September 12, 2006


Two weeks ago sunday marked a bit of an event in Mimos history. For the first time (in our long and eventful history of six-ish months) we began transitioning leadership. I think I've mentioned before that Ruth (the current teaching pastor) is up and leaving with her family, bound for Thailand to serve alongside other Christians on the Thai-Burmese border at an orphanage. The trouble is, she's the one who has the apostolic gift on our leadership team of five, and is usually the one who God talks to about the direction of our church.

I say "usually" because that's why it's a leadership TEAM - we all get God talking to us from time to time (and hopefully we're listening), it's just that He seems to have picked out the apostles in the church to talk to more often about mimos' future. And of course, mimos works on the principle that every single one of us - including Thomas, who's only four years old - is a minister and capable of doing God's work here on earth (and thatn often means that much of the direction of the church comes from people not even on the leadership team).

In her place are two people, the first of whom was introduced this past weekend. Annette Dobson is to take Ruth's place as the go-between (dare I say "pastor" without the term misrepresenting her role?) from mimos to the Wesleyan-Methodist denomination here in Australia. Annette has already been taking care of the various administrative functions (in addition to her role as a member of the leadership team), and has been with us since the beginning of the plant. The thing is, God has also been talking to Annette - quite extensively, I might add - about mimos' future, and has given her a vision so compelling that I wish we could stick around just to see if we're up for the challenge! I won't share what that vision is just yet, because I think Annette would say it a whole lot better (and if I can just get her to comment on the bottom ....).

The second person has yet to be decided, but Sarah Bolsche has been asked to take Ruth's vacant spot on the leadership team. Sarah too is a wonderful devoted follower of Jesus, with a gift for Apostleship (questioning the rules and pushing the church to always be expanding into new territory) that I envy.

In fact, there are five spiritual gifts outlined in Ephesians: Apostleship (pushing the church forward, Prophesy (revealing the world as it is to those of us who aren't so aware), Evangelism (being able to tell others about the good news in a meaningful way), Pastoring (being able to take care of people, both Christian and non-Christian alike, as well as sharing the truth of the scriptures as they apply to everyday life), and Teaching (being able to discern the scriptures and lead in an academic sort of way). To an extent, every person has a certain degree of each of these gifts, but usually each of us stand out in one or two, often at the "expense" of the rest. The ability to lead can be added to each one of these, but often one can be a prophet without being a leader, or a pastor without being a leader. In a church, all five are necessary in active leadership if that church is to be a vibrant, healthy, growing organism.

We originally chose to have a leadership team of four people, but it seemed that God had other plans and nudged Ruth to invite a fifth member onto the team. Leadership, in the past, was considered to be something removed from the everyday. Leaders were people much like surgeons or doctors; highly educated, insanely smart, and often elevated to a pedestal because of their talents and training, and thus, in a way, removed from the rest of society. Surgeons and doctors are able to fix everything, and in many ways, we used to look to our leadership to fix our problems for us, or to at least be able to prescribe the right treatment in order that we might become whole. The problem was, God was removed from the equation, something that seemed to work fine at first, but eventually, some of us began to notice that, despite the many recommended treatments, we weren't getting better.

In a postmodern age, we've stopped thinking of our leaders in this manner, but have begun to think of them as equals. Leaders no longer lead from their thrones or their committee-chairs or their pulpits, but rather, from beside those that follow them, working the soil alongside the rest of us. We now allow leaders to learn on the job, realizing that there is no substitute in one's training for hands-on experience. In place of the surgeons, we now have fellow students, looking to the ultimate doctor - the triune God - for the healing we need so desperately.

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