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August 20, 2005


andy goodliff

The whole issue I think of leadership in the emerging church is important. To see more locally grown leaders (which I agree with) we need to find a way of doing theology better. Brueggemann and others have talked about a 'gospel amnesia'. The "professional" (hopefully) is theologically-trained (although I'm aware this is not always the case!). I like your idea of those who get theologically-trained returning from where sent (or perhaps they train as they go). In a Stanley Hauerwas essay he writes about the role of the theologian/minister is to narrate theologically the church's story. This is seen as a gift (an important) alongside other leadership gifts (see my post here Lastly a guy called John Colwell comments '[t]he rise of an ‘anyone can’ culture has been accompanied by a shift of focus from a ministry of Word and sacrament towards an understanding of ministry in terms of leadership and counselling.' (Hope some of that makes sense)


Leadership can be seasonal and its role taken up and dropped by whoever it seems appropriate and right in the community at the time - that's the model my Art Department at school tried to instigate, but were told "NO"! That's what our Emergent Chruch here in Pompey is seeking. At the moment we're at the WTF? stage, but we do talk about K's book - and other stuff - and these kinda topics come up. I'm advocating non-Christian's to be included in leading - or at least fascilitating aspects of - our Church at the moment, so I'll let you know how that goes!
Just to let yer know, whoever wrote the first thing - I copied and pasted it to a post in... get ready for this... - I appreciate the forum is full of, erm, "interesting" types, but I thought I'd try finding out what global (or at least American!) Christian's think of Pompey's version of Emergent Church... simply cos all my non-C mates get it just fine!
If you would like to see what I've posted there - and I've done it to better my own expression - it ain't perfect, spam me here:
PS: Sorry I snuck this in a weird place... and the bit I copied from you I stuck in a forum on House Church!


I think leadership could well be a seasonal thing - and we need to have the courage to admit that, rather than hold on to it so tightly.

I'd personally like to see the theological training distributed too. The model I'm thinking of would take the 'fully fledged theological / ministry skill set' and see it as applying to a GROUP of people, not to one intensely trained individual.

So rather than one person going off and having all of this stuff 'uploaded', one or a small number from the cluster of leaders goes off to take part in training in some aspect or another, then comes back and shares that. In this way the skills and training are fully distributed, and no one person is in total control.

I like the idea in Shakespeare's day that none of the actors ever had the whole script - they each had the line before theirs. It was only when they worked together that the piece had full coherence. Too often we hear this preached, and are then told to shut it and do as we're told.

So all the best with the experiments in Pompey...


I am paid full-time working with a church in America. Our leadership model reflects what you talk about in your post in 2 out of 3 ways.

We have a team instead of a 'guru'
We have mostly local leaders (raised 'within the ranks' so to speak)

But all the leaders are paid full-time. What I wonder about is if the distinction between "full-time" and "part-time" is an artificial one. Does full-time "ministry" necessarily cause institutional inertia, or can you be paid a full-time salary from a church and still effectively equip the saints for ministry? We definitely run into the kinds of issues you raise, but if leaders are aware of them and truly have a heart to equip the saints, I think ministry can be very fruitful, and very biblical, even within the context of full-time paid "staff" as leaders. But that isn't to say that doing the part-time thing wouldn't be a good idea. I actually think it's a wonderful idea. But I think the full-time thing can work as well, if leaders are willing to engage their context with some integrity and creativity.


Quite frankly, the Emerging church ceases to emerge when it settles on a structure. Structure is static—mostly. Several weeks ago, I wrote a post that included this paragraph:

Emerging Church will not inherit Western Christianity until it converges its interests—at which point it will cease to emerge and will itself become vested. As such, it is just another wave in the ebb and flow of ecclesiastical history.

The problem with church, as I see it, IS the structure. Until we can think of “church” without thinking about philosophies (theology, ecclesiology, etc.) and structure, we will never get close to what Jesus envisioned. Although I certainly can't speak for the Master, I do know that he didn't like the Temple very much. He told the Samaritan woman that the day had come when worshipers would worship God in spirit and truth and not at any particular place. That sounds unstructured to me.


I totally agree. Sorry to reference that awful place again (CF), but I'm gonna drop in a response someone gave me to this Emergent stuff (emergent I understand to be the WTF? stage b4 something emerges - erm, eventually, hopefully!) It just refelcts the trouble Submergent (opp to em?) Chruch has with the whole thing, including leadership:
Submerged Christian says: "Sounds like an adaptation of the story of the THREE LITTLE PIGS. In this case, the pigs build their houses of straw & sticks, BECAUSE the wolf thinks it's a swell idea. "
Emergent bod says: "the Orthodox (submergent) Church is more like a house of bricks - which, of course, it is - where the little piggies hide from the wolf, while the wolf devours all the other little piggies outside the building.
While I have no wish to stick my head in the wolves mouth, I just got bored in the brickhouse... then, lo and behold, we all decided to blow the house down and use the bricks to extend the buildings around us, and bash the occasional wolf.
Yeah, you're right, this 3 LITTLE PIG analogy is gr8 m8.
And it is the percieved weakness of Energent Church - dispersal - that is its strength and its leadership model....
Just saying is all.
I promise never to quote from CF again!


In response to Ben, firstly it's great that you have a team of leaders who are local.

Secondly, about paid full-time leadership. If you've read my book you'll have picked up that I'm very keen on the idea of the church as a place of 'gift exchange', and, as such, it should, as an institution, run on a different economics than the consumer 'market exchange' society that hosts it.

Having leaders who are paid full time brings with it dangers of our corporate life becoming professionalised: we pay our leaders, so we want results, good 'service' ('scuse the pun) in return.

I personally that a leadership based on a part-time model, where a team of people are actually paid to do 'normal' jobs of work outside of the church, makes some radical statements about who the church is and what its values are.

Firstly, if leaders are offering their leadership 'gifts' as 'gifts', rather than as services to be paid for, this makes a clear statement to the rest of the congregation about what we think about people using and offering their gifts. We (probably) expect people to exercise their gifts of music, prayer etc without payment...why should leadership be any different?

Secondly, to work part-time I think makes a prophetic statement about our interdependence. It says "I can't do all this on my own, we need each other." Too many churches end up with the congregation as spectators - it seems as if things would just trundle on happily if we were there or not. To have people involved in sacrificially giving part of their time encourages everyone to do likewise, and actually gives people permission to get stuck in. It also seems to be a much flatter hierarchy, with no one specialist 'in charge'.

We never had anyone work for Vaux, and really resisted the temptation to. I'm sure we paid the price for that in some ways, but in others it made sure that people got stuck in, as we couldn't just default to some pro whose job it was...

And to finish, I really like what you're saying Bill... I've read your link and would love to hear more. Can you expand?



Your idea of a no full-time paid position and the church running on a different economic system than the consumer market exchange society is interesting.

Not to be antagonistic, but what do you think of Paul's words in 1 Cor. 9:7-14,

"Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants of vineyard and does not eat the fruit of it? Or who tends a flock and does not use the milk of the flock...If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? If others share the right over you, do we not more...Do you not know that those who perform sacred services eat the food of the temple, and those who attend regularly to the altar have their share from the altar? So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel."


Thanks for the question - a really interesting one. I'm off out to dinner in a mo', but wanted to come back with a couple of initial thoughts and questions based on this.

The key appears to be defining what Paul means by those who "proclaim the gospel" - by implication, who means to allow to make a living from it.

Firstly, I don't think the translation is that helpful, as 'making a living' from something can sound rather exploitative, and I'm sure that's not his intention.

Secondly, I'm not convinced that church leaders necessarily come under this classification. Perhaps those with a special gift for evangelism do - and we certainly shouldn't prevent them from using their gift to the full.

Connectedly, I'm not convinced that we should sensibly parallel Paul's role in his work with that of church leaders today. He was more of an overseer, an evangelist... And perhaps there is a case for some full time posts in that role.

I'll be mulling further though...



Concerning this issue, here are some things to consider while working it out.

1. The context of 1 Cor. 9 includes Barnabas (v. 6) as well as Paul.

2. Titus 1:5-7 seems to use the term "elder" and "overseer" interchangeably.

3. Acts 20:17-28, Paul is addressing the elders (v. 17) and yet calls them "overseers" who shepherd or pastor the church of God (v. 28). This may indicate that elder, overseer, and pastor are all interchangeable.

4. 1 Timothy 5:17 says that the elders who rule well are are worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.

5. It seems as though Timothy remained at Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3), and while remaining he is still called to do the work of an evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5).


Thanks for your comments, Kester. I do think that having part-time staff sends a wonderful prophetic message to the church and the culture. And I know very well the drawbacks of having full-time leaders. I am actually heading off to lead a service in a few moments where I'll be talking about our tendency to think we can "outsource" our spirituality to professionals, just like we do everything else. Don't have time to pray? Pay a pastor to pray for you! Don't have time to study? Pay a pastor to do the hard work and then he'll give you the "cliff notes" version on Sunday morning. I have an understanding of some of the cultural tendencies we're up against, and it is difficult to help people see things any differently.

I would probably still maintain that effective ministry can be done in a full-time kind of way, but I also think that going to a part-time model would automatically sort out many of the misconceptions that we're battling (we've actually seriously considered a part-time model, and may eventually go to it). Anyway, I appreciated your thoughts on the subject.



While I have no real answers, I have thought quite a bit about church governance. There just is no way to have a defined structure and continue to emerge and evolve. Not on a any significant scale, that is.

For the past twenty years I've worked as an engineer and systems administrator in large companies. At the beginning of a new project or a start up operation, everybody has to wear multiple hats and we must get along and work toward the goal. The goal, however defined, is ultimately normal operation. Normal operation is when innovation slows and people turn their attention toward maintenance. It's the arrival of maintenance mode that marks the beginning of solidification that will lead to the ossification of all endeavors. And the modern age has given us many tools and methods for maintaining the status quo. Since my job was often the creation and/or introduction of these tools, I got rather familiar with the change in attitude that comes when the clock is ticking and tuned and everybody takes a sigh of relief. Then they busy themselves with writing policies and procedures to ensure their clock continues to keep good time.

If I may, I'll leave links to two other posts on change and one link to a book that Reid Bennet is writing online (in real time so it is itself emerging) titled Church Without Walls.
The posts, that are only somewhat related to your thread, are:
The Inert Coagulum
The Edges of Orthodoxy

Assuming you don't mind, I'm syndicating your blog on mine, and hopefully, there will evolve some cross site discussion. I'm also involved in an emergent sort of experiment in the North Texas area. But, I must admit that I haven't read your book yet. I haven't seen it in book stores so I'll order it soon so I can leave more intelligent comments.



"In a Stanley Hauerwas essay he writes about the role of the theologian/minister is to narrate theologically the church's story. This is seen as a gift (an important) alongside other leadership gifts"

Andy - I really like this idea as minister as story-teller.

Just to reflect on that idea from another perspective, some of the other writing I've been doing has been thinking over the implications of the theory that observation of an experiment actually affects the outcome.

It would be lovely to think that some completely independent person could look into the story of a church and narrate theologically the on-going story. However, what I think is important is that ministers appreciate that this is impossible, and that they inherently have some perspective that influences, however subtley the story that they are telling.

What concerns me is that the model of one leader going off to theological college and getting 'up-loaded' with one version of the story is that they can actually find themselves believing a story that they didn't before, and then be in a position of power to narrate this story to some congregation they are sent to oversee.

What I like about the distributed leadership model is that it recognises and affirms the many different stories that people are going to bring to the meta-narrative of a church, and avoids the danger of one rather introverted and slightly incestous version of the story being the only one preached.

Bill - I love what you are saying. My degree was in Mech. Eng, and I am completely with you on the boundary layer analysis. This is precisely where Vaux tried to position itself: the boundary as the prophetic. 'All change starts at the fringe' appears to be the same concept as the dirt idea that I try to expand on in the book.

Rhirhok, I'm still not convinced that your texts fully justify the payment of full-time leaders. I think there is far too much cheap translation of the New Testament situation (which I take very seriously) into our own, and I'm not entirely convinced that Paul's letters to Corinth can be used to justify the different situations he address (albeit with interchangeable terminology) in other places.

Can I ask you to play devil's advocate to yourself and imagine what texts you might use to argue the other way?

Still mulling...




I wasn't really trying to draw any strong conclusions one way or another, but seeking dialogue.

Since your view is new to me, I do not really know how I would go about justifying it from the Scriptures. I'll have to think on that.



I'm also an ME as is Reido (he's doing HVAC). What has the church come to, that engineers are analyzing it, writing blogs and books about it and giving advice to theologians. :)



"Normal operation is when innovation slows and people turn their attention toward maintenance. It's the arrival of maintenance mode that marks the beginning of solidification that will lead to the ossification of all endeavors."

Sounds like the Chruches I've seen and avoid!

Just wanna encourage you lot! Good to see Chrsitian's who can disagree without arguing (... yet!?)
As always, udaman, K.


"What has the church come to, that engineers are analyzing it, writing blogs and books about it and giving advice to theologians."

Probably that it has become too much the 'machine of Christ' and not enough the 'body'?!

Rhirhok, sorry, no aggressive tone meant... I think it's really interesting seeing how the NT shows us the fledgling church working out what it is and how to organise itself. One of the big passages for me is in Acts 10, with Peter's vision and subsequent trip to Cornelius' house.

What's interesting is that Peter is taken there by God not to give anything, but to receive an important message. He goes as the 'big leader' but is shown how God through his Spirit is just working through anyone...

I think this is a key passage about divine permission giving. One of the big problems with hierarchical leadership structures is that they often, however subtley, abuse power and end up restricting people rather than releasing them. What I like about the Emerging Church is that a whole bunch of random people are just taking God's permission and getting on with it... and realising they don't need the 'Peters' to accredit it.

This of course impinges on questions of authority and accountability, which I have some 'bottom up' ideas on too...!

You're right Damn - that's a great quote from Bill! Really resonates...


Good to hear you mentioning the accountabily stuffs, Krusty, I was wondering where it all came into it...?


This has been a significant issue in our own church, as we are in the process of rebirthing. We're a church that has fallen to 40 "members" and 20 or so attenders but is still holding onto a building and paying an 80K salary to a pastor...
We (a 2/3 majority)committed to rebirthing our church to be missional, to reach the community around us, to focus on living out our faith in our interactions with each other. Trouble is, that doesn't bring in a quick influx of butts-in-seats, writing checks with lots of zeros. So our desires don't match the practical obligations we are saddled with. Many (enough to overrule a vote) senior members are unwilling to consider selling the building. Our pastor has a rather nice house and an accompanying house payment, plus kids in school who need stuff...he's not going to work for free. Quite a few senior members, who had the greater tithing ability, left the church (taking their money with them)when we agreed to take a programming sabbatical to evaluate and discuss the rebirthing. So the pastor, to whatever extent that he wants to remain in the home and school district and church that he's in, must placate those regular tithers who ARE left. 'Cause a lot of us with young kids put our time and energy and service into the church and community, but don't have much money.
So in our community, a core of us are sticking with the process a few months longer, to see if real change will be allowed to emerge. If not, I see us beginning a house church and perhaps growing to a larger plant. If nothing else, the process at our current home has been a learning experience, an awakening.


humbly asking...what scriptures would YOU use to defend the part time model?


I hear you Shannon. We had to legally drop our name in order to be released from the contract on our building!


Shannon, sounds like a very tricky situation. God go with you. You're right though - it will certainly be an awakening. And what you describe in the micro is being played out on the macro: whole denominations wondering how the hell they are going to keep this beast they've created running. Ever thought how screwy it is that the vast majority of the money we give to church has to go on salaries and buildings? This is precisely why, even though the process will be painful, I think we need to move away from this full-time paid model...

Robbie, there aren't any proof-texts commanding us to have distributed, part time leaderships. Thankfully the bible gets us to think, and is timeless in guiding what we should do in response to an evolving world. As I mention in another comment on the next post, I do think that as the church is here to serve the culture that hosts it, there is always going to be an evolving element to church governance, and no one model is going to work for ever, everywhere for every church.

However, I do see some very strong themes in the whole sweep of scripture, and some principles in the NT in particular that I believe encourage us to look at distributive and unpaid models.

Firstly, on the large scale, we see a God in the OT perceived as being located in one place (the Temple) and this place being administered by a highly hierarchical, highly ritualised group of men who in effect controlled access to God, and therefore controlled the mechanisms of forgiveness etc. A hugely powerful role. One of the major thrusts of Christ's ministry was to critique this 'domination system' of the Temple. He was highly critical of the power abuses of the religious leaders, and highly critical of the way they actually stopped people accessing the sanctification they so dearly needed and wanted. [I'm assuming you know the sorts of passages I am talking about - apologies, I'm having quite a mad day!]

This comes to a head in his death, where the Temple curtain is ripped: God is symbolically released from captivity. After his resurrection we have the coming of the Spirit, and so now 'we both (all) have access to the Father'. I think this verse in Ephesians is profoundly important. For me it means that I do not need anyone to represent me before God other than Christ. No need for a priest. This passage, and others from Paul, also make it very clear that we are now completely equal: no slaves, no gender, no birth-right has any impact on how we are seen in the Spirit.

So being totally equal in worth, we do not need a patriarchal system of leaders who are somehow better than us to govern us. We need to be interdependent, yes, but this is different. Paul's words in Corinthians about the body have been argued over recently for all the wrong reasons... Charismatics and their opponents have been bashing it around but appearing to miss the point: we are all interdependent and intertwined, involved in a system that runs on GIFT, and all gifts are given graciously from the same Giver.

As I've mentioned before, if the church took seriously this idea of the whole thing running on a gift economy, and of all of us being equal and interdependent, then I'm sure people would naturally want to have that expressed within the church model they used. The current model of the full-time paid leader is, I believe, a serious impediment to people believing the radical truth of this... and therefore to their generous involvement and the sharing of their gifts.

Plus, as I've mentioned, I'd also look at Acts 10... and a bunch of other stuff I haven't got time to mention right now - sorry!


Thanks you for your book and this site I really appreciate both as I try to lead in an urban emerging church in the US.

Ben wrote
"Quite frankly, the Emerging church ceases to emerge when it settles on a structure. Structure is static"

Ben I wondered if this is true even if the structure is organic? I think there is a case to be made for organic structures but not mechanical ones in the emerging church.


thank you for a response and thanks for the opinion, its quite challenging to me. there is at least one that i can think of but don't know the chap. ver. but Paul talks of how he was entitled to take from the church but didn't instead he chose to work for his living while in their pressence.
there is a bit of a personal connection to the part time staff model for me. i recently was a member of a church (moved for school) whose staff, including the pastor was all part time. it was amazing to see what we did as a church with a part time leader. that is my problem with your model, that you only get a part time leader. i would rather have fritz(my pastor) full time any day. but i do see what you mean by the way we forfiet to proffesionals, but, with good godly leadership and vision casting, that would not necesarily be so.


Andre, it was actually Bill who wrote that the Emerging church ceases to emerge when it settles on a structure, but incidentally, I also had the same question - is structure a bad thing in and of itself? I think we're always operating within some kind of structure. I don't think Jesus busted up the temple because he didn't like the structure (his father set it all up, after all, the whole Levites/priests/tabernacle worship thing).

I think the watershed issue is if our structures are serving mission or if we are serving our structures. I think your wording is good, Andre - organic instead of mechanical. Fluid, permeable, adaptable, chameleon structures instead of rigid, controlled, impenentrable ones.

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