Since imagine/Northampton started meeting as a church people have periodically asked me or Jim if either of us is its pastor. It's often assumed because we've played an upfront role on Sunday morning, and because I and Tricia work as full-time counselors and staff for imagine in the Northampton office.
Be that as it may, 5 years ago when we were getting a picture of what imagine would be, we were all convinced a collegial leadership team rather than a traditional pastor/laity model was the right one for the vision we were seeing. We didn't want a personality-driven or "I'm the boss; you're not" traditional model. It didn't fit at all. Our conviction was that no one person, no matter how gifted, equipped, or trained should carry the weight of the church, or be seen as having some special pedigree or spiritual status which set him or her apart from everyone else by virtue of formal position or title.
Sure, we recognize differing gifts, and equipping. We know there are leadership gifts which have certain qualities and distinctives. We take that all very seriously, especially in terms of the responsibilities involved. But, we do not want to create a church culture where a few determine everything for the many who function mostly as spiritual consumers, spectators, and occasional volunteers. We want people vitally involved in all aspects of imagine, caring the load for what God is doing in and through it, not merely showing up on Sunday and going along with the program from week to week.
So we have a Leadership Team, and we see it as a servant leadership team. There are now 5 of us: 2 men and 3 women. Two of the women have just joined us and are being discipled in the development of their leadership gifts with imagine. Our gifts economy makes it such that dispersed within the team are vision and creative gifts, teaching and preaching gifts, counseling and discipling gifts, administrative, planning and operations gifts. None of us see ourselves as the head honcho. We defer to one another, share responsibility and support each other individually. Our ages range from early 60'e to mid-20's. We're both married and single.
In the not-too-distant future, we desire to develop elders who will help care for, and guide the spiritual life of imagine/Northampton. God will raise up those people and they will be recognizable in our midst because of their Christ-likeness, particularly humility, wisdom, live and service. Some may be on the Leadership Team; some won't. However, they will, in tandem the Leadership Team, be dedicated to helping people discover and follow the God who is far more than they imagine.
In the next year, we're also hoping God will raise up the next Leadership Team to plant another imagine church. In one sense, it's an audacious thought in that we are small, but we have a big vision and an astoundingly resourceful God who summons his followers to step out into such bigness, given the magnificent reality that God " is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power that is [already] at work in us." (Eph.3:20)
So we have a Leadership Team rather than a formal pastorate. We think it will ultimately foster a culture of collaboration and interplay where power granted to lead is not ruling over people, but serving them so they might fulfill what God has called all of us to do together; gifts differing, but hearts united in the same direction. Each person is vital in God's design. No one has a higher stature based on position or title. Expectations are the same for all: follow Christ; incarnate his Kingdom in the world around you.
BTW: I need to say we feel neither superior nor wiser than Christians who lead and serve in Pastor-led churches. We are merely doing what seems right to us for such a time and place as this.
May God bless all who labor in his Kingdom!