True Team Leadership

I just read a great article from the latest issue of Leadership (formerly Leadership Journal) titled Next & Level. It's an interview with the 4 pastors who make up the leadership team at Next Level Church in Denver - Jared Mackey (ministry pastor), John Miller (worship pastor), Dave Terpstra (teaching pastor), and Brian Gray (community pastor). After a bad experience with a top-down, "Senior Pastor" model of leadership, they chose to try something different. They leveled the hierarchy. All four pastors are equal in authority despite their different ministry roles.

I have to admit although I've never seen it in action, the concept of this style of leadership has always been attractive to me. I've seen too many Senior Pastors either abuse their power or be abused by the powers-that-be. It's something that I try to constantly evaluate in my own ministry. I don't want to be the controlling, manipulative pastor with a very ego-driven ministry, but I also don't want to be the weak, ineffective leader who doesn't allow God to guide his ministry because he's afraid of confrontation. For a point leader to have a balance of strength and meekness is a gift that has to come from God, because I don't think it comes naturally to most people.

The pastors at Next Level Church admit that this model is not for everybody. There are just as many obstacles with their model as with more traditional models. Change takes longer because they all have to come to agreement. It can be rough on egos to take a backseat for a season. A huge benefit, though, is when a church is personality-based, the church tends to fall apart if anything happens to that personality (sin, death, moving on). When a church has a team-based leadership model, it doesn't take as hard a hit when these things happen.

I don't think this is a model that is easy, either. It would require a great amount of trust of all the team members. It would require true selfless service. These are things that we all aspire to, but too often when humans are involved, these things are difficult to come by.

I do feel like Living Hope has a similar feel, though. I try to work as an equal with both the elders and the staff. One of the most beautiful things about our church is that everybody is accountable to everybody else. We are all both in authority and under authority. The membership submits to the authority of the staff/elders who submit to the authority of the membership. We all submit to the authority of Jesus. It's a beautiful thing!

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