When it comes to talking about the activity of directing the church, the language of leadership and leaders is increasingly popular. Yet what is leadership – and how might theological narratives better resource the discourse and practice of leadership in ecclesial contexts? In identifying and critiquing managerialism as a dominant narrative of leadership in the Western church, this book calls for an alternative approach founded on the concept of friendship.
Engaging with the wider field of leadership studies, the book establishes an understanding of leadership activity and brings it into conversation with an incarnational ecclesiology. The result is a prophetic reimagining of ecclesial leadership in terms of a relational, kenotic praxis. This praxis of mutuality and love is framed here in the rich language of Christian friendship. The book also wrestles deeply with the embodiment of such a praxis, making explicit the power behaviours typical of friendship-leadership and offering constructive guidance for practitioners in the task of implementation within a complex and fractured world.
This book offers a new vision of the centrality of friendship to leadership of a healthy church community. As such, it will be of great use to scholars of practical theology, ecclesiology and leadership, as well as practitioners in church ministry.
‘In this book Dr Lynch provides an original theological argument for taking the notion of friendship seriously in the context of ecclesial leadership. This is a most welcome study that could influence the theology and practice of leadership in the church significantly. Therefore, I highly recommend this book because it deserves to be read and discussed widely by church leaders, scholars and students.’ – Mark J. Cartledge, Professor of Practical Theology, Regent University School of Divinity, USA
‘One of the classic tasks of theology—that somehow has been lost in the blurring transitions of modernity—is to speak of the most central and intimate parts of human existence. Chloe Lynch has offered us an important book that does just this, taking us deeply inside the experience of friendship, showing how God moves in the rhythms of friendship, and how we are most human when we are friends with God and one another. This is an immensely helpful book that will challenge your conception of leadership, and beautifully call you into new theological visions.’ – Andrew Root, The Carrie Olson Baalson Professor of Youth and Family Ministry, Luther Seminary, USA and author of The Pastor in a Secular Age (2019)
‘In a time of deep uncertainty and apparently perpetual change the issue of leadership becomes crucial. If the church does not faithfully nurture Christ-like leaders then the beautiful and crucial gift that is the Gospel will be inhibited in its transformative task. Of course God’s work will continue no matter what! The church exists for a purpose: to expand our imagination. When the apostle Paul talks about renewing our minds, at least part of what he pushes us to consider is the reconstruction of our imagination. In this book Chloe offers us a way of thinking and understanding leadership that serves to re-form our imagination in ways that can enable us to re-think and reframe what it means to lead God’s people. That is not a small contribution! This is a fascinating and important book that has huge potential for facilitating creative thinking, and initiating thoughtful change and faithful living.’ – John Swinton, Professor in Practical Theology and Pastoral Care, University of Aberdeen, UK
Part I: Expressing the Pain
1 Leadership and the Dominant Consciousness
2 Seeking an Alternative Consciousness
Part II: A Deep Remembering
3 Memories of Servanthood
4 Memories of Incarnation
5 Memories of the Church
Part III: Coding the Discourse
6 Incarnational Ecclesial Leadership and the Eschatological Inbreaking
7 ‘I Have Called You Friends…’
8 Friendship: Love’s Ideal
Part IV: Practising Hope
9 Incarnational Ecclesial Leadership and the Prophetic Imagination
10 Prophetic Hope in a Groaning Creation
Appendix: Imagination’s Starting Points
Theological reflection on the church’s practice is now recognised as a significant element in theological studies in the academy and seminary. Routledge's series in practical, pastoral and empirical theology seeks to foster this resurgence of interest and encourage new developments in practical and applied aspects of theology worldwide. This timely series draws together a wide range of disciplinary approaches and empirical studies to embrace contemporary developments including: the expansion of research in empirical theology, psychological theology, ministry studies, public theology, Christian education and faith development; key issues of contemporary society such as health, ethics and the environment; and more traditional areas of concern such as pastoral care and counselling.