When a group of people who would (probably!) be considered 'leaders' amongst Scottish Baptists, meet together to discuss the nature of 'leadership', based on previously prepared papers, and with a whole day to expose areas and expressions of difference, disagreement, consensus, temperament, personal baggage, - it becomes clear that 'leadership' can have as many expressions as there are people, contexts, leaders! That's what I was doing yesterday, along with five others, up in early autumn Pitlochry.
So it was interesting to move throughout the day (guided by praying the daily offices of the Northumbria Community), to levels of agreement on some underlying principles, theological and pastoral assumptions - and also to be just as clear where there were quite fundamental differences in other key areas. I'm neither phased nor surprised at that. I think uniformity of model when discussing and exploring the nature of leadership within a Christian community would do violence to specific contextual realities. It would also overwrite individual giftedness and temperament, and would simply be one person / group's construct, even if they claimed it was 'biblical' - 'even THE biblical view'. All of which would ignore the variety and provisionality of the New Testament evidence, and the interpretations of such texts, and their translation into existing models of Church leadership. Diversity of practice so underlies our own Baptist traditions that it takes considerable care to identify what are the changing continuities of that tradition.
My own paper was a further stage in my thinking about the community theologian(s), and in particular that person or more likely, group of people's role in calling the community to faithful obedience to Christ. In fulfilling such a role I further developed two key ideas - kenosis (self-emptying as the notion is used in Phil. 2.1-15; and paracletos with its cognate paraclesis (with their core meaning of encouragement and accompaniment).
The one sentence I'll quote is the one that was affectionately but loudly mocked for its rhetorical flourish - och they were just jealous anyway!
"Community theologians heighten awareness of divine activity amongst us, in our all too human forms of community - and do so by reminding us, with the gentle persistence of Scottish drizzle on a June day in the Trossachs, of the graceful kenosis and non-grasping love of God in Christ."
Now what's wrong with that as a piece of tartan theology? Eh?