Featherstonhaugh Seminar Series
Featherstonhaugh Seminar Series, 18 October 2017
‘For the equipping of all God’s people: the practice and purpose of Christian leadership’
Revd Ian Parkinson, Leadership Specialist with CPAS.
Ordinands, Derek Harrington and Christopher West, reflect on the first seminar in the Church of Ireland Theological Institute’s Featherstonhaugh Series.
“The task of ministry is to raise up leaders … while the business of leaders is to give ministry away.” Ian shared the particular calling of a leader in ministry as one where, in a sense, they are essentially to work themselves out of a job. That is to say, there is a need to create an environment whereby the work of ministry continues beyond the moving on of leaders. In expanding on what this might look like in practice, he then took us on a journey through the various theological and practical concerns around leadership within the Church, highlighting various key priorities in leadership, before finally zooming in on Jesus’ model for growing leaders.
Theological & Practical Concerns
Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 12 that there is a need to understand the Church as the body of Christ, where each and every one has an important role to play as part of that body. We need to be aware of the particular role of leaders within the Church, who are called to ‘equip the people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up’ (Ephesians 4.12). All in the body should be encouraged to recognise where they are able to serve according to the gifts given them. Leaders themselves must have a firm self–understanding of their role and the particular responsibility that comes with that, so as to ‘present everyone fully mature in Christ’ (Colossians 1.28).
Even the most competent leaders have limitations: the answer is not to try harder as a leader in such circumstances, but to find people more suited to the particular task. Raising up others to various roles of leadership enable the work of ministry to be extended. Leaders should seek to equip, resource, develop and encourage fellow disciples to share their stories and their faith with others in various contexts. In addition, people need to be given an appetite for serving, and opportunities in which to serve. Too many churches work with a ‘hand–to–mouth’ mode of operation in ministry. Church leaders should seek to actively ensure continuity so as to enable succession in ministry during periods of transition.
1. Establish a developmental culture:
Leaders must be cultural influencers and cultural transmitters in order to model the cultural changes that need to take place;
2. Envision the whole church in the privilege of whole–life discipleship:
We need to set people free to ‘dream dreams’ within their own context so that they can find natural and creative ways in which to minister the grace of Christ to others in their workplace;
3. Form strategies for growing and developing leaders:
For this, we need look no further than the ministry of Jesus himself.
Ian’s seminar combined wisdom and understanding. He presented a wonderful vision for change that integrated deep thinking with biblical study and practical advice for equipping the people of God.
The next seminar will take place on 17 January 2018 at 3pm and will be given by Professor Neville Cox, Dean of Graduate Studies, Trinity College Dublin.