Our church’s culture exists within the tension between organism and organization, just like every church should.
Of course, we tend to put the stress on the organismic. We live among and serve a generation that is suspicious of institutions. At the same time, even those who have grown weary of the evangelical subculture’s hyper-institutionalism aren’t fond of being all at sea, especially when it comes to gospel, community, and mission.
How do you make sure that in the organism of your church, you’re still organized enough to stay alive? You need ensure that you’re doing what all living things need: having an identity, having unity within diversity, and playing your role successfully within your host community.
We’ve gravitated toward the language of Up / In / Out. (We stole it from 3dm.)
Up is about our identity in fellowship with Father, Son and Spirit.
In is about our unity within diversity as we fulfill the “one anotherings” of the New Testament.
Out is about our calling to our host community, those we serve in word and deed in Jesus’ name.
What is a leader? One way we look at it in our context is this: a leader is someone who advocates for one of these trajectories (Up, In, Out), and who organizes opportunities for the organism to move deliberately along that trajectory.
So, does a gospel community on mission have a single leader, or shared leadership? Does it veer toward the organismic or organizational? Does it flow freely or does it have structure?
Hopefully you can see that these are not well-framed questions.
The most important thing for me as a leader is not which trajectory I’m predisposed toward. The mark of a community group leader is not whether they are balanced balanced across these trajectories or skewed toward one of them.
Rather, the mark of a healthy gospel community on mission is that all three of these trajectories are progressively pursued, one way or another.
If you happen to have a leader who is incredibly balanced, perhaps they could lead the community along all three trajectories. More often than not, the unity of the the body and the balance of its pursuits, even in the body’s smallest expressions, is accomplished as different champions of Up, In, and Out arise from within the group.
When such champions are able to successfully advocate for their respective trajectory, they are leaders. And when the organism is led and organized in each of the three trajectories, beautiful, powerful things happen.
Why do we need leaders in an organic church? Every organism that wants to be survive and thrive must be organized. Leaders organize the organism for life-sustaining and life-giving action.
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