You might remember the article the New York Times ran on “The Facebook Generation.” It was basically an article that looked at the implications of the how emerging generations view leadership, power, and influence.
Rhett Smith recently dove into one of the points the article brought out: All ideas compete on equal footing. I really love what Rhett had to say about this subject and I think it is a common situation at many churches.
Now, if you have spent anytime in the Church…on staff, volunteering, or just attending, this becomes pretty obvious, pretty quickly. Not all ideas compete on equal footing, and often many ideas aren’t even allowed to enter the conversation. Where I have often seen this played out is in the ideas between staff/church members of different “ranking”, i.e. ordained vs. non-ordained, associate vs. executive, senior pastor vs. youth pastor, volunteer vs. staff, etc. Though this is not to become a versus situation, it often breaks down into that when ideas are not allowed to be shared and considered equally among all staff members, volunteers and attending members.
I think many in previous generations are comfortable and accept the fact of hierarchical leadership. It submits to that leadership and accepts almost every decision reached without much second thought. I do think there is a decent amount of Biblical support for this mindset. But, my generation does not think this way. So when people say it is a reality of how churches work, I say that is why you have the “emerging church.” Young people left their traditional churches to go to a place where their ideas would be received and used.
Essentially I think this problem comes down to how comfortable we are with change. Certainly CEO leadership is a normal thing with the American culture, but it is a dying breed. Pastors today can either choose to invite young leaders into the decision making process or they can disenfranchise them and force them to go elsewhere. Rhett also speaks to this:
For the younger generations, the Church can often just be seen as “red tape.” Nothing is more discouraging than a person bringing a great idea to senior leadership, and having that idea shut down (if it’s even heard) as it navigates it’s way through the CEO/Business Management models that most churches operate from. Pretty soon, these people just take their ideas online where there is no “red tape”, and start changing the world…without the Church.