POSTMODERN LEADERSHIP & Pastor Gordon pleads to not be fired

by Bob Whitesel, excerpted with permission by ChurchCentral.com from ORGANIX: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church (Abingdon, 2011).

At the weekend retreat, an elder of Clarkston Church drew me aside.

“We’ve decided to call for Pastor Gordon’s removal.  This weekend has been one long sales job.  He’s trying to get us to buy his vision for a new building.” As I thought back to my two years working as a consultant with this church, I marveled how quickly things had changed.

Two years ago Gordon was fresh out of seminary and tapped to lead this growing congregation.  He was formerly a successful businessman, and I remember the passion he brought to his new pastoral vocation.

Two years later the enthusiasm was gone, replaced by a spirit of pessimism.  “They wanted me to change things,” recalled Gordon. “But, they’ve got their own unrealistic ideas about how things should be done.  They don’t have the training.  I do!”

Later a board member told me, “We feel that Gordon won’t support our ideas to help townspeople.  We’re the poorest area in the county, and Gordon just wants to build a new sanctuary. He’s afraid the new building won’t be built if we spend our money to help the needy here in Clarkston.  He doesn’t listen to our input.  But, we are more familiar with what people need around here, because we live here.  And he still doesn’t.”

The next day Gordon confided to me, “Look Bob, I’ve got three years until I can retire with some denominational benefits.  No one wants to hire a pastor my age.  So help me convince my board to do things my way for just three more years.  Then I can retire.  The church can hire someone else to beat up, and everyone will be happy.”

Gordon didn’t have three years.  He barely had three months.

What Gordon didn’t realize was his leadership style, while valid for his generation, was alienating younger generations.

As I began studying churches that were growing with young people, I noticed how the leaders acted in healthy churches with people under 35 years of age.  I characterize them by seven symbols, where each represents a leadership change needed to lead a healthy church today:

  • O   (the Greek symbol theta) – the first letter of the Greek word theos stresses that God is the source of the burden for others and provides the power to help them.
  • Rx (the medical prescription symbol) – an emphasis on addressing the spiritual and physical health of leaders.
  • (a stylized “G” for “graffiti”)– the edgy, colorful, and artful collages that help define contemporary organizations.
  • (inspired by the recycle symbol) – the idea of recycling places, experiences and people rather than discarding them.
  • – emerging networks that connect people more quickly, efficiently, precisely and continuously.
  • – an emphasis on “incarnation”, a going “in the flesh” to serve others rather than sending surrogates.
  • (the Jerusalem cross with a number in each quadrant) – four types of measurement observed in Jerusalem (Acts 2:42-47), which at their core point to Christ’s work on the cross.

Read the original article at … http://www.churchcentral.com/blogs/staying-power-pastor-gordon-pleads-to-not-be-fired/

INCARNATIONAL vs. ATTRACTIONAL & What Is the Difference? #ORGANIXbook

by Bob Whitesel (excerpted from ORGANIX: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church, Abingdon Press, 2011, pp. 121-137)

I is for “Incarnation”

Latin: in (into)- + carn- (flesh) + -ation (to become, to transform)[i]

Incarnation describes how God sent his Son Jesus to earth “in the flesh” or “in person” (John 1:14, Col. 2:9) in lieu of sending a surrogate (such as an angel) or just speaking through a prophet as he had done in Old Testament times. Scholar N. T. Wright says that this incarnation “…implies that God wants to make his presence felt around the place, and he may well want to do so especially where people are trying to run things their own way and making a mess of it.”[ii]

The incarnation is an important subject for it reminds us that God is a “missionary God,”[iii] coming to humanity to restore fellowship between himself and his offspring. Though there are many attributes to God’s incarnation there are four aspects on which we shall focus:

  1. God went himself to earth. He did not send a surrogate. (John 1:14, Msg.).

The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son .

  1. God in the form of Jesus came to explain himself to us in a personal manner, with face-to-face dialogue (John 14:6-7, Msg.)

Jesus said, “I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him. You’ve even seen him!”

  1. God wishes the result of this encounter to be a reconnection of people to God (2 Cor. 5:18-19, Msg.)

All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins.

  1. God wishes his followers to participate in his mission and tell others about his offer of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:20, Msg.)

God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.

The following sections compare how modern and millennial leaders differ in their approaches to telling others about God’s mission.

3 Perils of Modern Leadership Regarding: “Incarnation”

Modern Leadership Millennial Leadership
Send others. Go in person.
Teaching is one-sided and directive. Teach and be taught.
Gathering is an “attractional” event. Gathering is a supernatural encounter.

DOWNLOAD the chapter here >>> ORGANIX Chpt. 7 INCARNATION Pg121-138

[i] Carlton T. Lewis, Latin Dictionary (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1996), p. 112.

[ii] N. T. Wright, Incarnation and Establishment, sermon, (Durham, UK: Cathedral Church of Christ, Dec. 25, 2008).

[iii] David J. Bosch, Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in the Theology of Mission (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 19910, p. 390.