Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sharing leadership

Last night here at Kea I ran an introductory evening for a group of people who I'm hoping will join me in a leadership course over the coming year (CPAS Growing Leaders). It looks really good and I'm hoping that they will take up the opportunity. I came to the evening with some concern about how it was going to go but ended up really enjoying it - and I think I know why (apart from the great company and good response, of course).

The whole dynamic of a leadership programme in the church is something which breaks down the clergy/laity mentality in church. If I was asked to list the things that I find difficult about my work, that would be near the top of the list - the idea that once you get the round collar on, you somehow become a different species to the rest of humanity (and yes, I know some people really believe that, but I don't).

I admit to being slightly in two minds about this. I'm actually all in favour of having professional clergy, who are not only gifted in ministry (just like lots of other people) but whose job it is to do it. I think they are a wonderful resource and strength for the church. But we need to guard against over-professionalisation, where clergy become the only people who run the church, and everybody else just comes along for the ride.

This mindset creeps in all the time. At its worst, it results in the kind of situation that blogger Alastair McCollum describes - where nothing can happen unless "the vicar" is there. I come from a part of the church which is more than comfortable with lay ministry, and doesn't suffer from excessive deference to the clergy (there's no "father knows best" here!). But still, I too come against the same things that Alastair describes - a feeling within the church that things are not really valid unless I put in an appearance: something which has no rational basis at all. Apart from anything else, how could our church grow if I always had to be at everything? (although rumours persist of clergy cloning experiments at Diocesan House in Truro).

An emphasis on leadership at every level is one way to address this. I'm looking forward to seeing people grow in their Christian vocation this year, and in confidence to take responsibility for the mission of the church.

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