Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Converting Leadership

I don't much enjoy reposting material, but this struck me this morning...honestly it hit home.

What sort of leadership leads communities into genuine transformation? One book which got me thinking this month was "A New And Right Spirit: Creating An Authentic Church In A Consumer Culture" by Rick Barger. In the book Rick has a lot to say about adaptive leadership, which he contrasts with technical leadership.

Today I would like to draw your attention to a few comments, not from the book itself, but an associated article on adaptive leadership at transformingchurch.com. Rick writes:

Conversion, not information, is the cause of transformation. In the use of conversion here, I am not talking about the naïve miraculous one-time conversion experience. I am talking about a process that begins by acting converted. The Jesus formula for transformation is certainly not information based. Jesus did not put his disciples into classrooms or simply provide the right information as to what a disciple is. If that is all it takes to convert people to the God-life, then God could have sent a fax rather than a person.

Adaptive Leadership is a converting leadership that brings about transformation. The unconverted church asks the wrong questions. Why can’t we get our youth more involved? How can we increase our worship attendance? Why don’t people give more? What new program do we need? Congregations that behave like Jesus and thus are converting congregations ask different questions: What is God doing in the world and how can we get in on it? What does God need for us to do? How can we make God proud? When congregations seek to join God conversion happens and transformation happens.

The place to begin, however, is with the leader. Does the leader reflect in his or her life that the leader’s home is clearly in the sacred story of the church? Does the sacred story and total devotion to and dependence upon God emanate from the leader in lifestyle choices; in radical generosity and leading in giving; in presence and courage in the midst of conflict; in informed and disciplined theological and biblical ways of thinking, analyzing, and deciding; and, in an always-hopeful, tomb-is-empty attitude? Do Jesus’ seemingly impossible words about loving enemies, unlimited forgiveness, and not losing one’s life in trying to gain the whole world seem to be less impossible in the presence of the leader? If so, then you may have a converting leader.

I found this very timely as I am currently in the process of reworking the introduction to Christianity course for our church. The current course is very technical, very much of an information download. Yet for all this I do not think it leaves people which much of an appreciation for the biblical story and how our life stories fit into it. So I am working towards shifting the focus, from a systematic theology focus to a chronological storytelling focus. I want to spend more time exploring how we live the story, how we breath the story, how the ancient story becomes our story.

I am encouraged by the leadership of Jesus in this. For him, leadership was not about being efficient, leadership was about being authentic.

I guess this hit home, because I have seen and I have tried to be an "effective leader." But the key is in the authenticity. This has been forming in the attic of my head, I just had not found any words. My experience tells me that people respond when I am authentic with them.

So I guess the question I am asking is what is your experience with authenticity?


  1. Aaron...do I smell a little bit of Blue Parakeet here? (I mean this on both levels...the book in its emphasis on THE Story and what you are asking) Oh. BTW. I decided to read that Blue Parakeet book of yours and it's very engaging. I can't put the thing down. It's asking a lot of good questions. Yes, authenticity is truly living the story. For me this year and the craziness I have been through...I've discovered that there is always life, hope and forgiveness-a true LOVE-that triumphs death and sin through Christ Jesus.

  2. Thanks Sandi...for me lately, it has been about not necessarily retelling the story, but BEING apart of the story.

    I think I might quote you on, "I've discovered that there is always life, hope and forgiveness-a true LOVE-that triumphs death and sin through Christ Jesus" and put it on a t-shirt.