Inverting the Leadership Pyramid


Vineet Nayar in a Harvard Business publication says It’s Time to Invert the Management Pyramid, which Ryan Bolger follows up by saying We Must Invert the Pastor Pyramid. I’m not really very big on chasing down business strategies to apply to the church, but it’s always striking to notice how all the really good organizational ideas that the churches adopt are ones which the business realm has had a grasp on for a decade or more. With this in mind, whether one takes the result as a prescription or not, it is instructive to take note when the business realm begins to find fault with their old organizational method and begins imagining or suggesting an alternative structure. The Harvard article states,

Politics & The Church

Graph Matt Stone did a Church &amp Politics Quiz that looked interesting, so I took the test as well. My score is plotted on the graph image, which looks to be about the same as Matt’s. The quiz suggests I see the role of the church as primarily a prophetic one. Since my score is pretty much along the midpoint of the vertical axis, I’m in between “Radical Reformer,” a group which would “see a strong prophetic role for the church and combine this with a robust call for political engagement to seek social and political change” and the “Quiet Critic,” representing those who “steer away from a direct role for the church in politics, instead emphasizing the church’s purity by maintaining a separation from the state. From this perspective, the church best shares the gospel by being an alternative community that models Christian love.”

Emergent Terminology: It’s Not About Fracturing

fragmenting-cube.jpg Yesterday I wrote the introduction to this post, which ended up being about as long as the next bit that contained the important stuff I wanted to say, so I split it up. Feel free to start yesterday, then continue on below, which is about the whole mess of misunderstanding over networks that are not called Emergent.

We return to the assertion that nobody’s mad at anyone, and add a caveat for the possible exception of those who have been grossly misrepresented in the fray. The essential take-away here is that the forming of a new network is not to set up an alternative one, but to found something for people with a specific focus. Undoubtedly, people both within Emergent Village and outside of it, within or outside the missional conversation, and within and outside of the emerging church. This should not be a surprise, and should be considered a form of progress. Not in the sense of “better than” another network or anything of that sort, but better in the sense that it represents a form of self-organization that is necessary for the inclusion of more conservative Christianity in the thick of what we’ve all been on about for a number of years already.

Emergent Terminology: It’s Not About Terminology

blahblahblah.jpg Perhaps I’ve said my share already as I’ve seen the comments that others have been making about the shift — for some — away from using emerging/emergent terminology. Having had a couple of my posts picked up and linked around, I thought I’d be done, but it turns out I’m not — even if it turns out I’m saying more than my fair share. I’ve been pondering the bigger picture of it though, and late last week something clicked as I began to see the whole matter from a different angle, and I’ve decided there’s an alternate interpretation to be applied. This post, I think, is my most important observation of the discussion, and one which I hope time will prove to be accurate. And as I’ve said before, language is important to me, even if others tire of the talk of words. Eventually I do as well though, so hopefully this week will wrap up all that I feel I need to say about this battle of words. And anyway, I’ll point out that it’s not about words anyway, nor is it about people de-friend-ing one another.

Here Comes Everybody: Thoughts on The Organization

shirkey_herecomeseverybody.jpg Bill Kinnon is entirely to blame, but at least this time it’s not a bad thing. So far he has recommended Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations on his blog a couple of times, and the same to me via email a couple of times, and now on the telephone the other day, he did it again. What could I do? Armed with a $30 gift certificate I’d gotten for my birthday, I headed down to McNally Robinson and paid full price, in person at a bricks-and-mortar retail establishment (remember those?) to nab the last copy on the shelf.


This is one fine book… I only just cracked it open last night and haven’t hit the 50-page mark yet, but listen to this:

Lesslie Newbigin on Donald McGavran on Church Growth

The Open Secret: An Introduction to the Theology of Mission My comments are interspersed with a long quotation from The Open Secret: An Introduction to the Theology of Mission by Lesslie Newbigin (1978).

Mission is the proclaiming of the kingdom of the Father, and it concerns the rule of God over all that is. We have seen, therefore, that the church has been led by the logic of its own gospel to move beyond preaching into actions of all kinds for the doing of God’s justice in the life of the world.

Implication: a gospel that does not move beyond preaching into actions for justice is somehow deficient, else those who preach it do not understand its logic. Note the connection between mission and the Kingdom of God.

A Theological Profile of Lesslie Newbigin

Lesslie Newbigin Building on my previous post of A Biographical Profile of Lesslie Newbigin, I wanted to now provide a theological profile to illustrate the nature and significance of Newbigin’s contribution to the theology of mission and most particularly to the present emerging/missional conversation. Newbigin’s work predates the emerging/missional terminology, but particularly as regards the missional conversation, his work is foundational. In 1998, the year he died, The Bible Society published a special issue of The Bible in TransMission as a Tribute to Lesslie Newbigin with contributions from Martin Robinson, Wilbert Shenk, Harold Turner, Dan Beeby, George Hunsberger, and Colin Greene. Wilbert Shenk calls him a missionary theologian, a contextual theologian, and strategic theologian, three of the headings in his article, “Lesslie Newbigin’s Contribution to the Theology of Mission.”

A Biographical Profile of Lesslie Newbigin

Lesslie Newbigin Lesslie Newbigin is one of the most significant figures to the emerging/missional conversation, and is often referenced but less often read. A large number of conversational participants were born in the 1980s around the time his seminal Foolishness to the Greeks: The Gospel and Western Culture was printed. It was brand-new and required reading for anyone with more than a passing interest in the “missions” track when I entered Bible College. With new books arriving on the emerging/missional scene weekly we can sometimes forget the dusty imprints that have gone before, and in the case of authors like Newbigin who have passed into the beyond, the fact that new books do not appear can push them from our minds as anything more than an endnote in the bibliography of something more “currently relevant.” In Newbigin’s case, he was much before his time, and anyone engaged in this ongoing conversation owes it to themselves to understand something of his work and his contribution. With that in mind, I thought I’d take it upon myself to attempt to provide a sketch.