I was so pleased that a colleague shared an interview with Dr Jeremy Begbie, Duke Divinity School, talking about how music can help explain the trinity. This video briefly captures the point.
I was so pleased that a colleague shared an interview with Dr Jeremy Begbie, Duke Divinity School, talking about how music can help explain the trinity. This video briefly captures the point.
To give some background, like so many people in similar roles, I have never intentionally sought a leadership position. My dream was never to develop a team, take on challenges, or create a different world (I really wanted to be a radio DJ, that’s maybe another story), but over the years I’ve been allowed more experience and more opportunity to do just that. I’ve also discovered that I like this kind of thing and maybe I fit this much better than I would any radio studio.
In some ways, however, I feel like I’ve missed a step. In never intentionally seeking leadership roles I’ve not, until more recently, intentionally developed myself in this area.
Last week’s consultation helped me to reflect on my personal situation and reminded me that it would be helpful to get involved leadership conversations and intentionally take time to reflect and develop personally in the area of leadership. I should probably say that it’s not that I see myself as a bad or ill-equipped leader, but I know with more intentionality I can grow in this area.
The kinds of consultations we have in the Alliance don’t always result in fixed conclusions. We discuss ideas, develop some theories, raise new questions, but we don’t go away with a 5-point plan of how to apply what we’ve covered. I understand why some find that frustrating, but for me, it raises the question of what I can do within my sphere of influence to develop some of the themes with my team.
In my earlier post, I listed four areas that I was impacted by last week. Intentionality; millennials; globalisation, nationalism and polycentrism; and change and opportunity – in being intentional, it’s now down to my community to interpret these areas into our working practices. That’s me deciding to be intentional in what I do.
The room that was buzzing with discussion from all corners of the world is now empty. Last week was both excellent, and hard work. Excellent to be involved in that network, and to intentionally listen to different groups and points-of-view, knowing that at the core, our desire was to see God glorified and his mission advanced in each of our contexts. Hard work, in that it’s sometimes difficult to listen to and accept points-of-view that challenge your preconceived ideas.
Having said all that, the hard work really starts now. Sitting in a room, where you’ve gathered for the purpose of discussing global missional leadership in community, it’s easy to see everything as possible. Leaving that environment and going back to the daily routine (whatever that may be) and not losing all the good thoughts from the week is where the real challenge begins.
How do I take the discussions of last week, develop some personal outcomes and bring them to bear in the areas where I have some influence?
Some things I’ve been thinking about in relation to leadership:
Intentionality: It’s easy for me to think I’m in leadership by accident and just rely on personal attributes and experience to see me through. But, I as I find myself entering a new season of life and a new role with new responsibilities, it’s important that I rethink the context of my work and what I need to lead well in this new context. I need to be intentional in equipping myself to lead.
I can also make a choice to lead when the situation arises, or be intentional about my leadership. It’s very easy to wait for the ‘right time’, whatever that may look like, but I’m starting to see that I can have some influence over enabling the time to be right.
Millennials: Almost all involved in this consultation acknowledged that there is a challenge in enabling millennials (Gen Y) join mission within our organisations. It’s not that we aren’t open to the next generation, it’s just that our systems and structures are so often formed around the boomer generation that those born in the 80s or later don’t feel that they fully fit with us.
Globalisation, nationalism and polycentrism: Influence and leadership now comes from all over the place. There are Christian centres of influence outside of Europe and North America that should and can lead in a global environment. How do I take on a posture of learning and openness with my brothers and sisters from other countries and still contextualise for my own context?
Change and opportunity: We are all dealing with change. In the car travelling to the airport today, my colleagues were talking about how the pace of change in the last 25 years is equivalent to the pace of change over the previous 200 years. There’s a leadership challenge in there. How do we lead in an environment of continual change? As digital technology continues to advance, travel becomes easier, but maybe political and ideological challenges have a significant impact on our world, how do we lead within this?
There’s more to think through with all of this, and other things I’ve not yet mentioned. I’ll try to develop my thoughts in the days to come, but I’m now at the airport getting ready to fly home. It’s time to go and find my gate and get back to my family.
It’s too early to properly reflect on this week’s conversations. We have covered a lot on the subject of leadership in community, and really have only just scratched the surface. There are more discussions to have and further to go, but we’ve started.
Below are just a couple of quotes and the questions from today. I’ll follow up with some proper reflections at some point over the weekend.
Our prayer time together was a living expression of what it means to be leaders in community. We belong to one another because we are the body of Christ.
We have discussed multiple, complex concepts – leadership, the mission of God, community. These aren’t easy topics.
The photo for this piece comes from our trip to Marburg on Wednesday. It’s a town about an hour from where we are, where Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli discussed the symbolism of the elements in the Lord’s Supper. The following is from Wikipedia:
The Marburg Colloquy was a meeting at Marburg Castle, Marburg, Hesse, Germany which attempted to solve a disputation between Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli over the Real Presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper. It took place between 1 October and 4 October 1529. The leading Protestant reformers of the time attended at the behest of Philipp I of Hessen. Philipp’s primary motivation for this conference was political; he wished to unite the Protestant states in political alliance, and to this end, religious harmony was an important consideration.
I assume the painting in the photograph is Luther and Zwingli in the midst of their discussion.
Back to the leading in community discussion…
Much of our focus is on the leader – the charismatic, servant, inspirational leader. Yet, we know, no one leader is able to tackle the challenges of our world today. So we want to move away from that, and learn what it means to be a leader in community.
The place of Friendship in the Mission of God (Kirk J Franklin and Cornelius J.P. Niemandt)
‘A missiology of friendship as well as community in the missio Dei creates a greater openness to others by walking and serving humbly as friends with Christ and each other. The theme of friendship in God’s mission draws inspiration from Jesus’ willingness to give his life for his friends. Knowing the crucified Christ intimately through participating in community and friendship provides an essential foundation for mission. Valuing friendship as a core value demonstrates Christ’s love that overcomes the issues of inequality and racism. A missiological understanding of friendship and community deepens the value of partnering in mission. This helps create a third space – friendship in mission – which helps overcome the gap between the West’s new colonialism and its power and resources, and the global South and East, who live without the power and influence of financial resources.’
The Alliance, Principles of community, came out of a discussion in Ghana in 2012 and were recently affirmed in a consultation on community in December 2016.
Again, lots of our thoughts came out of table group discussions, and it doesn’t really seem to work to note down the outcomes here without more context. I’ll give you the questions and maybe draw some conclusions at some point over the weekend. Tomorrow morning is our final session, so we are about to wrap this up… at least, do as much wrapping up as is possible in a conversation of this nature.
It was a pleasure, yesterday, to receive a copy of Kirk Franklin’s book – Towards global missional leadership.
Published by Regnum in Oxford, based largely on Franklin’s PhD thesis A paradigm for global missional leadership: the journey of the Wycliffe Global Alliance, the book is designed to be a more accessible means to thoughts about leadership in the global context.
Yet, while I’ve read the whole of the PhD thesis, I’ve not yet read the book – and I can’t really see there being enough spare time for me to dig into it this week. So, I’ll steal my description of what to expect and why to get the book, from the Forward, written by Dr Paul Bendor-Samuel, Executive Director at the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies.
This book does not describe an elegant new theory of leadership dreamed up and designed in an academic laboratory. It describes the fruit of countless conversations, consultations and commitments to listening and learning in many different contexts. It’s authentic.
Bendor-Samuel continues to note that this book ‘is relevant’, by saying,
There is an urgent need for the development of global missional leaders who are able to make sense of our times, and are capable of understanding and leading locally.
And then closes by commenting on why Regnum International is publishing the book,
While we delight to serve the academic community, our mission is to enable the global church to better engage in God’s mission in its very diverse contexts. To do this we seek to bring practitioners and academics together. This book launches a new Regnum Practitioner series. Our desire is that this series will bridge the gap that sometimes exists between, on the one hand, Christian leaders and mission practitioners and, on the other, Christian researchers. Where better to start than with a fresh look at what is required of leadership in mission and the church?
So, those are the highlights of why to read the book, now I just have to find out if this really present a ‘fresh look at what is required of leadership in mission and the church’, and it may take a few days to get into it. I’ll no doubt share my reflections as I go.
The second day of this consultation on global leadership in community, we started the conversation about global realities – what’s happening in the world today that has an impact on our leadership.
Before I get into some of the questions and thoughts that came up during the day, I should first mention something about the way these consultations work. A good proportion of our work is conducted through conversations in groups around tables, and then by feeding back to the wider group.
Where it is appropriate, I’ve captured the group feedback and shared it here. But, this is by no means the total of our conversations. I’ve not noted here some of the excellent rabbit trails of thought, or single quotes that work well in the context of our discussions but that probably lose meaning when presented in out of context.
Of course, there’s nothing to stop you taking the questions from here and running your own consultation in church or with your leadership colleagues. If you’d like some pointers to get you started I’d be happy to put you in touch with those gifted in this area.
And now, on to today…
We spoke about paying attention to the signs of the times.
In the introduction to the day, six issues were introduced that we have to deal with:
Then we thought some more about the issue of power and authority.
In the ethics of Bible translation who makes the decisions? What gets translated, when, for whom, what language?
In, Discourses of Power by Barry Hindess:
In, The Academy of the Poor, by Gerald West:
The need to listen to…
Often there’s a tendency to speak on behalf of others. As though those communities don’t have a voice. Does our presumed right to act mean that we speak for others, rather than speaking with others?
We can only move beyond ‘speaking for’ and ‘listening to’ if we are willing to enter into a ‘speaking with’… (32)
This is what Jesus did in joining us to ‘live with’ us.
We moved on to create our own list of issues, by answering the following:
This gave us the following as issues:
We then discussed the areas that have the most impact on us in the Alliance.
We are on an outing for some of tomorrow, so there may not be time to update you on progress. Thanks for those of you who are praying for me while I’m here.
This week I’m taking part in a missiological consultation on global leadership in community. We are taking the time to think through what God has to say into a conversation on global leadership.
These are my notes so far. They are imperfect and incomplete, but they are what I managed to capture. I’ll try to make them work in this context, but please bear with me if there are things that don’t make complete sense.
Today was the first day, so we spent a good chunk of time setting the scene.
Prof Piet Meiring:
There are numerous challenges and opportunities facing all who are involved in God’s Mission in the often-confusing globalised world of the 21st Century. With deep understand of the issues at stake, coupled with keen historical and theological insights, we are encouraged to join the Triune God in his mission to the world, but also to explain what it takes to be a missionary leader today.
Dr Paul Bendor-Samuel:
Responding to challenges through the lens of missiological reflection has resulted in a total organisational transformation for the Alliance that is encouraging and influencing a new Bible translation movements around the world and enabling the emergence of a new kind of leadership;
‘There is an urgent need for the development of global missional leaders who are able to make sense of our times, and are capable of understanding and leading locally.’
Louis and Susan Sutton WEC:
‘…a new approach to global leadership is needed, one that displays generosity of spirit, values friendship among leaders, and invites missiological reflection in the context of community.’
Dr Kirk Franklin
The concept of community in mission may be somewhat countercultural, going as it does against values of independence. Therefore, some considerations concerning its importance include the following:
- It starts with the desire for any mission movement or structure to become a community of trust, with friendship as an expression of the unity of believers;
- Community is essential in mission, and relies upon the spirit…(missed the end of this point)
- Harmonious inter-cultural relationships are required because working in community is essential. God’s desire is for resources to be willingly, readily and generously shared through the community of God’s people, so that all may benefit
- Community is dependent upon God’s grace because the work of the cross is the ultimate equaliser among people.
We are here to explore together what it means to be leaders together in a constantly changing global mission context.
We meet together for the glory of God to give him honour so that his kingdom comes closer to this world that badly needs it.
Cultural diversity has put pressure on mission. We know this, but nothing tells us how to form community in this.
We have to have wider pools of missiologically informed leaders who can lead in this context.
Our discussions focussed around the following four points.
We took time to work through these four points, answering the following questions,
Then we took time for some personal reflection,
The Alliance has been holding consultations since 2006. These are intentional gatherings of people from our community involve participants from Europe, Americas, Africa, Asia and the Pacific. Sometimes we hold one large gathering, at other times we hold smaller, regional events. Regardless of the format, the intention is to allow everyone the opportunity to participate and be heard, and not one part of the world to dominate the conversation.
Next week I get to be part of one of these consultations, as we consider global leadership in community.
My invitation to the event put it like this,
‘As we look to the future we see a need for growing a body of leadership with a global missional mindset who understand the implications of friendship, community, globalisation, polycentrism and other issues impacting leadership engaging in God’s mission.’
I’m excited about this for so many reasons.
It’s probably worth explaining why ‘community’ keeps coming up in so much of the Alliance’s work.
One of the papers I’ve had to read in preparation for next week, says this,
‘The theme of community is of great relevance to the Alliance because it has grown to include over 100 interdependent self-governing organisations. How they relate to each other, and how the Alliance as an organisational structure relates to and supports these organisations is a growing challenge.’
Franklin, K.J., Niemandt, C.J.P., The Place of Friendship in the Mission of God
Not only is it an organisational challenge but community forms part of our foundation as an organisation. The first of our Principles of Community begins, ‘We are created for community and called to community’.
So, we will process our leadership thoughts in community and our outcomes will consider what leadership looks like in community.
No doubt I’ll come back with some thoughts after the consultation. If you want to follow what goes on during the week, or would be able to spare some time praying for what we are doing, look out for updates on my Facebook Page.
One of the things that I appreciate about working for the Wycliffe Global Alliance, is the recognition that my family gets for the part that they play in me being able to do what I do. It’s tough for them, as they are the ones that get left behind when I get on a plane and fly off to meet people for different meetings.
To show love towards them and to recognise that, in enabling me to do what I do, they are a part of this team too, the Alliance has an annual Leadership Retreat. A time to refresh in the company of colleagues and their families.
Now, we are a little unique in this team. Most of the other families, in this context, comprise husband and wife. Where there are still children at home, they usually have to stay behind because of school. But our two are pre-school, so we got to take Amy and Sophie to Singapore for this year’s Retreat.
We had three days of holiday before the main gathering. A chance to get over jet-lag and allow the family to acclimatise. We had a couple of early morning walks, made more bearable by the warmth of Singapore at 3 am, and the safety of the city. The kids spent part of every day in the hotel swimming pool, and we visited Sentosa Island, twice. Enjoying the beaches, waterparks, visiting a giant aquarium and riding on the cable car.
Then it was off to a different hotel, out of the city, to join my colleagues and get to know them a little better. We had some formal presentations, but mostly we had time to share, reflect, catch up and pray for one another.
It was a little different doing this kind of thing with kids in tow. They did brilliantly at playing by themselves while we adults sat talking around tables. Tany and I, along with another parent, took turns at taking the kids swimming (the hotel didn’t have a proper pool, but the underused spa tub was big enough for them) for at least some of the day.
It was a wonderful week all round, and especially good for Amy. She now has an idea of what it’s like when I go away to work. My colleagues also have a better idea of the chaos we have at this stage of life, and how we are trying to balance work, raising the kids and functioning as a family.
One prayer, that I keep reflecting on, is that this journey God is taking us on with Wycliffe would inspire Amy and Sophie to grow up following God where ever it may lead them, rather than hating everything to do with faith.
You can see more images from our trip in this Google album.