Pastoring in a post-Hybels world

“Ministry means the ongoing attempt to put one’s own search for God, with all the moments of pain and joy, despair and hope, at the disposal of those who want to join this search but do not know how.” ― Henri J.M. Nouwen

 

I’ve never read a Bill Hybels book or attended the Global Leadership Summit.

These days that sounds like a badge of honor. But before it was a virtue, and for the longest time, I felt out of the loop with all my friends in ministry who were deeply informed by the Christian leadership industry of which Hybels and the GLS were central.

Part of my disconnect with that whole world had to do with my sense that it was drawing on my own worst impulses. When I did read any books by Christian leadership gurus, or listen to talks by them, I couldn’t get past the fact that they were asking me to be me only better.

You see, I’m already wired to be a performer. I’m already driven to achieve, to win, to succeed, to influence. You might have thought that being told to achieve more, perform more, influence more, would have been music to my ears.

But even I knew that just trying to be me only better wasn’t going to get me closer to being like Jesus.

I knew my heart needed some serious renovation if I was to be an authentic leader.

So I turned elsewhere to find models of ministry, becoming more shaped by Henri Nouwen, Walter Brueggemann, and Parker Palmer, none of whom would ever get a speaking invitation to the Global Leadership Summit.

Now that the wheels are falling off the influence of Willow Creek Church, and the GLS struggles to find its place in a post-Hybels world, I wonder if we can all now finally be free of vision statements and strategic plans and KPIs and all the other paraphernalia from 1980s corporate leadership theory.

 

But what does that leave us with? After two generations of professional leadership theory, what’s a pastor to do? Maybe turning back to the Bible might help (insert sarcastic tone here).

You see, while the church has been obsessed with leadership, the subject as we understand it hardly ever comes up in the Scriptures. As New Testament scholar, David Starling writes,

“When you go looking in the Bible, you realise pretty quickly that leadership can hardly be found there at all. The Bible certainly contains a host of concrete instances of individuals, tasks, offices, and images that you might want to connect in some way with the category of leaders and leadership: mothers, fathers, shepherds, sages, prophets, judges, priests, kings, messiahs, apostles, pastors, elders, overseers … the instances are everywhere. But the abstraction, the umbrella term leadership, hardly rates a mention.”

When you look at the metaphors Paul seems to prefer – mother and father, steward and herald – you see they speak of relationship, intimacy, care, faithfulness, duty, and responsibility.

All four of those images speak the twin emphases of ministry: God’s Word and God’s people.

This got me thinking about my own pastor. Her name is Christine Redwood. Our church is her first appointment as lead pastor. How does she navigate this new ministry terrain?

Firstly, Christine is an exceptional preacher. Her sermons are cleverly constructed and beautifully written. And she memorizes them and delivers them in a style that verges on the dramatic. They’re an unusual combination of self-conscious performance and transparency and authenticity.

Learning techniques and skills (like preaching) might make you a decent mechanical leader pulling the levers of a mechanical organization. But what I yearn to hear each Sunday is what Henri Nouwen described in the quote I began with ― a pastor transparently making her own search for God available to us, inspiring us to pursue God ourselves, and showing us how.

The obvious amount of work that Christine puts into her preaching speaks of her love for her congregation. But her practised style never hides the genuineness of her own search for God.

Secondly, Christine is also a scholar, currently undertaking a PhD in theology. And you can tell. Her well researched, insightful sermons, presented in her quite unique and winsome manner, have been a real joy for my wife and me recently.

Thirdly, Christine is a prayerful pastor. Each week she asks members of the congregation for points to inform her prayers and recently it was my turn. After I’d fired off a few bullet points of things I’m currently dealing with, she replied with a sensitively written prayer she’d prayed on my behalf.

But our church isn’t immune to the pervasive nature of contemporary Christian leadership theory. Recently, it was proposed that we create a new church vision statement. I begged Christine not to give into the temptation to comply with that.

And I’m begging every pastor to find a better way.

Be our father.

Be our mother.

Herald the Word of God.

Steward the riches of the gospel among us.

Love us. Eat with us. Listen to our stories.

And print this quote by Henri Nouwen and stick it on your refrigerator or the noticeboard in your office. And do what he says:

“More and more, the desire grows in me simply to walk around, greet people, enter their homes, sit on their doorsteps, play ball, throw water, and be known as someone who wants to live with them. It is a privilege to have the time to practice this simple ministry of presence. Still, it is not as simple as it seems. My own desire to be useful, to do something significant, or to be part of some impressive project is so strong that soon my time is taken up by meetings, conferences, study groups, and workshops that prevent me from walking the streets. It is difficult not to have plans, not to organize people around an urgent cause, and not to feel that you are working directly for social progress. But I wonder more and more if the first thing shouldn’t be to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own, and to let them know with words, handshakes, and hugs that you do not simply like them, but truly love them.”

 

 

 

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53 thoughts on “Pastoring in a post-Hybels world

  1. Thank you for this essay! I will post it on my Facebook page. Aside from a grammatical error, “…a real joy for my wife and I…” should be,”…my wife and me…,” your argument is very refreshing.

    1. Thanks for picking up on that. I’ve corrected it.

  2. Mike,
    I can’t thank you enough for this post. I find it deeply validating, and I loved reading about Christine, I can truly imagine what you have described. God bless you brother!

    1. Thanks Joel. I could have written similar things about your attentive, devoted pastoral ministry as well.

  3. There is much about Mike Frost I love and celebrate. Mate there is much I thank God for in you and your influence on me for nigh on 25 years. This post, Mike, expresses the heart of it. Thanks for your transparency, love for Jesus and heart for people. God has used many people’ from diverse backgrounds and priorities to bring me to where I am a today in ministry and you are one of them. Thank you.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to let me know that. Peace to you, brother.

  4. It is a hopeful comment indeed. Thank you. Pastors constantly struggle between giving a polished performance and being vulnerable and honest about their own struggle and relationship to God on any given topic, and need our helpful support in constructive feedback and much prayer to fulfill their calling in Christ

  5. […] read this quote on Frosty’s blog today and I just want to put it on here before I forget where I saw it… It resonates so […]

  6. “love us, eat with us, listen to our stories”
    Oh, how I would love find a church where those who are part of the furniture would make the time to eat with and hear the stories of those who have only just arrived. We have a habit of being friendly without working towards friendship.

    1. I belong to such a community and it is wonderful, don’t give up on the notion it is possible

  7. Thanks for your insights, Mike. While I appreciate the images you list,
    I think you’ve missed the Jesus’ counter cultural invitation to be a follower rather than a leader. It’s the call to be a “netless follower” that leaves us free to pick up the cross and follow him. It’s also the final instruction given to Peter. Josh Stowell expounds this imagery ever so well.

    1. Such an interesting word “netless follower” I looked it up and it is a very powerful image. Thank you for sharing that!

  8. I have recently decided that if ever I would pastor a church (and I wouldn’t). I would want it to be a paperless church. Where you could turn up and never have to fill out a form for anything ( OK I know you’d need working with children forms etc). But for the average attender, they would never have data collected or anything. Just come and do church with us, we promise never to phone you. You are far more important to Jesus than our spreadsheets (and we wouldn’t have any). We wont track attendance. We’ll tell you if something is happening, and you don’t have to turn up to prove you’re part of the church. In the meantime, we’ll all just grow together in this journey we are all on.
    This has been a tricky couple of posts to follow as I grow increasingly out of love with the “Megachurch” Thanks Mike. Keep keeping it real brother.

    1. @LeoSandy – I think I get what you’re saying, that you’re tired of being inundated with marketing, but filling out a paper (or e-based form) really does help churches to foster meaningful relationships. Maybe some churches use them to fulfill a church-growth strategy in the same way businesses do. But lots just need your name and contact info so they can help you truly connect with a smaller group of people to do life with. Or to give you a call when they hear through the grapevine that a crisis has happened in your life, etc.

  9. Ditto to the yearning for authenticity, and a more organic style of leadership.

    But as Rob Bell once said, be careful not to define yourself by who or what you are not. The cues to our genuine identity and vocation arise from within, and are not to be assembled from the relics of what others have done wrong. We should know who we are when there’s nobody else around.

  10. Great post mate. Can you give us the source of the final Nouwen quotation? Cheers.

  11. I want to spend some time thinking about the phrase, “only be better.” Of course, I wanted to be better, but your use of the word “only” has hit on something that always tugged at my heart. I believe you are right to question that. Can’t get it out of my head. Thank you for putting it into words.

  12. I was challenged, and very encouraged from this writing. Thank you for helping free me from the pressures of the “big church” approach to a more Biblical approach, where Christ mission and application are still relevant. This was very helpful.

  13. As a student and teacher of leadership, I would argue that what you are pushing against is charismatic leadership, which can lead to many of the downfalls with which you are concerned. Charismatic leaders can have incredible impact on organizations and the world (MLK, Ghandi, Churchill), but can also allow arrogance to overtake the good they could do.
    I constantly use the Bible to illustrate leadership concepts in my classes. Saying that the Bible doesn’t reference leadership is like saying the Bible doesn’t teach stewardship, because when you do a search on stewardship, you get zero hits. But every component of stewardship is in the Bible, as are the components of leadership. For example, Jethro taught Moses delegation and job specialization, as did the apostles when they chose the seven in Acts 6:1-4. The self-reflection required of authentic charismatic transformational leaders is found throughout Psalms. Leadership mistakes are highlighted by their consequences.
    Charisma is one part of transformational leadership. What you seem to be arguing against are pseudo-transformational leaders. These pseudo-transformational leaders are charismatic and have a following, but pseudo-transformational leaders lack (or lose) the moral compass of transformational leaders and have selfish motives in their leadership.
    Your pastor is demonstrating leadership. It’s just a different kind of leadership. Servant leadership is characterized by listening, empathy, healing, awareness, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community (Spears/Greenleaf).
    Instead of cautioning against leadership, we should be cautioning against sin in leadership. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    1. This is brilliant Priscilla. Let’s not confuse errors of the heart, with differences of approach, God is at work in a myriad of ways.

    2. I agree! I think ultimately as long as we continue to look for perfection in leaders, we will always be disappointed. Bill Hybels is not the first and he won’t be the last.
      We need to support our leaders, get behind them and encourage them. And when they fall, help them get back up again, forgive them, and share the learnings.

    3. I love John Maxwell’s definition of leadership – which is simply the ability to influence others. There are so many ways to influence others – as Mike said by preaching, praying, eating with and meeting people, but also by setting examples. The one trait that I never really see modeled or spoken about much is leadership accountability. Perhaps the biblical word is discipleship, but I am convinced that no matter how pure of heart a leader is at the start, it is a lack of good, robust, humble accountability/discipleship that essentially does leaders in.

      This is because ALL people are subject to the temptations of pride, and as our influence grows, so does the size of the temptation to believe that we are all that and more.

      Bill did not fall because his model of church is wrong. He didn’t fall because he applied 1980s corporate leadership thinking (which some would argue has a biblical basis anyway). He didn’t fall because he asked us to be a better version of ourselves. He fell because he is a fallible man who lacked appropriate accountability and apparently, did some things that do not pass the smell test.

      I agree with you Priscilla – the bible does not mention the word “leadership” much, but it demonstrates the carriage and effects of good and bad leadership very effectively. King David worked his way through breaking nearly every commandment, yet he was called a man after God’s own heart. How could that be? I put the idea that it was because he was prepared to be held to account for his actions, and humble himself when he was shown to be in the wrong.

      To grow our next generation of leaders well, I would love to see current people of influence begin to have honest, public discussions about their own accountability structures. To couch it in biblical language, I would like to know by whom are my leaders/people of influence being discipled, and how effective that discipleship is in keeping them humble and Christ focused.

  14. Interesting thoughts, Mike. Thank you!
    But I wonder if you fall down just on the other side of the horse (I don’t know if you have that saying in english…). I came to faith in a church that was pretty leader-less. No direction, no vision. After a few years I realized that we all loved to be togehter but we did not know where we were heading to. So a clearer form of leadership could move a somehow sleepy church in a good missional direction.
    I see your point about this managing-style-leadership. But don’t you need some sort of leadership – otherwise people won’t move that much? And we have a big task in front of us!

    1. Then it boils down to how you define ‘church’. If it is a body of spirit-filled believers, then the ‘leadership’ will come from within each one. It will come from the Holy Spirit’s promptings. The more a body needs human leadership, the more the Spirit is quenched, if He is even there.

  15. Good points and worthwile call for repentance. But do you do justice to Bill Hybel? Did he not prepare his sermons well? Did he not pray extensively? Did he not care for those entrusted to him? Has he not let thousands to get to know Jesus? He fall. We are all sad. But do not use it to promote a one-sided model. Does a good pastor need to be a scholar and go for a PhD?

  16. Hi Mike
    Thanks for your article (and how you spoke of your new pastor) and I agree that being an authentic serving leader is the most important quality we can have, but as someone who attended some of the Summits I found many of the speakers were also very humble authentic leaders as well. It was at those conferences that I was reminded that the church of Jesus is the hope of the world and not to just react to life but to lead. While its become obvious that Bill Hybels had a character issue he never dealt with it doesnt mean that all the teaching at the Summits were wrong. True, the bible doesn’t specifically speak about leadership very often but it also doesnt speak about children’s ministry, youth ministry or summer VBS’s etc. Raising children require parents to lead their children through a complex world so many churches conduct parenting and relationship courses which are not exactly in the bible either. Ive seen pastors with great hearts, who constantly prayed but their poor leadership skills stopped their church from growing. Personally Im for anything that can help the church/body of Christ advance the kingdom of God in ways that represent his character. In the end I think we all face the same temptation that Adam & Eve faced in the garden – If you get/develop/learn this “—–” you will not longer need to rely upon God and his power – you can do it on your own. How often have we prayed prayers that say – God if you just help me with this one thing then “I” will … meaning I just need a bit of a boost and then I can make it the rest of the way on my own. I heard a nugget of wisdom that has stuck with me over the years – “for every mile of road there is 2 miles of ditch”. It seems we christians have a track record of driving from one ditch across the road and into the other one. Lets not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  17. Great article, but I have one burning question… Why is there a stained glass illustration of Cersei Lannister accompanying it?

  18. Michael. You may not remember but you came and spoke to a small group of Youth workers with Youth for Christ in vancouver many years ago. Your words at that time were impactful and I’ve tried to live out the missional lens that you presented at that time. But admittedly the past few years have been grueling and I feel like the few steps forward in progress have been countered by thousands of steps of regression. I have been feeling quite useless and insignificant in my ministry. This post was a shot in the arm, painful but combative against the sickness that I’ve been infected with. Today while sitting in the living room of an elderly neighbor listening to his stories that would otherwise be forgotten I was reminded of the holiness of the simple. The beauty of simply loving by listening and being present. Far from the strategic thinking and planning and positioning That have become synonymous with leading a ministry team and instead just being present in the life of someone that needs a friend. That significance comes in being someone Christ can work through in the mundane moments. I may need a series of booster shots to get healthy but thank you for helping me pause long enough to breath in a breath of fresh air. As an aside I am friends with some of those that help plan the GLS and while I understand the criticism I also want to acknowledge that hole different than my focus they have had opportunity to witness transformation in many people through that unique ministry. While things may be changing in emphasis in the future I want to just thank people for taking a risk to try something so bold and so public. I sometimes desire the same but with Nouwen’s quote ringing in my mind I may need to redefine my sense of significance from the macro to the micro. Thanks for your words. Hope we can meet again one day and share a mundane moment or two. Peace

    1. Danny, Your reference to macro and micro caught my eye! In faith and politics, one cannot lose the human touch, which is recognizing and meeting the simple human need to be listened to as you said “The beauty of simply loving by listening and being present.” I feel that working in a ministry to young men aging out of foster care. The best part is sharing stories face-to-face. The danger of propogating corporate “leadership” methods into churches and ministries is they assume the human touch (“micro”) scales up to the “macro” of a large organization. It does not. You can’t go wrong by making time to honor the Image of God in others.

      1. A very gracious and encouraging remark. Thank you.

  19. A different and refreshing view mike loved it.

  20. Thanks for your thought-provoking article. I was going to say something like, “Never judge a religion, philosophy, or leader by the worst practitioners,” and then follow with a lengthy response … only to discover that Priscilla Hammond (Aug/10) already said it, and said it better.

    I truly and honestly understand your points and many of them resonate with me. But then I remember one of the earliest GLS Summits that I attended where Bill Hybels spoke on the conflict that often arises when leadership collides with discipleship; his concluson was that discipleship must prevail. I have attended most of the GL Summits since 2004 and they have proven to be of inestimable worth to be, helping me forge my own leadership as well as skills as a discipler. Our church has made significant use things taught through GLS speakers/books and I, for one, have been blessed by having read them.

    Are there cautions? For sure. But why do we imagine that things like vision and planning and evaluating team members are corporate business practices. I see them as principles and practices of excellence … things which the church should excel at. I teach management and leadership practices in the corporate world and have been known to draw attention to Genesis 1-2 where God demonstrates what the ideal manager looks like by assigning tasks, delegating authority, providing empowerment, and then getting out of the way. I’m not yet ready to cast aside the tools associated with practices of excellence …. but as you point out well, they MUST be linked to a Spirit-led heart and mind or they lead to arrogance.

    Again, I do thank you for your perspective. It’ll take me a bit longer to see what you see, but then again, I’m still a work in progress.

    Aside: I’m also not yet ready to cast Bill H aside and declare that his work has been undone by what he has done (I know you didn’t say that … I’m just stealing a chance to make a point). If all our previous preaching and teaching is all for nothing because of sin in our lives now, well, our churches will be preacherless and teacherless by tomorrow. Seems to me that Paul said something in Philippians about the value of someone preaching with wrong motives; while Paul doesn’t condone such an attitude, at least the gospel is still preached. For me, regardless of the current state of things with Bill H, none of his lessons, teaching or inspiration are undone in the slightest. I just need to pray for him.

  21. Unfortunately the way we organize and structure ourselves as the local church combined with the expectations (spoken and not spoken) of those whom employ pastors, send us on a trajectory away from the ministry of presence Nouwen describes and which is seemingly reflected in Jesus and the NT. Even if the desire is within an individual to move away from the leadership you have so accurately called out it would seem difficult without some serious revolutionary renovations more broadly.
    Maybe there is hope of God catalyzing these renovations. Maybe He us doing something else.
    To pray some thoughts I have read elsewhere 😉
    I pray you and your collective will not be constrained to trying to teach values through a new vision statement, instead foster the habits already being lived by Christine and others.
    Peace to you brother.

  22. I kind of feel the same way Mike. So many churches today have the feel of being a formula. I miss the days of simple fellowship and diving into the word of God.

  23. Thank you. Your words are a breath of fresh air. Let’s get back to fellowship and not formulas and get excited again about the word of God.

  24. This. This is why you have to blog. This is the voice we need.

  25. You should have attended occasional GLS conference and read some Hybels’ books, like ‘Courageous Leadership’. Then you’d be able to inform your opinion and not talk about it ignorantly. What you missed about Hybels leadership is too much to write here, but then… you wouldn’t read it anyway….
    And don’t be misled: not reading quality books is never a badge of honour. Whoever is telling you that is too fond of popularity and opinions of masses, and too quick to condemn a sinful, but God-fearing, man.

    1. Yes, but this blog post isn’t about Bill Hybels. I refer to having read some of the literature from the “corporate” leadership model, but mainly I’m commending an approach to pastoral ministry embodied by my pastor.

  26. “More and more, the desire grows in me simply to walk around…” This has put words to my heart’s search for the past few years. Hopefully each of us are on a journey of intimacy with our God, and we hear the voice of God calling us to draw near…thank you.

  27. Hi Mike, where is the quotation from David Starling taken from?

    1. His book UnCorinthian Leadership.

      1. Thanks for that.

  28. Michael, I wonder if your first two points about Christine don’t continue the same pattern: she is eloquent and she is doing a PhD. Isn’t this the very thing David Starling said the Corinthians were on about? Eloquence and status, those were Paul’s problems with the Corinthians.

    Point three: spot on. A pastor who pastors people.

  29. You sound a lot like me a few years ago – the “me” before I was called to an actual leadership role, accountable for actual leadership responsibilities. Before, I could criticize the corporate church model from the sidelines, with Hybels as a prime target. Like you, I criticized without having ever actually read Hybels or attended a GLS, which I also wore as a badge of honour.

    When I found myself actually responsible for leading others and daily managing a Christian organization, suddenly the day-to-day organizational management practices I had previously dismissed derisively became much more relevant.

    I think it is a false dichotomy to suggest leaders must choose between organizational best practices or supposed “biblical” or “spiritual” modes of being. I think, too, it is also misrepresentation to imply Hybels’ moral failure is a natural consequence to endorsing mission and vision statements, ie, corporate leadership practices.

    My leadership is deeply indebted to Nouwen, particularly his _In the Name of Jesus_, as well as Bonhoeffer, and the Christian mystic, Pietist, anabaptist, and contemporary pentecostal traditions. I incorporate especially corporate listening prayer as instrumental to all strategic planning. But I’m mostly indebted to the Scriptures.

    Do the Scriptures utilise contemporary leadership jargon? Of course it would be ridiculously anachronistic to think so. But as a leader who is also an informed student of the Scriptures (I have a PhD in New Testament and Christian Origins from the University of Edinburgh), I am constantly reading and applying contemporary day-to-day management practices read through the grid of the Scriptures. It’s not “either-or”. And it’s important to acknowledge that the leadership movement that Hybels represents is a response to the church’s own frustrations with leadership structures that were too often chaotic and ad hoc (notably low church models), or ridiculously bureaucratic (notably high church models). Even the early church quickly needed organizational solutions to direct human tendencies of prejudice and neglect (Acts 6.1-7). These aren’t antithesis to faith.

    Hybels’ failure is in many respects a failure of Hybels and his church to put into practice some of the very leadership practices that Hybels himself taught, notably leadership transparency and accountability. His failure is a failure of the human condition and hypocrisy and, as the long history of failure in the church of every conceivable model makes plain, is not a failure to be blamed on Hybels’ model of church, except in its own hypocrisy.

    Leadership in a post-Hybels era is in this regard no different from leadership pre- or mid-Hybels. Hybels reminds us that Christian leaders remain human and fallen and need to be supported in and accountable for their own human condition, regardless how we organize ourselves as the church.


    Jeromey Martini, PhD | President | Professor of New Testament
    Horizon College & Seminary

    1. Very well said. Thank you.

  30. One thing i have learned over the years is that there are a whole host of leaders i admire who have emphasised, as you do here, the critical importance of noewen et al to healthly leadership. Even to the extent of saying something like: we have out all other leadership books except noewen. To a man (so far at least…and it may be true in your case as well), thet have been blessed with paid positions within predefined and shaped structures with clear visions that have also supplied the infrastructural support necessary for those leaders to operate. Much like nouwen himself, who operated as he wrote in an environment where all those things wete in the background without him having to create said infrastructure, all these men seem to have taken for granted and forgotten all the administrative and visional work that had gone into creating the context they were writing from. I have, as a consequence, found the appeal to noewenesque leadership, eschewing vision statements, focussing on this particular aspect, to be overly facile. They have much to offer. But to over emphasise them to the exclusion of other leadership approaches that ‘deliver the goods’ and create high quality organisational pastoral care and infrastructure alwaus makes me concerned that there is a large blind spot regarding the level of work framing their ability to have that voice and speak in such terms. It just isnt as simple as that. Someone is even doing that work for your own pastor, denominationally and in the congregation.

    1. Craving a pastor who knows your name, eats with you and listens to your stories isn’t tantamount to rejecting “high quality organisational pastoral care and infrastructure.”

  31. I love when someone who claims that never been to the Global Leadership Summit somehow “knows” that it was all about vision, strategy and making ourselves better… Well, perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to attend sometime to really learn what was said there.

    1. I love it when people fail to understand that this post wasn’t about GLS, but the vision of ministry embodied by my pastor and described by Henri Nouwen. My reference to vision, strategy and making ourselves better referred to the leadership books and speakers I have engaged with.

  32. Michael, Thank you. I’ve often thought about “leadership” and the fact that it isn’t mentioned in the Bible. And then we have the call to be a “servant” occurring many times. I’ve wondered why we can’t just call Christ followers to be servants first. The rest will follow if we learn to do this with authenticity. Unfortunately we seem to have many with ‘Leadership” skills and abilities but with no servant hearts. Might this be the reason we have lost our credibility and relevancy with the world? You’ve touched on a very important area of Christian life ; one that we desperately need to consider if we are to in any way make a difference in the world, leadership is over-hyped. Servanthood is under-rated. I am waiting for the day for the establishment of a Servant Institute instead of another Leadership Institute!

  33. I really like your article Mike, except for the fact that you don’t know what you’re talking about when you talk about the GLS. 🙂 Henri Nouwen would have been an A-list guest, and I’m sure would have received an invitation if he were alive. The GLS has brought people from all walks of life, different areas of the world, with very different focii. Yes, a good portion of it is focussed on what we can learn from Christian business leaders (and a few non-Christians as well) and depending on the year you might find the the spiritual focus more doing-oriented than being-oriented, but there have been many years that were very focussed on the ‘being’ side of things. For instance, last year (2017) they had Immaculée Ilibagiza who lived through the Rwandan genocide sharing on the power of forgiveness, as well as Gary Haugen of the International Justice Mission who spoke on leading through situations that should cause us to fear (ie. they’ve had workers murdered). I do think that the church-growth movement is over-rated and slavishly followed by far too many pastors, but I have also learned helpful things that have helped me to be more open as a leader and to steward God’s resources more effectively (not actually speaking of finances here).

  34. As a sidebar to the ministry in which I am involved, I take in libraries of older pastors who are downsizing or unable to take their books to their retirement address; these are then shipped to missionaries overseas. What I find interesting combing through the volumes which took them through an active ministry career is that there isn’t a single leadership book to be found anywhere. As in Nada. Nothing. Zilch.

    Nothing on building your team. Nothing on managing a staff. The books are conspicuous by their absence.

    This phenomenon is recent and the plethora of leadership resources was something this older generation of pastors apparently neither needed nor wanted.

  35. Thanks for this. Every time I go to church my stomach churns at the Peter Drucker inspired science experience we have ended up with. Reformation is needed and God needs to be glorified.

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