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Reflections On Leaders In A Connectional Church

2428 words - 10 pages

In January 2010, I was privileged to be able to take a class at the Presbyterian Center in Louisville, KY called "Leaders in a Connectional Church". The course aimed to show how the leadership of the Presbyterian church connected with the presbyteries and congregations that make up its body through working intensively with the General Assembly Mission Council (GAMC) and researching how the current structure had come to be. My assignment was within the Executive Director and Communications offices, which I was excited to be a part of, given my background in radio and broadcasting. Much to my surprise, however, the GAMC had only within the past 5 years started to reach out in a multimedia fashion, and most of the groundwork was still under heavy construction. But, despite this surprise, I was pleased that the general atmosphere (indeed, everyone with whom I spoke) was one of embracing change for the positive—not just for change's sake alone. There was a real recognition and understanding that what the church has been doing will no longer work for the future, correlating very well with the times of change in the past. This paper will examine some of those times of change in comparison with the current atmosphere, and will present a case for increasing a broadcast presence at the GAMC level, clearly defined job titles and descriptions, and re-structuring and re-organizing as part of the reformation changes in the next cycle of the Presbyterian Church (USA) (PC(USA)).
The process in the last great reformation of the Presbyterian Church was the period in which the church underwent "incorporation", borrowing structure, language, and goals from the rapidly-growing corporate culture of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. At this time, corporations allowed groups of individuals to work together for the "Corporate Good" (evolving in an ever more individualistic perspective from "Public Good" and "Mixed Good"), and also allowing individuals to see more of the benefit from their work. This is an important distinction because today, "corporate good" too often means "good for the management/stockholders on a short-term basis", disenfranchising both the "customers" and "employees". These concerns were present from the beginning of the incorporation period, of course, as could be seen clearly through the labor union disputes and ruthless tactics of corporate leaders even in the beginning of corporate culture. But the perceived total good of the corporate organization - emphasis on efficiency, fund raising, salary for church staff, and availability of "expert" leaders to a wide range of people - outweighed the devaluation of the individual and the fragmentation of the body that were not fully observed until after the corporate structure had been in place long enough to be "tradition". The changes to the church structure were worked by a series of intelligent, creative and charismatic leaders in the Presbyterian church, both in response to –...

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