Theatre Church (part IX)

I had sat in my tutors office with some fellow ‘ordained pioneer ministers’ students (OPMs) discussing how to establish a ministry ‘from scratch’. It was an interesting question in light of my tutors preparation on a sermon, preached last night, on Matthew 10. In this passage Jesus commands His disciples to go out in pairs to do the work of the Kingdom. My fellow OPMs, for their placement, were heading out as a pair to do ‘deep listening’ in an area near Durham. They were discussing the task ahead and how they, as a pair, were going to minister and be effective listeners and prophets. I sat in the room listening to their disucssions, how they were going to support each other, the importance of one playing the speaking role and one the listener, the model of Moses and Aaron and I had to ask; who was my fellow worker?

My wife is, of course, supporting me in my work but her own work means she cannot be actively present in the growth and foundational work of my placement. She will be a listening ear of my take on events but she cannot, by her absence, be as effective in listening to how God is moving. Who will be with me as I minister? Who will be the prayful partner or the active energy to balance my activity? Jesus sent the disciples out in pairs and it’s a good model but we must remember that most of the disciples will have been married, potentially with children. I am married but I don’t have a partner in ministry.

This has a knock on effect in terms of the changing shape that this community is taking.

The ideal leadership model for this placement, I believe, is a rotational leadership. Both Peter Brook, who I will be teaching tonight, and Jerzy Grotowski, who I explored on Monday, suggested a director should be a member of the ensemble and should not hold onto the power and direction of a groups discovery. This model of leadership is freeing for the whole ensemble, community or church but requires a great deal of trust and discernment. Both Brook and Grotowski, although proclaiming a collective leadership of the whole company understood the individual role and strengths of the seperate contributors. This rotational leadership doesn’t suggest that everyone, despite their lack of gifting or talent in leadership, should be forced into a position of power, but rather when someone has something to offer and a sense of leading the group into an area of exploration they will go ahead, blessed, of course, by the followers, the rest of the group.

As an individual ‘founder’ of this group I will, inevitably hold a great deal of power at the beginning. The members will look to me for direction, purpose, identity. My Christian walk, however, demands that I hand over that power quickly before, like Gollem in Lord of the Rings, it consumes me. My role as the ‘designated leader’ is not to hold power but to move the power round the group, discerning when its appropriate to weild it and when to pass it on and to whom.

Discernment is the role of the director. One person must be the discerner and watchman of the group. Jesus uses the image of the shepherd, who allows sheep to wander where the wish but to gently watch over them and go and find those that get lost. As a director who integrates themself into the ensemble, your role is to discern what is worthwhile to explore and what is not, when to step in and remind people of the direction and when to let that go. This is a balancing act and its not easy. As a leader of any group there is a call for one person to take on this task but it is important that that person handles power well. Which leads onto the necessity of a partner, an accountable persence to test the responses of this discerner. The group as a whole needs to play this role but too often people in the discerning role allow the power to speak lies and say “They don’t know all that you know. They are all walking off track and you know best.” To have someone marked out to be another discerner and to listen when one cannot and to speak when one cannot protects, in some way, the misuse of power.

Already I am struggling with the absense of another perspective on what’s being shaped and I need the eyes and ears of someone else to aid my reflections. Already I fell isolated both in my reflections and in the relationship building workshops. I’m meeting some fantastic people and all of whom are contributing to the shape of this community by their needs and interests and I don’t feel I have someone who can help me to remain faithful in the work set before me.

I could discuss the nature of accountability here and argue for the term ‘editability’ (see ‘Organic Community’ by Joseph Myers) but I don’t want to confuse the issue.

This past week I have been confirmed in the call to an apostilic mission of planting but the need for the support, not only of prayful communites and supporters but, of a partner in mission is important in all ministry. My next task is to discern who in the community gathering on Mondays will be my co-worker. I’m sure it will happen organicaly and until then I will remain patient.