Thursday, September 07, 2006

Parent or Patriarch?

Bob Shank is a guy I had a long cup of coffee with this afternoon. He mentors guys who want to make a significant difference in their life for God. He's for real. He's passionate. He's making a difference. He's my age, with grown, married girls with children, making him a grandparent. He said that it's far more fun being a patriarch than being a parent. Parents set boundaries, supervise, intervene, discipline, warn, and know what's best without being asked.
But a patriarch is valued for their wisdom and input when they are asked. Patriarchs are enjoyed for their presence and life-wisdom, not positonal power and authority.
The question Bob raised with me is whether churches treat members from the perspective of parenting small children; telling them what to do, disciplining and knowing what's best? Or do churches (read pastors and leadership) treat members from the perspective of patriarchs with adult children? Do we think members really know what's best for them? Do we trust them with decision making and investment of time and money? Why do so few churches trust members with simple keys to facilities?
It made me wonder the way we govern and lead. Do we listen to where the Spirit is rustling the leaves within the body?
Bob then rocked my boat by comparing the real church to an aircraft carrier: armed and focussed to launch planes into dangerous battle, recieve them back, resupply both planes and pilots and launch them again. It's dangerous and risky business with high stakes. But every peice of equipment and person supports the mission of launching, receiving and repairing planes.
Cruise ships are not desinged for battle, but for passenger comfort. They comfortably take passengers on rides, feed them, entertain them, let them off on safe harbors for short visits, and then bring them back to home port, hoping they will return again with friends.
I know the imagery is militaristic, but it carried the truth. Does the church have a clear mission or just every passengers' project? Do the church governing meetings reflect courage, risk, daring, and focus? Or is it to keep complaining passengers happy and crews well-paid? Hmmmm.


At 9:04 PM , Anonymous billy said...

Great post Don. I agree with you about the feeling that churches are treating their people like small churches sometimes. Interestingly, Aqueous was conceived largely as experience in missional empowerment by a group of late twenty-somethings. As our journey has continued and evolved, we have experienced growth recently in the number of boomers joining with us, twenty-something stylistic preferences notwithstanding. I think it has to do with the fact that our church and leadership team treats them with a degree of respect and is inviting them to be themselves and excercise their gifts in the community without trying to co-opt them into a specific box.


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