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


20/09/2017 by Chris Green

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

  1. Dave Williams says:

    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. Dave Williams says:

    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. Dave Williams says:

    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 !

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Shortlisted for “Most Inspiring Leadership Blog, 2018”

New resource

Pastors are busy, and leading a church is a demanding task.  That’s why I wrote this e-bookchecklist: The Pastor’s Checkup – The Top 10 Questions every pastor needs to answer (and helpful stuff if you can’t)

There’s only way to get it is by subscribing to my  (occasional) email newsletter here.


God, Suffering and Joy

A conversation between me (with cancer) and Michael (with Multiple Sclerosis)

Legal stuff

This blog does not share personal information with third parties nor do I store any information about your visit to this blog other than to analyse and optimise your content and reading experience. I am not responsible for republished content from this blog on other blogs or websites without my permission. This privacy policy is subject to change without notice.

I welcome your participation on the Ministrynutsandbolts site, and invite you to share ideas elsewhere on what you learn and read here. At the same time, I ask that you respect my intellectual property rights in the process.

You are welcome to link to my site or any specific post on my site, extract and re-post less than 200 words on any other site, provided you link back to my original post, or print my posts in any non-commercial publication (e.g., company newsletter, class syllabus, church newsletter, etc.), provided you include this copyright notice: “© 2017 Chris Green. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.ministrynutsandbolts.com.”

Please do not do the following without written consent: Re-post one of my posts in its entirety anywhere else on the Internet, use this content for commercial purposes, including selling or licensing printed or digital versions of my content, or alter, transform, or build upon this work.

If you have some use for my content that is not covered here, please contact me. If you would like me to do a guest post on your blog, email me at ministrynutsandbolts@gmail.com

Copyright does not apply to the titles of books, but transparency means I should own that the title of the blog is taken from the excellent ‘Ministry Nuts and Bolts: What They Don’t Teach Pastors in Seminary ‘ by Aubrey Malphurs (Kregel: 2nd edn. 2009)

© 2018 Chris Green

%d bloggers like this: