Why Team Leadership?

The popular idea of leadership presents the picture of a person that is courageous and omni-competent.  The leader has no weaknesses and is able to take a group of people on their back and go on to victory.  However, both experience and reason undermine such an idea of leadership.  There is no leader who is competent in all areas, so to place such a responsibility on one individual is a disservice to both the leader and the mission.  With this in mind, we have concluded that teams of leaders (e.g. elder team, teaching team, staff teams, ambassador teams) will maximize our individual strengths, manage our individual weaknesses, and avoid the mistake of building the mission around one man.

First, we believe that a team of elders is the sole biblical presumption in matters of church governance.  Consequently, all macro-leadership will be carried out by a team of biblically astute, integritous elders.  Second, while we concede that in matters of micro-leadership the Bible does not necessarily present operating in teams as an imperative, we hold that it is a definite liberty as it was modeled by men like Moses (Ex. 18:13-27) and Paul (Acts 13:1).    We have concluded that team leadership is a wise choice as it:

  • Avoids the celebrity leader tendency
  • Encourages authentic community, accountability, and edification
  • Minimizes the ministry burden on each church leader by spreading it out among teammates
  • Combines complimenting strengths and manages weaknesses
  • Provides a pool of ideas from which wise decisions can be drawn

We concede that leading in this manner can at times be slower and more complex.  But we believe the benefits far outweigh the complexities which can be overcome if we model patience, persevering prayer, wisdom, self-control, humility, trust, and genuine respect for the gifts of others in the body of Christ.

Our approach to this will mobilize teams in three different categories:

  • First, the mission will be guarded by a team of elders.  The elder team is responsible for vision casting and macro-level leadership decisions.  While we do have a directional leader or “captain” of the elder team, The Embassy does not have a “Senior Pastor.”  As the directional leader, Brandon Washington is captain of this team; the first among equals (primus inter pares).  But we want to be very clear on the fact that he is NOT the leader of the church; the elder team leads the church.
  • Second, daily missional management will be guided by our staff teams.  These teams address the operational responsibilities of the mission and assist in mobilizing the missional communities.
  • Third, our Missional Communities are gifted by our ambassador teams.  They will be the front line when it come to engaging one another and the city around us.  They are central to mission, community, and mobilization.

We hope to be the 1st Corinthians 12 church, recognizing that we are designed to be a diverse and complimentary body of believers.  We believe that a team model will best fulfill this objective.

Brandon,

Striving toward Kingdom Community and Discipleship,
The Embassadors
www.theembassy.org

About embassadors

Core Value: - In all things, God is Supreme. (Romans 11:36) Rhythms: - Biblical Truth - Inefficient Discipleship - Kingdom Community - Missional Living Distinctives: - Team - Diversity & Integration - Small Missional Community Groups - Planting Pregnant - Maximizing Resources for Kingdom Purposes
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4 Responses to Why Team Leadership?

  1. Rodney says:

    While I agree fully with this in theory, my fear is in the practice. This type of leadership is very uncommon today, especially in western culture, and most certainly in America. There are plenty of phrases that come to mind: Too many chiefs, not enough indians; too many cooks in the kitchen, etc. Frustration can occur from all sides.

    The extremes are that there are too many people who will naturally want to take charge and will thus lead to a power struggle. Or the opposite, people will want to fall in line with the idea of “team leadership” and therefore not want to stand up and make a decision, creating a “too many indians and not a single chief.”

    While I subscribe to the concept of INefficiency, and how that plays a critical role in how we will serve this city, my fear is the fight will not be between being efficient vs. inefficient, but rather being inefficient vs. not effective.

  2. Alisha says:

    Who decides whom is on the team?

  3. embassadors says:

    Rodney, you voice a very good point. I am sure you are not the only one that is processing it in this way. Allow me to point out a few things.

    1) I would argue that this approach is quite common in western culture. For example, many companies are governed by a board of directors and no one board member has any more authority than the others on the team. These companies are not typically paralyzed by a lack of decision-making. They all know the vision and they lead as a team. Wells Fargo is a great example of this (see “Good to Great” by Jim Collins).

    2) It is true that a team can have “too many chiefs,” but this only happens when there is no role clarity. Team members function in roles according to their God-given design, and humbly submit to God and each other. This means each team member has a clearly identified area of responsibility and he takes the lead on matters that fall into that category; the other members of the leadership team submit to his leadership. For example, Nathan is more gifted than me when it comes to recognizing and meeting felt needs. God has designed him through nature and nurture to behave in this manner. On the other hand, I am predisposed to vision and ideas. Because of this, once Nathan is an elder, he will be the “chief” in matters of pastoral care. And I will be the “chief” in matters of preaching and vision casting. (Please don’t call us chiefs, call us servants. ☺) When we are discussing the health and wellness of the body I will follow his lead. When we are addressing how we will communicate a theological idea or if we are staying on mission, he will follow my lead. We will lead by consensus. But the break-down in decision making that you mentioned is not a concern for us because the leadership team is comprised of leaders that submit to one another.

    3) We are compelled to have a team approach to elder governance because this is the sole presumption of scripture. Every church in the New Testament had a plurality of elders. Paul would routinely refer to the elders (plural) in a single body of believers. For example Acts 14:23 says, “And when they had appointed elders (plural) for them in every church (singular), with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.” And Acts 20:17 says, “Now from Miletus [Paul] sent to Ephesus and called the elders (plural) of the church (singular) to come to him.” The New Testament uses this language without exception. Notice that passages like Titus 1:5; James 5:14; 1st Peter 5:1-5 also referenced a plurality of elders in spite of the fact that they were addressing one gathering of believers.

    We will concede that this approach has its INefficiencies, but we contend that it is a biblical commission.

    -Brandon

  4. embassadors says:

    Alisha, The answer to your question will not be the same for all of the teams.

    1) The Ambassador team leaders are affirmed by the pastoral leaders. Derrick Kelsey takes the lead on this matter; Nathan and I assist him as he goes through the process of affirming, equipping, and launching missional community group leaders. By the way, these leaders may be brought to our attention by members of the gathering that have recognized an individual’s leadership potential, or the potential leader may come forth and ask to be equipped and launched.

    2) The Staff teams are comprised of both paid and unpaid staff (e.g. deacons). The paid staff is affirmed by the elders. They are appointed by the elders after they are affirmed by the gathering according to the qualifications listed in 1st Timothy 3:8-13. In other words, they will be presented to the gathering to see if anyone has a reasonable and legitimate concern based on Paul’s list of qualifications.

    3) A potential elder is appointed to the elder team by the existing elders. He must first be affirmed by the gathering according to the qualifications listed in 1st Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. In other words, potential elders will be presented to the gathering to see if anyone has a legitimate, reasonable concern based on Paul’s list of qualifications.

    -Brandon

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