how to lead in chaos
the end of the world as we know it,
I feel fine.”
we like it or not we have moved from “Ozzie to Ozzy;”
we have moved from the Nelsons to the Osbournes; from
Harriet to Sharon, from Ricky to Kelly.
We have moved from the modern to the
postmodern/emerging; from the linier/absolute to the
non-linier/subjective; from science/evidence to
spirit/feelings; from intellect/truth to
experience/real; from order/dictated to chaos/reality.
You need to keep in mind that it is not that we
are in the process of a shift; we have shifted; the
changes are not coming, they are here, now, today. Because of this shift, it stands to reason that what worked
in the 20C just won’t work in the 21C.
Why you ask?
The answer is simple, we think differently, we
act differently, and we view the world differently,
mainly because we are different.
In a postmodern/emerging conversation we process
information much differently, and because of that we
respond to situations differently. This is because in much of our lives we have a different
starting point; this not right or wrong, good or bad, it
simply is. Please
keep in mind that we are not “anti-modern” as some
claim; it is that we are just not modern.
So, it is not that we are “against,” we are
It truly does not matter what you call this shift
in thinking, postmodern, emerging, hyper-modern, or
anything else – the reality is a shift happened, and
now as a church we need to learn to minister, outreach
and “lead” in it.
could spend years telling us that this view is wrong,
but it will fall upon deaf ears; we desire conversation,
not dictation; do not give us directions, give us a map
and let us plan the route we need to take.
The heart, mind and soul of a postmodern/emerging
person are just different, very different from that of a
modern person. To
reach us for Christ, you need to know the operating
system postmodern/emerging people operate under.
Keep in mind, we are emerging from the cocoon of
the modern world to explore this new postmodern world
with wings; we have become “the butterfly effect.”
in the 21st century
believe current leadership skills will not do much for
the emerging church in the 21C.
Now that I have totally alienated the entire
“modern church leadership crowd,” here is why I
believe current leadership skills are obsolete.
Current leadership (“modern” leadership, if
you will) tends to [and are based on] the
Most, if not all, of what is believed to make a
“good leader” is based on industry, capitalism and
profit motives; success of a modern leader is measured
in numbers, market share, profit, size and structure of
the organization. Modern
leadership is very mechanical, “in charge,” rigid
and “sharp.” Many
in the church strive to give modern leadership
principles a “Christian edge” by searching for
scripture to “back-up” their point of view.
Yet, in reality, is this is impossible.
Modern leadership principles do not start in
scripture (though they do strive to “make” scripture
fit), they start in the world of business and in
American culture. To
be honest, I find that this starting point does not
serve the church well; in fact it does not “serve”
the church at all.
going into great detail and sounding negative about
leadership in the current church, let me point out
several major areas where I believe current
“leadership” fails; my desire over the coming months
is not to dwell on the “negative” but rather to
focus on the “positives” on a new, emerging
leadership style that is developing in emerging
it encourages people to play with the data to accomplish
the desired results.
success is based on “numbers” then numbers must be
“high” for success to be achieved.
For example, I personally know of a church that
proclaimed “we are growing with 90% new Christians.”
Cool, but what does that mean?
The church believes that you must be “baptized
by immersion as an adult confessed believer” to be a
“true Christian” anyone coming from a tradition that
baptized him or her as a infant is seen as a “new
Christian,” no matter how long that person has been
going to church, and believes in their heart that Jesus
is Lord. Because
we desire to play the number game, we need to find a way
to “count” people who come from other traditions as
By leaving certain info in, and other info out,
you bias any decision in favor of your point, 'what do
you want it to be?'
Playing with statistics can prove we do not have
a homeless problem, a housing problem, or an
environmental problem but in reality we know we have
it does not account for the most important variable,
“passive aggressive” means that people do not truly
count, other things count more; cash, building, capital
equipment, image, programs and “things” mean more
then the person seeking to be served.
The hardest variable in any decision is people.
Built into the matrix of a modern leadership is
the idea that when you are looking at a decision to be
made, economic realities take the lead, and people take
the end. Many times, churches have decided not to “do a ministry”
because the “cost” would be too much, never mind the
importance of helping people.
the current church sees “cash over cause.”
it centers on the unknowable bottom line.
is related closely to the first and second point in that
“numbers matter” and “the bottom-line” is
important – an in this point the “numbers” center
on the almighty dollar.
Many churches define it, as being “good
stewards of God’s money,” but is it?
Current church leadership focuses on the bottom
line, not in the real sense of “making money” but
being so tight that they refuse to spend a single penny
– in many cases it is not “making” money that
modern church leaders spend time on, but and
“keeping” as much of it as possible.
In a postmodern/emerging matrix “money” is
not a driving force.
I am not suggesting that postmodern leaders are
not concerned with how they spend the money given, I am
saying that they do not see this as a major point –
causing major headaches for ministries – because they
place people above money – the cost of something is
seldom an issue if it can help a person heal or have a
better life in Christ.
“programs” become the driving force in ministry.
the fact that “numbers” are important,
“programs” become a needed reality for the current
church because they are a way to “create numbers.”
I remember once having an idea about building
relationships in the church.
The idea was to tell people, “we will be
meeting in the park at this time, join us if you can.”
The idea was simple – let people know when and
were we would meet. Soon, the leaders of the church caught wind and thought it
was a great idea also – they instructed me (love that,
a key point in modern leadership is to tell others what
to do) to “develop the program.”
When I explained there was no “program” and
that I was uncomfortable with making it a “program”
I was removed from the responsibility and another person
was place in charge of the “event.”
What was supposed to be a simple little gathering
in the park (a project), soon turned into a huge program
designed from start to finish with logo and all; it even
had a cool “planned outcome;” increase membership,
increase the Sunday offering.
church “leaders” have moved beyond serving and see
themselves as “self-important” and in need of others
to serve them.
last problem I see in the current church is one that I
desire to focus on, and that is the idea of
I have to admit that I am not a big fan of the
idea of “servant-leader” because with all the
pastors I know who tout it as “the leadership style of
the church” I know of none that are servants first and
remember once sitting in my office when a woman came in,
sat in a chair, looked me dead in the eye, and started
should have seen the frenzy in the office; people
running all over the place to find out what happened and
what they could do to help her.
When we finally got her settled down, she said,
“I just walked in your office – right past the
secretaries, right past the other pastors, right past
your assistant and right into your office.
They all said “hi” but no one stopped me from
walking in. In
my old church that would have never happened; I could
have never seen the Senior Pastor, never mind just
walking in without an appointment.”
This disconnection to the people they serve keeps
them at a distance from those they need to be on par
believe, for whatever reason, that their time is of
great value, of more value then a woman who needs their
help because her husband is beating her, or of a teen
who is being abused and hurt and is about to end his
life because of the pain in his life.
What modern church leaders do not realizes is
that there is a shift in the role of a pastor in the
church leaders miss the understanding of being
connected, assessable, relational, family and community.
Servanthood” in the 21C
with all that being said, and its one thing to point out
the flaws of the current system of “leadership, “
that’s easy. We
need to ask, what makes a “postmodern/emerging”
system different? What
is the foundation of “postmodern/emerging”
do I see servanthood and being defined as “quantum
start with, let me say that I believe a “leader” in
the 21C needs to be more servants, poets, artists,
creative thinkers and far less “boss leader” to
truly reach the postmodern/emerging mind for Christ.
I love the paradox of the term “quantum.”
In general, quantum means “a share or portion;
a large quantity or bulk.”
And yet in physics it means, “the smallest
quantity of radiant energy.”
It is, at both times, the smallest and the
largest, I love that.
What “quantum servanthood” says to me is,
being a servant is both something we do on a personal
level and on a community level; that we serve Christ and
each other. I
love the idea that in a “quantum” reality we can be,
when we are in true service to others, a small quantity
of the “radiant energy” that is Christ in us all.
I work under the belief that Jesus never called
anyone to “leadership.”
Jesus called us to servanthood; “So Jesus got
them together to settle things down. He said,
"You've observed how godless rulers throw their
weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their
not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be
great must become a servant.
Whoever wants to be first among you must be your
slave.” (Matthew 20:25-27); also,
“And don't let people maneuver you
into taking charge of them. There is only one
Life-Leader for you and them--Christ.
"Do you want to stand out? Then step down.
Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you'll get the
wind knocked out of you. But if you're content to simply
be yourself, your life will count for plenty. (Matthew
is a little fun thing to do, type the words
“servanthood” or “servantship” into a word
document, it will come-up “redlined” because in
USAmerica there is no such thing as “servanthood” or
“servantship” because we do not see being a servant
as being anything of value, but for Christ service is
where all value is placed.
The idea behind true servanthood is a heart that
is willing to go last, a theology that says “I am not
as important as the people God gave me to watch over”
and a heart that is willing to trust that God will bless
a “good and faithful servant.”
What I believe as being a servant in the 21C, is
very different then the modern church leader.
I believe that a
postmodern/emerging servants is:
and you will see” are the words Jesus shares.
went and got his brother Simon Peter to bring to Jesus.
knew the lives of his disciples.
They do not know the absolute results, but they
catalyst transforms things, without being changed in the
a Multiplier: Addition
is not the way, and subtraction is unacceptable.
walk along side, and not push from behind
Story Teller: They
know the story, and they know the community
this has one very important underlying factor – all
leadership in the 21C is organic.
Over time I would like to explore these areas as
being an idea of “quantum leadership” in the
emerging church. Keep
in mind that I have no desire in making them the
“definitive” set of qualities but rather a starting
point for discussion.
Over the next few months my desire it to expand
upon these and then offer them as a collection to be
downloaded and printed.
My original thought was to “write a book” but
finding a publisher that would be willing to take a book
that discounts current leadership models is very hard
(if you know of one, let me know).