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The SMC is equipping campus ministries leaders and SMC staff for multiplication around the world. After running the School of University Ministries & Missions (SUMM) four times on three continents in 2010 & 2011, we will again run the SUMM in North America in 2012 and South America in 2013, this time as mobile schools incorporating mobilization events in various cities into the curriculum. In addition, our six friends from Madagascar who took the SUMM last year in Seoul are requesting the SUMM to be run in Madagascar for their growing university ministries; they’re completing their sixth UDTS and they are pioneering a second university ministry in another city. Aldrin Bogi and his team in Bangalore, INDIA are planning to run the SUMM again soon, perhaps in 2013.
The SUMM is UofN Student Mobilization Centre’s core training for all YWAM staff and students serving university students. (UofN Code: STU/HMT 293). The following is a rationale and purpose statement for the next SUMM in North America, scheduled to begin on December 27, 2012 at the URBANA Student Missions Convention in St. Louis, MO.
Mobile SUMM North America 2012-2013
During 2011, we convened two Consultations, one in Northfield, MA and one in San Francisco, CA, where we met leaders representing several new YWAM campus ministries which have emerged in the past few years in North America. The universities in North America represent a particularly urgent context with strategic importance to the future of the Western missions movement and the need for partnership with the new majority Church outside the West. It is time to cultivate and assist those new ministries and equip leaders for greater effectiveness and growth through collaboration and pioneering new ministries.
The SMC’s commitment to student involvement in world missions will be evidenced not only in the curriculum of the SUMM, but also through active mobilization and prayer with potential student volunteers at various campus events during the North American Mobile SUMM.
Since 1986, SMC’s Field Ministry Internships (FMI), the principal program of the SMC, has mobilized students from over 100 different colleges/universities onto 75 internship teams in over 35 countries. We have mobilized students, as learners and not experts, for every sphere of society. To date, the FMI program has been designed by and directed by SMC leaders. Beginning with this SUMM, we are making a change to the FMI program; we are emphasizing internship placements.
Participants in this Mobile SUMM will not only practically experience the mobilization process at events, they will also be involved in the planning and coordination of internship projects for which they are recruiting students. Every SUMM participant will identify Field Partners (YWAM and non-YWAM organizations) to help them design and register their own internship programs for students in 2012 & 2013. During the SUMM, we plan to have 100 internship FMI Field Partner Hosts and their Field Projects posted on the SMC website.
We are championing university students to serve Christ’s Great Commission through their life-work. Students and Associate Field Partners are challenged to partner together in the next major wave of collaborative missions and holistic witness in and from university communities worldwide.
North American Mobile SUMM Context:
Today’s university students are more diverse, more pluralistic, more internationally aware, and more cross-culturally connected than previous generations. Students travel abroad and study abroad more than any previous generation. The number of internationals studying in the United States has more than doubled in the past twenty years, from 325 thousand to well over 700 thousand today, most of whom are from nations in the 10/40 window. Those seeking to plant churches among unreached peoples ought to make ministry to these strategic persons a priority. International concern about human tragedy and injustice, such as impure water, human traffiking, and HIV/AIDS orphans, have captured the conscience of this generation. Today’s students, both Christian and non-Christian, are seeking to make a difference and they are seeking a vital community that shares their concerns. Christian students, many of whom have desperate need for family and community, are at the same time seeking God for his justice and his mercy to be extended through a shared vision of a community and through their own life’s work.
North American Mobile SUMM Strategic Objectives:
This twelve-week interdisciplinary course emphasizes the impact and strategic importance of the mobilization of students toward their life work and calling. It is the SMC’s objective to recruit, equip, and place student volunteers ready to practically serve communities caught in a cycle of poverty resulting from unproductive worldviews. International Student Ministries (ISM) are a priority of the SMC. It is our objective to help North American YWAM centers within reasonable reach of university communities to adopt this priority. In addition, we will be encouraging YWAMers and former YWAMers currently enrolled in university to form missional communities with fellow students. It is the aim of the SMC for students to learn more deeply the importance of a biblical worldview, their calling from God, and what it means to love our global neighbor. Participants in the SUMM will therefore:
- Examine and practice teaching how God’s calling relates to the destiny of nations.
- Research the migration of students, the growing international student population, and learn how to equip university students for effective witness in their generation and in various areas of society: arts, business, education, government, media, science and technology.
- Gain understanding and practical knowledge of university student ministries as a mission strategy with particular application the variety of cultures in the North American context.
- Study the historical and biblical basis of university student ministries,
- Learn how to lead an intensive and integrated discipleship and outreach experience, and
- Gain practical instruction for pioneering and leading a campus ministry and for leading Field Ministry Internships.
We accomplish our objectives through a four-part strategy, which will be applied to this SUMM:
- We Gather - We will gather students & leaders from university communities in several North American cities through mobilization events.
- We Train – We will further develop curriculum through contextual and practical research in university communities in North America.
- We Send – We will recruit students for 100 different service projects related to global human need, their individual fields of studies, and their future influence in the spheres of society. Students will have opportunity to participate in short-term outreaches, serve long-term field projects, and discern their life-work and calling.
- We Network – We will cultivate missional collaboration and partnerships with various organizations, churches, and agencies in and around university communities in North America for the purpose of mobilizing an emerging generation of student volunteers serving Christ’s Great Commission.
North American Mobile SUMM Plan:
This Mobile SUMM in North America will visit several cities to observe and serve some of the most effective campus ministries and leaders. The SUMM mobile community will participate in and/or help organize mobilization events in several cities, including St. Louis, MO for the URBANA 2012 Intervarsity Student Missions Convention (Dec. 27-31, 2012). Every SUMM participant will enroll with the expectation of participating as one of the YWAM international exhibitors at the URBANA 2012 event. (SUMM tuition fees will include URBANA 2012 exhibitor registrations fees.)
SUMM staff assignments are limited to those who have completed the School of University Ministries & Missions -or- current YWAM staff with a Four-Year College Degree and Student Ministries Leadership Seminar (STU 195). All staff members for the North American SUMM will make a full 12 month commitment, in order that they may serve as participant mentor/overseers for SUMM Field Assignments.
The Foundational Values of Youth With A Mission are integrated into the teaching/learning experience in a variety of ways. The Values we find most closely relating to the School of University Ministries are:
- Godly Character & Servant Leadership: SMC seeks to build Godly character and demonstrate principles of servant leadership; humility and integrity are essential to produce in the student a trusting relationship with God.
- Championing the potential of young people: The SMC seeks to mobilize today’s university students recognizing this population may be the most potent missionary force on earth.
- All ministries and functions are equal in the Kingdom of God: the SMC course seeks to promote calling in relation to a broadened understanding of the character and ways of God to reach and teach all nations;
- Commitment to the Word of God: SMC is committed to the authority of the Word of God, to seeking to know and hear God’s voice, and to a lifestyle of intercessory prayer.
- Visionary: Students come with a desire for revelation of how their field of study in university (other than the UofN) relates to God’s call on their life. The SMC curriculum is designed to foster the development of that vision.
- Great Commission & Discipling Nations: Believing that the Gospel of Jesus can transform not only individual lives but the structures of society, SMC is dedicated to fulfilling the Great Commission to disciple all nations.
- Hospitality: The Biblical meaning of hospitality is ‘friend of the foreigner’. God has always instructed His people to love and care for the strangers and sojourners in their land;
- Communication: SUMM participants will communicate and methodically follow up with students and leaders from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures. Participants will articulate succinctly and clearly what today’s students need to be able to serve as missionaries in a 21st century mission field, emphasizing YWAM’s commitment to the Christian Magna Carta and a spirit of collaboration in response to dramatic shifts in the Church globally and extraordinary economic and societal crises. Communicating to mobilize students on cross-cultural, serving-learning experiences is an integral part of YWAM’s discipleship of students in every campus ministry location.
If you or someone you know would be interested in the SUMM course in North America or another part of the world, or if you can host the North American Mobile SUMM for a campus event at one of the cities we plan to visit (St. Louis, Minneapolis, Madison, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Boston, Baltimore, Richmond, Atlanta), or if you know of an organization leading a project that needs interns to serve and learn for a few weeks or a full semester, contact us. We’ll be really glad to help you connect with this exciting series of events.
The Student Mobilization Centre is a centre of the University of the Nations, a ministry of Youth With A Mission. The SMC is not a local ministry; we are an international network of YWAM staff fostering the emergence of a new movement of university students serving Christ’s Great Commission through their life-work and calling.
Through our ministries, university students are challenged to lead the next major wave of collaborative missions by partnering with global projects with holistic witness in every arena of society and major field of studies. In addition, we are affirming and assisting the emergence of student missional communities in universities worldwide.
To recruit, equip, and place students ready to serve and learn cross-culturally.
We Gather - Students & Leaders through Consultations, Events, and Projects.
We Train - Developing curriculum through contextual research, and conducting seminars and schools.
We Send - Mobilize students into service projects according to their field of studies and the spheres of society. Our short-term programs, while bolstering long-term projects, serve the students as they discern their calling.
We Network - Cultivating missional collaboration in and around university communities for the purpose of mobilization of an emerging generation of student volunteers serving Christ’s Great Commission.
Immediate SMC Goals
- We will host Passion Points Conferences: 3-day events in 2013.
- We will host Consultations in Australia, Europe and Africa – By Sept. 2012.
Train: We will post Best Practices and Curriculum Resources for all our SMC Programs and Courses on web site by Mar. 2012
Send: We will send hundreds of Field Ministry Interns (FMI) by Jan. 2013
- Redesigning to attract non-christians
- Tie internships to UDTS outreaches
- Focus FMI for Thematic, Passion Points, Causes, and Projects in Society
- International & year-long projects: Megacities/Africa
- We will unveil a new Web-based Project Development Registration Process for Hosting FMI – By Jan. 2012
- Develop new Strategic Alliances/International Partners (Call2All-Students, UofN Colleges, YWAM CMI, Christian Colleges, Churches, National & International Student Organizations, IJM, etc.)
In addition, the new SMC Web Site will provide a collaborative information gateway for strategic networking.
The SMC offers student organizations and churches access to a missions networking centre where credit card payments, donations and field support can be channeled to mission projects globally. The SMC is providing a new framework for student groups and campus churches to cooperate with YWAM and other global partners and nongovernmental organizations.
The SMC represents a global Kingdom community for the emerging student missions movement. Our goal is to provide the arena—the forum—where students who are embracing a missional life-style and life-work can learn from one another.
John Henry – SMC International Leader
Participants at CULTIVATE, our consultation on the Future of University Missions, were inspired to gather so close to the birthplace of the Student Volunteer Movement and just steps from Roundtop, the gravesite of D.L. Moody. The weekend was awe-inspiring and it was a joy to be with friends and co-laborers on the mission fields of the university.
Like so many other consultation gatherings we have had around the world, including N. American Consultations (’97 and ’99), Africa Consultation (2001), S.E. Asia Consultation (2003), European Consultation (2004), and South American and China Consultations (2005), the Northfield gathering-Cultivate! (2011) has helped us build friendships, partnerships, and some collaborative projects. At Cultivate, we met new friends and began the first steps to coordinate some new projects to reach students on campuses in North America.
Who Was There?
Eleven people attended the consultation. Here’s a list of those who attended, their backgrounds, and prayer requests:
- John Henry – SMC International Centre Team Leader – Madison, WI – with YWAM for over 25 years. For the development of a new SMC/UofN course on Missional Collaboration, for next SUMM’s, for help with a virtual centre office via Salesforce.com, and for a new international centre for operations.
- Todd Johnson – Assoc. Prof. Global Christianity at GCTS. Worked with YWAM 33 years. Great Need: Two excellent missions profs at GCTS. Tim Tennent, now at Asbury. Another is gone. Todd is doing too much, writing, research, and teaching two courses a year. Need grad students to work with him.
- Deonn McDowell – YWAM Tyler – 23 yrs mobilization coordinator – 1994-5 met John on PHOS mobile team. SMC since ’97. Mentoring SOE students. Getting ready to lead an outreach to Israel in Fall. Wrote a book for young adults: Love Needs – Getting them met in the best possible way. Publication and outreach are prayer needs. And to get what God wants here.
- Justin Henry – John’s son – Sr. at St. Olaf College – History – Prayer for guidance, what next.
- Tae Oh Kim – YWAM Atlanta – Came to States 3 yrs ago in MD. Working with Int’ls at U of GA. Staff, but no students. Prayer: Focusing on family for God. Take good care and fruitful ministry.
- Jihoon “Peter” – YWAM Boston – CM in Korea since ’99. Called to Boston 3 yrs ago. USA needs missionaries. In Boston about 1 yr. Not yet sure what to do. Need H.S. to speak and lead. Call: Reaching out to international students in English in USA. Looking for better view of what God is doing and why he called us here to do CM. Experiencing culture shock working with YWAM in USA. Need courage…to overcome fear. Seeking strong confirmation from God.
- SuCheor Jang – working in MD. SMC staff. CM in Baltimore area. Worship meetings on Thursdays for UMBC and Towson. Prayer on Tuesdays. For Church, Campus, and Nations. Still few gather, but all you need is 2 or 3 and keep going. Now doing UDTS in YWAM Richmond with Tae Oh and UnJae (sp?). Next phase will be campus outreach. Planning outreach abroad.
- Daniel – UMBC – Music, Sociology, Psychology – working with 2nd gen Korean church. Seeking direction.
- Sungwon “Paul” Park: Work with Peter in Boston. From CM Seoul – Came 5 months ago. Learning English. First prayer request is surviving in Boston. Need money and ability to have conversation in English. Also pray that I am close with YWAM Boston staff, especially leader. Help the leader to understand CM more and release our team. Last week at MIT campus worship. God said “Your praise is received and your prayer is answered.”
- Ryan Dutra – Ryan’s wife Crystal is due in Oct. Just returned from 10 month trip to 11 countries. Learned about selves, how to be led by Spirit, and do a documentary. CM Pitt – mobilization, international students…but for now working with Pastors, churches, etc. Helping re-locate the base to the international heart of the city with a building with 100 rooms. Need wisdom, timing, people to come help, build a team…near Carnegie Mellon and UPitt. 10 minute walk.
What Did We Talk About?
We enjoyed several short presentations including the following: Each of these short 15 minute presentations was followed by 35-40 minute process/discussion times.
|Overview and History of Students in Missions||John Henry||Madison, WI|
|Global Christianity||Todd Johnson||S. Hamilton, MA|
|Korean Campus Mission in USA||Tae Oh Kim||Atlanta|
|Cultivating Truth on Campus||Deonn McDowell||Tyler, TX|
|Jesus People & Implications for a Movement Today||Justin Henry||Madison, WI|
|Kingdom Partnerships||Phill Butler||Edmonds, WA|
|MobilizeMe Documentary Project||Ryan Dutra||Pittsburgh, PA|
|Report on Campus Ministries in Baltimore||Daniel & SuCheor Jang||Baltimore, MD|
|Processing and Committing to Action||All||Northfield, MA|
What Was Memorable?
Our weekend was framed partly be the historic setting in which we met. The prayers of a brother and sister during DL Moody’s summer bible camp in Northfield, MA in 1886 led to the Meeting of Ten Nations and therefore the first 100 volunteers to sign the Princeton Declaration & launched the Student Volunteer Movement, which had over 100 thousand volunteers and over twenty thousand sail overseas. The place we met was awe-inspiring.
Sadly, I did not capture all the wonderful statements made at this gathering. We have yet to transcribe the video that Ryan Dutra took of each of the presentations. Look for clips of our gathering on our web site in the coming weeks. Here are a few quotes that were captured:
John Henry: “To be called to be with Jesus will always result in being sent out by Jesus.”
“The church on earth is by it’s very nature missionary.” (Vatican II)
“Western Christendom has been Christianity without mission.”- Wilbert Shenk.
Todd Johnson: Missions once was “from West to rest”, but today it’s all mixed up. And that’s good news for us.
More Memorable quotes:
• “Churches and our missional communities need to sing African, Latin, and Chinese worship from the new Majority Church.”
• “Resources for equipping us in community are best those who come from cultures that emphasize community.”
• “We need to sing African, Latin, and Chinese worship from the new majority Church.”
TaeOh Kim: “There is a lack of Christian education in Korean Churches USA. The Reasons Koreans come to USA: Education 47%, New Business 35%, and a Better Job. Ultimately it is for “my money” or “my children’s money”. “There is a big gap between Koreans and Korean Americans (twinkies/bananas).”
Deonn McDowell: How do we help students really know God? We must model it. We must go to them. They are tired of being fake; they need authentic relationships.
Justin & John Henry: “How do we mobilize a civic generation, very different from the idealist Jesus Generation, who are concerned less about the inner life and more about public institutions?”
• “Before partnership formation meeting, you may need to have up to 50 one-on-ones.”
• “Get to know the people who know your area of concern and learn from them. Ask questions.”
• “Become an expert to be credible so that you can begin to form a partnership.”
• “To start, learn what’s going on. Calling or concern alone is not enough.”
• “We all believe in collaboration, but we don’t know how.”
• “Reaching internationals on campus requires partnerships with families and churches.”
• “No people group remains unreached where there is a working partnership.”
•“For the gospel to be believed, churches must work together.”
•“Transformation leading to working together is fundamental to the gospel message.”
• “We were designed by God for open, trusting and fruitful relationships.
What Questions Were/Are Being Processed?
As a result of this gathering, all of us have begun processing more deeply the implications of a “Fourth Wave of Modern Missions,” which some of us believe will include a flourishing of missional communities, a fresh movement of church planting with missional focus. The aim of this consultation was to consider how missional communities can be strategic if they work in collaboration with global missions, leveraging the resources of universities and NGO’s, and churches.
What was the result of this gathering? During the wrap up final session, we considered specific action items and possible partnerships to work together and create momentum in our ministries on campus and off. Each participant wrote on Post-It notes the various take away action items that God spoke to them. Then we posted them on several large flip chart sheets entitled: On Campus, UDTS, FMI and Outreaches, Seminars, and Other (gatherings and communications). We then closed with a prayer time over each of those major items and dedicated ourselves to complete the “easy wins”. Here are those items we committed to:
- University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) – SuCheor Jang, his volunteers and new staff will lead intercessory prayer gatherings with Campus Worship participants. They will meet up personally before the fall semester and begin to regularly message all the campus leaders. They will talk about the urgent need for unity and collaboration. And they will help foster a prayer and worship movement on campus.
- Harvard, MIT, Boston University, & Berklee College of Music – Peter & Paul will do evangelism on campuses. They will begin Campus Worship at Berklee College of Music every Monday, at Harvard every Tuesday, at MIT every Wednesday, at Boston University every Thursday beginning in September.
- Meeting existing international student ministry leaders.
- Pittsburgh – Ryan Dutra will seek partnerships with churches and begin to recruit families to host international students. He will help organize a monthly international student dinner.
- Deonn McDowell (SMC/YWAM Tyler) offers herself as resource teacher on Intimacy with God (Created for Relationship, Hearing God’s Voice, Intercessory Prayer, Meditation on Scripture, Nature & Character of God, and Love Needs), Also Spiritual Warfare, & Humanism. (Can teach 2 sessions of 6 sessions)
- SuCheor Jang (SMC MD), Peter & Paul (YWAM Boston), and TaeOh (SMC/YWAM Atlanta), will serve the next bi-lingual East Coast USA UDTS in 2012.
FMI & Outreaches
- SuCheor Jang (SMC – MD) will go with Summer 2011 UDTS from Richmond, VA
- Paul & Peter (YWAM – Boston) will take 3 week campus evangelism and English teaching outreach to Delhi, India in Jan. 2012
- John Henry (SMC Int’l Office) will coordinate FMI team leadership training for any who need it in 2012 & 2012.
- Deonn McDowell (SMC/YWAM Tyler) will attempt to go to campuses on outreach to Israel with SOE in Oct. 2011.
- Deonn McDowell (SMC/YWAM Tyler) offering to assist with mini-DTS Seminar.
- Ryan Dutra (SMC/YWAM Pittsburgh) will run a seminar at a new church and possibly at YWAM base this winter 2011/12
- SuCheor Jang (SMC MD) will run a seminar on individual and group collaboration in UDTS.
Gathering & Communicating
- A Korean Ministry Staff Conference/Consultation in the USA – TaeOh
- Write Staff Job Descriptions for SMC and CMI North America – John Henry
- Meet with Boston and Pittsburgh YWAM leaders – John Henry
- Lead Consultations in San Francisco and Perth – John Henry
- Lead Monthly Online Meeting for all SMC Staff – John Henry
- Complete MobilizeMe Documentary in time for Fall 2012 Tour
- Talk to Faithful and Like-minded brothers in MD for better collaboration and setting up a “capital” for prayer and worship gatherings to break the “viscious” cycle in Korean local churches.
School of University Ministries & Missions — North America
- Co-Leading Mobile SUMM in NE USA Fall 2012 – John Henry
- Staffing/Hosting for the Fall 2012 – Ryan Dutra
- Redesign Curriculum to include Partnership/Collaboration Model, Emphasis on Global Community, and Worship from New Majority Church – John Henry
What Questions are We Still Processing?
Challenges in Pioneering Campus Ministries: Where do we start? Who do we meet?
Campus Ministries is not familiar to YWAM leaders in USA. We need to communicate better. We need video clips with YWAM International Leaders declaring importance of Campus Ministries.
Do we keep international students, including 1st and 2nd generation Koreans, divided or should we intentionally combine them into the same gatherings, with all the accompanied cross-cultural challenges?
How do we help YWAM Leaders understand Campus Ministries?
• Too much expectation to stay in office and run program.
• Not understanding value of college education.
• Field based ministry requires time on the field (university)
- They think Campus Ministries is only Korean.
This is especially challenging for experienced YWAM Campus Ministries staff who are serving in a cross-cultural setting. (e.g. South Korean CM staff moving to USA to serve in CM in cooperation with a YWAM Base.)
Additional Deep Processing to Continue:
What great call/declaration for this generation?
How are students different today? How are they leading the way for a new era of missions?
How can we encourage Missional communities without controlling them?
Todd Johnson invited us all to the Conference at the 200th anniversary of first Christian missionaries in Boston: Feb 17, 2012. (Ryan has been invited to present a portion of the MobilizeMe documentary).
Next Cultivate Consultation – YWAM San Francisco – Sept. 13-14, 2011. Learn more. Join us!
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 purpose of holiness. There’s something else at work here. Holiness is also an outward response to that intimate friendship. To live in holiness, we must walk in holiness. The apostle Paul writes:
I am a prisoner because of the Lord. So I am asking you to live a life worthy of what God chose you for. - Eph. 4:1
Building on the foundation that I laid in the previous post: Holiness is more than intimacy with God. Holiness is both:
- Personal intimacy resulting from relationship in righteousness through faith and
- Public witness of ethical behavior. God’s people are called to represent God’s holiness to a hurting world.
Holiness is not merely intimacy; it is also action and ethical behavior within the community and with all people. Old Testament scholar Christopher Wright‘s book, The Mission of God, expains that holiness is manifest through ethical behavior, works of righteousness. The New Testament narrows it down to loving our neighbors. If you love your neighbor as yourself, you have fulfilled all the law and the prophets. Holiness, in contemporary language, may best be summed up in social justice. Paul writes:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10
Please understand, you do not earn holiness through any actions of your own. Neither are you holy if you simply do good works of social justice. However, those who have been called to intimate friendship with God have no choice about whether or not they are to love their neighbor, through ethical behavior in and through their community and through acts of mercy and social justice among the nations.
To be sure, holiness literally means to be ‘set apart,’ to be wholly different. God is holy, completely different, other than all other gods. And God in Christ Jesus calls his people to be holy as he is holy. Israel was also called to be holy, unlike any other nation.
In his book The Mission of God, Christopher J.H. Wright outlines the nature of being “set apart”, the election of Israel. Israel’s election is:
- In the context of God’s blessing of “every nation”
- Does not imply rejection of other nations
- Not due to special features of Israel
- Founded only on God’s inexplicable love
- Instrumental, not an end in itself
- Part of the logic of God’s commitment to history
- Fundamentally missional, not just soteriological
When God accepts us and welcomes us into close fellowship with him through the blood of Christ, we are “MADE HOLY.” That holiness calls us to be wholly different:
Finally, brothers and sisters, we taught you how to live in a way that pleases God. In fact, that is how you are living. In the name of the Lord Jesus we ask and beg you to do it more and more.You know the directions we gave you. They were given by the authority of the Lord Jesus. God wants you to be made holy. – I Thes. 4:1-3
This past Sunday I spoke at a local church on the topic of Transition. They are welcoming a new pastor into their midst. The thoughts below are part of what I shared:
For any follower of Jesus Christ, the biggest transition, our most drastic life-change, begins when we have our own personal encounter with Him. The simple response to his loving initiative of grace, of turning our hearts toward him, and believing he rose from the dead, that he is Lord, begins, as the scripture says, our transition “out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of his dear Son.”
The truth is this: all of us experience transition whether we know Jesus or not. If you want to be perceived to be a “prophet,” all you need to do is say, “I see there are some people here who are going through a transition. God is taking you into a new season of life.” People will respond with amazement: “How did you know?”
Everyone is going through transition. Here are a few examples:
Growing up. Welcoming a new baby brother or sister into your family. Your first day of school. Over the summer young people transition from one grade to another. The teen years are one long transition between childhood (dependency) and adulthood (interdependency and responsibility). The process of preparation for your life’s work, the contribution you will make to your generation: Going to college. Getting a new job, Moving to a new city, a new house, meeting new friends.
Sometimes transition comes in the form of a life change. When you or a loved one is arrested, spends time in jail, or lives with a record for a crime. Or perhaps you or someone you know is living with addiction, a life-controlling problem. You may be in the process of recognizing your weakness and failures to yourself and to those who love you.
I was just ten years old when a huge transition began in my life and my four brothers, the day my dad told me he and mom were getting a divorce. Transition is learning to deal with new realities, which may not have been our own fault.
Transition is also the process of healing, which is usually preceded by an event, getting very sick, or rushing to the emergency room after an accident.
In 2nd grade, i was playing in the back yard with a wheelbarrow, a plank of wood, and a picnic bench. I was pushing my “heavy machinery” up on the bridge, picnic bench. But the wheelbarrow tipped, the bench gave way, and I fell over and I broke my arm. I freaked out and grabbed it, “it’s broke!” I yelled as I held it at the break and ran into the house to find my mom. Mom said, “Let’s just run cold water over it.” She couldn’t see the break because I reset the bone when I grabbed it and I wouldn’t let go. Finally, she agreed to take me to the doctor, who said, “your son should be a doctor. He set the bone perfectly.” I did not become a doctor. I wanted to be a builder. Healing was a transition, and the process meant I needed to sit on the bench during recess. Transition may be a time of isolation, a normal process in anyone’s life…especially those of us God is calling into some kind of leadership.
Transition may be emotional healing from childhood abuse, or some other trauma. The process of healing may take years. And during that time you typically have time to stop and consider what is really important in life. But time does not heal, especially the emotional wounds of abuse or any event that allows a bitter root or a lie to embed in your spirit. Healing comes when we encounter Jesus, the Truth, who sets us free from the bondage of lies.
Growing old is also a transition; your body doesn’t work like it used to. Pains in your body become too familiar. Your financial situation may be much worse than you had hoped and planned. Transition may be a forced career change; businesses downsize, and the economy changes.
Transition may be a change in life-style, exercising self-control of your diet, exercise, and the way you manage your money. It may be saying “no” to things you really want, because they are not God’s best for you.
On the other hand, no matter how much we try to control our lives, the world around us is in constant change. We cannot control everything, no matter how much discipline we have. Self-control is not merely the strength of personal will; it is the fruit of the Spirit, which is life-giving.
Love is the only thing that never changes. God is love; he chooses never to change. Some take this notion of immutability too far; they believe God is incapable of changing. They think he would never smile, that he could never respond to us because he is “perfect” and if he responded, he would “change.” Those who believe that become like their “god”; they show no emotion. They are the “frozen chosen.”
But God is not merely the human ideal of unchanging perfection; God is personal and he lovingly created us in his image. God is love. Love is choosing the highest and best for someone, beginning with ourselves. We’re called to love our neighbors as ourselves, which is not very loving if we don’t first love ourselves unselfishly, saying “no” to things that harm us.
TRANSITION IN PREGNANCY
My wife Mary reminded me of another meaning of transition. It’s a phase of pregnancy after the water breaks. It is when the pains of contractions become unpredictable, just before pushing. It is the phase when many birth moms say, “I’m done. I don’t think I can go on.”
As a dad, I have a bit different view. The day I became a father was the day Justin, our first son, was born in Hawaii.
Everything changed for me and everything changed for the rest of human history on that day. Really! My wife gave birth to a little boy who has grown up to be a man, who will make decisions that will affect many others. The world changes when we have kids because our children have their own children, and they have children, and their children have children. The responsibility is HUGE!
I was thinking about all that when Mary was in that little hospital on the Big Island of Hawaii. I was overwhelmed at the joy and the intense pressure I knew Mary was experiencing. I was trying to focus on two things:
- Coach my wife (breathing, speaking words of affection and encouragement, and holding her hand through the contractions) and
- Don’t say it!
What was I trying NOT to say? Well, when Mary began to really push, I offered my hand, my left hand, the one with my wedding ring, and she squeezed so hard she pinched my fingers around the ring. I was tempted to say, “Mary, that hurts.” I didn’t say it.
Transitions can be painful…
The transition of a new leader in a church community should not be mistaken to be the end of transitions, no matter how tired or excited you may be.
We must recognize that transition will continue. We must welcome a new encounter with Jesus. We must accept the fact that we have been in transition since the day we came to Christ. And leaders must accept the fact that transition began the day this church community was born.
A church transition may be painful. During the process, some people must work very hard.
I think it’s important, especially at the key moments in a church community’s life, moments such as the introduction of a new leader, to look back and thank God for the seasons of transition.
For example, it is good to thank God for the day the church community was born. Thank God for the original vision, the message and ministry that drew the people together. That message and the gifted preacher that drew the community together is a gift of God, which should be recognized at key moments in the life of a church.
The trouble is this, we tend to make our leaders into “Rock Stars.” Leadership is a ministry gift, and we can put ungodly pressure on those key people when we set them up as heroes. The pressure hurts the leader, their family, and the community. Could it be that the church, as it is currently organized, puts undue pressure on her leaders, causing break downs in their bodies, their marriages, and their families?
Sadly, I have seen several pastors crushed under the pressure. Their marriages, families, and churches end up paying a huge price. This should not be.
What should we do? We should not sit back and passively wait for a leader to carry our spiritual load; we should not look to them to be the answer to all our problems. We must wake up and we must grow up.
I believe God is looking for his “body,” the Church, to be a community, a family with friends, sharing a life-style of ministering to one another and to their neighbors. We must all become ministers.
Some might said,
“If everyone in the church is called a pastor, then, to a new person, it looks like there’s no leadership. People are used to the idea of a main pastor.”
My previous post, “A New Kind of Church Minister: George Isley,” is an example of a church leader who gave freedom for all to be ministers. I also want to respond to the confusion about church leadership and “being the body” by sharing principles gained from another spiritual father, Loren Cunningham, Founder of Youth With A Mission…I will continue with his story on my next post.(Go to this link if you would prefer to listen to this message, A New Kind of Transition, online.)
“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 Clairvaux. Bernard was a reformed Benedictine abbot in France during the time of great challenges to the Church. Islamic nations, European kings, and even as many as three simultaneous popes all vied for power in “Christendom,” where the Roman Church was preeminent in the Western culture. I cannot defend all that Bernard did during his thirty years as a minister, however I can safely say that his life’s work elevated personal faith over religious ritual. He called upon his generation to truly know Jesus.
I am moved again today by this personal and public pre-Reformation plea for intimate relationship with Christ.
Nearly every time I teach for a week in a Youth With A Mission training school, I invariably return to the primal call of this hymn to intimacy with Jesus. This call is consistent throughout the Bible and throughout history. God calls us to intimacy.
When God called him by name, Moses replied, “Here I am.” “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” (Exo. 3:5)
How strange. What made that place holy? The Almighty not only introduced Himself to Moses, but He shared the deep things of His own heart with someone he chose to trust. The LORD said,
“I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians.”
What made that place holy was intimacy; God revealed his deepest hurts to Moses. It is the same when I share from my heart the things that cause me pain. These things are not for everyone to know. If I choose to trust someone and share my pain, it is a ‘set apart’ conversation, a holy moment with a trusted friend.
That place of trusting relationship is ‘set apart’ – it is a ‘holy’ place. When God chooses to open His heart to reveal His thoughts, it is a most Holy place because His character is perfect and His abilities are limitless.
God knows all things perfectly. He saw the suffering of the people of Israel in captivity that He chose to represent His name and bring forth the Messiah. They were in chains and cruelly mistreated and He heard their cries. God felt something in His heart that He shared with Moses. God invited Moses to the Holy place of intimacy where He felt that pain.
Centuries later, the apostle Paul went to Athens where he found an altar with the enscription: To the UNKNOWN GOD. This was Mars Hill, the place where people considered ultimate questions of origin, destiny, and value. Plato had taught his students, including Aristotle, to consider the uncaused cause, the wholly unchangeable and ultimate good. Perhaps Plato was a pre-Christian prophet to the Western world?
The difficulty with Plato’s line of thinking is that the ultimate good, the UNKNOWN GOD, cannot change. He cannot experience anything, including pain. This line of thinking became the frame of reference for Western theologians for most of Christian history.
However, the God who is revealed in scripture, Righteous and Holy, is also honest when He says He feels pain. Scripture says in Genesis 6:6:
“The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.”
Some say these ‘human-like’ expressions of God are anthropomorphisms, that God is only using language that we can understand in our frailty and limited understanding. They say God is pretending to be like us so that we may relate to him.
If that is true, the ultimate anthropomorphism is Jesus. The ‘Word’ became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1). He is Immanuel, God with us, offering intimate friendship to all who will come near.
Jesus is ‘the exact representation’ of God’s being (Heb. 1). He represented perfectly the love and justice of His Father. Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)
When Jesus wept at the tomb of his friend Lazarus, the Father wept. When Jesus felt the pain of rejection, the Father felt pain too. When Jesus made the atoning sacrifice on the cross, the Father made the sacrifice as well. God knows everything about everyone, including me. He knows every sin act that produces broken relationship and it causes Him pain.
God is all-powerful and all knowing, but He restrains His power and knowledge for the sake of relationship with us. If I had all power and all knowledge, I am sure I would determine to make use of my abilities. The results would be disastrous. However, I am not God. Inasmuch as I chose to break with my conscience and choose to selfishness, I became morally depraved. I was without hope and without God. I was in need of a Savior.
God could judge the earth and all the wickedness, but he waits patiently for you and me to return to our source of life and hope and love. God is restrained from judgment for the sake of relationship. He always chooses the highest and best for everyone.
“For this is what the high and lofty One says–he who lives for ever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.” (Isa. 57:15)
His invitation to “Take my yoke … and learn from me” is a call to intimacy with Him, “for (He is) gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matt. 11:29)
God is patient. He limits His judgment, not his ability or his knowledge, for the sake of relationship.
God stoops down to love you and me, free moral beings, because He is condescendingly gracious. God’s eternal nature is limitless from time eternal past to time eternal future; He is eternal in duration. The Greek notion, representing mankind’s highest thinking, says God is timeless. This sophisticated human invention gave rise to the ultimate ideal, the UNKNOWN GOD, who exercises His power and knowledge without restraint.
There is no point in confusing this issue; we either worship an ideal UNKNOWN who controls all things perfectly and is therefore responsible for all things good and bad, or we worship the God who is all powerful, yet patient, humble, and not responsible for the evil acts of humanity. We either worship a god who could not limit his power or we worship the One Moses met at the burning bush, the all-powerful “I AM” who shows restraint. We either worship a god who absolutely never changes, including no emotional responses to the acts of his human creation, or we worship the God of the Bible who responds to our prayers, is touched by the feelings of our weaknesses, and feels the pain of rejection and the joy of new life. We either worship a god who controls all things, or we worship Jesus who makes us free to choose to love him or reject him. We either worship a god who is created after our own image, or we worship the Suffering Servant of Isa. 53 who went to the cross to die for my sin.
Relationship with an UNKNOWN GOD is impossible. That is how we have true intimate relationship with a wholly blameless Eternal God. And this is why my prayers echo the words of Bernard of Clairvaux:
“Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.”
Run!” “Keep going!” “You are almost there!”
If you are like me, that is what these final days and hours of 2010 feel like. The year has been chock-full, jam-packed, and well, overflowing with ministry, travels, and fruitful activity.
To all our friends, thank you for supporting our family serving with Youth With A Mission.
“Keep going!” Yes, I still hear that. Do you? As we come to the end of 2010, I need to ask you for a favor. Would you take a moment to make a contribution, ANY amount, to help us finish the year and extend our ministry in 2011? This year-end request will help us overcome a personal shortfall this year AND help us get a good start in 2011.
“You’re almost there!” There it is again. A call to finish strong. Would you help? You can also forward this note to a few friends who might also join our team of supporters for 2011. Would you do that too?
“You can do it!” In response, and as we reach our goal of $10,000, we will sponsor the full school tuition for an emerging missionary in Latin America to take the next School of University Ministries & Missions.
As you may know, our work is with university students. It is no surprise to us that students all over the world 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. Since 1989, we have prepared and sent students from nine nations and over 100 universities to integrate their field of studies serving long-term projects that minister to the poor and needy in 34 countries.
“Run!” To expand the work, we began a training course for YWAM staff. With the help of our nine member international team, we started the School of University Ministries & Missions (SUMM). We launched in Delhi, India in 2004 with 24 participants from nine nations. Since then, the 12-week course has run in Thailand, Korea, the USA, and three additional times in India. Our most recent school had participants from Madagascar, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Thailand, India, and Korea. To date, we have trained over one hundred of our YWAM campus ministry workers in 32 countries.
“Don’t stop now!” The next course is scheduled to take place in Cartagena, COLOMBIA in January 2011. Our goal as a ministry is to provide full tuition scholarships for all qualified Latin American YWAM staff who enroll. By faith, my family and I are granting one full scholarship. But we need you to help right now. Any gift will help.
“We’re with you!” The love and support of family, friends, church communities, and some former student interns have helped us keep going after over 25 years of living by faith and serving Jesus’ mission. Thank you. Truly, we could not do what we do without your support. God bless you!
Your help is so appreciated!
“Almost there!” Donating through our online donation site is simple, fast and totally secure. It is also one of the most efficient ways to support our fundraising efforts. All gifts are income tax deductible and are requested with the understanding that SMC has complete discretion and control over the use of all donated funds. If you prefer to give with a check by mail, send it payable to “YWAM” with a separate note “for the Henry’s” to:
YWAM-SMC, PO Box 6412, Madison, WI 53716
Many thanks for your support — and don’t forget to forward this to a few people and ask them to join our support team in 2011 too!
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” 1Cor 9:24
Follow this link to our secure online donation page. Thank you!
Do you need to find a “happy optimum” between push and pull of being a part of your home church and being your own distinctive person with a calling and experience in your wider community? Does your work or school life look like a mission field to you? Perhaps you have a desire to start a bible study, prayer group, or plant a simple church in your community? Pursuing that desire will likely require that you will have to say “no” to appeals to volunteer in your local church.
Does your hope for your own community, your work, school, and neighborhood, make you feel like that your concern is in opposition to the needs of your local church?
This is the tension many of us are experiencing today. Why? While some mega-churches are still serving the needs of our culture attracting large numbers of evangelicals to a market-based church program, the attractional model of church is no longer effective in our growing post-christian culture. To put it simply: It’s a great time to be THE church, but it is not a good time to be A church.
This presents a tremendous personal challenge to us, and especially to pastors. Many will simply not understand your desire to engage your world and network beyond the local church. Some may find self-esteem and safety within the local church. Some will already find acceptance and significance within the church and therefore not have a strong sense of need to extend their relational group. The more successful and “tight” the church group, the less likely it is that some would sense any need to extend their relationships.
Those of us who reach beyond our church communities are in a dynamic tension called Optimal Distinctiveness. Optimal Distinctiveness is the desire to be identified within a group and distinguish oneself from the group. This is the dynamic tension, this shifting identity, distinguishing oneself from the local church group, is part of the process of a new missional spirit in a post-Christian world. This is a spirit of collaboration.
If you are experiencing this dynamic tension, you need to learn the spirit of collaboration. You must be able to balance your identity within the context of collaboration, working with other groups and ministries outside the local church. To explain, let me share a bit of my own journey.
For 24 years, I have been serving with Youth With A Mission. I have worked with and among many church groups, mission agencies, and student organizations in over 30 nations. All the while I have extended the “fame” of my own spiritual father, my pastor, George Isley. He died a few years ago, but he continues to be my model of pastoral ministries. Over the years, I have come to realize a significant part of my identity was shaped in that local church and with that pastor. Meanwhile I have also found a significant part of my identity in the extended inter-group ministries I founded with Youth With A Mission, the Student Mobilization Centre of the University of the Nations. Though it was often a challenge for me to find the right approach to ministries outside the local church, the spiritual identity of a humble servant-leader modeled by George Isley continues to be my standard. To sum up, I have not followed the model of the popular itinerant preacher with products to sell and a slick appeal for an offering. The spirit of collaboration is not self-serving; it develops trusting personal relationships, freely giving, serving, and loving in the Spirit of Jesus.
As faithful believer in Jesus Christ, our ultimate responsibility and loyalty is to the Great Commission and our Servant King Jesus. We must continue to respect the amazing work that God has done and is doing through our local churches and pastoral leaders. However, our commitment and loyalty to Jesus and his mission must be greater than our commitment and loyalty to our own denomination, local church, and even our pastors. Reaching out in the spirit of collaboration is not a disloyalty to the local church; it is a greater commitment to THE global church.
You could appeal to your pastor for “permission.” Though it is difficult, you could also appeal to your pastor’s own human need to extend relationship beyond the boundaries of the local church. Your appeal to your pastor will reveal something to you; it will reveal your own search for personal balance.
The challenge will come when you are expected to continue to work in your local church and perhaps meet your pastor’s expectations. I want to leave you with a few recommendations:
1. I recommend that you clarify your identity, the identity God has shaped in your life as a committed member of your local church.
2. I also recommend that you take it slow. If you change too fast and too much, you may find yourself ostracized or excommunicated from your home church.
This is the topic of the next several posts. Let me know you are reading and post your questions, suggestions, and testimonies.
I was fascinated when I recently read how Christian persecution began locally as early believers refused to participate in pagan rituals. Freedom to worship was supposedly protected by Rome. It was a time of relative peace, depending on who you were. Special protections were available to Roman citizens and wealthy landowners in occupied territories. Most everyone but Caesar was taxed, however, even the emperor had to pay tribute to the gods. So why did persecution of the early Christian Church become Roman policy?
The early church practices were very different from local religions in the Roman Empire. The early Christian believers were not isolated ethnic groups worshiping their pagan gods or ancestors. They appeared very different to Roman observers. Their multi-ethnic character and their rapidly spreading distribution made them look like one of two things; they were either a merchant class marketing something throughout the Roman empire, or their were fomenting political revolution. As evidence emerged that these people were declaring a new ruler, Jesus of Nazareth, a peasant Jew who was publicly executed and rose from the dead, the Romans became alarmed. Their political and economic system relied on the ultimate worship of only one god-man, Caesar. This growing movement was worshiping Jesus as Lord!
Most of us know Christians were persecuted in Rome. However too few appreciate how fierce that persecution became and how much it occurs today.
Do Christians experiencing persecution today? Many Western Christians do not experience persecution or martyrdom to the extent that they did in the time of Paul. On the other hand, believers around the world may be experiencing more persecution and martyrdom than any previous period in history. I can’t be sure, however. I’m not sure how well documented are the persecutions in the 7th and 8th centuries, particularly toward the Church of the East.
Consider one of the more recent persecutions of Christians in Orissa, India. This is a briefing from Wikipedia on the total damage:
“According to All India Christian Council, the 2008 violence affected in 14 districts out of 30 and 300 Villages, 4,400 Houses burnt, 50,000 Homeless, 59 People killed including at least 2 pastors, 10 Priests/Pastors/Nuns injured, 18,000 Men, women, children injured, 2 women gang-raped including a nun, 151 Churches destroyed and 13 Schools and colleges damaged. The violence targeted Christians in 310 villages, with 4,104 homes torched. More than 18,000 were injured and 50,000 displaced and homes continued to burn in many villages.  Another report said that around 11,000 people are still living in relief camps.  Some of the tribals even fled away to border districts in neighbouring state Andhra Pradesh and took shelter in churches of those districts.”
Dear friends in India are helping hundreds of Orissa refugees right now. You too can help by sponsoring an Orissa Christian for discipleship training.
I want to mention how stories of persecution are close to home for me. First, I must help end the rumor that Youth With A Mission was attacked in Orissa. See this official message for further clarification.
As a YWAMer, I learn of persecutions against our missionary community and fellow Christians around the world. Persecution and martyrdom, such as occurred in Orissa, has not occurred in the West in recent years. But there is persecution. It’s just not reported as such. To find out about it, we may need to read reports from other than secular sources.
In Dec. 2007, two of our Youth With A Mission staff and three others at New Life Church were gunned down in Colorado. The murders were committed by a young man with mental disorder, according to the reports. The response, on the part of the YWAM community, was to forgive and pray for the gunman’s family.
Today, I believe we need to prepare to respond to persecution. The more we are given to Christ’s mission, the more we will experience and taste persecution. Paul’s example in his letter to the church in Philippi, is useful for us:
“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me. Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”
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.