I recently came across this article which begins with this year’s failure of the Indianapolis Colts due to their star quarterback being out for the season. The author writes against the tendency in the business world to build an entire strategy or organization around a “lone star” performer. Instead, he writes, those who hold powerful positions in a company should be responsible for nurturing the talent in the people around them so there is a strong group who can lead.
Every time I read a book about starting churches in non-Western settings, I’m always struck by the emphasis the author(s) place on a plurality of leaders. Pulling from the elder model consistent through the New Testament, as well as the observations of a lifetime spent in starting churches, these authors unfailingly recommend the need for a team approach when appointing new leaders in a new church.
The New Testament model they pull from is all over the book of Acts and Paul’s epistles. We often like to cast Paul as the quintessential “lone star” maverick sort, but the list of people Paul travels with in Acts or mentions in his letters as coworkers is staggering. As one author I recently read pointed out, when the team of Paul and Barnabas split up, the two men’s first impulse wasn’t to go it alone but instead to form a new team.
So if the business world, the overseas church planting world and the New Testament world all agree that a team approach to leadership is the best way to do things – why does a huge swath of the Western church insist on the “lone star” pastor approach? Why do we continue to rate pastors on how much they alone can pull off? Why do we condone pastors who see themselves as one-man shows by saying they’re simply exercising the gift and responsibility of leadership?
What if instead we required pastors to invest heavily in other leaders in their church? What if we looked for churches with a strong group of elders instead of a single, do-it-all leader? What if church planters in the West were required to start and end with a team?
Why do you think we in the West love our lone-star model? What would it look like in the Western world if we moved away from the “lone star pastor” model? Is it even possible to do so at this point?