Sharing responsibility for church

Alison is not a fan of authoritarian church government. Though I think he takes it a bit far in the other direction, he has some good points.

It is difficult to think of any subject which has been more used and abused than ecclesiastical language about sheep and shepherds – to such an extent that the very language of the Good Shepherd seems coated in kitsch, and, in the light of recent events in the United States and elsewhere, tinged wit a sad, and sometimes appalling, irony.

-James Alison, On Being Liked, p. 114

So what do you do when you don’t agree with your pastor? Church split!? Maybe not.

It means that if we disagree with something, then what we are doing is – disagreeing! Which is what adults do, helpfully, within a project for which they share responsibility. This is not dissenting, which is what subordinates do within a project where the responsibility is always with the higher-ups. And there are as we know, but rarely remember, no subordinates in the shepherding:

But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers and sisters. -Matthew 23:8


If we are consumers or just worker bees, then when trouble arises (and it always will, we’re all human), then “fixing” things often involves some form of “stickin’ it to the man”. But if we share responsibility, love the church, then we will always minimize damage. Even if there is a functional church split, we won’t give parting blows on the way out or start up hate-blogs afterwards. Geesh.