The Problem is Never Just the Problem

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Dr. Paul Borden
Rocky Mountain Church Network

Taken from Growing Healthy Churches March 2014 E-Newsletter




I recognize that any model of governance will work if the people doing the governing understand and practice the beliefs that they are in positions of responsibility to accomplish an agreed upon mission and to do all they can to help those being governed to serve well in accomplishing the mission. I also recognize the opposite is true, that no matter how good the model of governance might be, it still depends on the character of those doing the governing. Ultimately it gets down to character and integrity, and in congregational contexts, the Biblical and theological acumen of those governing.

The model proposed by John Kaiser in his book, Winning on Purpose is to date the best model I know to try and achieve Kingdom effectiveness in a fallen world. It hopefully provides the best checks and balances between the concepts of responsibility, accountability and authority. If implemented well, it enables capable leaders to lead the community in the achievement of God’s mission for the Church and create an exciting motivating vision for the congregation to live out in service to the Lord of the Church. However, the model still assumes that those governing are people of high character and integrity.

Pastors and board chairs must understand that having the best model is not enough, since the model is only as good as the people that function within the model. It still demands leadership skills.

For example, pastors need to understand the small problems and conflicts usually do not go away by ignoring them. Most minor conflicts are like leavened bread. The problems rise and get bigger over time, usually when people are not looking. Also, many of the conflicts in either board or staff relationships are coming from people that are experiencing frustration arising from unpleasant situations in their homes or places of employment. The problem is never just the problem. Many congregational conflicts are like onions that reflect various levels of unrest, often in multiple life experiences. Therefore good leaders realize that any governance model will be thwarted in its intent if problems are not handled well (in a variety of wise ways) while they are still relatively small ones.

Passive aggressive behavior is never to be tolerated, even if the issues are small in nature. In fact it is better to deal with such behavior when the issue is minor and emotions are not engaged at a high level. Also, if such behavior is practiced when the issue is not a large one, it will be practiced with even greater art, when the issue is much more significant.

Good leaders understand that accountability is not just related to goals.  Accountability must be practiced in dealing with the day to day implementation of normal governing functions. We must all be called to accountability for our actions when our actions threaten the conduct of governance, no matter how small or large the issue might be.[/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row]