Friday, June 20, 2008

Creating Models of Trust

Continuing the creative and literary themes is this story from the UK:

In a recent letter (April 2008) from BWA General Secretary, Neville Callam, entitled, ‘Words to live by in a Christian Movement: Valid Models of Working’, he writes:

“Most of the 'vision casting' processes created by the corporate world and adopted by our churches are designed to discover that which comes from us.”1

“In the April/June issue of Baptist World magazine, my editorial made reference to On the Way to Trust2, a 38-page resource to which four distinguished British Baptist theological educators collaborated - Paul Fiddes, Brian Haymes, Richard Kidd and Michael Quicke. The booklet is a very accessible resource produced in the last decade of the twentieth century partly to aid those who develop structures of oversight within Baptist churches and their wider ecclesial bodies not only in that century but in the current one as well. Today, we offer our readers excerpts of this very valuable resource.”

“[W]e need a theology of trust in our relationships together… Baptists have always been at their best when they have had the trust of another” (p. 34).

“… uncompromising rejection of worldly notions of leadership and authority lies at the heart of the covenant community of trust.” (p. 32) “Instead of organizing hierarchies of control, God gives creative freedom for people to belong together in mutual trust which is open and vulnerable.” (p. 30)

“ … models of leadership emerge in the world of management which seem to commend themselves as ways of ensuring success and which cut straight tracks across what people may see as inefficient and untidy bonds of trust.” (p. 31)

“Many contemporary models for effective leadership are totally task-oriented as they outline techniques to influence people and achieve goals and objectives… [T]hese leadership aids can easily subvert the very texture of the gift of life in covenant relationship which is in the unique offering of Christ. By focusing on the directing to be done and the tasks to be achieved they can discount the vulnerabilities and possibilities of mature trust in community.” (pp. 32-33)

“Strategic alliances in the world of business today take three basic forms, which we may call Networking, Sharing Resources and Joint Ventures.” (p. 23)

“The fashionable reaction against denominations may be in accord with the prayer of Christ that '… all may be one,' but it might also just be a desire to keep our association with each other under our own control. God always challenges us to pay the cost of living in trust.” (pp. 26-27)

Callam concludes: “We are grateful for the guidance the excerpted portions we have offered provide for all those who make decisions about relevant structures for churches and wider ecclesial bodies for the twenty-first century.”

“When bonds of trust are replaced by systems and structures of control, churches and ecclesial bodies lose their pneumatic centre, their spiritual core, and are reduced to convenient bodies of affinity!”

Notes
1 Robert Tinsley, Finding God's Vision: Mission and the New Realities. Veritas Publishing, 2005. p. 13.
2 Richard Kidd, ed., On the Way to Trust. Whitley Publications, 1997.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: This is a high church in a French town that my wife and I visited in 2007. It has a ‘stations of the cross’ along the path to the summit (you need lots of stations to break the trip) and the climb does sort out both the faithful and the fit. But, as in worship, the view from the top makes the approach worth it. (Click to enlarge)