I say emerging twice in this post, without laughing...

Editors Note:
this is a continuation of a comment I started on Tophers blog. I started to address this point, and found that it really needed the space of a separate post to do it justice. Please read the original subject first.

The leadership and decision making modes of the church have, to an extent, always mirrored some secular leadership and decision making formulas. And to look at any particular form of government for a body of believers and point to it as the reason that God stopped working through them is faulty logic.

The early church modeled the Jewish Synagogue tradition of a council of learned elders(Gal 2:7-10, Paul came before the people who were looked upon as pillars of the new Christan community, and most knowledgeable of the work and life of Jesus).

Later, the Roman church modeled the Roman state, and that has lasted to this day. With a top-down, authoritarian mode of decision-making and accountability, the Roman Catholic church gives us an idea of how the Roman government would have functioned, in ideals, at least. The college of Cardinals could easily be the Roman Senate. And the Pope and Emperor are clearly distinguishable as analogous, up to the point where the ancient Roman Emperor was considered either God himself, or the earthly voice of god.

The Reformation provided a place where emerging leadership styles could again bear on the church. The Presbyterians mimic the Scottish Clan or Town Meeting government styles, with a smaller group of people electing their representatives, who then go on to gather as a group and elect a next level, etc.

The Congregationalist form of government/leadership came about as democratic principles were being established throughout Europe. The Anabaptists(one of the first to practice congregationalism) were famous and reviled for their disdain for any formal structure other than the votes of the congregation. And even here we see a relic of past secular government. Only Members, and until recently only male Members(but not the males member) could have a say in Congregationalist government. Like the way that only Citizens of the town, members of the union, or landholding free men could have a say in their secular government. It is not a coincidence that the method of handling church government is about 5-50 years behind popular and emerging leadership styles.

My point is that throughout history, God moves in spite of our leadership style. There have been many great things accomplished for the Kingdom by churches governed a variety of ways. And the thing is, the style of government is only there to help those who don't have true Eternal vision. And before you get haughty about how you have eternal vision, I capitalized that on purpose. You(whoever you are) cannot see eternally, as in actually view history as if it were a road winding through the countryside, and you were on a hill. Because we can’t do that, and have to rely on the Holy Spirit to communicate to use that there is a turn ahead, we need government to keep things from falling apart between turns. Because I don’t know about you, but the time when people usually steer with their knees, while they put on makeup or eat a sammich, is not when driving through a series of turns. It’s when they are on a straight highway, and think that they don’t need to actually work at steering.

And by having a form of government, any form, we give ourselves the form to make sure that things don’t fall apart on us while we’re busy turning a corner. And there really is no problem at all with the varied form of government mentioned if everyone involved was daily walking in the Word and accountable to others. If the pope were accountable to the college of cardinals in a personal sense, if the form of Pope to cardinal to bishop to priest to individual was infused with Spirit Filled Christ followers top to bottom, THERE WOULD BE NO NEED FOR PROTESTANT AND CATHOLIC. It’s not the forms of government that are faulty; it’s the people in them.

Please note that this is not a specific attack on specific people. This is a continuation of discussion about a the idea/ideals of leadership started by Topher's post.


Mike said...

I particularly enjoyed this post. Thank you Aaron.


Chris Dugan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Chris Dugan said...

I agree that it's always going to come down to the people and what their motivations are but couldn't it also be said that certain structures might foster certain undesirable elements (i.e. pride, exclusivity, control, etc)?

It's been said that the best form of government (secular or otherwise) is a benevolent dictatorship—a ruler with ultimate authority, good intentions, and a keen sense of right and wrong is going to get the most right things done in the most efficient manner. The problem is that never, ever happens because people are selfish idiots.

Which of course leads us out of our "people's intentions are what counts" discussion right back into our debate on specific governance models. It's boring, it doesn't seem like it should matter very much, and it might seem like an issue of "cultural context" but I personally don't think it is.

Ben J said...

1) intent counts for crap

2) there is a large gap between adhering to cultural leadership models and following through on those leadership models with wisdom, humility and sound judgment

3) Why can't we cart people?

Cox said...

Chris, I'm arguing that the issue is the people, not the leadership concept. I think every leadership paradigm is going to have it's own inherent weeknessess and pitfalls. The point where one system will be more attractive to you than another will be based on the pitfalls/potential weekness that most alarms or concerns you. And cultural context is only important if the content is truth.

Ben, while your point is correct, "intent counts for crap," Topher was just trying to summarize the idea. The whole point I'm trying to get across is that it's the people doing the actual leading and ministry, not their leadership style and ministry style, that matters. I'll follow up on this thought tomorrow, so don't go off on me too much just yet.

Cox said...

Oh yeah, I never said we can't cart people. Cart as many people as you want, homie. I got your back on this one?

Ben J said...

i didn't mean any hostility with my "intent counts for crap" thought... it just does though.

Chris Dugan said...

Okay but what if the person doing the leadership has placed himself willingly into a system of dictating orders and exhibiting tight controls. Does that not tell me something about what kind of view of the church body he might have?

I guess mostly what I object to is writing this all off as mere "style". As though debating how Christ works through his church is analogous to what kind of clothes the pastor wears or what kind of communion wafers a church uses. Certainly God can still move and work through bad systems and structures, but that doesn't make those systems and structures ideal—or right.

MamaD said...

My two cents:

Jesus Christ is the head of the church. (Eph. 5:23)

Everyone else is body--this includes leaders, teachers, givers, servers, encouragers (Romans 12 and many other passages)

And, God speaks to each believer through the Holy Spirit (and of course his Word, his creation, other people, donkeys, etc. but I mean here, we don't have to go through a priest to have access to God anymore).

It seems to me that any governance system that honors those things would be a good one.

Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. I Corinthians 11:3