Archive for the 'Leadership' Category

Leadership, Ministry Formation

Leadership Development Webinars

I’ve just been watching “Staff Infection”, a webinar put on by Leadership Network. From time to time, Leadership Network and others offer free webinars to help train or pass on information to people so they can be more effective leaders and servants to others in ministry. Sometimes these webinars last 4 or more hours, without a break, except for a 5 minute infomercial of something they are promoting.

Bethany Seminary has also joined on this bandwagon by broadcasting different Church of the Brethren events. For a listing of their offerings, click here.

Are you a fan of these kinds of learning experiences? On the one hand, they are very convenient! You just need to turn-on your computer and watch/listen. You might even multi-task and do some work at the same time. On the other hand, I can get very distracted by things that need to get done that it’s hard to really pay attention and listen. I also miss the community of learning with others, whether it be commenting to each other or even seeing the non-verbals of agreement, disagreement, or confusion to what the speaker just said.

I would find these events more enjoyable, it they were shorter — say no longer than two hours. Longer than that, I think I would prefer traveling or getting together with others to watch.

What’s your experience? Do you participate in these kinds of learning experiences? What are you likes or dislikes?


Change!?!, Leadership

A Witness for the World

After President Mubarak left Egypt, President Obama said it was “a historic event,” that “the Egyptian people had spoken and Egypt would never be the same”. Although the historic event worth noting for many was the revolution in general and the reality that President Mubarak was made to step down, the real historic event worth noting is how it happened. Let us pray that not only Egypt, but the world will never be the same.

That the protestors, even in their desperation for great change, chose a peaceful means by which to work for change was unbelievable in the midst of the great violence they had experienced for decades and in the midst of a world that too quickly resorts to violence. Often deprived of sleep and certainly with many experiencing growing anxiety in the midst of the uncertain situation at hand, millions of Egyptians exercised tremendous self-control, including the army caught in the middle. The sheer continued act of civil disobedience from growing numbers refusing to be violent changed their country and inspired the world. President Obama said that “the people of Egypt put to rest the lie that justice is best gained through violence. That it was nonviolence, moral force that bent the arc of history once more. We saw protesters chant, ‘Selmiyya, selmiyya’, (We are peaceful), again and again. We saw a military that would not fire bullets at the people they were sworn to protect. We saw people of faith praying together and chanting, ‘Muslims. Christians. We are one.’ And though we know that the strains between faiths still divide too many in this world and no single event will close that chasm immediately, these scenes remind us that we need not be defined by our differences. We can be defined by the common humanity that we share.”

A reporter said “the Egyptians bring out the idealism in you, in a world of cynicism”. For many of us, they bring out the faith in us; faith in the God who is always calling us to the best of ourselves, the things of peace, and who dances with us in streets everywhere, when we get it right. Long ago Jesus wept on a hillside wishing people knew the things that would make for peace. Perhaps last week Christ wept again, for there was powerful evidence in the world that people somewhere did know what made for peace, and found the courage to see it through.

May God continue to be with the Egyptian people in days ahead, as they continue their walk away from the Pharaoh, and toward the promise land. May their witness inspire and empower us all.
-With you on the journey, Pastor Erin

Taken from the Chimes newsletter, February 15, 2011.

Books / Readings, Change!?!, Community, Leadership, Missional, Understanding Context

Happy New Year or Happy Crisis Year?

I’m reading a book for my Doctor of Ministry program called, The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy by William Strauss and Neil Howe (Broadway Press, 1997). The authors of this book predict that we’re about to enter a time of extreme crisis, like the world last experienced in World War II. It does this by introducing us to the idea that history is cyclical, with four seasons of life within every 100 years or so. They trace this back to Roman times and call it the Roman Saeculum. Within each of the four seasons, a generation of people are born who experience through the same lenses, attitudes, or points of view.

The first season, or period of time is called the “High”. The major world crisis is over and the future is bright. This has been achieved by a united group of people working against the crisis. “Prophets” are born during the “High”. For our time, this is the Boomer generation.

This season last existed between 1946 and 1960. During this period, our nation rose to become a global super power and the middle class grew tremendously. Society was united, didn’t question authority and was very modernist.

The second season of the saeculum is a time of “Awakening”, or spiritual introspection. Here, it is more important to explore the inner world than the outer world. People start to defy institutions, leaders or culture which helped win victory during the Crisis. Nomads are born during this season and our represented by the Gen X.

The last “Awakening” occurred from 1964 to 1984. It began with campus riots, Viet Nam war protests and a rebellious counter-culture. (Remember the ‘hippies’?) It gave way to more violent crime, family break-ups, and many ‘movements’ which eroded the unity of our nation.

The next season is called a time of “Unraveling”. People have lost their unity. Personal satisfaction is high because, “it’s all about me.” There is great personal expression and personal fulfillment. All the flaws of institutions are exposed and not much gets accomplished by society as a whole. Hero’s are born during this season are are the Millennials in our life time.

The authors date the latest Unraveling from 1985 to perhaps 2005. Society continued to fracture and individualism grew. Mistrust of institutions continued to grow and leaders are constantly questioned and criticized rather than being respected.

The last season of the saeculum is call “Crisis”. This is often a time of world war or other type of major conflagration – everything is a mess. The generation born in this season are called “Artists”.

This book was written in 1997. But in the mid to latter part of this past decade the authors predict that the world will fall back into some type of major crisis. Though no major world war appears to be on the horizon, the world is definitely struggling through financial crises.

So, if we are entering a “Fourth Turning”, or time of “Crisis”, what are some of the implications for the church? How might this impact local congregations, denominations in this country, as well as the church globally?

One way is financial. Few churches have been holding their own financially or growing in resources over they last three years. They often mirror the financial conditions of the community. However, there are upsides to financial problems. They can cause a congregation to rethink its purpose and mission. Congregations who are more vision-driven may pause to seek and discern from God what it should be about during this financially-challenging time. This refocusing effort, if it is based upon the values of the members, can strengthen their commitment and faithfulness to achieve what their vision of God’s calling is.

One result of the “Unraveling” might be the reason why people lost their sense of unity in and responsibility to the denomination and instead see the flaws of the institution. Many congregations now prefer to give to local mission endeavors vs. sending their money away to the denominational headquarters.

For the established church to survive the Fourth Turning (or season of Crisis), locally, denominationally or globally, it will need to refocus its vision and be focused on how to meet the needs of those around it. Over the past thirty years, there has been a big shift from congregations existing to meet the needs members and supporting the denomination, to churches who are equipping members for ministry and sending them out locally to meet community needs. Today, people want to be a part of an organization that’s making a difference they can see. They desire to support change that helps the lives of others or improves their community. Thus larger bodies, denominations, or communions need to help the local congregation with resources which will help them achieve greater success in their local ministry efforts.

Has anyone else read or heard of this book? What are your thoughts for the season or time period we’re entering? How do you think it affects the church?

Community, Leadership, Young Adults

Leading with diversity

After lurking here for quite a while and having posting privledges for over a year, I finally have something to share!

I was writing this post for another Brethren-related blog where I am an contributing editor and I thought it might connect with some of the folks on this blog as well. The site is called Already and Not Yet and was an  outgrowth of an Office of Ministry-sponsored young adult forum on ministerial leadership held almost a year ago. While most of the posts are written by young adult, Brethren-oriented thinkers, anyone is welcome to come join in the conversation. As for this re-post, feel free to comment here, there, or everywhere!

I don’t think anyone will argue we live in a diverse world. Today’s technology and culture have made amazing advances in connecting us to others who are very different than we are. However, the church (worldwide, denominational, and local) has been reluctant, hesitant, and at times flat out refused to embrace this diversity.

Thankfully, some of these trends seem to be shifting. I read with great interest about the “emergent/emerging” church that is growing in recognition and numbers. Part of my affinity comes from strong similarities I sense between their commitments to living out the life and teachings of Jesus in the midst of community. Yet one of the distinctive elements of many (most?) of these groups is their tolerance, acceptance, and comfort with diversity. Not just racial or cultural diversity, but also political and theological differences. It’s not just a “check your differences at the door” kind of diversity, but one that welcomes people to bring all of who they are as they gather around God’s table. By committing to this as a part of their identity I think they are modeling a deep, authentic way of living together as the body of Christ that those of us in the “existing” church could learn something from.

This raises important questions for leaders seeking to nurture this kind of diversity within communities of faith. How do we lead out of our own beliefs and values while leaving space for those who may believe (very) differently? How can we provide a sense of centeredness and direction in such diverse communities? Is there less space for prophetic leadership amidst this kind of diversity?

If we are to truly embrace the beauty, wisdom, and mystery that living in such deep, authentic, diverse community can bring, we will need new visions of leadership to make it work. What do these new visions look like to you?

(Original post – Already and Not Yet)

Leadership, Missional

The Present Future

Last night I decided to pull out a book that I had read a few years back called “The Present Future” by Reggie McNeal. I got through about 2 1/2 chapters. There was alot in it that stood out to me, and reminded me why we are taking this leap of faith by planting Veritas to be a missional community of authentic worshippers. Here are a few of the quotes that stood out to me.

“The North American church is suffering from severe mission amnesia. It has forgotten why it exists. The church was created to be the people of God to join him in his redemptive mission in the world. The church was never intended to exist for itself. It was and is the chosen instrument of God to expand his kingdom.”

“The correct response, then, to the collapse of the church culture is not to try to become better at doing church. This only feeds the problem and hastens the church’s decline through its disconnect from the larger culture. The need is not for a methodological fix. The need is for a missional fix. The appropriate response to the emerging world is a rebooting of the mission, a radical obedience to an ancient command, a loss of self rather than self-preoccupation, concern about service and sacrifice rather than concern about style.”

“This is what it’s going to take to gain a hearing for the gospel in the streets of the twenty-first century- the smell of cleaning solution, dirty faces, obvious acts of servanthood.”

I probably could go on listing a bunch of other quotes, but those three I feel are enough to chew on for quite a while.

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