But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,…” Matthew 20:25-26
Italia is in the news quite a bit these days from the papal resignation to the sorting of the political system where an angry, non-elected comedian may set the tone and agenda of the country over the next couple years. Oh, but he has no agenda. In fact, he ran other people for office on “no agenda”. It’s comical + sad = bizarre.
These are symbolic of the leadership problems that the church is also facing throughout southern Europe (and in many cases, around the western world). Putting it succinctly, there is an abnormal dearth of servant eldership in Italia to both guide existing churches and plant new ones. We have our work cut out for us. I believe a great cause of the abnormal dearth is the Roman ideal and model of leadership imported and imposed upon the life of the church itself.
Now, please stay with me because I’m striving to write something for everyone utilizing an Italian cultural example…
Here’s a quote pulled right out of a good book that I’d recommend by Andy Crouch called Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling:
“Anthropologists speculate, in fact that we are hardwired for small groups–that human beings are simply designed to operate in a village, even if that village exists in the midst of a vast metropolis or on computer servers that host a million other villages simultaneously…
…every cultural innovation, no matter how far-reaching its consequences, is based on personal relationships and personal commitment. Culture making is hard. It simply doesn’t happen without the deep investment of absolutely and relatively small groups of people. In culture making, size matters — in reverse. Only a small group can sustain the attention, energy and perseverance to create something that genuinely moves the horizons of possibility…To create a new cultural good, a small group is essential. And yet the almost uncanny thing about culture making is that a small group is enough.”
— pages 242-243
In this closing section of his book, Crouch shares the genius behind the model that Jesus utilized of gathering the groups of 3, 12, and 120. I couldn’t help but think of the role that this pattern plays when it comes to the development of the church and its always-new, redeemed culture of a city-on-a-hill. Crouch makes some brilliant insights in the book, and if you’d like a copy, you just need to click on the picture of the globe in this post to order one.