We live in a time of immense cultural change. The following factors are affecting religious life in America and across the globe: 1) The end of Christendom (ca. 350): we exist now in a marketplace of religion, of which “none” is a compelling option; 2) The dawn of the Information Age: the internet has replaced the printing press (ca. 1440) as the dominant technological innovation; 3) The end of Modernity (ca. 1650): scientific reason alone has not proven sufficient to account for faith, fullness of life, and certainly not world peace; 4) The end of Civic Christianity (ca. 1945): mainline protestant volunteerism is no longer the default culture of middle class Americans.
Response: We are called to be God’s healing grace in a diverse, hurting and anxious world, through:
1) Leadership principles gathered from best practices and the deep tradition of Christian faith.
2) Introducing new christians to faith through Wesleyan discipleship: do no harm, do all the good you can, while paying attention to God through the "means of grace."
3) Teaching a ruled interpretation of Scripture: in essentials unity (the rule of faith), in non-essentials liberty (the rule of hope), in all things charity (the rule of love).
4) Nurturing a sacramental theology of the Other: the Word of God is truly manifest in the face of the stranger, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Matt 25:35
On my best days the following Leadership Principles guide my work:
1) Effective mission and a graceful spirit are the most important qualities that lead a congregation to health and vitality.
2) The essential role of a pastor is to lead the congregation in: prayer – bringing ourselves to attention before God; reading Scripture – attending to God in the texts of Israel and the Church; and spiritual direction – giving attention to what God is doing in the person before us at any given moment. (Peterson)
3) Individuals and communities need a "holding environment" of stability and spiritual nurture in order to adapt to change. In my leadership this is worship.
4) A congregation behaves as a family system -- not a business -- most often an anxious one. In the midst of anxious times, the gospel meets the human need for acceptance, competence and control through self-worth (grace), identity (identified strengths) and purpose (effective mission).
5) The only way to effect positive change in others is to "be the change you want to see," and through positive reinforcement (not correction and blame).
6) The key to lay leadership is the right persons in the right place at the right time; getting out of their way; and encouraging not demotivating effective people. I encourage a leadership culture of caring, teaching and continuous recruitment.
7) I coach a “fast break” ministry style appropriate to today's demographics: fewer, more effective meetings; simple (not overdone) one-time and short-term events; event-focused teamwork; and leveraging technology for effective communication and administration.
8) In our time, people are motivated more by compassion, community, and hope than by commitment and reasoned arguments (Callahan)
9) In our time, people are inspired to generosity through demonstrated mission, confidence in leadership, and by giving and receiving gratitude. 10) I encourage strengths growing congregations hold in common: welcoming newcomers; empowering participation; caring for young people. I encourage strengths that support worship attendance: inspiring worship, community prayer, participation of children & youth, visitation, and inviting facilities.
Influences: I have been mentored by wonderful teachers, both lay and clergy, and lovingly encouraged by the congregations I have served. From annual seminars with Dr. Kennon Callahan, I have been nurtured in a mission-focused, grace-first leadership ethic.I have also been instructed by the work of Jim Collins (Good to Great), Ronald Heifetz (Leadership Without Easy Answers: the theory of adaptive change), Peter L. Steinke (Leadership in Anxious Times: family systems theory applied to congregational leadership), Anthony Robinson (Transforming Congregational Culture), and Robert Wuthnow (the sociology of American spirituality).