If anything is going to take root within a church family it is going to have to be modeled and celebrated by the leadership. This is true for everything but particularly true of Christian Community. Increasingly it is becoming more and more evident that people simply do not know how to relate to one another. This is not shocking given that the fall drastically affected normal human-to-human and human-to-God relationships. With that being the case the church leadership needs to reflect a positive and healthy relationship to one another. In this post I will briefly state two helps and one challenge that should or will accompany Christian Community among the church leadership.
- Don’t force it. Here is a true truth, not everyone is going to be best friends. My generation (Millennials) and probably others deal with this reality in the most unsettling way. From observation I am convinced that we try to collect friends as an attempt to validate our own existence. We have no desire to be friends, but only that everyone is our friend. We put unreasonable expectations on each other and then create relational tension when those expectations are not met. As leaders in a church we must accept the reality that everyone will not be best friends. The elders, deacons and staff should get along, they should encourage each other and they should spur one another on toward a more Christ like way of life but they will not all watch football together every week. At one time I assumed everyone knew this but it is time that we state this outright. More importantly, if you serve in a church leadership role, whether one I just listed or a Small Group leader, or a Student Ministry worker etc., you must come to the conviction that you can be in community with another person without being their BFF. For instance, if you are on staff at a church, do not assume you will be the pastor’s best friend. You may not. Assuming that will create all kinds of tension. The same goes for the pastor’s wife. My approach has always been to create environments in which the leadership have an opportunity to build relationships. Some of those will develop deeper and wider due to Divine Providence and common interest. Those are the relationships that exceed any sort of assigned partnerships. There are implications here for other avenues such as Mentorships, Leadership Development and Discipleship but that is another post.
- Do not be afraid to model it. Some Church Leadership I know are afraid to model their community to the church as a whole because they are worried it may be conceived as elitism (more on that in a moment). This is a bad idea, you are robbing yourself of a tool that could be used to spur on Christian Community in the church family as a whole. Let them see you all joking and hanging together. You ought to paint a desirable picture of what they might have or strive for in their workplace and relational circles. Don’t neglect to model both the joy and the hardship. It may be appropriate as the preaching pastor to share on occasion a time when you were challenged, corrected or had your attitude adjusted by a ‘subordinate’.
- Don’t stop because of others insecurities. As I mentioned before there is a high likelihood that some within the church will see the leadership in Christian Community and will construe that to be a form of elitism. It will flesh out primarily in two ways. Some will aspire to be part of that and will force themselves into the ‘power huddle’, as they see it. Others will vilanize the leadership and speak poorly of them all as if they are in cahoots or one collective persona. Combat that with direct teaching and correction. When you stumble upon these attitudes simple point at that any group that works closely on a common mission will naturally grow closer. Model an attitude of acceptance and let all leadership in, don’t exclude the lower leadership or create unreasonable divisions. Don’t be exclusive yourself. I have nearly always, as a pastor, lead a Small Group. The small group is my usually my closer friends. We bond as a small group. None of the staff are in my small group. This dual role for me has always allowed me to stay above that fray. I am available to a wide range of people in an appropriate manner. I do not expect everyone on staff, or in leadership to be my best friend exclusively, nor do I expect that of the members of my small group. I simply minister and encourage others to do the same. The key here is not to allow the fear that someone will get upset to keep you from doing and being what God created you to be.
Christian Community is hard in any setting but it will be nearly impossible if it is not valued by the leadership of the local church.
Published July 28, 2016