A unique facet of the Alliance of Baptists is how we "do leadership." As a movement the Alliance believes in pushing power out to the people, faith communities and ministry partners who we are in partnership with. Some examples of these acts of empowerment are:
- Creating a means where individuals within the Alliance can form communities based on passions around particular issues like homelessness, mental illness, racial justice—you name it. These communities hold gatherings that provide education and awareness around these issues, create petitions and statements and stand in solidarity with other organizations focused on the same issue.
- Engaging in a partnership model for ministry with both local and global partners whose work makes a significant difference in the lives of women, men and children around the world.
- Practicing a collaborative model of leadership for it's leadership team members so that decision-making is grounded in equality, discernment and a sharing of one's gifts.
Hear what Carole Collins, Director of Operations & Finance, says about the collaborative leadership model:
When I shifted from working in the hierarchical system of management in corporate America to teamwork for the Alliance of Baptists I did not understand what that shift would mean. I thought that I was already a really good “team player” in corporate work and so a teamwork approach to managing the Alliance of Baptists would be similar. Being a “team player” to me meant going with someone else’s ideas, occasionally, even if I did not agree with the idea. However, true teamwork is working through issues until everyone generally agrees on the outcome, or in other words we reach consensus. Most often, during the process of moving toward consensus, a whole new idea has come from our discussions. I have learned that this process of discussion and discernment takes a lot of time and patience. Taking the time to reach consensus has been more difficult for me than I would have expected. The teamwork management approach does not produce results as quickly as the hierarchical system that I was used to working within. The results, on the other hand, remind me of the saying that “the whole is more that the sum of its parts.” When we take the time to be present together we are able to make plans, solve problems and suggest ideas that bring energy and excitement to each member of our team as well as the Alliance. I appreciate the opportunity to work in this teamwork environment.
And here are some of Paula Clayton Dempsey, director for partnership relations, thoughts on the model:
Partnership is collegial, relational, hands-on helping, synergetic, serendipitous, sharing, gift evoking, grassroots empowering, hope generating, interdependence fostering. In short, partnership is transformational in both our lives and our organizational lives.
Partnership is only possible when we recognize we need one another and that we are good for one another. Deep appreciation for one another is essential for the work of partnership to flourish and flow.
Partnership does not require that all parties bring equal contributions, but delights in the diversity contributed by each. In partnership we do not keep score, but rejoice in the giving and receiving that goes both ways. Each contributes something of value; each receives something of worth. Our partnerships thrive when we recognize and respect this mutual exchange of gifts.
As the contributions of partners are not strictly mathematically equal, so is the flow of power in partnership. Power is shared as power-with instead of power-over. The flow of power reflects a quality inherent in all relationships, for all relationships are dynamic—not static.
Is true partnership in mission and ministry really possible? Despite the world’s model of power-over as normal, as followers of Christ, we have a rich model of shared power in the Trinity. Each member of the Trinity—Creator, Liberator, and Advocate*—embrace a power together that is greater than any one member. We, as human beings, are created in the image of this mysteriously powerful One that exists in mutuality. Perhaps deep within our DNA is the necessary chromosome for partnership!