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by John Fehlen

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! Introduction .....................................................................................................................................5 ! Problem Statement...........................................................................................................................6 ! The Trinity and Perichoresis ............................................................................................................6 ! The Trinity .......................................................................................................................................8 ! Perichoresis......................................................................................................9 ! Outworking of Trinitarian Thinking and Perichoresis...............................................................12 ! Missional Clarity............................................................................................................................13 ! Mutual Community .......................................................................................................................19 ! Unified Diversity ...........................................................................................................................25 ! Summarizing Findings from this Research for Collaborative Ministry.....................................30 ! Bibliography..........34 ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

Table of Contents



Introduction One of the most important and equally daunting aspects of being a senior leader in an organization such as the church is the responsibility of team building. For a church to grow and meet the ever-present needs of a community it must continually develop, nurture, restructure, equip, modify, and multiple teams. George Cladis rightfully believes that the most effective churches today are the one that are developing team-based leadership.1 Notice the present-tense tone to the Cladis comment (are developing) this supports the notion that the work of team building is never done. It is a progressive, continually adaptive pursuit of collaboration. Gilbert Bilezikian believes that, Team leadership is not a human invention. Its precedent has been set in heaven. The Scriptures present an amazing example of collaborative leadership at the highest level with respect to a church...2 At the very heart of collaborative ministry is a collaborative God; Father, His Son Jesus, and the Spirit of the Lord. Each an uncreated person, one in essence, equal in power and glory.3 Harper and Metzger in Exploring Ecclesiology believe The Triune God created the church to be Gods people and body and bride of Christ in communion one with another, a people who are also constituted in relation to God, to humanity at large, and to the whole of creation. The churchs purpose flows forth from its identity, because the churchs communal identity is purposive.4 The very design of the Body of Christ is collaborative in that it is derived directly from a Triune God.

1 George Cladis, Leading the Team-Based Church (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1999), 1.
2 3 4

Gilbert Bilezikian, Community 101 (Grand Rapids, MI; Zondervan, 1997), 165. Ibid., 18. Taken from the doctrinal statement of the Evangelical Theological Society. Brad Harper and Paul Louis Metzger, Exploring Ecclesiology (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazo Press, 2009), 20.


By exploring the Trinitarian foundation for collaboration one can make a case that the very Godhead supports and is undergirded by teamwork, thus collaboration should be a mark of Gods agency: the Church. I appreciate how William Placher says The doctrine of the Trinity needs to be reclaimed, not just among theologians but in the faith and life of Christian people...5 This directed reading will move towards that valuable end with the assistance of the Eastern Orthodox concept of perichoresis. Problem Statement The purpose of the researcher in this directed reading is to examine the Trinitarian concept of perichoresis and its implications for collaborative ministry in the local church. More specifically the following sub-problems will be addressed: 1. to define Eastern Orthodox concept of perichoresis in relation to the doctrine of the Trinity; 2. to explore Trinitarian theology with regard to missional clarity, mutual community, unified diversity; and 3. to reflect on how Trinitarian theology can inform collaborative ministry within a local congregation. The Trinity and Perichoresis Trinity: One does not have to look far into the pages of Scripture to discover that God Almighty intended for life to be lived in a collaborative manner. Three small words in the opening chapter of Genesis establish the imperative for partnerships: us, our and them. Genesis 1:26 says, Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them... Many

William C. Platcher, Narratives of a Vulnerable God (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994), 55.


Christian commentators have seen here a glimpse of a much later formulated doctrine of the Trinity. Saint Augustine says, When I read that your Spirit moved over the waters, I catch a faint glimpse of the Trinity which you are, my God. For it was you the Father, who created heaven and earth in the Beginning of our Wisdom - which is your Wisdom, born of you, equal to you, and co-eternal with you - that is in your Son...Here, then is the Trinity, my God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, the Creator of all creation.6 A parallel can be made between the Trinity and the dual union of man and women (a trio when united to God as well). Harper and Metzger in Exploring Ecclesiology elaborate on Genesis 1 to this effect in saying, Just as God is only God as three persons in communion, the man is only fully human in relation to the woman. The man was never meant to be alone (Gen. 2:18).7 They echo Bonhoeffers words, Man is not alone, he is in duality and it is in this dependence on the other that his creatureliness consists.8 The Trinity is one of the most often used descriptions of God in Christian circles. The relevance of the doctrine of the Trinity for collaborative ministry is found all through our writings, songs (God in three persons, blessed Trinity) and creeds. However, the actually word Trinity appears nowhere within the pages of Scripture, and yet, few would disagree that the doctrine of the Trinity has become one of the most widely acknowledged Christian teachings. The English word Trinity comes from the Latin Trinitas which means the number three or triad. Although the actual word had been used prior, it was Tertullian, a Latin theologian from

St. Augustine, Confessions, Book XIII.5 quoted in David Atkinson, The Message of Genesis 1-11 (Illinois: Inter-Varsity Press, 1990), 39.
7 8

Brad Harper and Paul Louis Metzger, Exploring Ecclesiology (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazo Press, 2009), 22. Ibid. Quoting Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Creation and Fall, 36.


the early third century, that is credited with using the word Trinity in direct conjunction with an explanation of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit being one in essence--not one in Person.9 In essence, the Trinity is the experiential fellowship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Thereby the Christian doctrine of the Trinity teaches the unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three persons in one Godhead.10 This indeed is an enigma. Clark Pinnock agrees that although the Trinity is an important belief that must be embraced by anyone who would be orthodox, it is not a belief one should expect to understand.11 Cladis claims that within the nature of the Trinity is what can be described as perfect collaboration.12 This nature is not individualistic but rather is three persons in communion. John Webster insist that a doctrine of the church is only as good as the doctrine of God which underlies it. This principle--which is simply the affirmation of the primacy of the doctrine of the Trinity for all Christian teaching--means that good dogmatic order requires that no moves be made in ecclesiology which do not cohere with the churchs confession of the triune God and of the character of his acts.13 In other words, the form and function of the local church must reflect that of the God to which it is subject. Albeit from a decidingly Western perspective, Theologian and former Franciscan, Leonardo Boff makes the faith declaration that the Trinity is God as one nature and three From Encyclopedia Britannica Online Clark Pinnock, Flame of Love: A Theology of the Holy Spirit (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press: 1996), 23. Ibid., 14.

10 11 12

13 John Webster, The Community of the Word in The Church and the Perfection of God edited by Mark Husband and Daniel J. Treier (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 78-79.


Persons.14 He concurs with such thinkers as Jrgen Moltmann in that trinitarian reflection properly begins with the conviction that the eternal God is three persons with divine unity. Moltmann, in Experiences in Theology paints a wonderful picture of the Trinity in saying, Simply to hear the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is to sense that there must be a marvellous fellowship in the mystery of God. In Trinitarian theology we do not reduce God to a concept. We tell his eternal history.15 Drawing from the Cappadoican Fathers (Basil, Gregory of Nazianzus and Gregory of Nyssa), John D. Zizioulas believes the doctrine of the Trinity is the starting point for theological reflection.16 He is convinced that the mystery of the church is deeply the very being of God.17 Bruce Demarest agrees with Zizioulas in saying, From eternity past to eternity future, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit relate to each other with grace, love, mutual submission, and unity of heart and by honoring their roles practicing functional submission...18 Pinnocks summary is most helpful when he spoke of the Trinity as a society of persons connected by a common divinity. There is one God, eternal, uncreated, incomprehensible, and there is no other. But Gods nature is internally complex and consists of a fellowship of three. It is the essence of Gods nature to be relational.19 Over the years, trinitarian relationship has been given a name by Eastern Orthodox church fathers: perichoresis.
14 15

Stanley Grenz, Rediscovering the Triune God (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2004), 121. Jrgen Moltmann, Experiences in Theology (Minn. MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2000), 309.

16 Stanley J. Grenz, Rediscovering the Triune God: The Trinity in Contemporary Thought (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2004), 135. 17


18 Alan Andrews, ed. The Kingdom Life: A Practical Theology of Discipleship and Spiritual Formation (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2010), 223. 19

Clark Pinnock, Flame of Love: A Theology of the Holy Spirit (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press: 1996), 35.


Perichoresis: Kilian McDonnell insists that in Examining the theologies of the East and West, an unbiased judge would have to say that the East has been more successful than the West in giving the Spirit...due equality. Further, the East has been more successful in integrating the Holy Spirit into the whole theological process...20 Therefore, it is vital for us to briefly examine the Eastern Orthodox concept of perichoresis. Gregory Nazianzen, in the fourth century, was the first to give voice to the concept of perichoresis and made it possible to begin to conceive of a community without uniformity and a personhood without individualism.21 Elsewhere it was deployed in the work of Maximus the Confessor. It is believed though that both of these early Christian theologians used the concept to refer to the hypostatic union only,22 meaning that originally the concept of perichoresis was fairly limited to the description of Christs humanity and divinity within one nature. The application broadened to that of each member of the Godhead. Stanley Burgess addressed in his work The Holy Spirit: Eastern Christian Traditions, From the fourth century AD, the time of the three Cappadocian Fathers, Eastern churches have emphasized the uniqueness of function of three divine hypostases [being or substantive reality]. But they balance this concept of individuality by recognizing the reciprocal being of these hypostases in each other. No member of the Triune God functions without the involvement of the other Two.23 Then it was John of Damascus in the mid-seventh century who took perichoresis and applied it directly to the doctrine of the Trinity. From his writings we gain the idea of
20 21 22 23

Kilian, McDonnell, The Other Hand of God (Liturgical Press, 2003), 85-86. Jrgen Moltmann, Experiences in Theology (Minn. MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2000), 316. Oliver D. Crisp, Divinity and Humanity (Cambridge University Press, 2007), 4. Stanley M. Burgess, The Holy Spirit: Eastern Christian Traditions (Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers, 1989), 2.


perichoresis being that of co-indwelling, co-inhering, and mutual interpenetration. In De Fide Orthodoxa by John of Damascus we discover Each one of the persons contains the unity this relation to the others no less than by this relation to Himself.24 Over time the Council of Florence (1438-1445) formulated a doctrinal definition for perichoresis: On account of this unity the Father is wholly in the Son, wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Son is wholly in the Father, wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is wholly in the Father, wholly in the Son. No one of them either precedes the others in eternity, or exceeds them in greatness, or supervenes in power.25 Leonardo Boff sees perichoresis as signifying each Person contains the other two, each one penetrates the others and is penetrated by them, one lives in the other and vice-versa.26 Moltmann adds, In the doctrine of the Trinity, perichoresis means the mutual indwelling of the homogeneous divine Persons, Father, Son and Spirit. The perichoresis of the divine Persons describes their unity, their oneness, in a trinitarian sense, not by way of the metaphysical terms divine substance or absolute subject.27 Stanley Burgess defines perichoresis as multuality of the persons of the Godhead with one another28 where each member of the Trinity, although distinct, is valued as a relational equal. This is an underlying premise of Cladis Leading the Team-Based Church, which is grounded upon John of Damascus description of the relationship of the persons of the Godhead as
24 Paul Collins, Trinitarian Theology West and East (Oxford University Press, 2001), 211 in quoting John of Damascus, De Fide Orthodoxa, i. 8, 94. 25 26 27 28

Ibid. Leonardo Boff, Trinity and Society, trans. Paul Burns (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1988), 5. Jrgen Moltmann, Experiences in Theology (Minn. MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2000), 316. Stanley M. Burgess, The Holy Spirit: Eastern Christian Traditions (Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers, 1989), 231.


perichoresis. In Eugene Petersons Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, he beautifully portrays perichoresis as a giant dance, with the persons of the Father, Son, and Spirit exchanging freely with one another, with no beginning, no ending, and no stopping--a giant dance of beauty, freedom, and love.29 One predominate Trinitarian, perichoretic image is that of the three persons of God in constant movement in a circle that implies intimacy, equality, unity yet distinction....30 Stanley Burgess echoes this, There is no confusion in this intermingling, because there is perfect order therein. The Three Persons are blended, though not confounded; distinct, though not divided.31 It is that distinct yet undivided blending that will be given focus in the remainder of the research. If there is no competition among the persons of God then is it fair to assert that there be little to no competition among His people, particularly those within the leadership circles of the local church? Can ministers be trinitarian in their approach to ministry? A collaborative approach to Christian ministry ought to be possible within the Body of Christ, even within congregations with highly differentiated and hierarchically orders and structures. The mission of church is not of the clergy alone. It is a co-operative venture requiring the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work (Ephesians 4:16). Three trinitarian aspects will be explored: missional clarity, mutual community and unified diversity.

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Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places (Grand Rapid MI: Eerdmans, 2005), 44. George Cladis, Leading the Team-Based Church (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1999), 4. Stanley M. Burgess, The Holy Spirit: Eastern Christian Traditions (Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers, 1989), 180.


The Outworking of Trinitarian Thinking and Perichoresis In surveying the literature, both ancient and modern, a connection develops between trinitarian thinking and perichoresis to that of missional clarity, mutual community and unified diversity. The following is an integrative exploration of Trinitarian theology and reflection upon the implications on collaborative ministry. Missional Clarity: It is important that a team of people speak into and are held responsible for the missional direction of the congregation and that they know and understand their particular roles. Without involving others in missional clarification, the goals, values and objectives will be the sole responsibility of one person alone. Often it will be one-sided or incomplete. Imagine the Trinity without one or more of its members. It doesnt seem right. Understandably then, missional clarity can only be discovered as more and more people understand their role and function within the larger team and have the freedom to inform the process. Therefore Pickard contends accordingly that it is clear that one of the most pressing and fundamental tasks will be to clarify the nature of the relationship between the ministries.32 Pickard is referring to the orders of ministry (i.e.: ordained and non-ordained), however, this can equally apply to the recognition of particular gifts and expressions within the Body of Christ and how those gifts and expressions find their place. Roderick T. Leupp said, Just how a theology of the Holy Trinity can bear fruit in the everyday workings of the church is test case for the relevance of trinitarian theology. It is not, obviously, the truth of God that is on trial here, but how well this truth can be realized, incarnated even, in the life of the church.33

32 Stephen


Pickard, Theological Foundations for Collaborative Ministry (Ashgate Publishing Company: 2009), 23.

Roderick T. Leupp, The Renewal of Trinitarian Theology, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008), 127-128.


Larson and LaFasto believe the first and most important characteristic of a goal is clarity.34 Welborn & Kasten agree that Organizational effectiveness depends on having a clear vision, a passion for execution, and a discipline to communicate that vision and execute activities over and over again.35 In this we discover the importance of not only a clear vision but also the repetitive communication of said vision. Therefore, practice does not make perfect, it makes permanent. Missional clarity is achieved through collaboration and meaningful, repetitive communication. Darrell Guder concurs in his essay on The Church as Missional Community in the larger work The Community of the Word: Toward an Evangelical Ecclesiology when he wrote, To be authentically evangelical...our ecclesiology must be missional. Such an ecclesiology will function then theologically as an integrative discipline...for the sake of building up the body of Christ and equipping it for ministry. Rooted in the trinitarian nature and action of God, this ecclesiology derives its purpose from Gods mission.36 Shawchuck and Heuser in Managing the Congregation, quote Peter Drucker, when they pose three questions regarding missional clarity: (1) Who are we? (2) What is our business? (3) How do we get it done?37 Collectively a ministry must discover its identity through an honest, collaborative assessment. Two honest follow up questions are submitted by Shawchuck and Heuser, namely, Is this who we want to be? and Who do others say that we are? By interrogating reality in such a manner, the organization can find missional clarity and then take

Carl E. Larson and Frank M. J. LaFasto, TeamWork: What Must Go Right/What Can Go Wrong (Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, 1989), 28.

Ralph Welborn and Vince Kasten, The Jericho Principle (New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2003), 8.

36 Darrell L. Guder, The Church as Missional Community in The Community of the Word edited by Mark Husbands and Daniel J. Treier (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 126. 37 Norman Shawchuck and Roger Heuser, Managing the Congregation: Building Effective Systems to Serve People (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1996), 89.


intentional steps toward effective implementation. In The Leadership Challenge Kouzes and Posner agree that collaboration improves performance. They view collaboration as the master skill that enables teams, partnerships, and other alliances to function effectively.38 Not only is performance improved, but collaboration also creates a climate of trust in which individuals are willing to ask questions, listen and take advice constructively. With this, each member of the team retains the role of an expert piece of the puzzle while personally enhancing the overall missional objectives of the group. The authors of Team Effectiveness and Decision-Making in Organisations believe Effective decision making has been an ever-present concern in organizations, but as organizations move toward greater decentralization, flatter structures (fewer levels of management), and employee empowerment, the matter of effective decision making has broken free from being a concern solely of the teams at the top of the pyramid and is now important throughout the organization.39 The Trinitarian approach to ministry in the local setting is one of decentralization and empowerment. It means breaking down the hierarchal decision-making in order to achieve the greater good for the organization. But this begs a question regarding leadership within the organization. What is the role of the primary leader in a truly collaborative environment? In Trinitarian theology there has been great debate regarding differing concepts of relationality within the Godhead, especially in regards to the concept Monarchy. In other words, Is the Father the leader in the Trinity? The

38 James Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner. The Leadership Challenge (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2002). From http:// pmvars=1~0~leadership+challenge~1 39 Richard A. Guzzo, Eduardo Salas and Associates, Team Effectiveness and Decision-Making in Organisations (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1995). 82-83.


obvious and natural inclination is to assume that the Father is the primary source from which the other members are subjected. Much work has been done on this front by the Cappadocian tradition, in an effort to bring understanding to mode of existence.40 Often in our creeds and songs we recite the members of the Godhead in order numerically (1st, 2nd, and 3rd) which adds to the hierarchal confusion. As well there is a creedal recognition that the Father gave us the Son and the Son gave us the Spirit as was introduced into the Nicene Creed by the Western Church (filioque).41 In each of these cases, considerable debate has occurred over the economic verses the immanent Trinity. Malcolm Grundy draws attention to these two different representations of the Trinity. One representation clearly places the Father in a superior, hierarchical and monarchial position. The other representation emphasizes unity, harmony, and courtesy, in which no one is dominant and in which there is no struggle for precedence. For Grundy it is this second image of Trinity which provides theological grounding for truly collaborative ministry.42 In Practicing Community, Greenwood argues that: It is essential to a social trinitarian understanding of God to realize that existence is by definition to be in relation. Gods Fatherhood is impossible without the Son...the understanding of God as a communion of personal relations in which none is ever in a permanently dominating or dominated role, offers a vision for priesthood that manages to be in charge without ever being merely separate or superior.43 Gilbert Bilezikian affirms this as well,

40 41 42 43

Paul Collins, Trinitarian Theology West and East (Oxford University Press, 2001), 146. Clark Pinnock, Flame of Love: A Theology of the Holy Spirit (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press: 1996), 196. Malcolm Grundy, Understanding Congregations (London: Mowbray, 1998), 62-63. Robin Greenwood, Practising Community: The task of the local church (London: SPCK, 1996), 71.


In whatever the Godhead undertakes to do, the three members of the Trinity function together--never independently of each other. The Father is at the forefront of the work of creation, but both the Word and the Spirit are present and involved with the Father in creation. The Son is at the forefront of the work of redemption, but both the Father and the Spirit are present and involved with the Son in redemption. The Spirit is at the forefront of the work of sanctification, but both the Father and the Son are present and involved in the work of sanctification.44

This is in alignment with Gregory the Theologians reminder: It is a Monarchy that is not limited to one Person (Or. 29.2). It is not difficult to translate Monarchy to the leadership of the local church in which one individual is the singular voice, epicenter of ministry and final authority. For example, Zizioulas takes on the ecclesiological justification for the order of the Bishop. In his writings he affirms that the Bishop is the head of a community always and only because of his relationship to the community.45 Moltman expresses something similar when he says: From time immemorial the unity of the church in hierarchically structured churches has been based on the monarchy of God the Father, and this is so even today. It is important to stress that the unity of the church corresponds to the perichoretic unity of the divine Persons, not to a single Person in the Trinity.46 In New Testament churches there seems to be an indication of one of the leadership team being the primary leader, a first among equals. We see Peter and the other eleven apostles
44 45 46

Gilbert Bilezikian, Community 101 (Grand Rapids, MI; Zondervan, 1997), 18. John D. Zizioulas, Being As Communion (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimirs Seminary Press, 1985), 223. Jrgen Moltmann, Experiences in Theology (Minn. MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2000), 328.


(Acts 2:14), then James and the elders (Acts 21:18). This may have emerged from the Old Testament model of leadership where we have Moses and the elders (Ex.4:29; Num. 11:16), Joshua and the elders (Josh. 24:1; Jud. 2:7) and also David and the elders of Israel (2 Sam. 5:3; 1 Chron. 15:25). It is possible that the bishop was a singular leader over a church in a locality with a team of elders assisting in the oversight of that community. Kevin Giles sees the elders as the community leaders and the bishop as responsible for leadership of an individual house church.47 It was not until the time of Ignatius48 that we see the rise of the monarchical bishop, where the bishop was the unquestioned leader of the community of a given city, who presides over a council of elders and is assisted by a group of deacons.49 Miroslav Volf addressed this though in saying, the bishop does not simply stand opposite the congregation...since he is not a persona privata, but rather a communal entity, a corporate personality.50 In this Volf insists that the church leader is not one single subject but rather a communion of subjects that are interdependent. This is an important reminder in light of collaborative ministry and most certainly in light of Jesus prayer that those who are his would be one. It is from this prayer in John 17 that we discover a visible unity of the church that corresponds to the collaborative/perichoretic nature of the Trinity. Moltmann makes the corrolation to the church in saying, The fellowship of the disciples with each other, for which Jesus prays, is intended to correspond to the reciprocal indwelling of the Father and the Son in the Spirit...The trinitarian fellowship of God is here the
47 48 49 50

Kevin Giles, Patterns of Ministry Among the First Christians. North Blackburn, Victoria: Collins Dove, 1989). 38-40. Ibid., 24. Eusebius makes Ignatius the third bishop of Antioch in Syria and dates his martyrdom in Rome at 108 AD. Ibid., 42. Miroslav Volf, After Our LIkeness: The Church as the Image of the Trinity (Grand Rapid, MI: Eerdmans, 1998). 224.


prototype, the church the reflection.51 The church, in its collaboration, becomes a mirror of Gods unity. Therefore it is the belief of the researcher that the Godhead is a community of persons and that the church must guard against individualism. There is a unity in the Trinity and yet each person has a distinct role and function. Perhaps one could say that each member can be spotlighted (in a non-ego manner) at different times, like that of a jazz band soloist. On a collaborative church team, there may be times, seasons and appointments whereby certain individuals become, in a sense, monarchial. Pannenberg in Systematic Theology speaks to this: The mutuality and mutual dependence of the persons of the Trinity, not merely as regards their personal identity but also as regards their deity, do not mean that the monarchy of the Father is destroyed. On the contrary, through the work of the Son the kingdom or monarchy of the Father is established in creation, and through the work of the Spirit, who glorifies the Son as plenipotentiary of the Father, and in so doing glorifies the Father himself, the kingdom or monarchy of the Father in creation is consummated.52

Cladis further explains that, Ministry teams that are open, available, flexible, responsive, and representative of the people they lead will do better in the postmodern world than will leaders at the top of the an old-style hierarchical pyramid. Post-modernism requires organizations to turn the pyramid upside down so that leaders who were above are now below.

51 52

Jrgen Moltmann, Experiences in Theology (Minn. MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2000), 328. Paul Collins, Trinitarian Theology West and East (Oxford University Press, 2001), 198.


And instead of giving orders from above, they give support to the wider constituency from below.53 This will be discovered in the following attribute of mutual community. Mutual Community: Another descriptor of a Trinitarian ministry that will be addressed is that of a healthy, functional community. Again, one must refer to the concept of perichoresis which is the dance of the each member of the Trinity. The Trinity is not one individual but rather a community of persons that love and live in harmony.54 Jrgen Moltmann believes perichoresis makes it possible to conceive of a community without uniformity and a personhood without individualism55 and Thomas Torrance further explains that we must give consideration to the notion of perichoresis and the help it gives us in deepening and clarifying understanding of the onto-relations of the three divine Persons to on another in respect of the coordination that obtains between them and their unity...56 Community within the Trinity has been visually displayed in Rublevs Icon of the Trinity57 as an image of the collaborative spirit. Stephen Pickard notes that Each of the members of the Trinity is inclined towards the others in a deferential posture of respect and acknowledgement of shared life; each is constituted as a person by virtue of their relation to the

53 George Cladis, Leading the Team-Based Church (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1999), 21.

Shirley Guthrie, Christian Doctrine (Louisville, KY: Westminster Press/John Knox Press, 1994), quoted in George Cladis, Leading the Team-Based Church (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1999), 4.
55 Roderick T. Leupp, The Renewal of Trinitarian Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008), 70. In quoting Jrgen Moltmann, Experiences in Theology: Ways and Forms of Christian Theology, trans. Margaret Kohl (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2000), 316. 56 Thomas Torrance, The Christian Doctrine of God: One Being, Three Persons (Edinburgh, Scotland: T&T Clark LTD, 1996), 168. 57 Rublevs Icon of the Trinity, or the Icon of the Old Testament Trinity, was painted by Andrei Rublev around 1410 and now hangs in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. Based upon an earlier icon, the Hospitality of Abraham, it depicts the three angels who visited Abraham at the Oak of Mamre (Gen. 18). Rublev changed the subject to focus on the Mystery of the Trinity. A copy can be found on one of the opening pages of this research.



other.58 He goes on to assert that The perichoretic (lit: dancing around) life of God is the deepest foundation for a collaborative ministry. Recognition of this fact has provided the springboard in contemporary theology of ministry for relational understandings of ministry.59 Shawchuck and Heuser see community as that stage of development in which the whole group is greater than the sum of its individual parts. The synergy from the group is greater than each individual need or perspective.60 This is affirmed from the Trinitarian model in which we find a perfect example of true community, whereas each members diversity is valued and released fully for missional Kingdom advancement. Roger Haight asserts that, The church is a community that shares on its deepest level a common vision of the source, the meaning, and the destiny of human existence. No one doubts that this single common vision becomes refracted in innumerably different ways....but within and despite the differences lies a conception of ultimate reality.61 A collective vision based upon mutual community can empower a church to be more effective if theology and practice are well integrated62 because the interpersonal dimensions are fleshed out in the context of relationships that function with trust and acceptance. Confirming this, Placher describes the Trinity as such: Not three isolated individuals; not one without internal distinction. Each in full selfhood precisely in community; one most itself in its three-ness.63

58 59 60

Stephen Pickard, Theological Foundations for Collaborative Ministry (Ashgate Publishing Company, 2009), 4. Ibid.

Norman Shawchuck and Roger Heuser, Managing the Congregation: Building Effective Systems to Serve People (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1996), 216.
61 62 63

Roger Haight S.J., Ecclesial Existence: Christian Community in History (New York, NY: Continuum, 2008), 220. Norman Cooper, Collaborative Ministry (Mahwah. NJ: Paulist, 1993), 2. William C. Placher, Narratives of a Vulnerable God (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994), 73.


John Zizioulas writes extensively on the idea of relationship and personhood. In Being as Communion, Zizioulas finds ...firm ground for ideas about human personality. Knowing that human beings are created in God"s image, the conclusions of the early Church about the persons of the Trinity may be applied to human beings. We too have personal existence. We have individuality, symbolized by our personal names. We know ourselves and are able to reflect on ourselves as the subjects of our own unique experience which we hold in our memories. We are aware of having a destiny and the future of our individuality is supremely important to each one of us. However, none of these things originate in persons understood simply as individuals.64

Zizioulas and a growing number of theologians influenced by him believe that the origin of our personal identity lies in relationships. This idea, that personhood, whether human or divine, is constituted by relationships, has become the standard fare in trinitarian theology. Examples of these theology writings are Ted Peters God as Trinity: Relationality and Temporality in the Divine Life, Stanley J. Grenzs The Social God and the Relational Self: A Trinitarian Theology of the Imago Dei and Miroslav Volfs work: After Our Likeness: The Church as the Image of the Trinity. In many of writings, most particularly in Volf one discovers the Trinity to consist in pure relationality.65 For effective collaborative teamwork to exist in a local church this level of selflessness must be evident and the team must wrestle with Harper and

64 David Heywood, Why Collaborative Ministry? %20Ministry.pdf 65

Miroslav Volf, After Our LIkeness: The Church as the Image of the Trinity (Grand Rapid, MI: Eerdmans, 1998), 67.


Metzgers important question: So what would the church look like if it became less modalistic and more trinitarian?66 To meet that challenging question, Harper and Metzger have found that Scripture never refers to the church as a group of believing individuals or autonomous Christians, but as the body of believers, the body and bride of Christ. The risen Christ himself is not simply an individual. He is corporate in that he is one with the church as his body and bride. And so we are not simply individuals.67 Witherington further explains that Some Christians no doubt saw themselves in a very individualistic light as sufficient to themselves, especially in spiritual matters. Paul is disputing such notions. God has deliberately made the members of Christs body interdependent so that all would have concern for the others. The suffering, or otherwise, of one member affecting all is an obvious illustration. That this is an analogy is evident, since it is not always true that one believer rejoices at anothers good fortune. That is how the body ought to react, however,68 A truly shared ministry requires a high level of personal security not to be threatened by strong lay leaders, to be willing to give up the need to control, and to be willing not to be involved in everything that goes on in the congregation. As one pastor put it, "I have learned to trust that God's Spirit is at work in their styles and theologywherever faithful people gather. When I began to learn this, things shifted. The Holy Spirit did new and innovative things.69 Andrew D. Clarke concurs in his work A Pauline Theology of Church Leadership, when
66 67 68

Brad Harper and Paul Louis Metzger, Exploring Ecclesiology (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazo Press, 2009). 22. Ibid., 42. Ben Witherington, Conflict and Community in Corinth (Grand Rapids, MI: 1995),261.

69 Donald P. Smith, Shared Ministry


referring to James Dunn comment: Pauline communities...authority in the local congregation was vested in no single individual or group of individuals. Rather, there was a mutuality in which all members, gifted by the Spirit, were to exercise ministry in the Body of Christ.70 Bruce Demarest connects the imagery of the Trinity to the value of community within the Body of Christ in claiming that Since God created persons in His image, the loving communication of three persons within the unity of the Godhead constitutes the basis and model for the fellowship of Gods people in loving community. The unity of the Godhead (one God) corresponds to the drive to be close, to belong, and to be connected to a loving community. It ties in to the desire to overcome rivalry and conquer loneliness. The diversity of the Godhead (three persons) corresponds to the need to be acknowledged as a unique individual and to have ones own space.71 Moltmann agrees that the triune god is a God in community, rich in inner and outward relationships...If the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are joined together through eternal love, then their one-ness is in their concord with each other. They form their unique, divine community through their self-giving to one another.72 Placher drives the point home in saying, If we Christians understand the doctrine of the Trinity aright, we will realize that it implies that God is not about power and self-sufficiency and the assertion of authority but about mutuality and equality and love.73 A brief New Testament survey of the Godhead will support mutuality:

70 James D. G. Dunn, Unity and Diversity in the New Testament (London: SCM Press, 1977), 109-11, quoted in Andrew D. Clarke A Pauline Theology of Church Leadership (New York: T&T Clark, 2008), 14.

Bruce Demarest, The Trinity as Foundation for Spiritual Formation in The Kingdom Life: A Practical Theology of Discipleship and Spiritual Formation, edited by Alan Andrews (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2010), 242.
72 73


Jrgen Moltmann, Experiences in Theology (Minn, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2000) 309-310. William C. Placher, Narratives of a Vulnerable God (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994), 55.


Baptismal formula (Matt. 28:19) undoubtedly made a significant contribution to the emerging trinitarian view of God. Baptismal narrative of Jesus himself found in all four Gospels (Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:32-34). Benedictions (May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all [2 Corinthians 13:14]). Various passages with a Trinitarian pattern: (Romans 15:16; 15:30; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22). These are but a few examples that assist in understanding God as triune.74 To conclude the portion on mutual community, Elizabeth Johnson indicates that the particular kind of relatedness than which nothing greater can be conceived is not one of hierarchy involving domination/subordination, but rather one of genuine mutuality in which there is radical equality while distinctions are respected...At the heart of holy mystery is not monarchy but community; not an absolute ruler, but a threefold koinonia.75 Unified Diversity: The final descriptor of Trinitarian ministry within The Church is unified diversity. Ben Witherington III and Laura M. Ice agree with this descriptor in saying, It is a fundamental assumption...that however much diversity there was in early Christianity, there was also some significant unity, particularly in the use of God language, and we would do well to examine closely these shared terms and the concepts they represent.76 One of the primary terms the encompasses diversity and unity is the Body of Christ. Gilbert Bilezikian makes a

Veli-Matti, Karkkainen, The Doctrine of God: A Global Introduction (Grand Rapid, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 47.

75 Elizabeth A. Johnson, She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse (New York: Harper & Row, 1974), 216, quoted in William C. Placher, Narratives of a Vulnerable God (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994), 75. 76 Ben Witherington III and Laura M. Ice, The Shadow of the Almighty: Father, Son, and Spirit in Biblical Perspective (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002), x.


correlation between the Trinity and the Body of Christ in saying, There is diversity within the very being of God in that the Father, Son and Spirit are different from one another, but there is also oneness since God is one being. Similarly, God celebrates the diversity that exists among humans as the expression of his own creative versatility...77 This can be supported centuries prior to Bilezikian with the words of John of Damascus, That which is common and one is considered in actuality by reason of the co-eternity and identity of substance, operation, and will and by reason of the agreement in judgement and the identity of power, virtue, and goodness--I did not say similarity, but identity...For there is one essence, one goodness, one virtue, one intent, one operation, one power--one and the same, not three similar one to another, but one and the same motion of the three Persons.78 The creative versatility that is seen in mankind is expressed through our spiritual gifts and abilities within the Body of Christ. In the Body of Christ we discover what Max DePree coined as leadership jazz. He describes effective organizations as a jazz band in which everyone plays individually but are utterly dependent upon each other for true success. This kind of accountability is vital for organizational effectiveness, even though Wayne Cordeiro in Doing Church as a Team believes, The church is not an organization. He contends it is more like an organism with living parts that must move and work together as a whole, with each individual part no being able to stand on its own. Corderio says, If I cut off my arm and planted it in the dirt, that arm would not grow into a new body. It would die! So it is with the body of Christ.79 Cladis emphasizes that collaboration is coming to the table with spiritual gifts to be used in
77 78

Gilbert Bilezikian, Community 101 (Grand Rapids, MI; Zondervan, 1997), 187. John of Damascus, The Orthodox Faith 1.8, trans. Frederic H. Chase, Jr. (New York: Fathers of the Church, 1958), 186.

79 Wayne Corderio, Doing Church as a Team (Honolulu: New Hope Publishing, 1998), 185.


ministry. When the gifts are freely offered for ministry, God blesses and creates the spiritual synergy resulting from the team members collaboration. The collaborative team recognizes the unique gifts of its members and makes those members shine.80 Leadership and ministry ought to be gift based. In other words, leaders should be appointed because of their evident gifting and ability to perform a particular ministry or task, remembering that the one sure sign that this giftedness is of God is the character of their lives. God has designed the church so that those with the spiritual gift of leadership should lead, those with a teaching gift should teach, those with a mercy gift should show mercy, those with caring gifts should care, etc. The focus of 1 Corinthians 12 is upon the diversity of function, where all roles are necessary and simultaneously reflect unity and mutuality rather than equality. This is the reason that the Apostle Paul can accommodate an ecclesiology of unity while proposing a diversity of prophets, pastors, teachers, apostles, elders and deacons. The Apostle Paul frequently reminded his churches (Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; Ephesians 4:1-16), the Body of Christ consists of unity in diversity. No one person has all the gifts necessary to build the Church. All display different facets of the call of Jesus to the Church, and all are called to love the others into the full realization of that call until, All of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ#(Ephesians 4:13). James D.G. Dunn drives this point home, The body metaphor is and remains the classic illustration of unity in diversity, that is, a unity which does not emerge out of a regimented conformity, but a unity which results from the harmony of many different parts working together,


George Cladis, Leading the Team-Based Church (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1999). 14.


and which depends on the diversity functioning as such.81 It is the spirit of collaboration that connects and inclines every member of the body of Christ towards the other. This is the work of the perichoretic Spirit.82 In Book 6 of De Trinitate, Augustine speaks of the unity and diversity of the Trinity in this way: The virtues are in the human soul in a similar way [that is, similar to the way greatness is in the Father and greatness is in the Son]. Although each of them has a fixed and clearly defined meaning, yet one can in no way be separated from the others...83 Moltmann seems to support this in saying, the concept of Gods unity cannot in the trinitarian sense be fitted into the homogeneity of the one divine substance, or into the identity of the absolute subject either; and least of all into one of the three Persons of the Trinity. It must be perceived in the perichoresis of the divine Persons.84 The Trinity cannot be reduced into one member, or be represented by the most dominant (i.e.: the Father). It can only be experienced in the fullness of diversity and unity - thus the perichoretic dance. The very personality of the Godhead itself requires a plurality of persons within community. A biblical example of eldership may serve to illustrate plurality within community. To become more trinitarian there ought to be plurality of leadership personality in order to wrestle to the point of mutual community. The Scripture indicates that church leadership ought to be plural, evidenced in that nowhere do we have an endorsement of single, dictatorial leadership

81 James D.G. Dunn, Unity and Diversity in the New Testament: An Inquiry into the Character of Earliest Christianity (SCM Press Ltd, 1977), 111. 82

Stephen Pickard, Theological Foundations for Collaborative Ministry (Ashgate Publishing Company: 2009), 7.

83 Augustine, On the Trinity Books 8-15. Edited by Gareth B. Matthews. Translated by Stephen McKenna (Cambridge University Press, 2002), xxxiv. 84

Jrgen, Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row Publishers, 1981), 150.


within the biblical imagery of community. In 3 John 9, Diotrephes is being corrected for exhibiting a singular, dictatorial form of ministry. The text says, I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church (3 John 9). This kind of exclusivity does not foster healthy community. Paul, on the other hand ordained elders in every city. Notice that it was never one elder (Acts 14:23). Just as God is a Trinity in community, so leadership in the church is to be done in a team environment, where diversity and the wisdom of a multitude of counsel is the norm. The New International Encyclopedia of Bible Words affirms a multitude of elders in regards to community life: Two things about the early elder system are worth nothing. First, supervision of the life of the community was placed in the hands of a group of elders, not in the hands of a single elder. The wisdom of several rather than of one was considered necessary for those matters that an elder team had to deal with. Second, the elder system settled matters within the community. The elders were members of the community; their judgments would flow not only from knowledge of law and custom but also from intimate knowledge of the persons who might stand before them. This community aspect of the elder system stands in contrast to modern bureaucracy, which tends to create increasing


distance between individuals and those who decide civil or criminal issues that might affect them.85 Support for New Testament shared leadership (plurality) can be found in other various passages including Acts 13:1; 15:35; 1 Corinthians 16:15,16; 1 Thessalonians 5:12,13 and Hebrews 13:7,17,24. In these passages, the plurality of the Trinity is both active and interactive86 and the dynamic presented in Scripture is one of mutuality and accountability. Cladis asserts, The holy fellowship of God is for us a model of collaboration. Even though we do not know how these three persons of the one God are organically related, and though much of who the Trinity is lies shrouded in mystery, we find in Scripture that God is revealed to us in Father, Son, and Spirit and this revelation is depicted in loving word pictures of fellowship, movement, and intimacy.87 Reflective Findings from this Research for Collaborative Ministry The doctrine of the Trinity is highly practical and has implications for collaborative ministry and in this closing section I will draw reflective findings for practical application to collaborative ministry within the local church context. The quote by George Cladis that launched this paper bears repeating: The most effective churches today are the one that are developing team-based leadership.88 The following are four observations that can serve to bolster teambased leadership and ministry within the local church.

85 From New International ENCYCLOPEDIA of BIBLE WORDS, Based on the NIV and the NASB Formerly titled Zondervan Expository Dictionary of Bible Words Zondervan Publishing House (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, A Division of Harper Collins Publishers) 86 87

Gilbert Bilezikian, Community 101 (Grand Rapids, MI; Zondervan, 1997), 31. George Cladis, Leading the Team-Based Church (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1999), 94.

88 Ibid., 1.


Collaborative Ministry and Theology: Collaboration is at the very center of the heart of God and precisely the way Jesus engaged in ministry, therefore, a strong biblical and theological case can be made for collaborative ministry all throughout Scripture. Various groups and theological persuasions may differ on interpretation and implementation, yet there is adequate grounding for alliances and partnerships with Christs Body, the Church. A firmly developed and articulated theology that is based upon biblical convictions must include affirmation that ministry belongs to all peoples. The unearthing and systematic development of a theology for collaborative ministry is a wonderful starting point for teams of any size and composition. Imagine an off-site working retreat of any length, in which there is a collective project of examining the biblical depth regarding collaboration. This will only serve to unite hearts, reinforce partnerships, and ignite possibility for future collaboration. Collaborative Ministry and Gifts: From the writings of the Apostle Paul it is abundantly clear that the Church has been given a variety of gifts for the betterment of each individual part as well as the collective whole. Everyone has a gift and each gift has a place. In essence, ministry belongs to the Body because the Body is part of the whole. Therefore, for ministry to be truly collaborative it must be inclusive of the varied gifts it represents and the recruitment of people ought to be for the utilization of their particular gifts rather than the development of church programs. The latter may certainly be accomplished in the process and yet the focus must be upon the elevation of the person rather than the program. On a church team, its imperative to discover, develop and deploy the uniqueness of each person, and process how each fits within a larger context. It is my belief that God has blessed us


with everything we need to build the Church effectively, but it is our responsibility to discover the hidden potential in one another. This can happen a number of ways, but it must happen. Collaborative Ministry and Leadership: For the ministry to be effective with a wide variety of gifts being represented and integrated, it requires the call and clarification of the leadership role. Teams need members as well as leaders for it to achieve collaboration, and within those teams a truly collaborative approach will require the sharing of power. Having said that, there is clear support biblically and throughout church history for the valuable role of a leader. Leaders define missional clarity, foster mutual community and facilitate unified diversity. In a perichoretic/Trinitarian community of collaboration, the leader may change, like that of a jazz band instrumental, or ballroom dancer taking the lead at a particular time. This requires discernment and humility among team members. Collaborative Ministry and Relationships: Friendship is one key to collaborative ministry both practically and theoretically. Whereas much of what is spoken of in scholarly and pulpit forums is concerned with defining who we are in distinction from other members and parts of the Body of Christ, its important to consider ourselves in relation to one another. The biblical models of community and brotherly love are indispensable to our relationships - which are the fundamental frameworks for collaborative ministry. In the local church it is possible to engage in deepening relationships, even with our uniqueness. The doctrine of the Trinity supplies an understanding of God being open and personal, both to interaction within the Godhead and to relationships outside. This is the standard for Gods people within ministry teams.


Future Study A suggestion for future study is in regards to idealizations and disappointment. These are concepts that Pickard expounds upon in Theological Foundations for Collaborative Ministry when he says: The perichoretic (lit.: dancing around) life of God is the deepest foundation for a collaborative ministry. Recognition of this fact has provided the springboard in contemporary theology of ministry for so-called relational understandings of ministry. Such language abounds today and is part and parcel of notions of the interconnectedness of all ministries and the priority of shared every-member ministry. This is well and good, at least as far as it goes...The discourse of relationality is underdeveloped in dealing with issues of conflict and difficulty in ministry and it tends to set up idealizations about the way ministry ought to work. Disappointment will be close at hand.89

Pickard is right and his conclusions deserve further study. The body of my research has been supportive of Trinitarian collaborative ministry, but what about conflict, frustration and disappointment? Is it enough to have a Pollyanna Cant we all just get along? mindset? This seems to overlook the realities of broken, sinful people that have a hard time playing well together. That would certainly be a valid direction for future research.

The Apostle Paul brings his second letter to the Corinthians to a close by offering a benediction that the Corinthians may receive the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. But Paul goes


Stephen Pickard, Theological Foundations for Collaborative Ministry (Ashgate Publishing Company: 2009), 4.


on to add the Father and the Spirit to the benediction, so that he ends up with a remarkable triadic prayer that includes Jesus, the Father, and the Spirit.90 It is that Trinitarian prayer that will serve as a blessing to the conclusion of this research: May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.91

! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

Gordan D. Fee, Pauline Christology: An Exegetical-Theological Study (Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 2007), 2 Corinthians 13:14



! !


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