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Does the Church Need to Rethink Leadership?

24 September, 2007 5:47 PM

In my last post I spoke about the transition time that we're going through as a community at LivingRoom with V and I moving on from the community at the end of this year (it's looking like we'll finish early in December or late in November).

While the transition has been something that we've been thinking about day in and day out for 8 months now it has been fascinating to see how different people have responded to the news in that last post.

Overwhelmingly people have been very encouraging. A few have emailed to ask questions and ask for clarification of rumors they'd heard (it's amazing (and a little concerning) what goes around - none of which has had any truth to them) but in general there has been some really wonderful feedback.

An Emerging Theme

One thing that I've found particularly interesting is the large number of people who have said that they resonate with the paragraph that I wrote about my 'sense of mission and ministry' in which I pointed back to my previous post on the topic of some of my own personal discovery and evolution in understanding of Ministry as being connected to work.

I've received email after email from people in paid ministry who have been coming to similar realizations and discoveries that perhaps God is 'calling' them to a different kind of 'ministry' outside that of paid ministry.

Some have told stories of how they have already made a similar transition to full time 'secular' (I dislike that word more and more) work, other have talked about moving into a part time paid ministry and part time work situation and others have expressed a desire to make the transition.

What interests me is that those emailing come from both emerging communities and more traditional churches.

My reactions to these emails is twofold:

1. I'm really excited and encouraged by it - It's affirming to know that I'm not alone in feeling the feelings that I've had this last year and to see that God's doing something amazing across the globe in his people who are discovering him and his mission in their work. I've heard some exciting stories of what's been going on for people and am increasingly energized by it.

2. I'm left with many questions - On the flip side of this I'm left wondering about 'church' and 'leadership'. While I'm certain that every pastor and minister around the world is not about to get up and leave their communities to go and get jobs outside the church - I do wonder whether we're seeing something happening here that will lead to us as Church to rethink how our communities are lead. I don't have the 'answers' to this - but it's a question we've certainly been pondering at LivingRoom of late and one that I'm beginning to see numerous other churches (particularly emerging ones) grappling with as their leaders feel the time is right to move on.

A Time of Transition at Livingroom

1 September, 2007 12:19 AM

Time for an update on LivingRoom - well overdue I know.

Over the last month we've moved into a transition period at LivingRoom as we consider our future as a community in a time of change.

At the beginning of this year V and I let the community know that we were feeling as though it might be time for us to move on from leadership of LivingRoom. We didn't know for sure but wanted the community to know where we were at and what we were thinking so that we could discern what to do together.

After a few months of reflection we felt that the time was right and a couple of months back we confirmed that we'd be moving on from LivingRoom at the end of the year (probably mid December). We did so in consultation with the Baptist Union and LivingRoom's leadership. I've not blogged about it until this time simply because we wanted the group to be able to begin to process the news and begin to explore what might be next before it 'getting out'.

Since that time a smaller group of LivingRoomies have been gathering together with a BUV leader to put together a way forward. This has involved a number of things to this point including a number of weeks 'looking back' at the beginnings of LivingRoom and hearing the stories of other local emerging communities.

The 'looking back' weeks came out of a realization that V and I were the only two members that remained from the very first group of 6 founding members and that we'd had a real influx of new people over the past year or two who hadn't heard the story of our beginnings and how we came to form our values, style and practices.

So we spent two weeks looking first at the story itself (with lots of story telling from different members sharing how they came to join LivingRoom, their first impressions and why they'd hung around) and the second week looking in a more focused way at our core values.

The idea of hearing stories from other communities (we're currently doing this for 4 weeks) is twofold. Firstly it opens up possibilities to connect with these other local groups but secondly it's interesting to hear what others are doing and we hope that hearing their stories will help us to discern some of our own future direction.

Why are we moving on from LivingRoom?

I guess the question that some might be asking is why V and I are moving on from LivingRoom. It's a natural one.

There are a number of reasons:

I guess ultimately we feel it's just time - time for us and time for LivingRoom. A number of things have come together to give us this feeling.

Family Life - We've moved into a new family stage (our little man is now 14 months) and V's gone back to work a couple of days a week. This means that Grandmas are generously helping to care for him on those days which means quite a bit of time in a car. We've also outgrown our home (who knew that someone so small could get into so many things!). We realized that it was probably smarter in terms of family to be closer to our extended family who live on the other side of the city.

Sense of Mission and Ministry - My own personal sense of 'mission' and 'calling' has evolved over the last 2 to 3 years. While I've not updated this blog much in the last year I suspect that some of you will have sensed this with posts on the topic like Thinking about 'Ministry'. I don't like to articulate everything about it in a public setting (for reasons that I mention in that previous post) however in general I'm feeling that my work is actually something that is closely aligned with my own personal call, mission and ministry. I'd be happy to articulate this more clearly to people individually if they'd like.

LivingRoom - Our goal at LivingRoom was always to have a group that was able to largely run itself and not need to rely upon any one person. For this reason we transitioned in the first two years from me in a paid part time position (funded by our denomination), into me leading on a voluntary basis, to last year a small team leading the group to this year the group running itself even more. In many ways much of the leadership for the group this year has been in the hands of others already.

As I look at my gifts and the needs/opportunities of the group I have been sensing for a while that perhaps someone else (or a group of people) could take LivingRoom to the next level more than I could for the last year or two. My passions and gifting are quite 'entrepreneurial' (I'm not sure it's the right word). I love to dream up and birth new things. I always have done this (since I was young) and much of what my role was in the first 3 years was in this. However when it comes to taking things that are established to the next level I'm not great. While I'm not one to give up - I've increasingly struggled with whether I might in fact be holding the group back from growth and development.

The decision was not a particularly easy one on numerous levels. I think most pastors who have resigned and moved on from ministries that they've invested a lot into would know the conflicting feelings that often face them at these times. However there is an increasing sense of it being 'right' for us to do and so we've moved forward with it.

What Next?

So what happens next for LivingRoom and for us?

in many ways there are unknowns in lives of both LivingRoom and the Rowse House. LivingRoom will continue it's process of discernment that I've outlined above. V and I have bought a new house closer to our parents (our new house is precisely between them) and are selling our current one this weekend (hopefully). The question of where we'll do faith in community is a question that we've been pondering a lot but the answer is probably a few months off (I suspect we really need to finish with LivingRoom before we'll really ponder it seriously).

I've been in 'ministry' of one sort or another now (mainly paid) for 11 or so years now and while I can't imagine not taking an active approach to participating in a community I suspect that a break in this type of leadership might be beneficial to me. While I thoroughly have enjoyed it I would be lying if didn't admit feeling 'tired' and in need of some personal rejuvenation as I consider my own spirituality. I'm very much looking forward to rediscovering what it is to be a follower of of Jesus without the tag of 'pastor'.

I'm sure over the coming weeks and months there will be more reflections to share on the process and transition that we're going through.

Please forgive me if I don't blog the ins and outs of decisions being made and directions being explored at LivingRoom (I've always taken the approach to blog about these sorts of things after they've been decided upon instead of as they are happening as I think it's healthier for the community).

Please do pray for us in this time - I'm sure the community as a whole would greatly appreciate your thoughts and prayers at this time.

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