Thinking about the Emerging Church and governance, I have been reflecting on how many groups have deconstructed things theologically and socio-culturally – but many have not deconstructed governance or power structures. This may be one of the reasons who there is not a 50:50 representation of women in Emerging & Fresh Expressions of Church.
One of the challenges facing the Emerging Church is how to do governance so that its structure is light and not oppressive, but encourages accountabiility in the spirit of egaliterianism.
There is an inherent danger of not having accountability structures, that things default to power being held by young charismatic people usually white men. These forms of community and church then can end up running under the logic and ideology of the charismatic person, which is not too healthy for enabling a community with a number of voices.
Also, when a project of community say they have no structure you have to ask yourself is that true? To be able to do services and activities some form of organisation is needed, its just not visible. So there does need to be openness about visible governance structures. One group I really like on this, is Sanctus 1, which seeks to balance gender in their governance structures, which appears to work really well. Here there is a balance between community and individuals who serve the community with particular roles.
It seems to me, that if you do not have explictly visible governance and accountability structures, then something not so healthy may fill the gap, or something like the very thing we criticise many ‘inherited churches’ as being. This is particualrly a challenge for those groups who think of themselves as post-church or not being ‘community’.
So the challenge to us all in new forms of church and community is to balance ideology with community and structures that are light but visible and accountable.