Friday, June 18

Leadership Thoughts: Changing the Way Ministries Think

It's a pattern that I have often seen in our ministry:

The longer one is a Christian, the more their life gets wrapped up in Christian activities and the more their circle of friends becomes exclusively Christian.

This is the typical pattern in most churches and Christian ministries. At first glance, it seems like a positive thing. Christian activities - worship services, Bible studies, prayer groups, accountability groups, etc. - provide valuable input. Christian friends are essential for spiritual growth.

The problem is that it doesn't take long for our focus (individually and corporately) to get turned inward rather than outward. The Christian life becomes about our spiritual "needs", our preferences, our comfort, our convenience. Relationships with those who don't share our spiritual convictions are sometimes left behind. We get so busy being religious with other religious people at our religious building that we forget that God never called us to that.

I'm always intrigued (and convicted) by the fact that the people most attracted to Jesus were the least religious while the Bible scholars of the day were the one's most opposed to him. Jesus didn't fit the way they thought a godly person should live - even though he was God in the flesh!

God has called us to live and minister as Jesus did - living out the Kingdom of God wherever he has placed us. Our call isn't just to invite people to our religious activities, but to follow Jesus' example of "incarnational" ministry - living out the reality of God's Kingdom in the world in which we live and demonstrating Christ's love and values to those around us.

Our Christian culture often works against this. We want our members to come to one more meeting, take part in one more Bible study, play on our ministry softball team, and patronize our Christian businessmen. We are so busy directing people to another Christian activity that soon there is hardly time for family, let alone time to know and care for those who aren't already in the group.

Our students are starting to get the idea. We don't want them to think about having another Bible study for their Christian friends, but to think in terms of missional and incarnational communities - groups of students who are living out the Kingdom of God where they are. They are seeking ways to serve and care and model Christ's values and life in their residence halls, labs, jobs, fraternities/sororities, etc.

Here is a short video by Jeff Maguire that does a good job of communicating the concept.

Wednesday, June 16

Leadership Thoughts: The Importance of the First Follower

One of the areas that I enjoy studying and writing about is leadership. Ideas about leadership often show up in this blog. This video by Derek Sivers presents some ideas on leadership and the way that movements happen that stretched the way I think about these issues.

Take three minutes and watch Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy.

Here are some of the key points that he makes:

The leader must be easy to follow and clearly show a path. He must welcome those who follow and include them as important parts of the movement. It's not about the leader. It's about them and what they are doing together. Therefore leaders need to nurture those who follow, making sure the focus is on the movement and not on the leader.

The key to what happens isn't the leader. It's the first follower. He shows the way and clears the path for others. As Sivers says, "The first follower transforms a lone nut into a leader. If the leader is the flint, the first follower is the spark that makes the fire."

"A movement must be public. Make sure outsiders see more than just the leader. Everyone needs to see the followers because new followers emulate followers."

Sivers closes the video with these remarks:

"Leadership is over-glorified. Yes, it started with the shirtless guy, and he'll get all the credit, but you saw what really happened:

It was the first follower that transformed a lone nut into a leader. There is no movement without the first follower. We're told that we all need to be leaders, but that would be really ineffective. The best way to make a movement, if you really care, is to courageously follow and show others how to follow."