Every year, ministers in the United Reformed Church attend a Spring/ Summer school. This year is an opportunity to consider with colleagues what is means to be part of the ‘Leadership team’ in URC churches in the 21st century. .
The speaker‘s opening words caught my attention, ‘Leadership .. is a risky place to be ,for if you are too near the edge you can fall off into chaos, and if you are not on the edge you solidify and become stagnant’.
In past years, church members have been associated with the Church from cradle to grave ( many over 60 and 70 years), absorbed faith knowledge and then repeated it. Hence the phrase, it’s always worked, it was fine for me, so why change ? Change can mean uncertainty and anxiety, but if we are to be on the edge, then change must happen. By that I mean not just about Church buildings, but about a change of heart and understanding of what it means to be a disciple and be a relevant church in today’s society.
The question was posed that being ‘church on the edge’, means that we must appreciate that society has changed. In the last 40yrs, Medical knowledge has increased, so too has Technology, Engineering and of course Theology. We live in an age where we have a choice, and vital to our choosing is discussion and discernment. Alongside that is journeying with people, who are trying to find out what God means to them, through discussion not blind acceptance.
Its seems to me that being in ‘Shared Leadership in Churches (and by that I just don’t just mean the minister but the whole appointed Eldership as well) can easy be perceived as ‘Management’, however management is about problem solving. Leadership asks the question .. why are we doing this and is it the right thing to further the Kingdom of God..
For the church to have a viable future, the Gospel must not just be spoken about , but to be lived out, where forgiveness and inclusivity changes lives, and so transformation to hope and wholeness can be visibly seen.
I have no answers, save that I know that I believe the people of God need to know they are beloved and treasured by God, and that the rebuilding of trust, restoring confidence and renewing of hope must happen. I am grateful for David Grosch Miller for his thoughtful reflections, however he left a challenging call to all of us … we are called to be, not just pastors…. but prophets. I am grateful he used Moses in Exodus as an example of Leadership, with all his faults, flawed humanity and hesitations, he trusted God.
God who led your people out of slavery to a land flowing with milk and honey,
We pray that you would lead us to the edge,
Not so we can fall into chaos, but we can see the true landscape ahead of us
Be in our minds that we may reflect on issues of faith with clarity
Be in our mouths that we may speak words that bring wholeness
Be in our steps , so we may walk alongside the edge with confidence knowing you are there to hold us and guide us.
We ask this in Jesus name