Tag: organic leadership

Organic Leadership

Neil Cole’s newest book Organic Leadership can be purchased before it hits Amazon over at CMA Resources! He provides a lengthy description of the book and summaries of the sections on his blog. An excerpt:

In Organic Leadership I challenge many ideas about leadership and church life that we all take for granted. Many of them are faulty ideas about church leadership, which we continue to support but which have never really been evaluated in the light of Scripture. Ideas that corrupt our understanding of the kingdom are addressed such as our tendency to view the church as simply a religious institution with a top-down authoritative structure; and some of the temptations that tend to hijack leadership away from healthy fruitfulness and can actually cause leaders to become detrimental to the work of God’s kingdom; as well as some of the ways we try to force people to live up to a religious code of conduct with manipulative tactics.

Help on Leading an Organic Church

As I continue to struggle and learn about leading a new, organic, missional church I have found that revision and change are quite common. This goes against my grain, as I want to have Austin City Life “figured out,” for which I am repenting. The church is not a problem to be solved or a company to be run; it is a community of Spirit-led disciples. The challenge for me is to keep coming back to the Spirit-ledness of my own discipleship and leadership, instead of relying on my well-reasoned plans alone.

Van Gelder’s The Ministry of the Missional Church has been a real help. His book integrates biblical theology of mission with organizational theory. In his chapter on Spirit-led growth and development he surveys the growth and development of the early church in Acts. His observations have been liberating and instructive in helping me follow the Spirit while leading an organic church. They have released me from self-imposed pressure to have the strategic plan nailed down and church ryhthms and structure perfected. Van Gelder notes that Spirit-led growth and development occur:

  1. In the context of conflict (Acts 6), where widows are neglected and, as a result, deacons are appointed. They did not have deacons figured out; the church responded to the Spirit in the midst of conflict in order to lead the missional church. It is okay to not know everything about everything, to have your entire leadership structure figured out, but look for the needs and meet them with Spirit-led, biblical paradigms.
  2. In adverse circumstances of Acts 8, the church was disobeying its missionary charge by remaining in Jerusalem. Persecution broke out that scattered Christians into Gentile territory, advancing the mission of the church. I run into adverse circumstances every week that drive me to prayer, but do they drive me into mission?
  3. From ministry in the margins in Acts 11, Jewish Christians began to learn more about the gospel and mission by sharing the faith with ethnically and culturally different peoples. As a result, the full breadth of mission began to take shape. This is really true in my experience. As I have been spending some time with Burmese refugees, God has been correcting me and my notions of church through this fledgling group of marginal christians and non-christians.
  4. From intentional strategy in Acts 13-19, where Paul and others sought converts from the culturally and theologically near people in synagogues. Most of us don’t need to hear this; we are too intentional in our strategies, so intentional that we strategize God out of our plans.
  5. From divine intervention in Acts 16, where God redirected Paul from Asia to Macedonia. In other words, be prepared to change, expect God to redirect, chuck your pride and open your eyes and ears to God’s providence in leading your church.
  6. From new insights into gospel and culture in Acts 10 & 15. Peter’s major shift on secondary issues like unclean and clean things after encountering Cornelius. See my comments on the marginal (#3). When I asked the Burmese house church leader if we could buy them Bibles (they only had six or so), she said: “Pray that they would be hungry.” This Burmese woman discipled me on the spot from her fresh vantage point of being a resource-dry pastor. She knew that buying Bibles doesn’t make disciples; God makes disciples by giving them a hunger for him.

“It is essential to have a strategy, but it is also essential to be alert to the disruptions and interruptions of the Spirit.”