Thursday, 19 March 2009

who wins, or what wins?

Next week I’m off to the States to join in with a grandly entitled ‘International Research Consortium' on the future for the Missional Church for 3 days followed by another 3 day ‘think-tank’ – again around the missional church theme. I have to say I am looking forward to it – not last because papers will brought from a whole variety of contexts including European – Sweden, Holland and Germany. Anyway, Pat Keifert, who invited me, was the guy who I heard say ‘ leadership for most Ministers is about who wins’.

Now, arriving home from BU Council – thanks Alisdair for driving straight home (we had a slight detour en route, but just to help anyone else travelling to Swanwick there are two main Conference Centres run by the same group. So make sure you put the right postcode in your Sat Nav!!! It was, however, a chance for a good chat.)

-       I’ve been thinking ‘who wins, or what wins?’

We've been meeting up with the group of our Ministers who lead Churches over 150 in membership. Why 150? Well it’s often been suggested that when you get around this number, any system which depends upon pretty much everything revolving solely around one person, begins to fall down. It certainly cannot be one size fits all IF we are to enable that Church to grow significantly beyond. Beyond that, my take is, you need to follow the vision (what) and not the leader (who). You’ll begin to se the significant difference if you try and play out a few scenarios.

One of the big talking points in my networks over recent years has been ….. what’s happening to the good old days – when you couldn’t predict the winners of the League, FA Cup and anything else (Champions League included?) from four teams. There have been many gains since the inception of the Premier League (a wonderful array of stars on our pitches week-by-week, improved stadiums (although I’d still prefer to stand on the Kop), more money to do things). But who are the real winners and to what extent has the what (football) suffered? Even world football seems to be dominated by personalities (FIFA sounds as bad as the IOC), UEFA policy seems to be determined by the President) and the English scene is dominated by individuals whether they be the new owners, or managers. David Beckham, of course, is a nice bloke and a good (not great, but I’m biased) footballer, but what’s happened to the what (football) when the who (player) determines his last three moves (Real, Galaxy & AC Milan) for other than football reasons?

So who won at BU Council? That’s for anyone there to ponder and frankly, I don’t care, unless 'what' wins becomes clear. I believe we are in a strategically vital place as a whole denomination because we are in a position now where we can actually decide to tip the weight of our relating and resourcing in different directions. We can actually return to something of our roots, I believe, and become a movement of churches engaged in the mission of God (the what, for me). That, if it were to happen, means initiating, establishing, releasing, resourcing, sustaining, growing healthy churches. This wont happen by building grand institutions called associations (I work for one), but by recalling why local churches created them in the first instance. Neither will it happen if we (the ‘who’ – no not Roger Daltrey et al) get in the way. My big anxiety (well one of them) is whether we have too much invested in 'what' we've created than 'who' God created us to become.

The good news is Emily’s bag (above) turned up in Brazil

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