Monday, 12 October 2009

Integration into Local Communties

Recently I was asked this question:

How would you integrate yourself into the local community? Please give examples from your own experience.

Whilst working on several social action projects over the years I have seen numerous examples of projects that start out with all the right intentions of integration from the Christian viewpoint of responding to need, however I have seen them drift off course because the project becomes the main thing instead of the attitude of Christian witness and service. A useful tool which I have used is one of: Prayer, Action and Reflection, again notably a cyclic form which helps keep the main thing the main thing.

The variety and diversity of responses to these realities illustrate the dynamic changes we are undergoing, I am cognisant of the phrase in Ecclesiastes that reminds us of ‘nothing new under the sun’, however this is a mark of the embracing paradigm of the 21st century leader; they live by a biblical hermeneutic and largely ignore the 20th century Church script. Rather more, they desire a more ‘ancient future’ Christianity that lets leadership explore and take risks along the way, one that as Webber puts it ‘is shaped by the reflection of the Church throughout history and expressed in the concrete situation of the Church in its particular place in culture’

These leaders respond to the process they are in and the story to them is more important than the model they operate in. It’s the story that has incarnational qualities that can transform the situation they find themselves in. Keel in his book says ‘to live in the world today and not to be aware of the radical transition of our context is to be either hopelessly out of touch, dangerously na├»ve, or wilfully stubborn’ . The bible is full of stories and the 21st century leader will have to encourage themselves and those they lead to mine the stories for timeless principles which they can engage in together along the way. Living an incarnational message helps to demonstrate these stories, understanding ‘we are not the bearer of the message or story but we are the message’

One of the fundamental points is the awareness of the time and context we live in and applying that to our situation, leaders today need to be able to function both transactionally and transformationally . Interestingly this combination of leadership style can be seen to be more evident in a team based approach rather than the CEO style. The 21st century leaders find that the interchanging of leadership for differing roles and situations can have greater benefits of solidarity and safety than previous models. The nature of leaders in the team needs to be one of servant leaders, serving people and each other and was adequately modelled by Jesus in the biblical script.

The preceding paragraph was both clearly evident and passionately lived in my last post as director of St. Luke’s Church. Where we changed hearts and minds of an aging traditional Pentecostal Church into an Emergent Expression relevant to its own time and space.

Webber. R. The Younger Evangelicals . p.242

Keel. T. Intuitive Leadership Baker Books. 2007. p.23.

Keel. T. Intuitive Leadership . p.56.

Macgregor Burns, J. Transforming Leadership. P24. Atlantic Books.

Transactional Leadership / Management has been defined as: ‘the basic, daily stuff of politics, the pursuit of change in measured and often reluctant doses.’

In contrast, Transformational Management is more metamorphic in nature, often having radical and conceptual leaps in style, shape and presence - a different matrix altogether.

What's your view point? I'd love to here from you.

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