I just watched the promo video for the Global Leadership Summit and threw up in my mouth a little…

For those who may not get my humour I am joking when I say I threw up in my mouth as I watched this video. What I am not joking about is this: How does this conference relate to faithful gospel vocation? If one desires to run an organisation or manage a religious convenience store then I can understand how the material might have relevance to leadership and management. However, when Bill Hybels says in the opening words, “I really do believe the church is the hope of the world” I have grave concerns. Is not Christ the hope of the world? I find it concerning that the church would need to walk this kind of road in order to achieve God’s plan for the world. In fact, I would ask; where did we ever get the idea we need to achieve anything for God? Do we not participate in the ongoing ministry of Christ in our world? Is the the eschatological future of the people of God really tied to our achievements? I digress…

I understand what I am saying may sound negative. It is. And it is meant to. Eugene Peterson says in the opening lines of his wonderful volume, The Contemplative Pastor,

“Pastors are abandoning their posts, left and right, and at an alarming rate. They are not leaving their churches and getting other jobs. Congregations still pay their salaries. Their names still appear on the church stationary and they continue to appear in pulpits on Sundays. But they are abandoning their posts, their calling. They have gone whoring after other Gods. What they do with their time under the guise of pastoral ministry hasn’t the remotest connection with what the church’s pastors have done for most of twenty centuries.” (Eugene Peterson, The Contemplative Pastor, 1987, p.1)

Many will not agree with me or Peterson and argue that churches are organisations which need to be managed and lead in the same manner that corporations are. Nevertheless, as Peterson states strongly, I wonder if such an approach merely encourages pastors to abandon their true calling and take to religious shopkeeping. It is very easy to become obsessed with ideas, programs, and vision that merely seeks answers to a how the church might, as Peterson laments, “keep customers happy, how to lure them away from the competitors down the street, how to package the goods so the customers will lay out more money” (1987, p.2). A culture of consumer driven, success orientated religion is very appealing for any minister, especially myself! All pastors want a successful church that they can point to and say, “Look what I have built”. However, our responsibility is to keep the church attentive to God. This is, I fear, a responsibility being abandoned in spades.

Until someone can convince me otherwise I will endeavor to resists the temptation to attend success based workshops such as the GLS. By convince I mean argue coherently from Scripture (in context) why this approach is required or justified. However, if all one can do is point to bottom lines and end results as reasoning, I’m staying put!🙂