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What would change?

Leaders who facilitate changeWhat would change if we didn’t operate as if leadership was the primary lever by which change happens? What if our perception that being the person in your church to lead the community to faithfulness is a barrier to what we hope for in the lives of people?

What might happen if we spend a year not trying to change anyone or anything, but only created space for others to do what they thought was faithful as a church?

What would it require of our hearts? Would we be able to do it? Is there something about the way we lead that feeds our needs and deflects ideas of others in our church with different perspectives?

Could we even give up our agenda for a week to listen to what else God is doing?

Are we so certain that our agenda and God’s agenda are the same that we can’t even fathom the questions above? Could our internal resistance to the questions above, in fact be a sign that our agenda isn’t the only one God is concerned about?

What’s at risk if we change as leaders?

Are the things that come to mind related to fears we have and refuse to face?

What’s at risk if we as leaders refuse to be changed ourselves? What kind of leadership is that?

What’s at stake if we never dig within ourselves to discover the motivations we hide from ourselves?

What would change if we focused on changing ourselves and letting our communities focus on changing themselves as a community? What would change if we stopped trying to fix people, or get the to agree with our doctrine, theology, or perspective?

What would it look like to trust the Holy Spirit more than ourselves?

What would change?


Posted on October 13, 2011

  • jamie

    Okay, read it, brought up some good thoughts……but can you give me a practical example of what this would look like?

    • Practical is helpful, but for something like this I think we need to think through the philosophical carefully before jumping too quickly to the practical because it's not just about "what do I do?" but "who do I become as a leader?" and the latter will always lead to the former anyway if we truly adopt the values we set for who we become. (I really have no idea if that's what Mark was going at here, but that's what I'm taking away from it.)

    • like Tim said… the practical from someone other than you and outside your context will be a barrier…. maybe take a few minutes and write down your answers to the questions somewhere?

  • Steve

    I think some of these questions look good up front but in reality they aren't that much. I don't know very many pastors who actually believe they are the agents of change. In fact, it has been my experience that pastors are continuously attempting to have the body understand they are the difference makers.
    Secondly, the question "What might happen if we spend a year not trying to change anyone or anything, but only created space for others to do what they thought was faithful as a church?" is a loaded one since it sounds like a free-for-all type of community. The failure in the question is that ultimately there has to be some type of leadership to determine what is right or wrong for a community.

    Also, by these questions he has just worked himself out of a job as a consultant.

    • Sounds like you've had very different experiences with pastors than I have, which is great!

      I think Mark is just asking questions, not necessarily making statements. We may not like the answers that arrise within us, though. If he's genuinely just asking questions, then we can just take the question at face value and answer it however is appropriate for us. I don't think his question is an open ended free-for-all, I think it's a question about empowering the body rather than taking it from them or enabling them to give over their ownership of the ministry to us.

      How would you answer the questions in the opening paragraph?

      I think the mark of a good consultant is someone who asks good questions so people discover what they need to know, not someone who comes in with answers because the answers can never be the same for every ministry in every context.

    • thanks for the response Steve – I'd be interested to hear more about how these questions aren't much? Maybe my next question will clarify. I agree with you wholeheartedly that pastors talk a lot about the body being the difference makers and I'm glad you've had that experience. Can you tell 3 ways you've seen pastors attempt to have the body understand they are difference makers?

      The second part is interesting to me too. Is it possible there's a way leadership, that doesn't try to change people or anything and creates space AND is not a free-for all type of community?
      And then, the follow up question is who's job is it to decide what is right and wrong for a community? and could that process in fact be the reason I'm asking the questions above?

      And as far as the working myself out of a job… help me understand… I hope it's true, but I'm not following.

      also Tim is right, these are only questions to reflect on as leaders without an agenda.. but we all face resistance to these kinds of questions because our assumptions get in the way…

    • one quick point:
      Steve said"I don't know very many pastors who actually believe they are the agents of change. In fact, it has been my experience that pastors are continuously attempting to have the body understand they are the difference makers. "
      this is a good illustration of the reason I'm asking question. I could be misreading this and if so, then forgive me… but I hear this a ton with churches I work with. Sentence 1 from the quote is an espoused theory or a statement of what people believe. Sentence 2 is the theory in use, or the way pastors actually live. To paraphrase. Pastors don't think they are the lever points for change in the church, they think the church is. So, the pastors continuously leverage this belief to get the church to agree.

      We all do this in our thinking… the questions I ask in the article are meant to help us see it.. if we can be at home in our own skin enough to answer them….

      has anyone tried answering them? I'd love to hear from you….

      • I'm thinking about writing a response post or doing a response video answering the questions. I just don't think I can really answer the questions well yet.

  • Andy Mullins

    Hmm, free-for-all community, tell me more.

    • Andy – free-for-all community sounds appealing to you?? tell us more?

  • I have thought about this and another recent post of yours. I am speaking at a baptist men's conference soon which I find interesting since I never attend them or find them all that helpful. They tried promise keepers for years and still the same amount of unfaithful men as there was before. So I think you are correct in that perhaps we don't need to give them yet another sermon on "here is what you should really do." I do not wish to preach in a way that is ineffective and if it is just me trying to replace failed formulas for godliness with my own version of that formula I'm not sure I could do that. However, I have a different perspective on it. It is not me simply telling them that who they are is not enough, it is a deceleration of the character of God that I want to lay before them in perhaps a more complete version than those who come from watered down churches might be familiar with. What they do with Gods own testimony about his own character is really not up to me. I don't have the desire or even the ability to "change" someone and if I did I don't think it would be used very wisely. My gift is in teaching and all I can do is to echo what God has already said about himself and if he chooses to change people with that then so be it. I'm going to speak on the Fear of God as a foundation for all other understandings of God. As John Murray said, "fear of God is the soul of Godliness."

    As for the whole "create an environment" idea. I suck at that and I know it. If that is your gift then give it away. I know my gift is not the only one so I like to see how the two play together instead of trying to dictate how that occurs. But there is a place for strong preaching and declaration that should change those who are truth seekers. That change though is not my intention when preaching, my preaching is my favorite act of worship much like the music minister who forgets there is an audience when he sings.

    • caleb- glad you are wrestling with this.

      help me with this?
      "However, I have a different perspective on it. It is not me simply telling them that who they are is not enough, it is a deceleration of the character of God that I want to lay before them in perhaps a more complete version than those who come from watered down churches might be familiar with. What they do with Gods own testimony about his own character is really not up to me."

      how complete is a "version" of the gospel or understanding of the character of God if its only you teaching? why did you bring up watered down versions? I'm curious about whats behind that phrase

      also- are creating an environment and teaching mutually exclusive? aren't they the same thing in many ways?

      thanks again for wrestling with this post… which is essentially designed to help us uncover our assumptions about some things…

  • caleb moore

    Mark,
    I would agree that we need a multi -perpectival approach because we learn different things about the character of God from different writers of the old and new. I'm not the only speaker at the conference or my church and I take great pleasure in bringing others because I do not believe the pulpit belongs to me alone. The idea of a watered down versions just comes from my experience that after a sermon I know more about the preacher than I do about the God they are talking about. We have a tendency to play to our strengths, whatever that may look like. At least from my perspective we are often guilty of reductionism from the pulpit. I hear God is love, all the time, but hear very little about his wrath. And those that do preach his wrath often do it with an evil agenda.

    I can go to a movie and if the director does his job right he can create a mood or environment in the theater, and if I do my job right I would hope there would be an environment or mood of worship. However, I took your phrasing to mean more of a community environment that fostered change mostly through social interaction but in ways yes, they could be mutually exclusive.

    • I totally agree with the whole "focus on God's love" but never talk about his wrath toward sin. And if you mention it, people think you're morbid.

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