What happens when leaders move on? (Ailsa Wright)

Monday, 20 April, 2009

Ailsa WrightAilsa Wright asks what happens when leaders move on.

I'm currently part of the leadership team in the Anglican Cathedral of Second Life where I go by the name Helene Milena. Running church online seems to make things move even faster than in other forms of fresh expression from what I can tell, presumably because of the sheer pace of change on the internet. Online church is also something that seems to be classed as even more unusual than many other fresh expressions, although I would dispute that. From my point of view, church via a skate-park or in a surfing community seems equally unusual and way outside my experience. I'm sure it all depends on what you are used to.

I've been asked to write a paper for the DDO of Wakefield Diocese who wants to know more about the challenges and opportunities which this ministry in Second Life presents. The matter of leadership succession was one question that came to mind and I have found no information to answer my questions. It seems sensible to ask practitioners to help me out here so that I can learn from what has actually happened.

Fresh Expressions of church seem to start from the vision and enthusiasm of one person or a group of people. It takes vision and drive and persistence to start anything new. But what happens when the original leader(s) feel called to move on? Who takes on the leadership? Each group will have developed in its own particular way. Does a new leader have to have come up through that particular fresh expression in order to understand what makes it tick and so take it forward well? Is it better to have someone one new come in to bring fresh vision?

I know Dave Male moved from The NET. How did that work out? i-church also has experienced a change of leader twice in my time of being a member. It's obvious that nothing can continue with the same leadership for ever. Change happens in both traditional and new groups and is sure to bring out insecurities in the process. What are the opportunities and challenges of leadership succession in a fresh expression?

About the author: 

Ailsa Wright is part of the leadership team in the Anglican Cathedral of Second Life.


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