COLLECTIVE LEADERSHIP: MAKING SPACE AT THE LEADERSHIP TABLE FOR THE MARGINALIZED MEMBERS OF ROBERTSVILLE BAPTIST CHURCH
Robertsville Baptist Church members reflect the changing face of Oak Ridge, TN. Over the years, members consisted of families with two parents and children; working adults who had sufficient income to increase wealth and affluence; an educational background and work experience that equipped the church to staff numerous committees; and a devotion to the institution of church that kept the building filled with people.
Within the last ten years, newer members to the church experience different kinds of marginalization. Whether it is related to housing, employment, education, or health, more residents of Oak Ridge and members of Robertsville experience the effects of marginalization.
With an aging population of established members, the search for leadership on committees is becoming difficult. The problem is marginalized new members are not seen as viable participants in leadership. They are excluded from the Leadership Table. The Leadership Table is the metaphor that portrays who is seated at the table in leadership.
The project seeks to discover the reasons why marginalized new members are
excluded from the table. Are preconceptions of marginalized people influencing who is
xirecruited for leadership? Or, is it a matter of trusting established members to be productive leaders?
Additionally, the project introduces a collective leadership model to provide Robertsville with a mechanism for being inclusive of marginalized new members in leadership groups. Collective leadership operates according to principles like forming leadership groups that are intentionally diverse; making space for the lived experiences of others to have a voice in leadership; and providing a way for both directive and collaborative styles to operate together.
The qualitative research approach used included interviews and group meetings. Personal stories of experiences and field notes from pilot committee meetings provided material for data. Exit interviews showed growth in committee members’ view of leadership, leadership groups, and the “other.” A more inclusive perspective to all three emerged among the committee members. In the future, a more practical guide should be developed to assist churches in implementing a collective leadership model. Also, an investigation of how Baptist polity and spirituality is conducive to an inclusive leadership culture should yield fruit.