leading under the Word
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about communal leadership in the church and the Lordship of Christ. My own church, Kairos Hollywood, has moved to a flat leadership structure over this past year. We now have a team of equippers supporting our congregation, and they all work together to form a broader leadership community. We switched to the equipper model not only because we believe a new model is needed to lead the church to missional engagement with our increasingly post-Christian culture, but also because we believe it is biblical.
A flat leadership structure definitely has it’s drawbacks. There is no one to say “the buck stops here,” no hierarchy to turn to when there is disagreement, no boss to call upon to mediate issues within the team. Decisions take longer, roles become more ambiguous, and communication is easily muddled. Yet, we hold out hope that the flat leadership structure better equips the church for mission and testifies to our Trinitarian God who epitomizes mutual submission and self-giving love in community.
And one more thing…
A flat leadership structure testifies that Christ, and Christ alone, is the head of the church. Without a senior pastor, there is no way to confuse who exactly is in charge, who has the final say. Only God can say, “the buck stops here.” Yes, with a flat leadership structure there becomes an increased need for communal discernment, but even more so, there is an increased need to lead under the headship of Christ, listening for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and living under God’s word. With no senior pastor to refer to, with no hierarchy to turn to, leaders are pushed towards God for leadership.
The becomes an increased need, then, for flat leadership teams to pray together, to spend time listening for God’s guidance together, and to read the word together. These practices are not just helpful, but become essential.
Biblical scholar Richard Hays says the following about living under the word:
The Protestant Reformers of the 16th century proclaimed that God’s word in scripture must serve and the final judge of all human tradition and experience. Left to our own devices we are capable of infinite self-deception, confusion and evil. We therefore must turn to scripture and submit ourselves to it, the Reformers insisted, in order to find our disorders rightly diagnosed and healed. Only through the biblical writers’ testimony do we encounter the message of God’s grace; only the revelation of Jesus Christ, disclosed uniquely and irreplaceably through the testimony of the evangelists and apostles, tells us the truth about the merciful God and our relationship to that God. Without this word which comes to us from outside ourselves, we are lost.
May we learn to lead well under the Word.