This month John Hackwell visited me, a friend of many years. John Hackwell is an artist, author and film make and been living in France for the past decade. His new book soon to be published deals with in part, the struggle corporate people experience.
I can recall some years ago The Guardian published an AAP story that senior Qantas managers were sent packing and a new breed bought in and the comment by top dog Allan Joyce was: "This new executive team will lead this work forward to deliver for our customers, shareholders and employees according to the strategy we have laid out."
Qantas interests us all as the national airline carrier and its reputation for safety is second to none. We like the idea of Qantas being successful and most of us who have travelled internationally have at some time flown with Qantas.
I for one, rejoice in my heart, heading home from overseas to Australia, on-board the Qantas flight and the first thing I hear is that quintessential Australian ascent. It hardly matters what is said, but to hear those Aussie tones and reflections, is so very pleasant to my heart. Am I willing to pay more for this? I guess I am.
In a huge corporate company such as Qantas such changes bring national attention. Reasons for such changes are spelt out, the market place has its say in the share price and the nation gives a collective sigh of relief when the company's financial well-being is retained.
There is much at stake. Every politician gets an earful (as it were) from concerned constituents should the Qantas name be placed in jeopardy. This extends from a bad experience on a flight to when major change takes place at the helm. In late November and early December four Qantas flights on their way, turned back, for minor repairs. This was national news. Qantas is a big deal! Don't mess with Qantas is the name of the game.
To change senior management therefore in a company such as Qantas not only brings national attention but the reasons get examined and the replacement personnel are examined to the third degree (as it were).
Macro Church scene
Qantas is an example of the corporate world on a grand scale. But what of the church. There are two different scenarios here that need examining.
The first is that of international church positions such as when a Pope is elected or the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Russian Orthodox Primate, The Southern Baptists, the world's Salvation Army leader, the Lutheran Church's international leader and such like.
We might add to this list of luminary positions, the person who replaced South Africa's Archbishop TuTu, Sydney's Wesley Mission along with international Christian aid agencies such as World Vision and the Billy Graham Crusade's welfare arms. These are all very public roles and the world's media pays them close attention for they all reflect enormous global Christian constituencies.
These people have at their finger tips a vast array of expenditure and in some sense they have as much finance as corporate entities but they give direction to the lives of millions of people through their religious and theological reflections. When the Pope speaks the world's attention is singular 101.
The social issues become of paramount interest such as homosexuality, same sex marriage, international aid, medical transborder issues such as Ebola, malaria, bird flu, hunger, disease, pestilence ..... our global religious leaders get quoted and huge campaigns are undertaken to alleviate such things with their stroke of a pen.
To change these leaders therefore is of no small moment, there is enormous interest, and any change may reflect different policy emphasis or direction. The classic example is the Archbishop of Canterbury where a split in the world Anglican communion has been on the cards for some time now over the same sex marriage issue and homosexuality.
Micro Church scene
Each local (parish) church is likewise in the mix but without the international interest. I have witnessed numerous times where a new minister gave the old adage of a round post into a square hole fresh meaning. The mix did not work.
Getting this right is the aim, and can be fraught with danger. Good research is paramount. It is not all plain sailing. The reasons for appointment may be directly related to the situation whereby the previous minister moved on. Quite possibly a healing period for the congregation is required and someone with those healing skills needs to come in and in effect, set the scene aright.
Bishops, Superintendents, Moderators, Presidents ..... call them what you like, play an incredibly important role in these dynamics.
In the free church, the non-conformist scene, it is more than often that key influential families or key laity leaders make or break a ministry. Get on their bad side and the ministry is over-red-rover (as it were). Knowing where the bodies are (an expression meaning local knowledge) becomes ever more important. Therefore church polity plays an important part in the life of any local church governance.
In recent Church / Mission life where fresh expressions of missionary endeavours are initiated (church or mission), the founder's philosophy, even years down the track will be difficult to change. What is happening increasingly is that fresh leaders initiate their own church / mission with their philosophy. I recently spoke of this in my article on church growth late last year.
I was reminded of this at a recent NSW Government Associations Incorporations community Public Officer's information meeting and the question of dispute was raised. The spokesman said their department was not equipped to handle disputes, the best advice is that as there are over 27,000 such associations, 27,001 will make no difference.
The Paul and Barnabas solution which has been held in good stead for two thousand years in business, corporate and the Christian church.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html