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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Team Leadership Metaphor

A few of you have emailed me lately and asked questions about our shared leadership model at Westwinds—the team we call Coriolis. Below are some musings along with a portion of our official paper on Coriolis.

The short story on how we arrived at the team leadership approach is this: it was the Phoenix that rose out of the ashes. We didn’t set out to be revolutionary or shake things up at Westwinds. We were on a journey to find a new lead pastor when our elders and staff realized we had something special happening. God was blessing our ministry with the team leadership that sprung out of necessity. The Mother of Invention?

We decided we would stop the search for a senior pastor and bring on another staff leader who would own the Narrative portion of what we do (weekend messages, vision casting, communication).

We then put our heads together in order to brainstorm how to best convey what we wanted to accomplish with our team leadership. Better yet, we wanted a metaphor that best described what we wanted to be.

There is power in metaphor. A metaphor unlocks the imagination and gives new sight to those blinded by a tired reality and the cataracts of the ordinary. At Westwinds, metaphors have been used to elucidate who we are as a church and why God has placed us in Jackson.

Even our name, Westwinds, is a metaphor. A west wind is created in two ways: first, through the uneven heating of the earth by the sun, and second, through The Coriolis Effect. The Coriolis Effect is the pulling in of a moving object that creates speed in air movement. It is a result of the elliptical shape of the earth’s orbit which pulls the planet around the sun and causes wind. Because the earth is a sphere, air moves along the circumference of the planet resulting – at high times – in cyclones. Other examples of The Coriolis Effect include the twirls of a figure skater, the motion of a pendulum, and the trajectory of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

In our efforts to best serve the people of Westwinds Community Church, the elders and lead pastors have agreed upon a model of shared leadership based upon The Coriolis Effect. It is our desire to create new wind movement, to align ourselves with the orbit of the sun, and to work together to ensure that the future of our church is exciting and secure.

Coriolis will serve as the lead position of paid staff at Westwinds. In contrast to the traditional model of a senior pastor, Coriolis will offer a broader perspective on staff issues and church-wide initiatives while maintaining the creative impulse necessary for Westwinds’ ethos to be both protected and evolving. In this model Randy Shafer will serve as the Coriolis: Journey, David McDonald as the Coriolis: Narrative, and John Voelz as the Coriolis: Experience, signifying both the unity among Coriolis as leaders of one mind and the diversity required of the individuals to oversee specific arenas of ministry. In short, Coriolis is unity in leadership and dreams.
While we recognize that there is some risk inherent with shared leadership and Coriolis, we also recognize that the potential for success outweighs the apprehensions of slow decision-making and unfamiliarity. With Coriolis our chief tasks have become the management of new ideas, fresh vision and enthusiasm, and the growing wonder of what God is doing in the city of Jackson and with His people.

It is good for us all to remember that we are not the Cause, but we are part of the Effect.