Plural leadership in an Anglican context
A brief post about Ed Moll's new revised edition of Anglican Elders.
‘Everyone here is a Baptist!’, said my friend on arriving at an Anglican theological college (which shall remain nameless). What he meant was that in practice, and in many aspects of ecclesiology, his peers were congregationalist, independent and maybe even Baptistic – even though they were professing to be Anglican! I wonder how many of us say we’re Anglican but our behaviour betrays different foundations?
There are several reasons why we might want to explore a plural leadership model, rather than the one-man band Anglican model that we have inherited. We have the example of Paul and Barnabas who appointed (plural) elders in each church (Acts 14:23); we can observe that leading alone is too difficult to do alone, even if that were a good idea; we can see from the Bible how sharing responsibility is more likely to foster a Jesus-like use of authority; and we have free-church friends of different stripes who espouse an eldership model in their churches and press it on us as the only biblical pattern.
This last group are passionate and articulate advocates for shared leadership. But what if Anglicans and other evangelicals don’t read the Bible in exactly the same way? Surely if we did, we’d be Baptists ourselves, right? And second, is it necessary to dismantle Anglican structures in order to bring in eldership?
I wrote Anglican Elders to explore how to have plural elders in way that fits with the way that Anglican conservative evangelicals read the Biblical material and that honours our local church officers. It’s not only possible: I believe it’s healthier all round.
The revised edition includes two new chapters. One considers the issues around including the voices of women in a complementarian church that restricts eldership to (suitably qualified) men; the second chapter applies some basics on power dynamics to the exercise of plural leadership.
In the book I use the term ‘Ministry Leadership Team’ rather than ‘elders’ so that we do not automatically assume that ‘elders’ in an Anglican setting do all the same things that ‘elders’ do in a different church, especially if it is independent and congregational. I am so grateful for my leadership team. I hope that you will be for yours.
Ed's new revised and expanded edition of Anglican Elders will be available the first week of August!