“Well, that’s the question, folks, what’s your response?”
This was how Brendan McKeague kicked off a day and a half of discernment for the Synod as it met at Alexandra Park Conference Centre in October.
The question was, “Our church is on life support; what’s our call now?”
About 70 members of Synod stood up and named an issue they identified as important and needed to be addressed. They named a time and a place during that day they would be ready to work on the issue, and invited others passionate about this to join with them. Over the day energised discussions were had about how we support congregations that are struggling, how we grow new Christian communities, how we grow leadership, how we promote healthy lifestyles for ministers, what is it about the possibility of our institutional death that the church is afraid of, and many, many more. There was disagreement, there was clarifying, as people sought to build robust understanding.
Next day, we discerned what we believed was important, where our passions lay, and where we were going to take responsibility for advancing an issue.
I said to Brendan, “Mate, I want priorities, so the Synod Standing Committee can do its work”. Brendan said, “Let’s see”. Then he stood up and said, “Leadership is passion plus responsibility. Who’s going to take responsibility for any of this? You can’t pass the buck.”
Fourteen people stood up, identified a theme, and said, “I will take responsibility to work on this area. Who wants to work with me?” And so groups self-formed and collaborated together on how we could advance that particular area of work. Presbytery ministers, chairs of boards and commissions and committees were invited to travel along, and see these people as champions for issues for which the chairs had institutional responsibility.
I took responsibility to lead the Synod Standing Committee in a way that will be faithful to the 31st Synod and grow a healthy and fruitful relationship between the standing committee and the rest of the church.
So, leadership is about passion and responsibility, not about taking control. Leadership then can be done by anyone and happens all over the church, not just in organisational positions. “The Spirit blows where it wills”, Jesus said to Nicodemus. If we are to be led by this Spirit, however, we will inevitably be led to the core of the gospel—the Easter event, but more on that later.
Rev David Baker
Queensland Synod Moderator
See more about Synod at journeyonline.com.au/category/31st-synod