Coming Full Circle

Long term readers of this blog (both of you) might remember this post from back in May of 2004:

Monday night was a monumental night, or at least it could have been. Time will tell. The deacons of the Columbus Church of Christ (myself included) met with the evangelist to discuss the state of the church and its future direction. Decisions were made that will effect the lives of many here.

Last week the deacons had met for only the second time since our appointment back in November of last year. ...

At the end of the night, we had decided that we could no longer sit on our hands and watch. We, along with the evangelist and campus minister, were the appointed leaders of the church. If we did not act, who would? We decided that we needed to take our place as leaders beside the ministers and work side by side with them. We would not meekly ask to be included, nor would we arrogantly demand to have our say. Rather we would, as leaders approved by the congregation last fall, assume the place we should have from the start. It was time that the church had a cohesive leadership team. ...

As we left there was a feeling expressed that this could be the beginning of a new era in our fellowship, a turning point if you will. Perhaps it will amount to nothing, most, if not all, of that depends on our follow through.

Our meeting was a fruitful one and the then two ministers (our campus minister has since resigned) and the four Deacons commented to work together. We met together and talked every two weeks. We began to get with he members to hear their concerns and we began to forge unity. The longer we consistently got together, the more cohesive the group became. Our differences melted away.

Late last year, I was feeling that we were heading into new territory as a cohesive group. As the weeks and months went by, it felt to me that we were on our way to making the great changes in our church that were needed. There was a general feeling that it was time for us to accomplish more than talk. It was time to produce real change. It was about this time that our minister made an announcement:

On Thursday our main minister or evangelist, spoke up against the idea of team leadership as we've been practicing it. ...

[H]e thought that perhaps we had gone beyond what we should have. ... He referred back to the appointment of the deacons, about a year ago, saying we were appointed to specific areas of ministry (children, poor, campus and administration) not to a broad leadership role. He thought we had gotten away from our focus on specific areas of serving and had taken on a larger role than we were given. He said that he did not see a team approach to leadership in the scriptures, that it was the evangelist who led the church until such time as there were elders in place. We have no elders, so it was his role to lead, not the group's. His thought was that this was a better plan because, as our group has demonstrated, group leadership can lead to paralysis, lack of focus and stagnation.

Well, to say I was surprised would be an understatement. I did not see this coming. A plethora of emotions were running through my mind. He went to great lengths to reassure us that he was not trying to take over or grab power. He has grown to appreciate our meetings greatly and plans to rely on us for support and advice. He would be a fool, he said, to ignore our council, and other mature men in the church, in leading the church. He emphatically expressed his desire to involve us in the decision making process. ...

In the events of last Thursday I see hope and I am afraid. I do not know what will come of it, but I did not know what would come of our meetings when they began 6 short months ago. They have brought us together and built a foundation of trust that can be built upon. In that I see hope. What was once a fractured, dis-unified leadership now has a foundation of unity. I hope that my fears are unfounded, the unhealthy result of an aversion cultivated by the past pattern. I've seen many years of hierarchy leadership with one man at the top and only 6 months of a team based system. It scares me to put one man in charge again. But now I know this man and I know his heart. I also think I know God's heart a little better and I have a little more conviction and courage to speak up, and because of our new relationship I have the confidence that I will be listened to as well. As I said six months ago, time will tell what this means.

To make a long story short (imagine me doing that), in the past few weeks, we're back to where we begun. The Deacons and the minister have met twice in two weeks and we've set a course to meet on a regular basis (twice a month). It's a turn of events that hold much promise for the congregation. We've been languishing in a malaise for too long.

I don't think there's any reason to go into the details of why this is taking place now. Suffice to say that the Holy Spirit has clearly been working on all of our hearts, and each person has been listening. The environment was now ripe for change and cooperation, I think we all recognized it and acted on it. Where there was once distance, there is now cooperation. It isn't taking us long to get right back where we were, which is pleasantly surprising to me. I thought it would take longer.

We've only had two meetings, but we're already making some exciting plans that I hope to share with you in coming weeks. God is working in our hearts, and hopefully we can pay attention to His Spirit and 2006 will be the year of renewal we've been waiting for. It is an exciting time, one that is once again full of hope and promise.

1 Comment

Hey Doug,

It is commendable that you have continued to be engaged with your congregation's leadership to work through those things and arrive at this point. In my experience, qualified deacons can be the backbone of a ministry, if allowed to have an active role in the whole process. I believe good things will follow. God will bless humility and commitment to the common good.


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  • Hey Doug, It is commendable that you have continued to be engaged with your congregation's leadership to work through those things and arrive at this point. In my experience, qualified deacons can be the backbone of a ...