Penn and the real deal

29 12 2008

I saw this clip on a couple other blogs yesterday and thought it was worth posting here because it speaks volumns about our lack of love and authenticity with people.  Penn Jillette is a well known atheist who not only advocates his beliefs but does so vigorously (check out this atheistblogger.com post).  So what do you suppose would happen if a Christian prostelitized him?  Well, it all depends… I was both amazed and sobered listening to what he had to say about a recent experience:





New leadership skill set

29 12 2008

The vast majority of leaders surveyed by the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) agreed that the definition of leadership has changed in the last 5 years.  This survey was the central part of a 2003 international study designed to forcast trends in the field of leadership.

The results of the study were published in 2007 in a report titled The Changing Nature of Leadership. One of the researchers, Andre Martin, comments that “[t]he most striking difference between the skills that were deemed most important in 2002 and those considered to be vital in the future is a new emphasis on skills that are tied to relationships and inter-connectedness. The new leadership skill set emphasizes participative management, building and mending relationships and change management.”

The research concludes  that leadership will continue to shift over the next 5 years. The leadership skills that are expected to move to the highest priority are leading in ways that focus on flexibility, collaboration and crossing boundaries. Leaders with the capacity to build relationships, collaborate and effectively lead change will be critical to the long-term success of organizations.

Chuck Warnock correlated this report to the church with the following observations:

1) 21st century challenges require adaptive, not technical, changes. Adaptive changes are systemic, and require new solutions that we may not have thought of yet. Technical changes are improvements or adjustments to strategies we already know. Sunday School might be a good example. Does Sunday School need an overhaul (technical change) or is there a better strategy for teaching the Bible in the 21st century than “classes” on Sunday morning (adaptive change).
2) Develop a new skill set for leading. Participation, building/maintaining relationships and change management replace the old skill set of resourcefulness, decisiveness (“lone-ranger decision-making”) and doing whatever it takes.
3) Reward teamwork, collaboration and innovation. Collaborative, participatory teamwork emerges as the preferred strategy of the future and successful leadership will reward shared team efforts.

 





Leadership is spatial

18 12 2008

“The primary work of leadership is to continually stand in the place (space) where it is compelled to ask the question of what God is about among this group of people who comprise this local church in this specific context at this particular time.”

-Alan Roxburgh





The Fine Line

18 12 2008

thefineline2Reaching people is less about knowing the answers and more about relating to the questions. But living out how to relate well to people in the world – how to be in the world but not of the world – is tricky.

We have a sense there are lines that should not be crossed but I find those lines much more clear in theory than reality- at least in the reality of loving people in need.

Kary Oberbrunner’s new book The Fine Line went on sale this week and based upon the reviews I’ve seen is quite helpful at shining some light on this oft murky matter. Below is a short intro video for the book:





Thomas Merton

13 12 2008

Please avoid reading anything written by Thomas Merton – you will probably not sleep well. Thomas Merton exposes more than most of us want to see – he looks at life very seriously in stark contrast to most of us busily being busy. I’ve started reading Merton and not I’m sure what would be safe to post … well – here’s something short that may not cause much harm:

If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I think I am living for, in detail, and ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for. Between these two answers you can determine the identity of any person. 

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the end of Thomas Merton’s life (1915-1968 ) which is being commemorated, in part, by a documentary produced by Morgan Atkinson that will air on PBS beginning tomorrow. Locally WFSU-TV didn’t place it very well on their schedule so set your DVR to record at either 2 or 4 am Monday.





Thinking logically about leadership

13 12 2008

Logical thinkers love linkages – and cause and effect linkages are particularly satisfying.  Of course not all cause and effects are cleanly linked so we often go with corollaries to allow for some slippage.  Much of this blog has focused on leadership and leaders but not much has been said about non-leaders (perhaps a bit elitist?).  Well here’s a post that includes the non-leaders – specifically how leaders effect non-leaders.

I recently read a paper titled Leadership in the New Testament (2007) by Len Hjalmarson, a DMin student at Trinity Western Seminary.  If you read this blog more than occasionally Len will be familiar to you – he has an excellent blog – nextreformation.com – that I read regularly and have quoted from on earlier posts. I was struck by a correlation he drew between practices of the modern church and the effect on believers in such churches.  As leaders we are often frustrated with why so few people serve in the local church – I think the corollary Len presents in his paper helps paint the cause and effect picture explaining that frustration:

The modern church generally is (“cause”):

  • Leader centered
  • Program driven
  • Dualistic
  • Isolationist
  • Consumer driven
  • Seeker sensitive
  • Information oriented
  • Attractional

As a result, believers in the modern church tend to be (“effect”):

  • Passive
  • Self-centered
  • Undisciplined
  • Individualistic
  • Un-Christ like

Staying with the logical framework one would conclude a different and more desirable “effect” could be achieved if the “cause” part of the equation adjusted.  Len states that the church needs to become:

  • De-centered
  • Leaderful
  • Formational
  • Covenanted community
  • Missionally engaged

To make these changes leaders need to embrace paradox, admit how little we know, and be prepared to grieve the loss of the old world along with the identity we personally invested in those places and ways.  To do this we need nothing less than divine intervention and conversion. We can’t merely graft a new theory of formation onto an old root; we need a new tree. We are dealing with believers that don’t even see the need for spiritual formation.

More specifically, leaders need to get better at:

  • Supporting self-organizing activities
  • Creating conditions rather than giving directions
  • Moving from an activist stance to a reflective stance
  • Focusing on conversations that lead to clarity of purpose
  • Creating a learning culture by encouraging continual questioning
  • Rewarding innovation
  • Facilitating connections
  • Calling people together often so that everyone gains clarity about who we are, who we’ve just become and who we are becoming (by doing this leaders don’t have to undertake the task of trying to hold it all together)