Fewer Presbyterian Heroes And More Farmers

We need to encourage a culture of practice and learning about our polity and our church courts.

The reason “hero cultures” thrive in business is no less true why heroes will thrive in Church.  People like to be the “go to” resource.  In some domains the hero protects his knowledge in order to be indispensable.  In the church, debate and participation is often left to those who are considered skilled enough to participate.

 

The title of this article is a hat tip to James Womack who has been at the fore of lean transformation movements for years.  In one of his articles he points out that many CEO’s are heralded for their amazing leadership and vision to right the ships of Ford or GM from the brink of bankruptcy.  Meanwhile, Toyota continues to lead in quality and profitability (and had one non-profitable year in over 50 years) but the culture that got them there goes unnoticed.  Without boring you in the details of “lean culture,” it’s all the little things baked into the culture of successful organizations that make an organization healthy.  Unhealthy cultures rely upon and rewards “heroes” who possess skills that are never institutionalized.

What does this have to do with the PCA?

The reason “hero cultures” thrive in business is no less true why heroes will thrive in Church.  People like to be the “go to” resource.  In some domains the hero protects his knowledge in order to be indispensable.  In the church, debate and participation is often left to those who are considered skilled enough to participate.

I’d like to encourage us to have more of a “farming” culture about church government in the PCA.  By that I mean that we need to encourage among our elders that navigating the BCO, Robert’s Rules of Order, or even participation at General Assembly doesn’t belong to those who have some extraordinary divine gifting.  Let me illustrate my point with two stories.

Years ago, our Presbytery meeting was close enough where there was really no excuse why the elders who never attended Presbytery couldn’t show up so they did.  I saw one at the break.  He was a retired Marine and was very blunt and quipped:  “I had to use toothpicks to keep my eyes open.”

The second story involves a Presbytery where a TE asked a question about how to transfer his credentials.  I was on the email and I simply consulted the BCO and let the group know what the process was.  I was thanked profusely for my seeming encyclopedic knowledge of things so obscure that only the learned attain thereunto.

I think the two stories illustrate the idea that the BCO or Robert’s Rules or how we deliberate are either so extremely boring or obscure that they’re better left to the people that have special gifting for them.

Nothing can be further from the truth.

The Lord has gifted me with many things but a long attention span is not one of them.  I’m easily distracted while reading and I don’t think I would have ever been a good lawyer.  I miss details and prefer to be a “big picture” strategic thinker.

The reason I have learned the BCO and some parts of Robert’s Rules and know how to navigate the courts is that I’ve made it a priority.  Learning a new language and procedures takes time and attention.  Very few can pass a test just by reading a textbook.  The best way is to continually expose yourself to the process.  Familiarize yourself with the rules.  Use the BCO to look things up.

We need to encourage a culture of practice and learning about our polity and our church courts.  Get to Presbytery and listen and learn.  You might be bored to tears the first time and the language might be obscure but keep at it.

Yes, we’ll always have the certified Parliamentarians who have the fifth degree black belts in Robert’s Rules but a Church is not healthy if it only has heroes.  We need more men who truly believe that ours is the Biblical form of Church government and, because it is, practice it enough to participate.

Rich Leino a member in the Presbyterian Church in America and a serves as a ruling elder at Hope of Christ PCA in Stafford, Va.  This article is used with permission.

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