(Brooke’s generosity Blog)
January 7, 2018
Leadership in the church is comparable to leadership in any other organization. People are drawn to one another in communities. Every community has assumptions of why the community exists. In a church, we have a different purpose than most other organizations, such as community agencies, educational institutions, administrations, and businesses. The difference in our end. In the bible, the word “telos” is the Greek word in the New Testament for end, or purpose.
The telos of the church is to create thriving communities. This is the most effective sign that God’s reign is coming in to our world. This sounds ambitious and perhaps even a little visionary. The purpose comes from Jesus: “I came that you may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
Creating and sustaining thriving communities is a bit like gardening. (Full disclosure: in our family, Linda is the gardener. I cut the grass and take care of the fallen leaves. An occasional trimming of a tree might be required. Linda plants and sustains a large perennial garden with many touches of beauty. Our family has, in the past, produced vegetables, which were much enjoyed by rabbits, raccoons, squirrels, and many birds.)
In a garden we need good soil, adequate water, hopefully in the form of timely rain, sunlight, and some person to remove the weeds and apply the mulch to keep the weeds in control.
In a seven-part series, New Testament scholar C. Kavin Rowe writes that biblical book of Acts shows intentional care and nurture of people in communities that inspires us to see six features that are the essence of the church.
Networking: Early Christians built communities in cities connected by the best communication available Roman roads. They were people connected to one another. They cherished the letters sent between each other and shared their successes and failures.
Visibility: Early Christians did not separate their public and private lives. The word “Christian” was not first used as an internal self-designation. It was a term coined by outsiders, by those who could see a thriving community and needed a word with which to describe them.
Inclusion of the weak and the downtrodden. Making room for the weak is not an “add-on.” This is a central mission integral to the identity of the church. Rowe writes. “Acts displays what becomes a central feature of the thinking of the church’s leaders look beyond the need to ‘fix’ a problem and think about developing a thriving longer-term community where all are included.
Incorporating conflict and disagreement into a community. No community exists without conflict. This is humanity. Every church has disagreements. Working through disagreements is part of the work of the Holy Spirit and wise leadership listening and encouraging people to put compassion first, in the name of Jesus. Good leadership does not hide or avoid conflict.
Learning to articulate why your community exists. We exist, to be a thriving community of healing, teaching, caring for each other and our hurting world. In the name of Jesus.
Suffering is part of thriving. Christian communities thrive despite suffering — because of the hope they know from the pattern of Jesus’ life. Are we a thriving community? I believe we are.