It always seems that Christians are 20 years behind… a new music style comes out, like rock and roll, and “the church” deplores it before eventually incorporating it. Everything from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People all the way through to wisdom from other religious systems… Christians face an internal conflict about how we should listen to such things.
The important distinction to make is that no idea, meme, saying, style or strategy comes in a vacuum. They all come with a system of thought behind them; the author has an intended philosophy. So, when Getting Things Done author, David Allen says, “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything” there’s a system of thought behind that, a philosophy of self-fulfilment and personal value. When Buddha is quoted as saying, “No matter how hard the past, you can always start again” that’s the tip of an iceberg of an entire philosophical understanding of our own person and the world.
This means that Christians need to mis-read these ideas. That is, we need to take them out of the context and philosophy they were written from, and then discern if we can say and think them from our own biblical point of view.
So when Mr Allen says, “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything”, I am reminded that Jesus uses all sorts of people to achieve his ends in the world, and I may be one of them in ways I don’t even know. And I’m also reminded that Jesus is the one who makes things grow, and that he is the sovereign lord of everything who I can rest in. I re-interpret the intended meaning of the wisdom.
In other words, Christians read worldly-wisdom wrong… by seeing if it can be a helpful application of our own system of thought… and that’s right.
At least for that time they lead and love the Sunday gathering, your MC should have the authority to make the calls they think need to be made… cut a song, do an extra prayer, cut and ad, change the song order mid-service, even tell the preacher they’ll need to rush through their talk (although I imagine something would have had to have gone seriously wrong for that – but the principle still holds).
See, if you’re going to hold them responsible for the meeting being an encouragement to those there, you need to give them the reigns. From 10mins before the meeting starts to the moment the meeting ends, for everything to do with the meeting, the MC should have the right to make the call he thinks is best. Even if the Pastor thinks its the wrong call at the time, that’s usually something that can be discussed later.
This is a pretty simple one. If you’re appointing someone to do something that you’re normally responsible for, you don’t just explain that to them. You need to explain it to everyone else too.
If you’ve asked someone to organise a weekend away, you have to tell everyone that they’re doing it on your authority and they they are the organiser.
If you’ve asked someone to take over the kids program, you have to tell the parents that they are the go-to person if they have questions.
Otherwise, people will assume you haven’t appointed them, and they’ll just keep going back to you.
It’s really important that we separate disagreeing from devaluing. Being disagreed with does not mean that we’re being devalued.
Just because my boss doesn’t agree with me, that doesn’t mean he devalues me. Just because a husband decides against his wife’s advice that doesn’t mean he devalues her. In fact, the Father doesn’t even devalue the divine Son when, after the Son says “take this cup from me”, the father implicitly says “no”.
The issue is that disagreement is something we can see, but devaluing is something we can’t see because it happens inside people’s hearts. We can’t see whether other people are devaluing us or not. Therefore, we should never accuse someone of devaluing us, because there’s no way of proving it. You can ask them, but that’s all you can do.
If they say, “No way!! I totally value you. I just don’t agree with you on this point” then you have to take their word for it. That also means we should attempt to stop feeling devalued because that feeling isn’t based on anything real, we’ve just been disagreed with.
Scott Parry-Jones from EV helped us think about this. There are two ways to think about how your leading others; the authority continuum, and the discussion continuum.
The authority continuum ranges from “I have all the authority” right over to “I’m giving you all the authority”. Another way of seeing this is the former being “You will do exactly what I do, no questions, no creativity” and the later being “You can do whatever you want, be as creative as you want”.
The discussion continuum ranges from “We’re not going to discuss this often at all; maybe an email every now and then.” all the way over to “We’re going to discuss this all the time; weekly meetings and whenever we get the chance!”
Where does your “natural” leadership style fit on each continuum? How do you prefer to lead people?
What about being led? How do you prefer to be lead? How much Authority do you like being given? How much discussion do you like being brought in on?
The more I think about this, the more important this issues seems to be, yet I can’t remember anyone’s thoughts on it (apart from my own team).
If the NT has a place for people in authority in church, and calls on Christians to submit to those in authority over them (in the church), what is the grounds of that authority? How do people get in authority?
Let me suggest 3 ways that “could” happen…
1. Formally Appointed Authority
Paul tells Timothy to appoint elders. Churches should appoint leaders of groups and, I believe, projects (like in Acts 6). The church should submit to these leaders because they have been given a responsibility to teach/decide/plan/etc.
2. Informally Assumed Authority
This is when someone steps up into a gap where there is no existing authority, or the existing authority has left a gap in leadership. These are the people who see a need, whether a person or a tool, and begin to provide that need. It comes from a servant’s heart, wanting to help people. A basic example might be you arrive at church, and the guy appointed to run setup is sick, so you say, “ok everyone, lets do it like this”
3. Informally Offered Authority
This is when people in the congregation give respect and honour (aspects of authority) to someone who they think highly of; maybe someone older, or who has been in a position of teaching authority in the past. This person may not be seeking this authority, nor putting their hand up for it, but they get given if none the less.
So, think through your congregation. Who have you formally appointed to have authority? Who are the people who assume authority? Do you want those people to do that? How do you encourage/discourage it? Who gets given authority? Should they get it? They are potentially the most valuable and yet dangerous people to the kingdom.