Church’s precarious futureBy Stephen Kriss
However, we don’t need leadership that ignores the annual denominational membership decline and coddles our humble sensibilities. Not unless we’re comfortable with laying this whole thing to rest before we enter the next century.
Our situation requires leadership with a commingling of astringency and audacity. Frequently, though, we prefer empathic leadership that knows where we’re coming from rather than senses where we need to go. We’ve often chosen leaders who speak well of our past rather than have a vision for our future.
Effective leadership will need to recognize what’s pertinent from our history while moving us toward compelling visions of new possibilities through difficult-to-navigate times.
My colleague Noah Kolb speaks of ballast in the life of congregations. Ballast provides buoyancy and an ability to navigate. But too much weight puts the ship at risk of sinking.
Simone Weil, a Jewish-Catholic French philosopher, talks about the need for gravity (a force that pulls toward the center) and grace (a force that propels outward). It seems that our moment in time requires leadership attuned to both of those forces — to the needs of the center and the present, and to the possibilities of the periphery and the future.
I hope our search teams will have the courage to select not only with the past and present in mind but with an understanding of our precarious future.
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