Management according to plan?

The story of a shed... How do you build a community? According to what plan? With what leadership?

Service, , , Kreuzkirche Leichlingen, more...

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We have been hearing about leadership for a few weeks now and a comparison from last week has been haunting me a bit.

The example of a building plan for a cupboard was compared with the building of the church. We find in the Bible how to build a church and if you don't follow the Bible, then nothing comes of building a church. So far so good.

We have probably heard this many times before and it is good that we are made aware of it again and again. The Bible is a guide for our lives and also a guide for how the church should continue.

Sometimes what I find exciting about such images is where the image reaches its limits. Every image, every comparison comes to its limits at some point, the more you go into detail, the more it limps. That's quite normal, we know it.

At the moment, we are thinking about leadership and about what a future church leadership could look like. And I would like to dwell a little on the image of the building plan.

(1st slide): We are building a cupboard

I was looking for some kind of cupboard construction plan on the internet and came across the Ikea cupboard called "PAX". In Latin, "Pax" means "peace", so it also somehow fits into the church service.

We have quite detailed instructions here and if you follow them, you usually get it done. Usually the necessary tool, the Allen key, is also included. I have done this a few times and except for one time, it was unproblematic. On this one occasion, I wanted to assemble a cupboard with a glass door and the glass door shattered due to tension and it rained rounded glass splinters on me - fortunately it was safety glass. I complained about it and got a new cabinet and with that the assembly worked. Of course, there is no guarantee that such an assembly will always work according to plan, but if you don't act too stupidly, it usually does.

I always stick exactly to the plan. After all, I paid for it and I want to use it. And besides, I don't feel violated in my masculinity when a piece of paper tells me what to do.

I don't know if there are really such people who buy and assemble things according to the motto "I don't need instructions!" buy things and assemble them, but of course we know the clichés.

But let's come back to the original picture. We do not find such an exact plan of procedure, with a quasi guarantee of success, in the Bible, neither for our lives nor for the church. Here we can clearly see that the picture has its limits.

There is no exact building and process plan waiting for the new church leadership (screw here, dowel there) and there is also no Allen key that fits all situations.

As a long-time church leadership member, one might be inclined to exclaim: On the contrary. It often seems more like what Saul experienced when he was installed as king. Saul, before he turned and David came into the picture, had been called by God to be king of Israel. The prophet Samuel anointed him and announced some signs for Saul and then comes the first instruction on how Saul is to exercise his kingship, his leadership as it were (1 Samuel 10:7; NEÜ):

7 When these signs come to you, just do whatever comes before your hands, for God is with you! -
That simple? Is that all?

I think there is a lot of truth in that, but of course that is only one aspect.

I would like to change the comparison of building a cupboard and tell you about one of my next projects.

We are building a shed

(Show and explain slides 2 to 5)

Is this realistic? Do I need an exact plan, like for an IKEA cupboard? Can I even do something like that?

In fact, I studied "YouTube" at the academy and looked: How do others do it?

Can I do it at all?

I often do this for activities that I know little about: researching on the internet, watching YouTube videos, etc., also to get a feeling for whether it is realistic to do it myself.

Unfortunately, there is no book in the Bible "From the everyday life of a leadership circle member". Of course, we do find descriptions of how one can and should deal with certain situations.

For example, we find indications in the Bible that one should not do everything oneself, but like Moses to listen to the advice of his father-in-law Jethro in Exodus 18:14-27 and delegate tasks, simply trust others to do something.

Or Peter, who, after having table fellowship with Romans in Acts 10, had to respond to reproaches from small-minded Jewish friends and did so in such a matter-of-fact way that these friends' horizons were broadened and they could put aside their small-mindedness.

Acts 11, 4;

Then Peter told them off one by one.

How many conflicts could be avoided with this! Certainly not all of them, because when there is too much human interaction, even objectivity often does not help, or more often one is no longer objective oneself.

There are many more examples.

And then, of course, there are the qualities that someone from the leadership should have, which were read out last week from Titus 1. Of course, no one is that perfect. It's useful to know your own limitations and weaknesses a little bit, of course. And in leadership you are also a team. It is not a kingdom where one person decides everything and the others have to be lucky that this person is not an incompetent fool.

It's a team where people complement each other, where they encourage each other and push each other forward. And the chances are that where one of us has bigger problems, another one might be a bit further along, and so we complement each other.

But let's come back to the shed. The initial question remains: Can I do it at all?

After what I've seen on YouTube during my studies, I'm in good spirits. I have already realised many projects in this way and most of them didn't turn out too badly.

Let's move on to the next question:

Who am I doing this for?

Why should I put up a shed like that?

It would be a pity for the wood. That's a strange justification, along the lines of: there's little point, but I don't want to throw anything away.

For all the noble motives like sustainability, not wasting anything, etc., it has to have a real purpose. I can really use the shed there.

This question made me think of a word from my profession, the word "scope". I have used that so often only in English that I had to look up the German translation. And it translates as "scope", "Geltungsbereich", "Anwendungsbereich".

A shed that I want to rent out or even sell, for example, has completely different requirements than such a thing for me alone in my garden.

The same question applies to our community, of course. What scope does our community have or should our community have? What scope? The question is, of course, a classic one that Christians have to ask themselves again and again. The older ones will perhaps remember that Herbert Szcepan, when he did a few events here with us in the late 80s, asked the following question: Community, a rescue team or a clubhouse? What are we here for?

How can we live and implement the three great equally important themes of "fellowship", "evangelism" and "diakonia"?

This will be an important topic for the new leadership. Maybe there will have to be more headings for the themes of the future.

OK, back to the shed. The scope for my shed is clear. It is only for us internally.

How do I start?

In preparation, I'll clear the space first, of course. But then I'll start with point foundations. These KG pipes have been lying around at my place for many years and they also have quirks, so you can probably only use them for this kind of thing anyway.

Yes, the foundation... The word "fundamentalist" has come to mean something really bad, something like: a concrete head who is unwilling to learn and who will walk over dead bodies.

But the foundation of one's own life and the foundation of the community is important, just as the shed also needs some kind of foundation.

How deep and how exactly one does that is not so important here. I saw in a video someone burying hollow concrete blocks and dowelling angles onto them. If it's on grown soil, it can even work. It just depends on the subsoil. In an earthquake zone, even solid ground can crack.

We don't have to start from scratch with the community. We have people, we also have a building, but the people are of course more important.

During the preparation, I had thought about whether the comparison of the shed building to the community building might even come across as insulting. The shed is built from old scrap wood and a wizened KG pipe, and our community is built from ... us.

We are also, most of us, not so very new anymore, but each of us, compared to a silly old board, is unique, important, valuable, loved by God. And we are not replaceable either, like those boards. When one leaves, it is missing. When one comes, he is an enrichment.

Who can I trust?

So far, I have avoided asking myself one question about building this shed.

I've watched a lot of videos about it for inspiration. But how do I know that a video is not a fake? Or that the video author is actually a bungler, but has succeeded with his video through luck? That could also be the case.

That leads to the question: Who can I trust?

With the shed, you approach it from different points of view. I'm not a craftsman, but I've already built a few things. For that, you can usually orientate yourself on the majority. Of course, it doesn't always work, but most of the time it fits. Then you can think about the intention of the video authors. Most of them want more viewers and therefore probably have a certain demand for quality. It is very unlikely that someone makes such videos to deliberately screw the viewers. Because then fewer would watch the next videos.

So it often comes down to common sense, which is not always the worst decision-making criterion.

With community building, it's more difficult. Common sense certainly has its place here, but here we are back at the beginning, that the Bible, God's Word, of course has the important information on church building and we must always return to it.

Psalm 127, 1; NL says quite strikingly:

Unless the LORD builds the house, the work of the builders is in vain. If the LORD does not protect the city, it is in vain to surround it with guards.

Common sense is often useful, but it is not enough for church building. God has to work, otherwise all this is useless.

Acts 4 records a prayer that the church in Jerusalem prayed together after the apostles Peter and John were released on the condition that they no longer speak publicly about Jesus (Acts 4:23-31; NL):

23 As soon as they were free again, Peter and John sought out the other believers and told them what the chief priests and elders had said. 24 When they heard it, they all lifted up their voices together and prayed, "Almighty Lord, Creator of heaven, earth and sea, and of everything that lives in them - 25 long ago you said by the Holy Spirit and through the mouth of your servant David our ancestor, 'Why did the nations rage with anger? Why did they plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth rebelled; the rulers of the world conspired against the Lord and his anointed.' 27 That is exactly what has happened here in this city! For Herod Antipas, Pontius Pilate the governor, and the people of Israel conspired against Jesus, your holy servant whom you anointed. 28 Everything they did was according to your eternal will and plan. 29 And now hear their threat, Lord, and give courage to your servants as they continue to proclaim the good news. 30 Send your healing power so that signs and wonders may be done in the name of your holy servant Jesus." 31 After this prayer, the building where they had gathered shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. And they boldly and fearlessly preached the message of God.

They first made themselves aware of the greatness and omnipotence of God again here. And on top of that, they lived in a hostile environment. We have been spared that so far.

And then we have here the two pillars of being a Christian: good news and healing power, proclamation and diakonia. And for that we need courage and God's power. How we put this into practice in our city today is a task that every congregation has to find for its own time. Methods from 20 years ago can be counterproductive today.

This is certainly an exciting task for the new church leadership. But I am sure that Jesus Christ will help and guide us in this.

After this prayer, the building shook, a symbol that the church was moved by God. But it depends on the people. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and became courageous. They could never have done it in their own strength, just as we cannot do it in our own strength. And God wants to give us strength and courage to do that.

For if the Lord does not build the house, the work of the builders is in vain.


I summarise: