...you get the wrong answer.' Put it another way, bad questions lead to bad answers. I think this has happened in relation to hierarchy in the church. I want to suggest that one bad question, when it comes to the church, is: 'who has the final say?' It reflects that we are thinking in the ways of this world's structure and culture rather than in the ways of God's different kingdom - and it contributes to a culture of hierarchy and rank. It is really just saying 'who's the boss here?' That might be appropriate in many organisations in the world but I would be sad if either question was ever asked of my family. And church is a family - a community modelled on the community of the Godhead, the Trinity, a community of equals where leadership is expressed within that equality.
Even though there is a leadership in the church and I believe that leaders should lead, this has to be based on a common recognition of the grace gifting within that leader (even when he or she may have to make unpopular decisions) - not because s/he is in some unassailable 'position'or he outranks anyone. Also, the leader should not think of himself as the ultimate decision maker, but as one who develops and uses the skills to lead a team of leaders and powerful, spiritual people to the point where they are able to say 'it seems good to the Holy Spirit and to us' (Acts 15:28). This is not consensus leadership (which I do not agree with) but it is inclusive leadership (which I do agree with). Consensus leadership is just about collecting people's opinions and coming up with a democratically agreed direction or decision (democracy is as much of this world as hierarchy is). Inclusive leadership is leadership which listens, values people's voices, draws upon their contributions and seeks to create an environment where we hear God together. There may still be times when the leader has to take a strong lead in a direction that people are unsure about, but he or she will have established a trust that enables people to follow, based on both clear gift and anointing, and through the general practice of the kind of inclusive leadership described above. To reduce this relational and charismatic dynamic to the simplistic question, 'who has the final say?' is to contribute to a distortion of church leadership.