it seems like mini-church. it great folks are ready their bible and studying but it's too much like big church. it's talk, talk, talk.
the other thing that is a problem is the phrase "lay-leadership." what other type is there in scripture? the bible says you are all brothers (and sisters). gifts are distributed by the Spirit to all. so lay-leadership is a deragatory term. like there is professional leadership? how well has that gone?
God hates leadership. he says call no man your father on earth because you have a heavenly father. He states he hate the deeds and doctrine of the nicolaitans (people rulers). paul states we have ten thousand teachers but not many fathers.
leaders will always have small groups that focus on learning. why? because that way they get to be the arrogant fount of knowledge. there is little to no emphasis on living and acting. it keeps leadership safe when action and belief are separate.
fathers are servants who participate in the development of another, leading to that individuals independence and ability to function. in other words "get things done" in the world.
Jesus was totally different than how he's often taught about in church. Leadership is not what the church needs. Talk is not what the church needs. the church needs sacrificial living with Jesus as our leader.
The writer finds himself among those who are frustrated by the church's traditions and dogmatic adherance to our structures ... to include those that are just emerging (like small groups). Within some of the frustration, there are some worthy thoughts to pull out. Here's the response I sent him:
I think I understand your perspective, and I find I agree with you in some measure. Yes, the we in the Western church have become far too professionalized, and this has cost the cause of the gospel much in our society. Yes, sacrificial living is in short supply and badly needed.
However, I don't find Scriptural support for your contention that "God hates leadership." Instead, what I find is that God hates arrogant leaders, but that He raises up leaders of many kinds. The Apostle Paul even says about spiritual gifts: "If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully."
Moreover, my friend and contributor, the "Jailbreaker" (a missionary to Japan), once told me that as he was learning how to break apart the western, cultural trappings we package the gospel in and to get back to the "Scriptural Roots of Ministry", he had to re-teach himself not to be judgmental of his brothers and sisters back in the US. So apparent had our church culture's flaws become to him, and so frustrated was he by our inability to grasp the importance of stripping our traditions and cultural baggage away from the central message of Christ, that he found it difficult to associate with our "church people." He had to re-learn how to be gracious and patient with our religious culture's flaws, "to win as many as possible." (Acts 9:19-21)
I think this is a worthy discussion, because it sits at the edge of where the Western church has been, and where it is going.
One thing this discussion surfaces is the natural tension between evolutionary and revolutionary change. I guess I'd consider myself more of an evolutionary leader, insofar as I tend to work within the structure and make change at the edges, rather than abandoning the structure. There is a definite place for revolutionaries though, such as my friend the Jailbreaker, who is using an utterly different, relationship-based model of ministry, "de-Westernizing" the gospel in order to reach the Japanese. It is a bold, necessary, lonely calling, and one from which I learn much.
I'd suggest that both models are important to moving the church forward, though they often find it difficult to understand one another. Moreover, while we evolutionary types can be too timid and complacent about the sad state of things, revolutionaries may suffer from the sins that emerge from the frustration of their calling: excessive anger, judgmentalism, loss of perspective ...
UPDATE: Much more in the "Comments". Please read/share your thoughts there. Also, see Jailbreaker's Take two posts up!