Yesterday I read this really good article in Leadership Journal on ministry teams. I had been hearing the term “five-fold” ministry lately in the pentecostal circles around town and on the net. My bias is that I always look very closely at pentecostal justifications for anything because there are some important ideas I don’t think are biblical (ie. Oneness Pentecostals and their view on the Trinity).

[And for full disclosure I will say that even though much of my theology falls in the “reformed” camp, I am very open to being corrected and learning more from other traditions and viewpoints. I think that is one of the reasons I enjoyed Brian McLaren’s, A Generous Orthodoxy, because I could relate to developing a theology that spanned traditions connecting the body of Christ v. dividing it. Additionally, I believe in all the gifts of the Holy Spirit and am not a cessationist.]

So, when Steve Hickey (a C. Peter Wagner fan) pointed out in his post that this article was in leadership I was intrigued. Because of the context that I heard about the term, “five-fold”, I was hesitant and waiting until I could do further study on the topic. I must say that I found EVERYTHING in this particular article to resonate and make complete sense with biblical theology and personal history of leadership within the church. Presentation is so important isn’t it? I especially appreciated the author’s pointing out the weaknesses of each particular leadership gifting. I think it is this area that strikes that hesitancy note in me because MY first leadership gifting is in sheperding and therefore I “focus on the protection and spiritual maturity of God’s flock, cultivating a loving and spiritually mature network of relationships, making and developing disciples.” It makes sense that I would react to self-appointed apostles who if “focus[ing] solely on initiating new ideas and rapid expansion, you can leave people and organizations wounded.”

I really appreciate thinkers that help me reframe and expand my perception of concepts, since like all humans, I generally operate within my own biases. The excesses I see in many charismatic/pentecostal camps really irritates the “shepherd” in me b/c of that potential for damage in the fallout.

Alan Hirsch’s article and experience in functioning with a team-style leadership that incorporates all elements of leadership was well written and very encouraging for me to read. It is true that team leadership that honors all leadership styles working together is messier and not as “fast”, but it seems to be more in line with the biblical image of being Christ’s body.

Another good article on this team style of leadership is in an interview in Leadership Journal. The leaders of the church Next Level transitioned to a team approach, but also view that it is not the only way to lead. As Pastor Gray comments in this interview, when you transition leadership styles, “you’re just trading liabilities. The liabilities that go with the team structure suit our culture, and they suit our personalities.” This article doesn’t correlate directly with the concept of Five-Fold ministry, since the Next Level pastors have divided their roles up non-hierarchically. Conceivably, and practically, churches could use a five-fold model that is biblical in gifting, yet remain hierarchical in structure. To me, it seems that in our current culture with our current societal weaknesses a five-fold TEAM (non-hierarchical) style of leading would be the most effective. Again, styles change and adapt according to the needs of the church body and society surrounding it.

Of course, again, I am attracted and biases toward this structure due to my own personality and giftings. As Pastor Terpstra notes, “Our team structure demands healthy relationships and healthy communication. Without those we cannot get the job done.” To me, healthy relationships are primary. Additionally, my personality bias gravitates towards always equalizing power structures, which can be a liability at times in itself because at times I need to step up and provide leadership. Terpstra elaborates that “just because we believe in a flattened structure doesn’t mean we don’t believe in each of us exercising leadership.”

As always, many resist change and many of the “old guard” aren’t comfortable going in these new directions. There will continue to be challenges as these changes happen. Interestingly, even larger churches are entering the realm of becoming more “missional” which will entail a leadership and body functioning with ALL the gifts in the body. I’m interested to see how this evolves in my particular church, which does have the traditional hierarchical “senior” pastor role. (Yet, he is leading us into discerning what being missional will mean for our congregation).

Coming from a denomination that can often become overburdened with structure–we joke about that when making decisions, we have to form a committee to study the committee to decide if we should have a committee to study the issue at hand!–I’m very much looking forward to the upcoming Presbyterian Global Fellowship in August*. One seminar that really caught my eye is entitled A New Way of Doing Session: From Committees to Leadership (Where does the staff’s job stop and the session’s job start? How can we limit the number of meetings required to make a decision? How do we involve our elders in a way that truly draws on their gift for leadership as opposed to disheartening them with minutiae? If you have asked yourself these questions, then this seminar will help you understand how you might apply the Carver Model to your session and move them from being committee chairs to elders who envision the future.)

Anything–leadership styles, biblical models, whatever–can be ruined with imbalance and excess. I’ll keep watching how this pans out. I think the dialog is going to be very interesting.

*As I was looking at the PGF page again i JUST noticed that one of the author’s I quoted above is a main speaker! This will be great. (Yes, I have a tendency to skim quickly. I have a two year-old and very small windows of opportunity to glean information!)