David Fitch on Leadership

kinnon —  February 14, 2007 — 1 Comment

I read David Fitch’s book, The Great Giveaway: Reclaiming the Mission of the Church from Big Business, Parachurch Organizations, Psychotherapy, Consumer Capitalism, and Other Modern Maladies, I year ago. I recommend it highly. I also recommend David’s (newer) blog, Reclaiming the Mission. I’m looking forward to grabbing an Allelon video interview with David in March when he’s here in Toronto.

David has written an important post on Missional Leadership at his Reclaiming the Mission blog, Some Reasons Why the Lone “Senior Pastor” Might Not Make Sense Anymore.

Much has been written about Missional church leadership. Frost & Hirsch (and Dwight Smith) have advocated the APEPT model of leadership from Eph 4. Roxburgh has another brilliant description of these principles. I myself have argued that we must dump the CEO- pastor-leader that the church has too often modeled from the secular business. I have argued that “the CEO-pastor-leader” is a construction that only makes sense in the Cartesian worlds where man is in control (this world is misogynist if you ask me), where leadership is technique driven (ironically I would argue, that even Greenleaf makes NT servant-leadership into a technique to achieve desired results at the hand of the leader in control), and people are units in a sociological structure devoid of the organic nature that we see characterizes the gifted nature of the Body of Christ (1 Cor 12: 4-31). Because of all this I have argued that missional leadership must be multiple, organic, recognized and affirmed within and among a body (not determined from above in a smoke filled room by a CEO and board of the mega corporation it oversees).

David identifies ten reasons “why the “senior pastor” role won’t work at Life on the Vine church“. (Life on the Vine is the church where he is one of the pastors,)

Here is an edited list of the ten – he unpacks each one on his blog post:
1.) Because it doesn’t make sense to build a church around a personality.
2.) Because there are
no supermen(women). No one pastor has all the gifts.
3.) Because isolated pastors can become
blinded to their own lacks and get tunnel vision and become egomanical.
4.) Because
pastors cannot lead alone. The pressures and demoralizations are too great.
5.) Because
pastors benefit from being bi-vocational ¦ or should I say bi-ministerial (since being in the secular workplace is ministry).
6.) Because it
models the diversity and interrelatedness of the Body.
7.) Because it
keeps pastors from becoming fake images which inevitably leads to moral failure and/or disappointment.
9.) Because it is
hard for pastors to foster servanthood when they are put on a pedestal separated from the people.
10.) In summary, because the senior pastor position is an impossible position to live up to. Therefore by accepting this role, we are setting ourselves up (and the church) for inevitable failure. (All emphasis added)

Having experienced too many church leaders who think they are 2.) whilst acting like 3.) & 7.), I couldn’t agree more wholeheartedly with David.

Please read David’s post (and subscribe to his blog via RSS). You might also want to check out Emerging Grace’s blog with her emphasis on Leadership. I think you’ll also find some interesting writing on leadership in the bowels of achievable ends. (Though you may need to skim by some of my grumpier posts of late.)

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A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

One response to David Fitch on Leadership

  1. Interesting post, Bill. Some initial thoughts, not particularly reflective, from a solo pastor:

    – team ministry seems not just ‘missional’ but biblical: in the book of Acts, a plurality of elders was the norm.

    – the moral, spiritual and emotional accountability of other like-minded leaders is massively undervalued today ; my wife and I crave it, look for it, try to nurture it as much as we can – and thank you for being part of it for us;

    – the church culture makes it almost impossible to sustain as a model, especially as a church grows. The expectations of the modern congregation – of regular visits, of hangout time, of counseling, of training, of programming, of leadership equipping, of preaching and teaching, of visitation – militate strongly against a bi-vocational leadership team. And this is before the work of getting into the lives of unchurched people is factored in! I knew it woudl happen, but I miss the freedom of the earliest days to wander around and meet people who never darkened the door of the church.

    Having said all of that, I am thrilled to be in the ministry of trying to create a biblical, counter-cultural community of contagious faith and compassion. I know I will never get there, either personally or professionally, but the adventure of striving to become more like Jesus is never boring. I serve alongside an incredible group of people who love the city and its Lord, I see incredibly gifted people daily take steps of obedience to Jesus’ calling; I see God work marvelous things through the interns and other ‘staff’ of our church, and I see Jesus showing His grace more clearly to me as I stumble and bumble my way through this whole church- planting thing. His people are worth it; His glory is worth it; His grace is sufficient and His might is gentle.


    Dan MacD


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