Why you’re not the US president (and that’s a good thing)

The culture sees independence as maturity, but for us that’s not good enough.  Interdependence is maturity.


It is so easy to draw a nice simple flow chart, with everyone’s responsibilities clearly identified. Small groups over here,  and youth work over there. Easy.  Clean.

And utterly unrealistic.

Our leader, if we can’t find Jed Bartlett

As well as unhealthy.

Take, as example, the American Constitution (bear with me, you’ve watched The West Wing, or House of Cards – or even Air Force One will do).  The theory, often quoted, is what’s called ‘the separation of powers’.  That is, you have the Executive (the President and his team in the White House, with their departments), the Legislative (the Senate and the House, up on the Hill), and  the Judiciary (the Supreme Court, and everything that follows).

Now, a quick look at ‘The Separation of Powers’ means that we think of three silos.  But in reality it’s not so much the separation of powers, as their overlapping circles which really matters.  Checks and balances. Each of the three can do precious little without the cooperation of the others.  Hence the horse trading.  Hence the dramas.

Now apply that to church.  And think of the mutual independence of a body. In the Constitution it’s because people are sinful that the balances are in place, but in the New Testament it’s for our good and flourishing. We need each other.  The culture sees independence as maturity, but for us that’s not good enough.  Interdependence is maturity.

So revisit your church’s organisational map (you have one, even if it’s just in your head). Is it a series of independent circles, all cleanly demarcated?  Or is it overlapping, requiring you to talk to each other, pray with each other, give way to each other, submit to each other, serve each other?

That doesn’t mean it’s messy and unpredictable, by the way. I’m not arguing for chaos.  Just healthy interdependence.

5 comments on “Why you’re not the US president (and that’s a good thing)”

  1. Ah – I think I see something here. Often, even in plural leadership it is the minister/vicar/pastor who is expected to do the function of being the overlap and that leads to frustration and exhaustion

  2. Which becomes even more magnified when you are working in a multi- cultural context. So how do we avoid this danger and make sure it is the whole church leadership that is doing the overlapping?

  3. Our mukti- cultural context has gone up exponentially. Nb would be good to link up with you and your Spanish congregation pastor at some point to compare notes !

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