In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Captain James T. Kirk stands trial before the Klingons for his ships unprovoked attack on the Klingons and subsequent boarding of their ship and murder of the High Chancellor. While Kirk denies any involvement (it is all a set-up to sabotage peace talks) he is convicted because as Captain he is responsible for the actions of his crew (regardless of his knowledge thereof).
My apologies to those uninitiated into the Star Trek universe, but that scene came to mind the other day in a discussion about church planting and the nature of the church. Church planters are often viewed as the captain of a ship - the entire responsibility rests on them. Of course a ship's crew has their jobs that actually keep the thing moving, but there still is a captain on whom the responsibility rests. Whether the ship sinks or floats is on the captain. Even if the whole crew mutinies, it is still the captain's fault.
Even in the Emerging Church/Missional mindset I still see that attitude applied to church planting. Granted that may be because most emerging/missional church plants are really just seeker churches that want to be trendy and actually talk about "the poor" every once in awhile. But its still the issue. The wellbeing of the church rests on the pastor and the success (read high numbers of people and money) of the church is something the pastor must singlehandedly accomplish. (of course this is sooo
not an issue in our church plant).
Anyway, I personally think that whole concept is stupid. (hows that for a thoughtful perspective)
If we are the body as the church, a community that has come together for a common purpose it seems kinda messed up for the "captain" to take all the glory or all the blame. I know I'm "low church" and so am not a fan of hierarchy. I don't buy the whole pastor as spiritual head that must be submitted to thing. We talk often at church of it being a road trip that we are all taking together, but it still seems like the captain/crew mentality is the dominant paradigm. Not that I promote anarchy or some spiffy organic arcadian model (read- where nothing ever happens because we are all waiting for it to happen orgainically). I'm just hoping to find a balance somehow. Maybe its just me or perhaps there might be a whole lot more re-imagining of church needed before perceptions change.