Authority is hard to nail down in emerging churches, home congregations, and other new expressions of church. Many have had a hard time with authority in the past because it has been abused in some way over time. Sometimes the authority has been gentle, but it holds to the wrong views. Other times leaders hold to the right views, but they exercise their authority with a heavy hand. Either way it can be hard to know how we should approach leadership and authority. Do we only place ourselves under the authority of those we agree with? Do we approach all fellow believers as dialogue partners and not worry as much about leadership and authority?
There is a sense in which the body has a variety of parts who all work together for the common good. Is it logical to assume that some parts should have authority of some sort over the others? Yet, does leveling the playing field of authority help the body more? We all have a part to play, but we all submit to one another?
I don’t think there is one answer that we can settle on that will govern all Christian communities, but I think we need to grapple with it. Are we under someone’s direction? Do we pay heed to a fellow believer or a group of them? If they warned us of something, would we listen? How do we know that a leader is exercising authority in a God-honoring way.
I have more questions than answers at this point. Essentially, I wonder, “What does authority look like in the Emerging Church?”