If You’re the Gatherer, You’re the Decider


It happens all the time.

You’ve surveyed the landscape. You’ve seen a gaping hole. You’ve become agitated, unable to tolerate the absence of a vital community thriving in that unoccupied space.

Not one to go on wishing without acting, you forge a community around a vision you’ve articulated to bring the needed communal presence into that space. People gather. The space begins to be be filled. A culture develops. Something special is happening.

And then someone passionately, vociferously wants a different sort of culture in that same space with those same people. The people you’ve gathered. In the place you’ve gathered them.

You’re too nice to be mean.

You value input, so you can’t write people off. You insisted on shared ownership, so you can’t divest participants of their stake without being a hypocrite. And maybe you’re a people pleaser, so you can’t quite bolster the courage to take a stand for your values over this other person’s values.

But, if truth be told, it feels almost as though this member of your community is attempting to hi-jack the people you’ve gathered and the culture you’ve nurtured and take it in a radically different direction.

It’s not every day that Gardens Don’t Launch pulls a line of wisdom from George W. Bush. But today we do.

You’re the gatherer. So you’re the decider.

Pillaging is easier than gardening.

It is very, very hard to gather people. If you’re the church planter, then you’ve taken a bold and risky move by staking this thing that everyone else calls a “career” (but you’re not allowed to because it doesn’t sound spiritual) on the success of a venture that everyone else can walk away from without missing a fiscal beat. In a “real business”, the other people in the organization call these heavily-invested pioneers “boss”.

Ultimately, you need to be ready and willing to pull the culture-hijacker aside and lovingly but firmly make the very point I’ve just made in this post. Liberate them to begin something new and gather a fresh group of people in an unoccupied space if they are provoked like you were when you started cultivating the present community.

Don’t allow someone to dismantle the community you’ve gathered and the culture you’ve nurtured, however pure their intentions.

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5 thoughts on “If You’re the Gatherer, You’re the Decider

  1. Well spoken, Andy. I would say that while I don’t necessarily disagree with your analogy of the pastor as a boss, I would say that caution should be exercised in taking that analogy too far. The pastor is a shepherd, not a boss per se. A boss is a manager who is responsible for managing his employees (who are paid, whereas church members pay the pastor) toward accomplishing tasks for the completion of a goal. While there is overlap and similarities, these two positions (careers?) are very different in both their function and nature.

    Secondly, I appreciate the sensitivity with which you address “that person” in your church. His behavior could be symptomatic of sin; a wolf among God’s sheep, for which you are responsible as a pastor to protect God’s sheep. Or it could be that his behavior could be symptomatic of his gifting. He sees a direction, has a vision, and is working to bring that to completion. In which case, I love what you offered as a solution, “Liberate them to begin something new and gather a fresh group of people in an unoccupied space.”

    In short, you have the work of a pastor to do.

    • Hey Mario, thanks for the thoughtful reply. I wasn’t at all suggesting that the pastor is a boss. I was only drawing the analogy between someone to risks their career as an entrepreneur and a church planter.

    • But you’re right. “Pastor” is actually a very apt metaphor in the end. Sometimes I feel like “pastor” is overused in the church considering the fact that it is not a prevalent word in the New Testament. I also think that The Ephesians chapter 4 offices are not really offices (at least in the first instance) but roles and giftings. Apostles prophets evangelists shepherds teachers. But in this case you’re absolutely right. If there’s a wolf, the shepherd protects the sheep from it.

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