This is the third in a short series of posts that attempt to answer the question: Why should Christian faith communities practice innovative leadership?
The first post suggested that economic and other practical realities may force innovation upon us, but we should embrace the positive innovations that result from those external factors. The second post argued that a healthy sense of mission will cause us to notice and attempt innovation as well. These are practical reasons for being innovative.
But other considerations also come into play. As the leadership models of churches, parachurch organizations, and other ministries are informed by theological foundations sometimes these foundations themselves challenge the conventional wisdom of the social context. This leads some groups, of course, to boldly maintain traditional hierarchies or even patriarchies in the face of cultural pressures to do otherwise; but for others, it may lead to experimentation.
Take decision-making, for instance. When a theological commitment to a congregational-based decision-making process is in play the result may be radically democratic decision-making processes within a particular faith community. In contrast, a neighboring faith community may implement a hierarchical version of leadership when they embrace their commitment to a universal structure, perhaps bolstered with founding (e.g. apostolic) authority.
While both of these assumptions may lead to stagnation and atrophy if unexamined, they may also generate creative experimentation when they are explored, critiqued, and contextualized in an purposeful manner.
The situation is really an invitation to be very intentional. Our theological assumptions may lead us to new understandings about how we organize ourselves. And may specifically challenge our culturally-informed assumptions about leadership, much of which we may first accept uncritically.
We should ask:
Which theological convictions help us to newly imagine how things could be done differently?