Parish Council is a real joy in this church. It is a group that leads the parish well. They have good instincts and they know that their work is about carving a direction for the community of God. "The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been." Those words of Henry Kissinger are fitting for the parish council. They should be true of every church council, including the Diocesan Council and the Deanery Councils. People who take positions of leadership have to reflect on who they are in the context of leadership, and further what they are called to be.
When I reflect on where we have been in this parish and see where we are now, it is clear that those who have served in leadership roles here have taken the bull by the horns and have lead the people to a new place. Thankfully, we have a visionary group of people who realise there is still plenty of journey ahead.
Church should never be static. Too many of our communities are locked into old styles of leadership and outdated modes of being. Many communities give credence to the expression that the Anglican’s are God’s “Frozen Chosen.” Leadership is viewed in these instances as a process of protecting where we are, maintaining the dignity of the place from whence we came. Leaders are often arguing why things cannot be done. They are forced to police and protect. Their role is reduced to a defensive one. I believe there is no place for that in the church. The old leadership paradigm has to go – here’s why:
- God does not need protecting. God will do a find job with that God’s self. I am amused at times at how very much humans feel that Jesus needs to be protected. God is a big boy/girl who has no problem dealing with issues that others feel are a threat to God.
- The gospel message is one of profound life and hope. It is a message of freedom and acceptance. It is a message of love. When churches are forced to operate under leadership that is defensive and protective, walls are built and the message of hope is locked in – and sadly in some cases is locked out. I have sadly been a part of church where love was not found. It could not penetrate those walls.
- The epistle of James makes it clear. Faith without works is empty words. Church leadership needs to be about action. Taking people on a journey to a place they have not been cannot happen if all you do is sit on the front porch, bags packed, talking endlessly about how nice your trip will be one day, when you can do it. We are urged in scripture to be a people who go, who do, who feed, who cloth, who wash, who visit, who preach, who teach, who…you get the idea. All of those are actions. Leadership is active – not static. The scriptures implore us to act. Leaders must make the first step.
- Old church leadership that aims to protect usually enforces it policy and guideline with the weapon called fear. This is the chief reason that the old paradigm of church leader must die. I suggest to all of us that fear is an unhealthy means of walking the journey. We are a people of the resurrection – we are a people of faith. We insist that fear will not be the answer. Leadership is about acting in faith and dispelling fear. That is hard to do, when you need it to maintain the status quo.
I am delighted that the people who minister as leaders in our church are not locked into protecting Jesus, holding on to the past, talking endlessly about what might be one day, and are motivated by faith to take bold steps forward instead of being paralysed by fear and not rocking the boat. There are many great things happening at St. Mark’s by-the-Lake. They all can happen because we have good leaders who understand the Kissinger model of leadership. Let’s take a journey to bring people where they have not yet been. This is especially exciting when were not certain of the destination. We will let God be our guide and take the road to which we are led. One thing is for sure – this group will not let us spend all our time looking back to see if everything behind us is the same as it was yesterday. There is far too much to experience on the road ahead to gaze back there to long! Thanks so much to all the guys and gals on Council. You make it fun to minister.