Organic Church Post

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : July 20, 2005

I have a new post on OrganicChurch.  Check it out.  Here’s the intro…go to the post to read the rest:

One of my struggles in church leadership has been in trying to lead
effectively from “alongside” and not from “in front.” People talk about
doing leadership in a decentralized, non-hierarchical way all the time;
despite the simplistic ways in which the topic is often discussed,
leadership from “alongside” is a difficult task that requires a great
deal of thought. The reality is that most cultures affirm and value
top-down leadership. The leader may be able to function in a way that
is “alongside” but if others in the community think in conventional
categories, they will do and say things that put the leader back on top.

When leaders realize this dynamic, I?ve noticed that they do one of two things: 1) they become laissez faire
leaders, thinking that if they step back, others will “step up” or 2)
they re-enact the conventional hierarchical ways of leading, but they
use less hierarchical language. Neither of these approaches work. When
one realizes that we have a disempowered laity that doesn?t think of
itself as minister and as priests, being a laissez faire leader could just enable them to stay as they are, often making the system more dysfunctional. A hierarchical leader (but without the trappings of hierarchy) will only succeed in making things seem better.

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5 Responses to “Organic Church Post”

  1. JV Dworak on July 20th, 2005 4:19 pm

    VS You are being profiled on my blog today check it out.

  2. Van S on July 20th, 2005 5:22 pm

    Cool, thanks!

  3. Richard on July 20th, 2005 5:34 pm

    Many people have a natural tendency to follow leaders. There is gratification in working together to achieve a goal. In the process of working together important relational transactions occur that benefits everyone.

    With some people it may be possible to then delve more deeply into the relationship to acknowledge the giftings and goals of that person. This requires more time and a ‘releasing’ (ie I you don’t need that person to do anything for you). At this point it is easier to work “alongside”. It can take a lot longer, be less measurable and less obvious so you may not get any credit for it because others won’t notice.

  4. Van S on July 20th, 2005 5:48 pm

    Richard, I agree. I don’t think there is a problem with being a follower. I just think it is a problem when everyone always follows a few leaders in ways that stunts their development and erodes any sense of interdependence. I agree that it takes more time to work with a person to help them be released in their gifts. And many don’t do that sort of thing because it does take a long time and is less noticeable. But in the long run, it is best for the Body of Christ. Thanks for the insights!

  5. graham on July 23rd, 2005 7:24 pm

    And a great post it is, Mark!

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