Everyone knows that I am a big fan of 24! I love the show. I have all seven seasons on DVD. Two years ago, a friend gave me a 24 T-shirt for Christmas. On the front side it says, “So, you think you know what’s going to happen?” And, on the back side it says, “You don’t know Jack!”
If you’re familiar with the show, everybody loves Jack’s leadership style. I’ve always wondered, would Jack Bauer be a good staff or lay leader in a modern day church? Would the church give him space to lead or put barriers in his way? In the seventh season of 24, FBI agent Renee Walker said to FBI Director Larry Moss, “I’m starting to think if we just stayed out of Jack’s way, we could have prevented this crisis.” Now, what was the key point in that statement? Get out of Jack’s way so he can do his job! Now, grant it, I know this is just a TV show, but stay with me here. With every season of 24, Jack Bauer always had an obstacle to work around, and most of the time it was from government politics that tried to sideline him or control his efforts from accomplishing his mission. If Jack Bauer was a lay leader in a church, how would he respond to religious politics and tradition that often tries to control, sideline and limit the efforts of leaders trying to fulfill the mission and vision God placed in their hearts?
Let’s start out by defining religious politics. It flows in communication and years of tradition through a church organization. It hates creativity and new approaches for ministry. But, most of all, religious politics loves to stand in the way of progression and forward motion. If Jack Bauer was a staff pastor or lay leader in a church, and the religious system stood in his way consistently from carrying out the mission and doing his job, what would Jack do?
- Shoot the senior pastor in the knee
- Interrogate the church board
- Leave the church
- Go start another church
- Just let the religious system torture him, like when he was tortured in China
- All the above
Just for the record, I wouldn’t recommend any of these options if you’re a leader in your church. Because, first of all, we must recognize the brutal reality, religious politics will always be around us in church ministry. If you think there are no religious politics being played in your church right now, you are in denial or deceived. Wherever there is people; there is politics. Religious politics fight against leaders that are forward thinkers, innovators and get it done type of people. It will be the Jack Bauer’s in your church that will be your greatest asset in helping eliminate religious politics throughout your organization. Religious politics fight to maintain the status quo, while the Jack Bauer’s of your church fight to move your church vision forward.
Church organizations that are on cruise control are typically the one’s that are affected the worst with religious politics. Jack Bauer type leaders may be drawn to a cruise ship kind of church, but they won’t stay there very long. In the Sixth Season of 24, Secretary of Defense, James Heller told Jack, “Sooner or later Jack, you’re going to get back in the game, because that is who you are.” Jack Bauer leaders will never be satisfied in a cruise ship church. They will be the ones that will always buck the system, disturb the status quo, and rock the boat. Jack Bauer leaders crave being on the front lines because they will always be in the game, it’s how God wired them. No church system will ever be able to sideline, control or manipulate these kind of leaders to stay quiet or take a passenger seat position. Why? Because these kind of leaders are missionally focused and driven individuals. Jack Bauer leaders will always align themselves with churches and ministry organizations that think and function like a battleship, not a cruise ship mentality.