[listening to I Will Rise by Tomlin]
I was thinking today about something I read about in freakonomics a couple of years ago. It concerns the "rules of the game" for drug dealers. He called it tournament rules. Everyone runs around making money for whomever is actually in charge for a very small chance at actually making it big. One of his points was that this system mirrors the corporate world. What are the chances that someone will actually end up a CEO someday? Not good if the Peter Principle is true (everyone rises to the level of their incompetence) or it's corollary the Dilbert Principle (companies promote their least competent employees to middle management to limit the amount of havoc they can wreak).
What was a bit of a revelation was that church leadership has operated under tournament rules for quite some time as well. This is unacceptable since our charge is to "make" disciples and not just "find" disciples.
One alternative for the church is the path approach. According to the Ferguson brothers (who probably got it from someone else, who probably got it from...) the path through Small Groups looks like this: Apprentice -> Leader -> Coach -> Director -> Campus Pastor/Church Planter. And I would add another slashie and the words Lead Pastor to that last category. In this path, you are promoted only if and when you show your ability to progress someone to your current level. Therefore you cannot progress from Leader to Coach until you have demonstrated your ability to turn an Apprentice into a successful Leader. Therefore in theory the Peter Principle and (God help us) the Dilbert Principle is avoided.
What limits people moving through the path is lack of desire to advance (which is acceptable for many people), lack of ability to advance (you can only coach so much), or lack of character (which prevents people from getting on the path to begin with). The one reason we cannot or should not stand before God and give is that we didn't do our best to lay the path in front of people and bend over backwards to make progress a real possibility for them. So many of our young people would follow this path if the end goal seemed like a real possibility for them. They would be honored to even be on the path. And even if they choose to stop at a certain level, would not the Kingdom of God be advanced forcefully by someone with the skills to coach small group leaders rather than just sit in the pews?