This post is from the defunct blog “Dying Church”
It sometimes feels strange to be employed by a church while writing about how the church needs to die to itself. I'm both the pastor of a church and, at the same time, a critic of how the modern church operates. It's sometimes a funny feeling, especially on payday. Two modern transformations give me hope. In 1985, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev embraced glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring), allowing discussion and criticism of government and culture. Glasnost led to the end of the Soviet Union, and of Gorbachev's position, but it also led to the transformation of that society, which continues to this day. In the early 1990s, South African president F.W. de Klerk ended the ban on the African National Congress, freed ANC leader Nelson Mandela, and ended apartheid. In 1994, the first multiracial elections were held, and de Klerk lost his presidency to Mandela. Both Gorbachev and de Klerk were subversive leaders. They led structures that they ultimately worked to overthrow, at great cost to themselves. Thinking about these two stories, I'm wondering if there is a role for leadership within the system of the modern church that questions many of its assumptions, and which might in the end lead to something very different. It may cost these leaders their own positions (the gift of martyrdom?), but it may also lead to the very necessary death-to-self of the modern church, and to its rebirth as something new. Not everyone is called to be this type of leader, but surely some of us are.