I have three other core values I hold in my heart that influence my vision of what I believe church is intended to be.
These core values have a profound impact on my view of leadership in the church.
3. Church exists to support all peoples’ deepening awareness of God’s presence.
Whenever you enter a town… say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ (Luke 10:9)
Church leaders seek to encourage all people to grow in their awareness of the inherent deep connection to the divine that exists in all of creation. The problem of the human condition is not that God is ever absent – life is impossible in the absence of the Divine – or that human beings have become cut off from God. We are not cut off, but are often deeply unconscious and unaware.
God’s Spirit is at work in all of life, whether or not there is any consciousness of that work. Love is always in motion.
Strong leaders seek to find where the love is flowing and help the community enter into that flow and cooperate with the work of love.
In order to fulfill this function, a strong leader must hold as a primary determination the desire to keep his heart totally open to the moving of love in his own life and to remain deeply conscious of the presence and action of the Divine in all of life.
4. We are all responsible to live in awareness of God’s presence.
In order to support all people in knowing God’s presence, the church must be inhabited by people who take seriously the call to live as agents of the transforming love of God. We must seek above all to stay open to the guidance and wisdom of God’s Spirit.
We are each responsible to develop those daily practices that enable us to listen carefully to God’s voice speaking in our hearts.
Strong leaders reject any action, attitude, word, or story that risks hindering anyone’s determination to take personal responsibility for their own lives. Strong leaders understand that they do not know better than people themselves what is conducive to their own becoming.
Powerful leaders are able to support others in heart opening because they seek to keep their own hearts open. They are vulnerable to the Spirit at work in their lives, in the community and in all of creation. They are not driven by predetermined agendas, needs, wants, demands, or personal desires. They are driven by the Spirit and desire only to follow where the Spirit seems to be leading.
5. The primary tool by which the church fulfills its essential task of opening to God’s presence and action is gathering.
‘where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’ (Matthew 18:20)
It is not that the gathering creates the presence of Jesus, as if he were absent elsewhere. But the gathering of people of faith creates a unique openness to and awareness of the presence and action of God at work in all of life. The first and unique task of the church is to provide a place for people to gather intentionally to acknowledge the presence of love in all of life.
The gathered community is a crucible for heart opening.
It is only as each person shares in the willingness to open to love in relationship to all other people that the church will ever come close to fulfilling its true calling as the Body of Christ at work in the world. Powerful leaders support the community in being a place of gentleness and respect so that those who gather feel encouraged to allow their hearts to open.