Gary Hamel in two excellent posts on his management blog, how to tell if you are a natural leader and the hidden cost of overbearing bosses, unknowingly critiques Brian Tamaki by arguing how organisations need to move away from formal authority (which demands things from the top) towards accountable and decentralised leadership:
Now this is cutting edge management theory but it is something those who claim to be Bible readers should have known for a long time (try reading 2 Samuel or Romans 12:1-8 for example!). Formal rigid power structures are simply not appropriate to churches because they disenfranchise the people of God and instead put all the responsibility for discerning the mind of Christ on the "anointed few." Brian Tamaki's excess is unfortunately only an extreme example of a much wider trend among evangelical/charismatic churches to treat the pastor as an some sort of anointed leader CEO instead of demanding that he or she (but lets face it it's mostly he) actually "equips the saints for the work of ministry" (Eph 4:12). The leader that wants to see Christians going the extra mile in their dedication to building the Kingdom of God doesn't need an oath of obedience, they need to edify, involve, and empower all the members of the body of Christ.
In traditional power settings, key decisions have to be approved by one’s superiors, but merely explained to one’s subordinates. This reality often tempts managers to ignore the disquieting views of direct reports, and to content themselves with compliance when they should be seeking genuine commitment. The result: employees who can no longer be bothered to bring troublesome truths to light and are unlikely to go the extra mile.
But this empowerment of the whole congregation is not just for the sake of the Kingdom and the members, it is also for the sake of the pastor. The pastor who places themselves above reproach or criticism is surely heading for disaster. Tamaki complains that in forming this "covenant" he has done nothing wrong... "I didn't steal or sleep with the church secretary," he says. The problem is he has created the exact environment for himself where he is most likely to do such things. Surrounded by people who wont dream of criticising or warning him if his behaviour becomes risky or questionable it is surely only a matter of time before some scandal ensues. Power corrupts. If Brian really is a "man of God" then he will be seeking to make sure he is not corrupted by the power he has as the leader of such a large church. The only way to do that is to surround yourself with people who will disagree and criticise you and keep you honest (and yes Brian if you are reading this, I do volunteer to help!). 700 men sworn to stand up when you enter the room and silence those who criticise you wont help one bit, sorry.
Let me know what you think :-)
PS. For another perspective on leadership see Simon Walker's trilogy on leadership, the undefended leader, reviewed by Paul Windsor here, here, and here! I'm yet to get hold of the books, but after the enthusiastic endorsement of Paul and others I think I need to.