There seem to be patterns of behaviour that can go with a pioneer spirit. The positive side is self-starting, strength of character, determination, faith and hope. But as we were talking last night in church, the flip side of determination is stubbornness: and so follows independence, imposition of will, expectation and drivenness. I know these characteristics well because, in my time, I've been a pioneer and displayed the negative aspects of them freely, even taking a certain amount of pride in doing so.
As a church we have been displaying them as well, all too clearly. So many activities that we've had seem to have been started by someone 'deciding' it was going to be started. Obvious, d'uh? Yes, but the answer as to why it's an issue is inherent in that statement.
The Church is meant to be the body of Jesus on earth. A body cannot walk well if a left foot decides to move off one way while the right foot decided it really likes the place it's already reached. What happens at meal times if the hands are carefully coordinating the transport of food, but the mouth is busy talking? So it is with any kind of church activity. If I go ahead and start a discussion group for single Asian men below 5'8" because I "feel God is calling me to do it" then we may have a group for short, light brown, unmarried men for a while, but despite everyone that comes to it being part of the church, it isn't a church group. And if, after a few years, there is a need for me to do something else, well, the group is 'mine' so I can just close it and move on.
I mean to throw no stones, but as a church we have modelled independence instead of inter-dependence as a pattern for church life.
So God is trying to break the pattern in us.
Talking after last night's meeting with Eddy made me realise this is why I'm trying to submit the things I think we should be doing to the overall church leadership, even though the reasoning was unconscious for the most part. A few times it has seemed as though it would be so much easier to get 'forgiveness than permission' - actually among men at least, we almost seem to use that expression with pride instead of shame - but God has been very gracious in keeping me from that course of action. There have been times I've walked away from those leadership meetings feeling down, ineffectual and frustrated, yet at the same time I KNOW we need to agree together on a course of action before we take things to the church.
Is this really the right way? Leadership by committee?
If this were just a committee then I'd say firmly 'NO', but I'd say that each person on the leadership team is there because that's where God wanted them to be, and we are a VERY diverse bunch with all kinds of views and perspectives. Yet at the same time there IS a unity present among us, and a determination to seek God for the best for His church at Heyford Park. We are learning to submit to each other, and the result of that seems a different atmosphere in the church, a lightness, an openness, an acceptance that we never had.