December 18, 2007
The Rise of the New Bishops- Part 2
Learning to trust older leaders may protect us from the hype surrounding younger ones.
In part 1, Chad Hall questioned the emergence of popular young church leaders. Through their books, conferences, and postcasts these "new bishops" are attracting a great deal of attention. Hall wondered if their status was the result of their genuine spiritual authority, or the cleaver marketing of Christian publishers. In part 2, Hall suggests ways we can respond to these pastor celebrities without falling prey to the hype.
How can Christ-followers navigate the era of new bishops and guard against theology by marketing majority? Here are a few ideas?
First, let's not forget that faithfulness to God often does entail faithfulness to leaders. Leaders discerning God's movement and directing others toward faithfulness is Biblical. We happen to live in a world where we get to choose our leaders, and we should choose wisely. I hear some ministers today who almost seem unwilling to follow anyone other than themselves. Being your own bishop is not healthy.
Second, let's be savvy in noting the complex relationship between following and consuming.
We need to be alert to marketing hype and sensationalism and to separate message from medium lest we buy into an inappropriate message simply because it's packaged well. If we're blind to the new reality we can get sucked into inappropriate hero worship and faulty faith.
Finally, although this may not be politically correct, I suggest trusting older leaders rather than the hottest and latest leaders. While I'm not disagreeing with 1 Timothy 4:12, men like Gordon MacDonald, Dallas Willard, Leith Anderson, Peter Kreeft and Eugene Peterson have enough water under the bridge to lead me to trust them, which is distinct from simply admiring them. People live a long time these days, so let's not rush to make bishops of the young guns just because we live in a culture that worships youth.
And while were at it, let's not neglect the bishops who've lived in centuries past. The minor fact that they are dead shouldn't remove them from our list of trustworthy leaders. They may not have websites or bestselling books, but they have insights that many of us need today. (BTW, Christian History did not pay me to say this!)
So who plays the role of "bishop" in your ministry? Why?
Chad Hall is an executive coach with SAS Institute Inc. in Cary, NC. He's also the co-author of Coaching for Christian Leaders: A Practical Guide and Vice President of The Columbia Partnership.