Risky Faith in Suburbia Part 3


There is a dreadful thing that happens to Church leaders. By all kinds of means they get sucked into doing too much all the time in leading activities. Some of them are actually hired by their church with the assumption that the fellowship is calling and appointing an activities leader. The very frequent consequence of this mindset is that sooner or later they cease being leaders for the biblical vision of the church. For the church doing Matt 28. There is just so much to do, so many gaps to plug, so many fires to fight, so much opposition to changes in the church, so many people to pastor that arranging and shaping the church around core gospel focus is sacrificed. There just isn’t the time and energy left to do it.

This is one reason that so many who have led churches for more than 15 years identify that they often want to give up. They signed up to lead, build and equip biblical communities of disciples for making disciples in the locality and around the world. 15 years later they realise that this purpose has been resisted, thwarted or just gently edited out by too many competing demands. They got suckered into a job they never signed up for and don’t believe in.

There are any number of mechanisms in local churches to take away the ability and opportunity of godly leaders to lead. Here are some examples:

·         So much activity that there is no energy or capacity left

·         People who know they only have to resist an initiative or a change for a certain length of time before the pastor runs out of emotional ability to keep up the pressure

·         Church meeting structures that assume that the church is a democracy in which godly leaders have no more say over direction than the least godly or those with least leadership ability

·         Pressure to spend so much time being the congregation’s chaplain that there is no time left to lead

And any number of others. Where these factors kick in church life, the leader will not have capacity to live a life of risky faith and won’t model a life of risky faith. In this circumstance I think one of the best ways to change the situation is for the leader to spend time exercising their gift in a different context, and taking people from the church to a different context. A mission in another church, an international team, visiting missionaries in difficult parts of the world where comfort is not an option and risk-taking biblical vision is essential.

But none of those things inherently answer the difficulties at home base. The only answer there is for biblical leaders to be the ones who normally determine and show from the scriptures what leaders' role is and is not, and to determine what the church should and shouldn’t do.

Where leaders are not allowed to lead, suburban attitudes, materialism and over-busyness will destroy biblical vision and church settles back into activities that everyone likes. “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?” is the mentality? In church life this mentality is the end of a vision to extend the gospel any further than we have already extended it. Just keep things as we like them means that we never dream, never ask God to work wonders, never go beyond the margins, never give up our lives. Risky faith has disappeared to be replaced with suburban consumer faith.

Let leaders lead for biblical vision. In fact insist on it. Encourage them in it. If you think they have no space or capacity to do it, or have had it crushed out of them, give them space, sabbatical and encouragement to recover it. Or your church will never risk for the gospel and you will have a mediocre, aenemic, shallow shadow of real New Testament church life. Suburbia will have crushed the biblical life out of you. Subtly, gently, but certainly. do everything you need to do to get it back for the glory of God.