From the previous post:
“…how do we facilitate people caring for each other and growing spiritually together and see over time whether or not church life emerges from that reality?” – Wayne Jacobsen
I want to share a few thoughts about structure and organization, particularly leadership and relational structure.
Institutional systems confer social power and concentrate it at the top…
Because of human nature, we should be very wary of such power in human hands.
It almost always corrupts and damages the relational fabric that constitutes the church.
Some interesting thoughts by Pete Rollins about the nature of leadership and relationships within a faith community:
…as soon as a group begins to identify itself as a community, people begin to have pastoral expectations. The result can be an unreasonable pressure on those who organise the meetings and the slow formation of hierarchical leadership structures in order to meet those needs.
The following idea first struck me as too individualistic…
However, if a group refuses to offer pastoral care and makes it clear that it is not a community, rather just a collective of disparate people exploring faith and life, the fewer expectations are generated among people. This direct denial of community can turn out to be the most fertile soil for real community to develop indirectly.
But listen to what occurs in the vacuum created by requiring care to occur in the context of relationship:
For if there is no ‘group’ who cares about the person sitting beside me then there is more need for me to care about that person. If there is no pastoral support team in place then I need to be the pastoral support. The refusal to offer pastoral support thus generates a potential place where pastoral care is distributed among everyone.
It is a common feature of religious life that we often seek a leader to tell us what to do. In these situations I would argue that it is good to have a leader who refuses to take on that role. Who, by doing so, forces the other to take responsibility for themselves.
The truth is that many of us seek a particular kind of leader, namely one we can lead. What this means is that we want someone to tell us what we want to hear, but that we want them to take on the responsibility for our actions rather than embrace that responsibility ourselves. The leader who refuses to lead short-circuits this manipulative game and invites people into taking on the responsibility for their own decisions.”
It makes sense that real community can develop when we learn not to transfer the responsibility for our relationships and caring to either an organization or a leader figure.