College Retreat hears Bruxy Cavey on Growth and Leadership
Monday September 10th, 2007
At the Wycliffe College retreat at Canterbury Hills, Ancaster, over the weekend of 7-9 September, 2007 students and faculty were addressed by Bruxy Cavey, teaching pastor of The Meeting House. His topic was Church Leadership. The following notes on the presentation were supplied by Katie Silcox, a 2nd year M.Div. student at Wycliffe College.
In his presentation Bruxy Cavey focused on church growth and leadership. At the outset of the discussion, he stated that we need to look beyond our ecclesial differences when addressing issues of growth, development and leadership because leaders from all denominations face similar issues and we need to work together in the task of building up the Church. To illustrate his point, Bruxy provided a summary of the differences between the Anabaptist tradition and what he termed, “liturgical churches,” [mainline churches]. He then began to outline five points common to both ecclesial bodies; points necessary for developing and sustaining a healthy worship community.
The first point he made was that as leaders and teachers within our church communities, we need to assume and convey a “mindset of partnership (albeit an asymmetrical partnership);” a partnership in which the means are equal to the ends: “God wants to save people for relationship to himself.” Bruxy stated that while God could enact a “divinely efficient” method of bringing creation to its telos, he has instead chosen to make humanity a partner in this process and so we as church leaders need to respond to this call by equipping our congregations to discover how they might partake in fulfilling the partnership role to which they are called.
The second point he made was that we need to beware of our tendency as fallen human beings, to “bind with the wineskin instead of the wine.” Bruxy was here referring to our tendency, one found in the history of both Israel and the Church, to worship the structure through which God works (i.e. BCP, Anglo-Catholic service, or rock music, 45 minute teaching sermon by leader in jeans and long hair, etc.) rather than worshipping Christ himself. He suggested that we should instead ask our church members to think eschatologically; to “picture a world without our particular churches” so that as we have been called to do, we might “bind with the wine [Christ] instead of the wineskin.” While this reviewer appreciated the point being made, a question arose in her mind concerning how Bruxy might address the issue of how one determines where the wine ends and the wineskin begins, and how he would respond to the idea that what might appear from outside a worshipping community to be a community clinging to the wineskin might in fact be those who remain standing under God’s judgment as they seek the will of Christ across time and space? This question was later addressed to an extent when Bruxy stated that one need not and in fact should not leave their Church, rather one should determine how, within their own wineskin, they can use their gifts to point those they encounter, to the worship of God. It seemed to this reviewer, a good starting point upon which others have greatly expanded.
The third point Bruxy made was that as leaders, we need to “structure the Church for intimacy (for limitless growth).” What he was driving at with this statement was the need for all members of the church (not simply the church leader), to help others discern their gifts and to help to equip one another for being partners in fulfilling their roles in God’s plan for humanity. Bruxy acknowledged the limitations of developing the relationships necessary to help others discern their gifts in large worship settings like Sunday morning services at the Meeting House and stated that this was why regular members of the Meeting House are also part of a small group that meets during the week in someone’s home. According to Bruxy, these groups foster an environment of intimacy, where people love one another to the extent that they can provide care for one another, they can help to discern one another’s gifts, but also where they can call one another out, provide a mechanism for discipline and thus for making one another accountable to the whole.
The fourth point Bruxy made was that as leaders we should “learn from all Churches and copy none.” Thus as mentioned above, we should not seek to discard our wineskin (our Churches), rather we should peer through an eschatological lens when we try to discern how to live out the partnership roles we are called to live in with God and with one another. Peering through an eschatological lens, we will see elements of other churches that might suggest a way to ensure our ecclesial life and worship is focused on Christ when transposed into the key of our own denominational wineskin.
Finally, Bruxy ended his presentation with a challenge to, within our own wineskins, determine how to “live in the culture, study scripture, and proclaim the gospel.” He maintained that while the means of achieving a balance between these charges will vary for every church and for every leader, the issues we deal with will be the same; thus we should seek to learn from one another so that we might engage in the partnership task, with God and with one another, of building up the whole Church.