the church will in turn grow. Or to put it in another way: solve the leadership problem thru leadership training, and more people will be able to run more church programs. In theory this might work, but there are problems. Namely, the KIND of leader we develop is the same: we build managers (we call them shepherds).
Mangers keep the ship afloat by running programs in the institution. In this model growth becomes entirely dependent on the quality of programming and not the people (the church). This is the main reason why leadership development hasn’t halted the decline of Christianity: it opts for managing what’s left rather than dreaming for what’s to come.
We need a people shift in our ‘leadership development’ that focuses on an end result of wholistic discipleship as ultimate goal, not capable parts in the churning engine. Here’s some ideas moving forward.
Problem is, most churches aren’t being lead to think beyond maintenance. The race is to be the biggest and it’s altered the way we develop people. We aren’t so much interested in how people embody the Gospel in their lives, as we are how often they volunteer for church sponsored ‘ministry’. Popularized by Willow Creek and Co., leadership development has become the de facto tool to address the leadership gap which comes, ironically, at the expense of formative discipleship. Some see leadership and discipleship interchangeably, but they are very distinct. [tweetthis=]Leadership development seeks to create a useful cog in a machine. Discipleship is a formative process that develops depth in a person for creative purpose rather than strategic function.[/tweetthis]
We have a shortage of disciples AND we have a shortage of disciples who <strong>are NOT</strong> shepherds or teachers. As a whole, the church in North America lacks healthy apostolic leaders; the prophets who are the movers and shakers; and our gifted evangelists who have resorted to an existence away in the missionary field. (Much has been written on the strategic implementation of these ideas, particularly the APEST models developed by Hirsch and Co.)
The overall disintegration of Christianity is a result of the lack of discipleship which is only exacerbated by the continued proliferation of ‘leadership’ development that generates effective leaders who maintain the status quo. If we’re disintegrating then we can’t have a system in place that defaults to maintain and settle for what’s left. By the way, I don’t think leadership development is the root problem, rather, it has been developed to accommodate the real problem–consumer Christianity.
[tweetthis]We may have kickstarted leadership renaissance, but it’s come at the expense of wholistic discipleship.[/tweetthis]
Solution? We need depth in relationship which is spearheaded by gathering in proximity.
Living the character of Jesus as paramount pursuit means a measure we all too often ignore: whether this person (or persons) can (and does) love one another and love thy neighbour. Once we have our praxis down the next step is gathering those people around the multiple gifts (as per Ephesians 4) rather than trying to find the one charismatic leader. But we can only find out who’s participating in the preview of Kingdom coming if we’re around to watch and live with one another on pursuit.
It’s just a dream, but we’re not far off from making it real.