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It has been too long since I posted here. Please forgive this long absence. I will be sharing several brief posts over the next several days to, hopefully, make up for my absence.
Recently I attended a YWAM North American Cities Conference in the beautiful French Canadian city of Montreal. My friend and colleague in the University of the Nations leadership team, Jeff Fountain, was the keynote speaker. I gave a couple workshops on Missional Collaboration, which were surprisingly well attended.
That YWAM leadership team and the community of city missionaries I have had the privilege to engage with on several occasions continues to inspire me. This expression of YWAM is doing deep theological reflection as a matter of daily living in their respective city ministries. This network of ministries teams in North America is doing more theologically because they are concerned with more than the “seed”, the Word of God; they are also concerned with the “soil”, the context in which they are ministering. Typically, missionaries will reflect deeply on their context, the people and the cultures represented in the place where they are ministering. But far too rarely do ministers in the North American context reflect with true missionary intent on the theology of place.
Our Student Mobilization Centre team plans to follow their lead in a couple ways.
- First, we plan to have several of our class lecture times for our mobile School of University Ministries & Missions (SUMM) in a dozen cities in N. America in coffee houses and student lounge areas.
- Second, rather than fly speakers to us, we’re going to the lecturers, campus ministry leaders, in their context. We’re inviting them to exegete their university community.
We’re starting the first week of the SUMM at the URBANA Student Mission Convention (Dec. 27-31, 2012), where all participants will also be representing YWAM Int’l at our exhibit booth. We’re partnering with YWAM Emerge, traveling with their band, doing mobilization events in cities in the Midwest and Northeast USA. So all SUMM participants will also be recruiting on this mobile mobilization school.
We welcome you to participate with us according to your ability or calling:
- YWAM: If your YWAM ministry team needs a recruiting boost, and you are praying about engaging the colleges/universities in your city, this mobile SUMM may be just right for you or a member of your team. Go here for details and application.
- Ministry/Project Leaders: If you could use interns at your ministry location, the mobile SUMM will be recruiting students for internship around the world. Go here for details and an online application.
- Student Group: If you are with a student ministry or church interested in having us do a missions mobilization and/or prayer event with live band and an awesome challenge to respond to the Call of God and you are in Madison, WI, Minneapolis, MN, East Lansing or Ann Arbor, MI, Boston, MA, New Haven, CT, Williamstown, MA, Charlotte, NC, Pittsburgh, PA, or anywhere near those major cities, contact us. We would love to invite you to an event.
UofN Student Mobilization Centre
William Carey’s influence on “Haystack” Students
Setting the stage for the historic prayer meeting with the five students who gathered under that haystack to find refuge from a storm in August 1806 was a little booklet written only a decade or so earlier by William Carey. The booklet was entitled: “An Enquiry Into the Obligations of Christians to use Means for [...]
A “New” Kind of Church Minister: George Isley
My pastor, George Isley, who went to be with the Lord five years ago, modeled a kind of leadership in the Church that is, from my perspective as a missionary of 25+ years, too rarely seen. One of George’s classmates, Dr. Don Lundgren, Missions Minister at College Church in Northampton, MA, said George had been [...]
Introduction to Missional Collaboration
As I develop a new training course on Missional Collaboration for the University of the Nations, I will be unveiling several aspects of the course through this blog. Today’s post originates from one of my papers and in response to an article on the Trinity by Mark Avery, professor of a course on Collaboration at [...]
New, Old Meaning for Hospitality
Hospitality has taken on fresh meaning to me lately. I’ll explain. I understood hospitality to be mainly “friendship with the stranger,” and NOT primarily how to set your table to impress your dinner guests. Welcoming strangers, radical as that view seemed, isn’t broad enough. Recently, while doing some research on church eldership, the word hospitality [...]
Our table is the center of our home. It’s the place our family comes together, the place we welcome friends, neighbors, and strangers. We invite others into the kitchen where we chop and sauté vegetables, bake bread, stir sauces, pour the fruit of the vine (juice or wine, you choose), and prepare to savor the [...]
History: Adoniram Judson
In September 1809, college student Adoniram Judson began to ponder seriously the subject of foreign missions. At the age of twenty-one, he had just finished his first year of theological studies at Andover. Judson read a sermon which was preached in the parish church of Bristol, England, by Dr. Claudius Buchanan. Buchanan had been a [...]
Calling: What I’m looking for…
U2 singer songwriter Bono expresses a spiritual yearning in the 1987 album The Joshua Tree hit single: “Still haven’t found what I’m looking for…” New Musical Express (a pop music mag in the UK better known as the NME), points out that the popularity of the song may be due to the way it showed [...]
Easter Note: Holiness is Intimacy with God
“What language should I borrow, to thank Thee dearest friend, for this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end? O make me Thine forever, And should I fainting be, Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.” This line comes from “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded,” a 12th century hymn by Bernard of [...]
Sitting here warming in the sun and listening to the gentle spash of the waves along the jagged lava rock of the Kona Coast of the Big Island of Hawai’i, I find it difficult to believe this is where a tsunami slammed the small shopping center along the shore on March 11, 2011. That contrast [...]
Holiness is MORE than Intimacy with God
At Easter I wrote about Holiness, that holiness is intimacy with God. (Here’s that post.) I described how Bernard of Clairvaux’s 14th century hymn, O Sacred Head Now Wounded, was a personal and public pre-Reformation plea for intimate relationship with Christ. I return to this subject because I did not adequately describe the beauty and [...]
#11 Special Tribute:
It Happened at a Haystack
I first learned of the monument on the Williams College campus in 1988 while researching student missions. In 2006, I joined several student ministries leaders from across the nation at the 200th anniversary of the event that led to the establishing of this memorial. Do you know why there is a monument on the small [...]
Thank you for a great year! – John Henry
1. To foster missional partnerships, placing interns to serve field projects worldwide.
2. To recruit and place students and staff ready to serve and learn a biblical worldview as a missional strategy worldwide.
3. To establish an international coordination office, including guest house, study center, and library.
Cultivating Communities of Practice, by Wenger, McDermott, & Snyder (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2002), is one of several required books I read for Fuller Theological Seminary‘s MA in Global Leadership. The following are my reflections:
I have a great interest in how organizations, particularly those with Christian leadership, work and how they respond to change. This book is rich with practical insight as to how non-profit organizations, churches, and christian ministries may develop in a globalized society.
One trend I have observed helps me see the way forward. In recent years several international conferences, training courses, and outreaches have been convening around points of passion and global human need, like water, women’s issues, slavery, and children at risk. YWAM International and other Christian missions agencies have also begun to look at a new mapping paradigm for global strategy called Project 4K wherein the map is divided into about 4000 geographic units, Omega Zones, highlighting those areas still requiring engagement.
What appears to be needed is a new cross-platform, multi-disciplinary team approach to properly engage each of those geographic regions.
Through the Student Mobilization Centre‘s School of University Ministries & Missions, we are equipping field leaders who will be able to coordinate multi-disciplinary field project teams. During the past 15 months, we have presented this 12-week training program in India, USA, Korea, and Colombia. I leave today to teach on Missional Collaboration for the final week of the school. Participants in the SMC school learn how to collaborate with leaders and communities to harmonize outreach teams to serve broad-based long-term community development project goals while mobilizing students for field based learning.
YWAM’s University of the Nations operates according to what Wenger, et al conclude in Communities of Practice; that is, “useful knowledge is not a downloadable commodity.” It requires participation.
The best learning experiences are in the context of relationships, especially those experiences with others that at the same time unfamiliar and familiar. In my experience, students learn best when taken out of their familiar culture to serve and learn in a context that challenges their expectations and status quo learning experiences. They also learn best if put in a situation where they are challenged to work together with those who share their skill set, academic training, and/or missionary goals.
By cultivating these communities of learning and serving, I believe we will ourselves learn how to do world missions and how to participate as a global church in the twenty-first century. By developing this field project model of university ministry, placing students as interns into a wide array of community development projects with national leaders who require their service, we will all learn, we will become a community of practice.
By requiring students as part of their internship to research and write about their cross-cultural serving-learning experience, we will thereby share knowledge gained both with the field project leaders and with the universities and professors that sent the students. These project teams will help us steward and share the knowledge gained. These long-term community development field projects could serve as “laboratories” for curriculum development as well as cross-disciplinary field project leadership development.
By working together across cultures toward a big vision of collaborative ministries, leaders of missional communities, churches and organizations, will increase their ability and speed generating and implementing creative ideas for community development, evangelization, and training.
To accomplish this, we will need to form missional communities in university settings, and cross-platform, multi-disciplinary, communities of practice at field sites where internships may be hosted and field project staff leadership may be trained.
The most essential element of this field-based learning community is the authentic cross-cultural ministry that must be the foundational intent and the fruit of the project.
Where missional communities of practice exist, the witness of the Kingdom of God will be evident in a much greater way, both in the university and at that field projects’ community. These communities of learning and leadership equipping may in turn affect a change in the whole of the Christian missionary enterprise through an integrated development model of field ministry and leadership equipping.
This book is ‘salty’. I am thirsty for more with each page turned. Even more so, I am hungry for the practical outworking of this vision within the context of my own life and ministry. That is why I am developing a seminar and a 12-week course on Missional Collaboration. The challenge to me is to deliberately form communities of practice in my ministry context, the universities of the world.
The Christmas story is more than the idyllic picture of stars and shepherds and the birth of a baby in an animal stall. It’s also about an amazing story of God’s justice and his Mission, contrasting attractional and missional messages in the Christmas story. It begins with the faith of a young girl from Nazareth who arrives in Judah to see her relative. Her first words are:
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” (Luke 1:46-49)
Mary is a walking miracle. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, she is now a pregnant virgin with a promised son. Gabriel, an angel who stands in God’s presence, makes an amazing declaration to Mary: “The Lord is with you! You have found favor with
God.” The promise to conceive came true. But would this baby boy really “be great“, and who will call him “the Son of the Most High”? How will the Lord God give to him “the throne of his father David”? How will he “reign over the house of Jacob for ever” with a “kingdom that will have no end“? This is what the young Galilean girl is pondering in her heart as she flees from the scorn of her neighbors, and apparently the temporary frustration of her fiancé, for this untimely pregnancy and walks to the city of Judah to stay with her relatives, Zachariah and Elizabeth. Elizabeth had her own miracle baby; she was old and never had children. Elizabeth was promised a child, John, who would become the prophet, calling his people to repentance and preparing the way of the Lord. At the
sight of Mary, Elizabeth feels her baby leap in her womb. In that moment, Elizabeth experiences the infilling of the Holy Spirit and exclaims a prophetic word with her joy:
“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your
womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord
should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting
came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And
blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of
what was spoken to her from the Lord.” (Luke 1:42-45)
Without the knowledge that comes through the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth could not have known that her young niece was indeed “the mother of the Lord”. Similarly, the Holy Spirit sets ablaze Mary’s tongue as she continues her prophetic, and strangely
“And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm, he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, he has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever.” (Luke 1:50-55)
This young girl recalls God’s promises of justice and mercy and exclaims that God has already “put down the mighty from their thrones.” There is a strangely political tone here, a sense that God’s justice was coming or had come in this miracle child. Mary, no doubt, pondered things in her heart for many years. Who is this boy? Surely he cried as a baby, vulnerable and in need of the many forms of sacrificial love of his parents. We can also wonder about those growing years when Jesus worked with Joseph, his earthly dad, and cared for his younger brothers and sisters. The writer of Hebrews gives us a hint at his early years, disclosing that he “learned obedience through what he suffered“, likely including rejection due to his dubious birth (Heb. 5:8). We also know from Luke’s
gospel that before Jesus’ public ministry, he had a regular practice of standing up to read the Scriptures in the synagogue. The portion we find in the gospels after John baptizes him, after the devil tempts him in the wilderness, and after his public ministry begins. Jesus returns to his home country, Nazareth, and on the sabbath he enters the synagogue, stands, and begins to read from Isaiah 61:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Luke 4:18-19
Right then he closed the book, something nobody expected. They wanted him to read the next phrase: “and the day of vengeance of our God“ (Isa. 61:2) Instead, Jesus gave the book back to the attendant, and sat down. Everybody just stared at him. Breaking the tension, Jesus said, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21)
Suddenly everyone was happy and thought very highly of “Joseph’s son.” They too began to wonder. (v.22) That’s when Jesus seems to stick his proverbial foot in his mouth. Everything goes sour when he says:
“Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself; what we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here also in your own country.’ Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his own country. But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there came a great famine over all the land; and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” (vs. 23-27)
Jesus does not seem to care if people liked him or thought highly of him. He is not attractional; he’s missional. He just put it all out there. The people were expecting
a word of God’s vengeance, God’s promised deliverance exclusively for the people of Israel. But Jesus instead speaks of God’s initiative of grace to the outsider, the Gentile nations. Jesus gives a message of God’s Mission. What happens? All hell breaks
loose. They were all “filled with wrath.” No longer did they wonder at the grace of Joseph’s son; they rushed him and got ready to push him over a cliff. (vs. 28-29) Somehow, Jesus managed to walk away. The Day of Christmas is a day of vengeance, but it is not what most people think.
Dave Fitch, Life on the Vine in Chicago area, writes…
“attractional and missional churches are such because they have divergent understandings of basic Christian doctrines. What we need is a theologically robust understanding [of] the relationship between the the Missio Dei [God's Mission], the gospel of the Kingdom of God, and the Church. This will lead us not to the ‘best’ of these two models, but to a cohesive vision of a missional ecclesiology. This is the great error of ‘AND’ thinking; you never get to core issues because you spend all your time trying to artificially hold incompatible things together.”
Fitch is right. Simply trying to do both Missional and Attractional forms of Church will not work. We need a little perspective to understand and communicate a “cohesive vision of a missional ecclesiology”.
As a mobilizer for missions these past 25 years, my attention has always been directed toward Missio Dei, or God’s Mission, not to be misunderstood with “missions,” which is traditionally understood to be the Church’s missionary activity or a department of the institutional Church of the West. Consistent with a vision for God’s overarching Mission in the world, my part has been to work with university students, helping them grasp the love of God and global neighbor through obedience to God’s calling. My hope remains that if a sufficient movement of students engage with God in his Mission, a significant reform of higher education must follow.
That hope for the reform of higher education is only part of God’s Mission. Another reform is necessary. As my understanding of God’s work in human history has grown, my attention has become focused on reforming the Church, especially in the Western world, where christendom has been the established norm and expectation.
My missional journey began in 1982 when I was embraced by the members of Christian Community Church in Kinderhook, NY, a small community that worships in a renovated barn called “Solomon’s Porch” and celebrates community and mission as a lifestyle. The team leadership, led by George Isley (my spiritual father in the faith), the warm hospitality, and the commitment to listen and cooperate with God’s Spirit at Solomon’s Porch are the characteristics of community that have sustained me as a “sent one” in a wider world of mission mobilization with Youth With A Mission and the Student Mobilization Centre.
In recent years I completed a MA in Global Leadership at Fuller Seminary. That reflective period of study coupled with my extensive travels around the globe has deepened and widened my appreciation for what God is doing on planet earth. Many of you may know that the Majority Church is no longer in Europe and the USA. The Majority Church is outside the West; it’s the Global South, including Africa, Latin America, and much of East Asia. Not only is the Church larger in numbers, the Church of the Global South (see article from Lausanne Congress) is also now sending more missionaries than Western nations. Thanks to Lesslie Newbigin and David J. Bosch, (including Bosch’s book Transforming Mission, which I am currently re-reading) my understanding, and the understanding of most of the Church’s leaders around the globe, has shifted.
That paradigm shift in understanding is evident in the many African churches that are now sending missionaries to Europe and the USA. The fastest growing churches in Europe are led by Africans. Back to Jerusalem, a growing movement taking the gospel from China through Central Asia and back to Israel, has emerged out of the Chinese house church movement, where there is an estimated 100 million believers today. Like my brothers and sisters in the Global South, I now see the Western world, especially Europe but also the USA, is a key mission field. The need for reforming our understanding and practice of Church in our Western context is quite urgent.
In fact, I believe the call for reform today is greater than at the time of the Protestant Reformation, which began 500 years ago with Martin Luther’s appeal when he nailed 95 complaints against the established church on a university bulletin board, the Wittenburg Door. Reform today should, in my view, re-emphasize scripture, faith, and the grace of God. However, reform in our day should not be a re-instatement of a 16th century Western understanding of scripture. Instead, we would do well to be faithful to the scriptures by digging deeper. We should explore more thoroughly the authors of the New Testament texts, their backgrounds and understanding of words they introduced, such as Paul’s use of the word “Justification.” We would do well to pay attention to the “New Perspectives on Paul”, including N.T. Wright’s pursuit of a more faithful understanding of Jesus and the gospel Paul preached, and not only a 16th century European take on Jesus and Paul.
The current reform of the Church should not be merely structural, replacing the altar with the pulpit as in the Protestant Reformation. Neither should it be the putting on of a new image, a new marketing scheme, so often associated with Western “success” stories. Reform will require a recalibration of our spiritual and cultural posture in the West, from privilege and power to servanthood and simplicity. Certainly, reform will change the way we equip our leaders; it will reform higher education, beginning with seminaries and bible schools. However, I do not believe reform today will require a great struggle between two opposing ideals or two opposing structures, as was the case in Europe’s Thirty-Years War. Instead, reform will come quietly as believers follow the voice of God’s Spirit calling them toward a lifestyle of surrender, which can only result in a simpler, more relational, more sacrificial love of God and neighbor.
This reform is toward a missional ecclesiology. It’s not a dichotomy, an either or, Attractional vs. Missional. It’s a thoroughgoing change from the inside out, a heart-change in the lives of an emerging leadership, many of whom will not be well known even at the time of their greatest influence. These emerging leaders are fathers and mothers ready to open their homes, appealing to a generation longing for permission to dream with God, to hear his voice, and to create with him. This kind of leader is not new; like Paul, these leaders have always been in our midst offering a quiet and authentic, affirming and releasing example. They offer an example to those with eyes to see and ears to hear and hearts to understand that God’s mission is his Church and it is through his church. As Fitch writes, ”we need … a theologically robust understanding [of] the relationship between the Missio Dei, the gospel of the Kingdom of God, and the Church.” It’s happening.
Learning, the kind of learning that can only transpire in vibrant community through service to the needs of neighbors, is foundational to the purpose of the Church. The modern university was borne out of such communities and, by design, served to benefit the Church. Pope Innocent 12th, 1243 AD said, “Universities are rivers of knowledge that feed and fertilize the universal church.” The attitude of the Church toward universities was at one time positive, however many in the Church today overlook the missional origins of the university. Jesus told his followers to “Go, make disciples,” that is to say, “Go teach students.”
Paul’s testimony of the “school” he ran for a few short years in the lecture hall at Tyrannus shows the mentor teacher role can be extremely effective with a wide area of influence in a relatively short period of time. Though we do not know much about the dynamics of that “school”, we must assume that there was mobilization toward practical application of what was taught. Paul, it may be assumed, mobilized his students to spread far and wide with a living witness of his message.
The formation of communities of learning was a response to Jesus’ command and core methodology for ministry and our task of completing the Great Commission. However, because many church communities have “failed to revisit the theological and biblical underpinnings of our mission,” we have reduced the scope of the Church and the scope of our mission. (Taylor 2001:7) “Crippling omissions,” such as reducing the gospel to proclamation, created Christianity without regard for culture or the nations. (2001:4) The mission for the Church is to make disciples of all nations, including the powerful institution of the university, which will in turn “feed and fertilize” the Church.
How then shall we again engage university communities, not merely to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God with students, but in addition to obey all that Jesus commands, extending his reign beyond individual hearts, into all the world, every nation, tribe, and tongue?
Paul writes to his friends at Corinth:
“I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.” (2 Cor. 11:26-27)
Why was Paul going through so much trouble? Because he lived his life preaching the good news of the kingdom of God.
Sometimes when I read of all Paul’s troubles, I find myself identifying a little bit with his story.
My family and I have been on the move too. As missionaries with Youth With A Mission, we went to Asia during the months of September and October to help with the outreach phase of our Discipleship Training School, YWAM’s introductory training course.
Are we missionaries to China? No. It’s not one people group or nation that God has called us to. We’ve got a global calling.
We’ve spent sleepless nights in countless airports and transcontinental flights. We’ve endured Montazuma’s revenge in Mexico, a Military highjack of our bus in Guatemala. We’ve gone without as faith missionaries, taking no salary for 25 years. We had $25 to our names the day our first son was born. And three weeks after our second son was born, a Hurricane left us homeless and deeply in debt.
We’ve faced dangers too. A Virginia river flooded taking out 25 bridges and stranded us and our outreach teams which were heading to Albania, Brazil, and Ghana. We’ve endured blowouts and breakdowns on highways across the USA. We’ve worked in war torn villages in El Salvador, taken treacherous white knuckle bus rides to work among the Quechua people in the Andes Mountains of Peru, the Rabinal Ache people in the mountains of Guatemala, and the Maasai People in the Savannahs of Kenya.
I’ve been stranded and up all night talking to people about Jesus in train stations in Vienna and with gang leaders in New York. My family took a 53 hour train ride from Beijing to Nanning where we held babies in an orphanage in China. I’ve had doors slammed in my face, slept on a flooded basement floor, in tents in the Mexican heat, and in houses filled with every kind of animal across the USA. I’ve preached outside the Justice Department and the White House in Washington, D.C. and in poor communities all over Central America and the islands of the Caribbean.
About 24 years ago, I walked through the streets with a blow-horn announcing a revival meeting and slept in a trailer in a vacant lot guarding sound equipment in South Philadelphia.
I’ve bunked in a thatch roof hut in the bush-bush of Africa, with no electricity and no water, except by generator for one hour a day. I’ve prayed until my throat was raw in campus meetings around the world, preached until my voice was gone, and had sleepless nights talking and listening to Christian moms and dads about their kids, and with university students who argue about God’s existence. Why would we go through all this trouble?
What good has come from all this?
Today the fruit of our ministry is spreading around the globe. For example, the first outreach team I led planted a church at seventeen thousand feet in the Andes Mountains of Peru. We’ve started businesses, established HIV/AIDS counseling clinics, medical clinics and pharmacies, water pumps, and schools in slum communities in the Belize, Brazil, Philippines, Mexico, India, East Timor, Guatemala, and Kenya. We’ve equipped and deployed hundreds of students to follow God’s call and watched some of them become doctors in remote places like Kazakhstan and Viet Nam. When we were not already busy abroad, we helped church congregations in the USA become more missional.
Since 1986, we have sent 75 Student Internship Teams from nine nations and over 100 universities. All these students have served long-term projects that minister to the poor and needy in 34 countries. Our interns want to be spiritually equipped to respond to God’s calling to engage issues of global human need, such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, clean water, and children at risk.
SMC also trains YWAM leaders for university ministries around the world. We started the School of University Ministries & Missions (SUMM) in Delhi, India in 2004 with twenty-four YWAM participants from nine nations. Since then, the 12-week course has run in Thailand, Korea, the USA, and three additional times in India. To date, we have trained over one hundred campus ministry staff now working in 32 countries. Our next SMC course will take place in Cartagena, COLOMBIA in January next year with a focus on 20 Latin American nations.
Why do we work with College Students? Because today’s college student is tomorrow’s leader. My passion is to train world-changers who will proclaim the kingdom of God in every nation and in every field, every sphere of society. Why should we be so concerned about filling the earth with leaders who serve Jesus, the king of kings? Because the Bible says, “The whole earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord like the waters cover the sea.”
Why go through all this effort? Because our task is to represent Jesus as messengers of the kingdom of God.
What is the message we are called to carry to the ends of the earth? What is this kingdom of God? The best place to get understanding about the kingdom of God is to look at some of the parables Jesus taught.
Jesus said his primary purpose was this: “I came to proclaim the kingdom of God.” He said: “The time is now, the kingdom of God is near.”
WHEN YOU HEAR THE WORD “KINGDOM”, WHAT DO YOU THINK OF?
Do you think of Kings, Princes, Princesses, Armies, Power, Thrones, Palaces?
Jesus taught parables about the kingdom of God because people had the wrong idea about what happens when God rules! He was trying to change the expectations of the people. What was their expectation?
While the people listened to Jesus, they “thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.” (Luke 19:11) The people had an expectation that Jesus was going to overthrow the Roman Empire. SOON! or Sooner!
The Jewish people thought the kingdom of God was all about a revolution. Kicking Roman butt! A great deliverance! A King that would deliver the Israelites from their Roman oppressors!
Many of us think this way when it’s time to elect a President of the United States. We put our hope in a person. People naturally look to a leader to make their world a better place, but that was NOT what Jesus was talking about when he preached the Kingdom of God.
When he taught the kingdom, he knew the people had the wrong idea. His parables were simple stories that could only be understood by those who were humble and hungry.
A parable does not fully explain what something is like. Like trying to describe a song or a painting, a parable is a story with words that are laid alongside the thing you want to describe. The parable can’t fully explain, but it can give a hint. Or it can be a story that describes exactly what the kingdom of God is NOT.
Look at this parable from Matthew 22:
“Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ But they made light of it and went away, one to his field, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”
So, are you excited about THIS kingdom?
I think this parable is very misunderstood. What kind of king is Jesus describing? It should be obvious that the king in this parable is NOT “like” God.
In this parable, Jesus did not say, “The kingdom of God is LIKE”, but rather “the kingdom of God is compared to” or more literally, “is made to look like”.
God is not a tyrant, or a narcissistic sociopath, who kills people that do not come to his party. In this parable, the king calls everyone and anyone to come to his party at the last minute. That sounds fine, but then this king binds and drags one person to outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, just because he doesn’t look right to him. It’s no wonder the man without a wedding robe was speechless.
Some people read, “many are called, few are chosen” and think God probably doesn’t love them. In fact, I know someone who believes they are NOT chosen. Because of this parable, people wrongly think God is an angry unjust judge. But that is not what Jesus was saying!
And most of us know that where God is king, it’s NOTHING like the kingdom in that parable. Instead this parable describes what happens when the people demand a king, when they turn to a human leader. In fact, the original Greek in verse 2 literally translated reads like this: “The kingdom of heaven has been made into one in which a human king gave a wedding banquet for his son.”
The people wanted Jesus to be the king of Israel, a king who would deliver them from all their enemies and make the world a better place. They wanted to take him by force to make him their king. But Jesus was teaching what the kingdom of God is NOT like. It’s NOT a human kingdom… okay?
I think we can all agree that the Israelites had the wrong idea about the kingdom of God, but many Christians today still think the wrong thing about the kingdom of God. Too many Christians think we will only experience the kingdom of God when the end comes, after Jesus returns to earth to establish his kingdom reign.
But Jesus says, “No.” It’s not an overthrow of the Roman Empire or any country’s government. It’s not the setting up of a human king, or prime minister, or president. AND it’s NOT a heavenly kingdom that we need to wait for until he returns.
So then, what was Jesus talking about?
Read this next parable, the one Jesus told his disciples was the most important parable: Luke 13:1
That day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. And large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach. And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. “Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. “But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. “Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. “And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. “He who has ears, let him hear.”
Doesn’t sound too exciting, does it? It sound boring. Like farming? What?
WHEN YOU HEAR THE WORD “SEED”, WHAT DO YOU THINK OF?
Tractors, Fields, Soil, Plants, Crops, Workers…Work! Eventually, we think of work to be done in a garden or a field.
Jesus goes on to teach another parable of the kingdom and it’s about the workers. See Matt. 20:
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner (FARMER) who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard (FARM). After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
This parable seems to point at two different responses related to WORK and PAY. One response is jealousy, envy, and inequality (the First Workers), and the Second response is grace and gratitude for generosity. Both responses have work and workers, but they are very different.
My story? I have learned a few things about work. lived in Wisconsin where there is a lot of snow, so in 5th grade I began knocking on neighbor’s doors to ask if I can shovel their walks and driveways so I could make some money. I also raked leaves and then in 7th grade, I bought a lawnmower to cut neighbor lawns. I had a morning paper delivery route in 6th grade through 8th grade. I delivered papers during the cold winters in Wisconsin and one hot summer in Hollywood, CA.
In 7th and 8th grades I sold cokes at football and basketball games at the University of Wisconsin. The summer after 7th and 8th grades, I worked as a caddy at a golf course. I had to wake up at four in the morning to go wait on the caddy’s bench to get hired each morning.
As a young adult, I had a bunch of jobs too. As I worked my way through college, I worked as a dishwasher, a cook, an electrician’s laborer, a landscaper, a sewer pipe layer, a waiter, a clerk in a liquor store, a door-to-door salesman, car salesman, and a security guard. I even worked as a sub-contractor in a steel mill cleaning soot off the beams six stories over the Old Hearth Furnace. After I graduated college, I took a job as an accountant with a major accounting firm and I hated it. Then I took a job as an executive with the Boy Scouts of America, where I worked for three years.
When I was 27 years old, I resigned from the Scouts. My home church prayed over me and sent me out to preach the kingdom of God. For the past 25 years, I’ve not worked for money. I’ve worked as a faith missionary and God is the one who supplies my family’s needs. This kind of lifestyle does not happen without at least some understanding of the kingdom of God.
So what IS the kingdom of God like? It is like working in a field, sowing seeds…
Jesus sums up his kingdom parables saying…
Mt 13:31 “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed.”
Like a seed, the kingdom starts small, gets buried in a field, in the dark earth, it dies, quietly without excitement, with nothing visible. Only faith and hope remain. And then, without any control by the worker who sows the seed, it grows like a plant really big…
Jesus again sums up the kingdom with this parable…
Mt 13:44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
This parable highlights the value, and the joy of the kingdom. It’s like a treasure, hidden in an open field, not a forest, not a jungle. It’s hidden in plain sight, in a field. And to get the treasure, you gotta buy the whole field? Why?
Why do you have to buy the whole field before you get the treasure of the kingdom of God? Perhaps it is because the field and the treasure are connected? Could it be compared to water buried deep below desert land? If you want the water, you have to buy the land. You can’t have the water without buying the land.
Let’s recap what Jesus is teaching us so far:
• We must remember. The kingdom of God is not a human kingdom. It’s not better when human beings try to control everything. The kingdom of God is the place where God rules!
• We must remember that the kingdom of God is not a kingdom that will only arrive when Jesus returns. It’s near, now.
• Jesus will return and he is the king, but he has taught us that his kingdom is like a seed sown into a field.
It’s a treasure in a field, waiting for you to buy it right now. But where is this field?
Many very intelligent people have searched the scriptures and researched the holy land and thought about this question for 2000 years. Where is the field?
Jesus already answered this question:
LUKE 17:20-21 Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.”
Your heart is the field and the seed is the word of God. The kingdom of God is near you when God rules your heart.
But not everyone allows God to rule their hearts. Jesus taught about that too. He said:
Mt 6:23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
Lu 11:35 See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.
It’s your choice. You can live in the kingdom of darkness, where there is jealousy and envy, or with hunger and humility, you can enter the kingdom of God, where there is grace and gratitude for God’s generosity.
Jesus’ brother James writes:
James 4:1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?
The message of the kingdom is not a one-time confession of faith, like a contract that God must fulfill to save your soul. Instead, the kingdom of God is near you, in your mouth and in your heart. Your heart has two spaces in it: one space for a cross and one space for a throne. You and Jesus take up those two spaces. Which space should you take and which space will you allow Jesus, the king of the universe to fill. If you remain on the throne, he must remain on the cross. If you come down from the throne, and surrender your life to him, then Jesus can take his rightful place as the king of your heart. That leaves only one place for you, the cross. In order for Jesus to reign in our hearts, his kingdom, we must live a life of full surrender.
When you do, you will find yourself like Paul, willing to go to the ends of the earth to proclaim the kingdom of God. You will be willing to “be constantly on the move, be in danger from rivers, from bandits, from my own countrymen, from Gentiles; in the city, in the country, at sea; and from false brothers. You will be willing to labor and toil and go without sleep. You may know hunger and thirst and go without food, but you will know the love and generosity of king Jesus.”
I think about words a lot. Bible believers should know how important words are. Unfortunately, we live in an age when words often do not carry the meaning they once did.
To say a leader is “one among equals” must have true meaning in the day to day push-comes-to-shove political moments, when resources are few and opinions are varied. In a church community, a leader who is “one among equals” has a commitment to a value that must be backed up with words that translate into policies and decisions. Those decisions will produce the fruit of the community’s ministry. The “soil” from which this fruitfulness comes is the worldview of the leaders of the community. Without the soil of faithfulness to the Word of God, the fruit of the ministry of the church community will be limited.
To be “one among equals” is to be a team player, committed to the value of team, the value of every individual, the value of the words themselves. I know of a church community that is wrestling with this “promise” to have a “team leadership.” Such a promise represents the possibility of deeper relational and missional commitment to Jesus, to his Church, and to the world. It has promise for a new season of fruitfulness!
The re-formation of a church community is possible! However, in a community words of good intention must be backed by written policies. The power of a leader facilitating a team must be limited in the language of the bylaws of the organization so that “one among equals” is not merely a slogan. Good intentions are not enough. Words must be backed up by a true commitment to the stated values of the community. It is not difficult to operate as a team when roles are defined and power is distributed, checked, and limited.
On a personal note, our visit to China and Hong Kong has ended. We took our daughter Becca (13 years old) to see the foster mom and village where she was cared for before she was adopted. And we took her to the spot on the steps at the government orphanage where she as left in a box. Needless to say this has been an emotional journey. Hard as it has been, it’s been so important for her identity, the story of her life.
I just completed a week-long strategic development process for the Hong Kong Master’s Beauty Ministries staff team. They are learning the beauty of team ministries. Our return to Madison comes after being away for about eight weeks. We depart from Hong Kong in 2 hours.
Looking for alternatives to church forms will always challenge the status quo. Alternatives collide with traditional ways of doing things. However, alternatives will also encourage vision of the Church as a people and a community on mission with God.
Jesus used terms like “wine skin” and “cloth” to explain this tension between the new and the old. The nomenclature we employ, the terms we use to name things, is one of the greatest gifts of God. Like Adam who named all the creatures in Eden, God created us with the amazing privilege of naming things. What kind of God is this who would create all things and give away the privilege of naming them? We name our children and celebrate the wonder of God’s good gifts as we do so.We create with God and ascribe names to those creations, songs, books, events, buildings, even communities and cities. The power to name things is the power to assign character and our values to them.
This privilege of naming things is not an exclusive task for just a few experts or elites. God never intended to separate people by class or caste, giving more power and privilege to the few. Some might argue that it creates confusion to have so many names for things. Allowing a few to assign names to things may avoid confusion, but there will be a cost. It will limit creativity. The privilege of participating in a community, naming things creatively, is a gift of God to every member of Christ’s body.
When we share the responsibility of naming things, shared creativity ensues. This is the process of creating culture, I believe. It’s happening all around us, and it can’t easily be contained or controlled to avoid confusion.
Confusion may occur temporarily; it is part of the process of change. The Church has always been emerging and always will. When it stops changing, it becomes an old wine skin. The few may enjoy the old wine for a season, but there is no place for the new wine for the new generation. As we step out into an unknown future, as Abram did, we may experience some temporary confusion about where we are going. However, by setting out on this journey of change, we are the people of faith God called us to be.
God intends that his community of followers accept that there will always be change, transition, liminality, and a stepping into a future together. Certainly, the Children of Israel did not know all that was before them when they were delivered from Egypt. They entered into a transition in the wilderness. Nomenclature from the past carried meaning of the past and habits and sins of the past. The children of Israel needed to find terms for what God was wanting to do next. The Tent of Meeting was a new idea. Later came the Temple. But God would never dwell in a house made by human hands. Neither will he dwell, that is to stay permanently, in our contemporary idea of church. He has chosen to dwell in the hearts of his followers who are on a journey, on mission with him. This liminality is an exciting process; we are always following, always taking up our cross, always going in Jesus Name. You see, the Church, the community of Christ followers, is not a static central edifice in history. As a missionary, I’ve thought long and hard about this. Too many churches have relegated their understanding of the Great Commission to a department of the church, a line item in their budget. This formation, this attitude, has emasculated the Church. You see, the Church does not have a mission, God’s mission has a Church. We, the whole community of Christ followers, are called into his mission. This alternative view, this missional formation of church, will take us to new places, doing new things, in new ways, and assigning names to those things along the journey.
Those who have made the choice have within them Christ’s love compelling them to embrace and explore the new things God is wanting to do. When our hearts are full, we surrender our rights to the security of tradition. With faith and hope and love, we declare how majestic is the Name of Jesus in all the earth. This is the extraordinary “weight of glory” in naming things. Steven Hawthorne describes glory as “a relational beauty that every person’s heart yearns to behold and even to enter. The essential worth, beauty and value of people, created things and, of course, the Creator Himself.”
God told Moses, “Let my people go, that they may worship me.” As we set out through the wilderness of major transition, we’ll name things with the shared purpose of ascribing greatness to God. He’ll receive glory as we follow him in faith, so long as we don’t hold too tightly to the security of the ways we once knew.
I have been asked for a definition of shared leadership. I’ve tested this response on several leaders, each of whom have given me a strong positive feedback. Therefore, I am posting this for your response.
In my reply to the question, I suggest first looking at the purpose for shared leadership. That purpose is found when we understand the current context in which the Church, the Body of Christ, exists. The world at the time of the early Church was a diverse pluralistic society. Today, we find ourselves in a similarly diverse and pluralistic world, an “unchurched” world.
Kennon Callahan, in his book, Effective Church Leadership (1990), gives a compelling argument that the day of the professional pastor in a traditional church is over. Society is changing from a “churched” society to an “unchurched” society and this requires that a pastor become a “missionary”. Callahan writes, “In many ways, the church in America is in the same situation that American business is in: the world is changing and passing it by! This calls for a radical change in the way the church “does business.”
Businesses have been changing and many books are available on the topic of shared leadership, partnership, collaboration, and alliances. I have read several and can loan them to you if you are interested. This shift from the professional pastor began quietly on the mission field many years ago. As the world became increasingly more diverse and increasingly “unchurched,” the need for change in the approach to church leadership became more apparent and more urgent. The missionary strategy is not the same as the pastoral strategy. The focus must be outside the church walls, equipping workers to lead missional communities as the church in their cultural setting. In today’s context, we must set as a high priority the building of new leaders who will function as facilitators on teams.
I have been with Youth With A Mission for 23 years. One of YWAM’s Foundational Values is that we are called to function in teams in all aspects of ministry and leadership. This YWAM Foundational Value states that: “We believe that a combination of complementary gifts, callings, perspectives, ministries and generations working together in unity at all levels of our mission provides wisdom and safety. Seeking God’s will and making decisions in a team context allows accountability and contributes to greater relationship, motivation, responsibility and ownership of the vision.” Team leadership is shared leadership. This value is just that, a value, and the actual practice is different in every setting. It does not stand alone: Team Leadership is complemented by all of YWAM’s Foundational Values, including Relationship-Oriented, Broad Structured and Decentralized, and Exhibit Servant Leadership.
Team leadership is shared and not invested in one person. Leaders of local churches need not direct or set the agenda, but rather facilitate a process by which the community sets the agenda. A shared leadership posture will support and foster the emergence of what I call ‘Commission Groups’. These Commission Groups are not merely small groups; they are small churches, missional communities bearing witness to their community with no control exerted over them.
The leadership challenge, then, is in finding the answers to some key questions: How do you decide who leads? and How do you lead without control?
J. Oswald Sanders (from his book Spiritual Leadership) writes: “Jesus knew that the idea of leader as ‘loving servant of all’ would not appeal to most people. Securing our own creature comforts is a much more common mission. But ‘servant’ is His requirement for those who want to lead in His kingdom.”
Scott Rodin, in his article “Leader of No Reputation” writes: “In the end, our work as leaders is all about lordship. Before it is about vision-casting or risk-taking or motivating others or building teams or communicating or strategic planning or public speaking, it is about lordship. Where Jesus is singularly and absolutely lord of our life, we will seek to be like him and him only. That will be our sole calling. We will be called to our work and that work will carry God’s anointing. We will be called to decrease, that Christ may increase. We will be called to be people of God before and as we do the work of God.”
Becoming leaders can’t be left to the persons who want to be a leader. They must be called (and affirmed by the community for their individual anointing within the community and a recognized track record of character, capacity, and commitment), trained (not solely through formal training, but also the non-formal sponsorship of a Barnabas-type leader), and under authority (not seeking positional authority, but humbly serving under the anointing of the Holy Spirit).
The process of equipping and releasing servant leaders in the Body of Christ is the single greatest task of the Church, I believe. Leaders given positional authority tend to rely on that position for security, and worse they can tend to lead through control. By virtue of the positional leadership accorded to pastors of churches, these leaders can be isolated from true fellowship and accountability in the community. History, including recent history, is littered with the damage done by pastors who, in their isolation, became proud, abused their authority, or committed adultery. To maintain positional authority, pastors may hesitate to release others into ministry, unless there is a strong accountability and unless they can also exert control over those under their authority. While this is not true of all pastors, it can be argued that the structure of churches, including the role of the modern pastor, is the primary contributor to the problem.
Shared leadership works through a shared vision, but the primary vision behind shared leadership is not structural. The primary vision will be the cross, and the centrality of Christ. Working toward a shared vision requires that the leadership team manifests the quality of servant leaders, surrendered to the lordship of Christ. Their leadership gifts will be manifest with an understanding and appreciation of the common good, which extends beyond the boundaries of their own group, or their positional authority. Paul writes, “The manifestations of the Spirit are given to each one for the common good.” (I Cor. 12:7)
To define shared leadership, first it is necessary to define two kinds of “shared vision”, which result in the sharing of leadership, networks and partnerships. These definitions come from Phill Butler in his book “Well Connected”:
“Network: Any group of individuals or organizations, sharing a common interest, who regularly communicate with each other to enhance their individual purposes.”
“Partnership: Any group of individuals or organizations, sharing a common interest, who regularly communicate, plan, and work together to achieve a common vision beyond the capacity of any one of the individual partners.”
Butler writes, “frequently networks are incubators for partnerships.” Therefore, the development of a network is best as first priority, with a particular focus on common concerns and resources. By focusing first on individuals in a network, the empowering of participants or ministries is enhanced to a greater effectiveness in their own sphere of influence. The leadership team needs to come together with the same spirit of a network, empowering each others’ ministry gifts within their spheres. That team needs to be the catalyst for the broadening of the network and the creation of partnerships, both short term and long term.
The Lausanne Movement has identified a powerful trend in the Body of Christ: “the shift of power from the center to the edges.” Partnerships, Butler clarifies, have been “based on an ‘open architecture’ model.” He identified this trend first among mission agencies. He writes, “Any individual or agency clearly committed to taking Christ to a specific people group was welcome. While the partnerships developed their own criteria for involvement, leadership roles, etc., they clearly have been inclusive rather than exclusive.” Today, many local churches are partnering with other churches and agencies in their desire to be more missional locally and globally. (See Darrell Guder’s book, Missional Churches and the book Treasures in Jars of Clay.)
What I am recognizing in my studies is that those churches are not the only trend. There is also a trend among people to migrate away from traditional and evangelical churches to what are identified as “emerging churches.” I propose a way to integrate both trends, the trend to be more missional through partnerships and the trend to have smaller, more authentic communities.
Shared leadership needs a shared vision. The vision is of ‘Christ in You’ (individually and corporately), ‘the Hope of Glory.’ The leadership team must “model the way” (See Kouzes and Posner’s book, Leadership Challenge), for families, communities, and yes, nations. The local church community can model how to disciple nations? Yes! Think of the fruit of Calvin’s doctrine of depravity, which stimulated the Presbyterian model of leadership with mutual accountability within the leadership structure. No one individual or group has authority to make all the decisions for the church. Leadership was distributed in ways found in Scripture, which taught the nations the branches of government. This model of leadership literally taught the nations of Great Britain, The Netherlands, and The United States of America, how to have checks and balances of accountability in their governments. The world is watching what the church does and the world can learn through leadership of the church.
Collaboration is a popular word among businesses working together today, however the use of the term and extensive literature does not mean the individuals within those organizations know how to do it. This kind of leadership requires the character of a servant (See Robert Greenleaf’s seminal book, Servant Leadership.) The church needs to equip the next generation of leaders by modeling the way in our structures and our lifestyles. Today’s spiritual leaders need to create collaborative spirit and capacity within a local church, through heart change and structure change, to stimulate missional engagement of the community, and therefore teach the communities and leaders in those communities to lead as servants. True collaboration and true shared leadership, requires a commitment to shared goals, a jointly developed structure and shared responsibility, mutual authority and accountability for success, and sharing of resources, risks, and rewards.
So, here’s my simple definition of Shared Leadership:
Shared leadership for the Church is a Christ-centered relationship entered into by two or more individuals, groups, or organizations to achieve common goals in obedience to Christ’s commission. It is the Body of Christ functioning according to Eph. 4:11-13, Rom. 12:1-11, and I Cor 12:11-28.