Next week I am addressing the SW Baptist Ministers' Conference in Devon. I mentioned a few posts ago that the conference title is: Herding Cats: Issues in Baptist Leadership. It's not a very flattering description of Baptist congregations (!) but it does recognize that a strong sense of independency, reinforced by the practice of gathered church, often makes Baptists less like sheep and more like cats. In the first session we shall have some heartstorming (which I much prefer to brainstorming) about particular issues faced by conference members.
Meanwhile I asked a couple of Baptist ministers what they would identify as key leadership issues. One thought for a minute and replied that the number one issue is 'team-building'. 'I had no idea just how much investment I had to make to build a team of leaders in my church. The amount of time and effort to ensure team members pull together is huge. Frankly, there's so much jealousy, lack of confidence from some, and the need for me to pre-empt problems before they explode in public'. Another minister immediately identified 'burn-out' as his major issue and proceeded to tell me how many hours in the average week he finds himself working....and how difficult it is to find a way through.
I shall be listening carefully during the conference. I think some issues will emerge that are more difficult for Baptist ministers because of our church structures with authority residing in the church meeting and plenty of scope for immaturity. However, I am convinced that other important issues are easier for Baptist ministers for exactly the same reason of church structure, when there is maturity. I really hope to encourage some fellow ministers along the way.