I was asked today to explain a bit more about our approach to “collective” or plural leadership. Here are five things I highlighted about why plural leadership is good when it works well (Disclaimer: we don’t always get it right and so it does not always work well!)
1. It actually achieves things. Working as plural leaders we’ve been able to get things done together. This is because it brings together different people with different skills, experience, personality etc to encourage more effective decision making
2. It does not have to be slow and cumbersome. In fact, it tends to work at the pace it needs to. Sometimes this can feel frustrating when it isn’t the pace you want but I think God often uses things to slow churches and leaders down in their decision making. At the same time, where needed, we have made decisions together quickly. Having multiple heads and accountability gives us a togetherness which helps us step out in faith together.
3. Done properly it means that there is both the freedom for people to have and run with ideas along with the right framework of mutual accountability and challenge.
4. Done properly, especially in church with congregational government it should move us away from a passive consumer approach where people simply have things done for them and move on. We want people to be drawn both into the decision making and the action.
5. It is rooted in our faith in knowing Christ, the one who came “not to be served but to serve.” Plural leadership must not be about an oligarchy ruling over the church. Leaders serve the congregation. This is important because the tyranny of a committee can be just as, if not worse than the tyranny of a single dictator.
The final point is important because it means that how we do things is rooted in who we are. I was asked whether such an approach is replicable. My response was “Yes and No”
Yes – because this is good leadership.
No – because it is rooted in who we are in Christ. So, you can’t simply replicate a model in secular leadership without first of all being rooted in Christ.