Friday, 15 May 2009

It is all about relationship! POSITIVES

That is almost a motto for newfrontiers.

Who we work with regionally is not just about geography, rather "it is all about relationship"

Who oversees a Church is not determined by a random decision from above, rather "it is all about relationship"

The make up of Church, small groups, team ministry, eldership teams, is "all about relationship".

Last weekend I was talking to my friend Dom and he used the exact expression, "It is all about relationship", and it got me thinking: is it? I mean really, is it? Is it always a good thing?

There are lots of positives. Here are a quick five.

5 positive outcomes of being "all about relationship"
  • People are beings, not roles or structures, but beings.
  • Working together is not based on systems or hierarchy but on mutual respect and love.
  • Permission is not demanded by "the system" but given by the friend.
  • Decisions from "above" are rarely out of touch because people remain close to the action. If you are genuinely friends with those on the frontline, the ivory tower does not insulate you from reality.
  • Loyalty is earned not demanded. Respect is shared not faked. Unity is developed not imposed.
Being "all about relationship" is a major factor why I love newfrontiers. I love the people. I can use the term "we" not as a company salesperson who "represents" an institution but "we" as in being part of a group of friends.

In turn Martin Charlesworth says "we" amongst us, as he represents another group of friends, the UK regional leaders. One stage past a group of friends (National team, I know 4 of them personally) is our regional team. We meet fortnightly for worship and prayer, with twenty or so friends representing 7 churches. Then our eldership team meets weekly, the three of us. So from the "top" of the system to me, on the frontline, there are three groups of friends, and I am part of two of them.

Maybe it really is "all about relationship"?


dave bish said...

I agree entirely, I wonder though if there are any downsides?

Blue, with a hint of amber said...

There certainly are! I will post on that in due course.

DaveW said...

"it is all about relationship"It is not quite true though is it? If you are a woman it is not all about relationship. Surely for a woman it is all about gender and relationship.

'Who oversees a Church is not determined by a random decision from above, rather "it is all about relationship"' and gender.

Blue, with a hint of amber said...

Seems like an odd place to play that record DaveW.

You know where we stand, we know where you stand.

Dom said...

Relational leadership is the model we see throughout the New Testament; Jesus models it with his twelve and his three. Paul models it with Timothy. Through Jesus our status with God has fundamentally changed to one of relationship/friendship. "No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you" (John 15:15).

I think however relationship can be misunderstood; it does not mean creating a leadership team with all your friends because they are your friends. It can mean building friendships with people whose gifting and character would serve your team well. In fact I would argue that in order for them to serve your team to the best of their ability, it is vital that you are friends.

Driscoll thinks that by placing too high an emphasis on relationship, we hinder church growth. This can be true. However, I would argue that this is because we have not created enough processes/systems in terms of church planning, mission, leadership and oversight; systems and relationships are not mutually exclusive. For a system to work at its optimum, its motivation surely has to be relationship. Relationship and mission are not mutually exclusive; take Barnabas going multi-service. What is your motivation for this? Your love for the people of Shrewsbury and your heart for them to have relationship with God? Will some friendships suffer? Probably. But, what is the most important relationship of them all?

dave bish said...

Some of the hardest moments of seeing ministry grow are seeing friends move elsewhere, beyond geography... some of my closest and most beloved partners in ministry are now in Spain, Reading, North Carolina, London and others soon bound for Paris... I'd love for them to have stayed close, but God's plans don't always allow that.

DaveW said...


"Some of the hardest moments of seeing ministry grow"Agreed in one sense, but on the other hand one of the very best bits of ministry is seeing people grow and use their God given wings to fly onto new pastures and then see (or hear about) others growing from them.

Ian Matthews said...

"Who oversees a Church is not determined by a random decision from above, rather 'it is all about relationship'"

Interesting comment. What churches do have its leadership imposed by random decisions from above?

Blue, with a hint of amber said...

Interesting comment. What churches do have its leadership imposed by random decisions from above?That was not aimed at other churches as such. Probably a slightly OTT remark and based on my experiences in industry rather than within the Church.

Charity said...

When I was part of a Newfrontiers church I did believe that it was all about relationships even to the point of accepting being ignored by and large because I am a woman. However in the events that led up to my departure, it became apparent that it wasn't all about relationships - the "apostolic delegate" was suddenly able to pull rank and at that point relationships didn't count for anything at all with utterly devastating consequences.