Making Room for New Leaders

For the past two days I have been at a retreat sponsored by the Texas Methodist Foundation entitled “Making Room for New Leaders – The Third Path Dilemma.”  With a wide spectrum group of Bishops, Board of Ministry Chairs, and various other leaders, we have wrestled with how to create “third paths” in ministry (ordained?) beyond the conventional routes for Deacons and Elders – new leaders for current congregations, new leaders for special settings, leaders for new forms of congregations that are emerging. There are many takeaways for what was clearly just a beginning conversation.  How do we make room for creative new experimentation in leadership?  How do Boards of Ordained Ministry, Bishops and other leaders together focus on the purpose of making disciples rather than serving an embedded constituency?  What is clear is that we must redirect the focus to mission and purpose (away from representing/protecting a group). An interesting book we read in preparation was Church Morph by Eddie Gibbs.  At one point Gibbs writes: “The church urgently needs not just younger leaders, but a different kind of leader.  The church needs visionary, risk-takers who do not look to institutional churches to provide their financial security or career opportunity.  They are prepared to venture into the unknown not as isolated individuals, but as cohorts that belong to a wider dispersed community.  They do not undertake lengthy periods of training for mission, but are trained in mission.  Recognizing that most failure in church leadership occurs through failure of character rather than competence, their training focuses on becoming biblically literate and on internalizing the spiritual disciplines.” (p. 148)