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)




Friday is for videos

19 09 2008

Michael Frost is an Australian teacher, writer and church leader, and one of Australia’s leading communicators and evangelists. He is the Director of the Centre for Evangelism and Glocal Mission at Morling Baptist Seminary in Sydney, Australia.  He has authored numerous books including Seeing God in the Ordinary (©Hendrickson, 2000), The Shaping of Things to Come with Alan Hirsch (©Hendrickson, 2003) and Exiles (©Hendrickson, 2006).

In August 2007 Michael spoke at the Presbyterian Global Fellowship (PGF) conference along with John Ortberg (the 2008 conference speakers included Rick Warren and Alan Hirsch).  Who is PGF? – you can check out their web page but I think what they say at the beginning of their “Covenant 2008” describes what they are about quite well: 

“The mainline church is in crisis. We have turned
our eyes inward and have lost the central focus of
the New Testament church: its apostolic calling to
bear witness to Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth.
We live in a time when our own culture is a mission
field, and we acknowledge that maintaining old
institutions and systems leads neither to renewal
nor to faithfulness in God’s mission.

The mandate of the Gospel and the needs of
the world are urgent.

We confess that the living and reigning
Lord Jesus Christ alone is the hope of the world.

We believe that the Father sent the Son into the
world out of love (John 3:16) and that the church is
not an end in itself but a gift given to the world in
order that all may believe (John 17:21).

We believe Christ is calling us to recommit
ourselves to the authority of Holy Scripture and to
the faithful summaries of biblical teaching found in
the historic Reformed confessions.

We believe Christ is calling us, as covenantal
people, to be transformed by his indwelling
Holy Spirit and to be empowered by the Spirit
for faithful witness.

We believe Christ is calling us to move beyond
confidence in our own capacity and culture to a
new interdependence with others in the global
Body of Christ.

We believe Christ is calling for significant
transformation of our congregations, both in who
we are and what we do, as we engage in God’s
missional purpose for the church.

We believe it is time to gather anew around
God’s mission to the world…”

What Michael Frost has to say in the following discussion is very important explanation of missional and how our ecclesiology needs to be realigned:





Flat church

19 09 2008

If there was ever an issue of Leadership Journal to read it is Spring 2008. In this issue some of the key church leadership in liminality issues are explained and discussed. Fortunately several of the articles are online – I discussed one of them in a previous post titled Are We Missing The APE’s? 

In addition to the main content of this issue, Skye Jethani, the managing editor, wrote a few introductory comments that provide a good framework to view the leadership issues faced by many churches in North America:

Facebook, a social networking website with over 67 million members. The premise of the site is simple-create a profile about yourself and then assemble a network of friends with whom you share your information. The intriguing part is the way Facebook will automatically alert you to people within your friends’ networks that you may want to “friend.” It’s like playing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon with your own life. Within days of launching my profile, my network of friends spanned four continents.Open source websites like Facebook, YouTube, and Wikipedia represent a shift in the way we access information and understand authority. To borrow Thomas Friedman’s popular terminology – the world is flat. Traditional hierarchies are being leveled by the forces of globalization and technology. Bloggers now break news stories before network media can, and Hollywood studios have seen box office sales decline as they compete with independent movie makers on YouTube.

These same leveling forces are at work within the church. Brian Gray, a pastor from The Next Level Church (page 24), says, “Our generation is redefining authority. . . . The previous generation viewed authority organizationally. You knew who had authority because of their title and where they were on the chart. For us authority is more about character and authenticity.” Eight years ago TNL Church dispensed with a senior pastor to implement a team leadership model.

They are not alone. I’m in touch with churches from South Carolina to California that intentionally avoid a “senior” pastor in favor of a team model. But, as TNL’s Dave Terpstra says, “Just because we believe in a flattened structure doesn’t mean we don’t believe in leadership.” These flat churches prefer a more collaborative, open source style, but they are still committed to seeing the mission advance.

Others embrace a team model in order to restore spiritual gifts that have left the local church. On our blog Out of Ur (www.OutofUr.com), a vigorous conversation erupted over why so many gifted evangelists and thinkers leave pastoral ministry for parachurch or academic settings. Alan Hirsch (page 32) contends that traditional church hierarchy has elevated the gifts of teaching and shepherding and marginalized the apostolic, prophetic, and evangelistic gifts. A flatter leadership structure is one way to keep these vital functions within the church.

Most congregations haven’t responded to the flattening cultural forces to this degree, but that doesn’t mean they have not felt their effects. The importance of “teambuilding” has been on the radar screen of most pastors for years. Managing team systems among the staff, volunteers, or elder boards is a core challenge of pastoral ministry today.

Is a level church structure with team leadership more biblical? More effective? Will it lead to anarchy or gridlock in the pews? Time will tell. But I hope the articles in this issue help you navigate the flat new world of 21st century ministry.

Skye Jethani
Managing editor
Leadership Journal

 





Leadership shifts

18 09 2008

Picking up on the topic of hierarchical leadership introduced in the post The Collaborative Potential, I think the late Robert Webber did an excellent job of explaining the paradigmatic change in his widely read book titled, The Younger Evangelicals  (©Baker Books 2002).  Following is a chart he used to illustrate the leadership shifts:  





What if church was a way of life?

8 09 2008

 

 

 

 

Liquid church?  Networked church?  What are you talking about!?  Typically this is the reaction many of us have – especially those of us who have been part of the church in North American for more than a few years.  The thought of church possibly being something quite different just isn’t plausible – especially if what we have been doing “works.”  May I suggest these concepts are foreign because we have no alternate experience and/or we are so busy with what we know we don’t take the time to imagine or even investigate alternatives that may “work” so much better.

So what does a networked or liquid church look like?  The good news is that there are many examples of liquid/networked chruches.  The bad news (for us moderns that want to systematize everything) is that they are not models but ways of life.  Adullam in Denver, Colorado, is one such way of life.  Here is their story of beginning followed by a description of who they are – they use the term “village”:

Adullam’s story:

“Adullam began without a name and without plans to start a church. Hugh & Cheryl Halter and Matt and Maren Smay moved to Denver in 2003, after leaving their respective church plants to centralize their ministry of missional church plant training. They work with a missions agency called Church Resource Ministries and have spent the last four years training leaders in how to be “missionaries” in North America. While traveling and training around the country under the name “missio” they simply lived what they taught. The focus of our training is that you don’t begin with a structure or a church strategy; you begin with people. The missional flow is to engage culture, form community, and then structure congregation as people naturally draw together for God’s purposes in their city.

“The first year we simply lived out the gospel in our neighborhoods and it began to draw a group of people from our local Starbucks and began discussing what Jesus meant by the kingdom of God. As time passed this group began to grow and eventually we had to acknowledge that we were “church.” Hugh & Matt still lead Missio and spend most of their time training leaders. You can find out about Missio at www.missio.us. Adullam is not where we go to church. Adullam is our life, our friends, and the people we are on mission with. We can honestly say, that we’ve become church by trying not to do church.” Read the rest of this entry »





“The PCA: A Missional Church?”

2 09 2008

Church denominations have meetings periodically and the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) is no exception.  The PCA has an annual “General Assembly” which is a great place to catch up with friends but where there seems to be little forward progress made on reaching our culture with the Gospel.  I must confess that I have very limited experience with such meetings (I have attended only one – I think it was in 2003) but I have reviewed the summaries of some of these meetings and they don’t appear to vary much (here are the “highlights” from 2008).  Two years ago, however, there was a message that needs to not get lost in the annals of the denomination by Randy Pope who addressed what it means to “become all things to all men in order to win some to Christ.” Here’s what he had to say about how to do that in the context of present day western culture:

download mp3





“The King isn’t waiting on us”

2 09 2008

Reggie McNeal is a well respected guy from the Southern Baptist tradition.  He holds an MDiv and PhD from Southwestern Theological Seminary and has a couple decades of experience leading in the local church.  In addition to teaching at Fuller Theological Seminary he does a lot of traveling and speaking primarily to churches and denominational gatherings in assocation with Leadership Network (he will be speaking at the Catalyst Conference this fall).

Reggie’s message is best for those of us who have spent more than a few years in the institutional church in North America.  He addresses our need to rethink ministry with a real focus on the kingdom of God – to shift from looking at the kingdom through church lenses to the church through kingdom lenses.

The following audio is from his talk at the Reformed Church In America’s leadership conference earlier this year.  If you would prefer a video format it is available here:

download mp4