Tuesday, 25 October 2011


I’ve been reading Leadershift, new in paperback, by Emmanuel Gobillot (The Connected Leader). It’s one of those books, for me, where somebody puts expression to gut feelings and that intuitive straining after hunches you just struggle to find the words for: so I think it’s really good. I also hope it’s going to be really useful. Of course, Gobillot is speaking primarily into the corporate business communities, but there’s a huge amount of wisdom here for those with ears to hear from the Christian leadership community. I’ve scrawled all over the book, but at page 62 I put finger to macbook ……

‘as a new world of mass collaboration is upon us, leaders should stay well away from trying to act as architects and town planners attempting to redesign the communal landscape. Instead, their time will be better spent tending the gardens and renovating the houses to make the place attractive for people who want to move in.’

…. The trends indicate that the coordination of activities we have so far achieved through hierarchical means is not efficient and that the means through which we achieve coordination will need to change.

…. Does that mean that leadership is irrelevant? Are we going towards some anarchical, communal days where no one is in charge? The way we have led might be irrelevant, but this is not true of leadership altogether. We are living beyond the days of leadership.
All on p 62 of ‘Leadershift’ by Emmanuel Gobillot.

For those who realise we’re spending too much energy barking up the wrong tree I would heartily recommend Leadershift. I’m sure he’s not 100% accurate in his reflections and observation of current trends, but if he’s describing the changing landscape, which is influencing the vast majority, both inside and outside of the church, with even 51% accuracy (and I think it’s a lot higher), then it’s worth taking note of. If he’s right, then our future as leaders will be heavily impacted by the trends he describes. However, ‘good’ we feel we may have been, the skills demanded in the future will need to look very different.

You need to read the book.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

disciple-making churches

'MOVE' is the latest research Willow Creek have released, with the subtitle 'What 1000 Churches reveal about Spiritual Growth. As this suggests it's a focus upon what they're learning about 'disciple-making' churches, I shall be very interested to read the results i full. I'll be approaching it with my usual 'this is the USA we're talking about here, not the UK, kind of hesitations, but I'm sure there will be lessons for us to learn and no doubt things we need to hear over here. Here's the summary of the top four 'practices' (I'm already interested now they're using that word!)

Practice 1: They get people moving.

Instead of offering up a wide-rang­ing menu of ministry opportunities to newcomers, best-practice churches promote and provide a high-impact, nonnegotiable pathway of focused first steps — a pathway designed specifically to jumpstart a spiritual experience that gets people moving toward a Christ-centered life.

Practice 2: They embed the Bible in everything.

At best-practice churches, the Bible goes well beyond its role as the foundation for teaching and life instruction. These churches breathe Scripture. Every encounter and experience within the church begins with the question, “What does the Bible have to say about that?” And church leaders model living life according to the answers to that question.

Practice 3: They create ownership.

Best-practice congregants don’t just belong to their church; they believe they are the church. They embrace its dis­cipleship values as part of their identity. Best-practice churches inspire and hold people accountable for changing their behavior — for becoming more Christlike in their everyday lives as a reflection of their faith.

Practice 4: They pastor their local community.

Best-practice churches don’t simply serve their community. They act as its shepherd, becoming deeply involved in community issues and frequently serving in influential positions with local civic organizations. They often partner with nonprofits and other churches to secure whatever resources are necessary to address the most press­ing local concerns.
In addition to these four practices, we identified one overarching leadership principle that emerged in our interaction with the senior pastors of these top-5 percent churches. These churches are led by individuals consumed with making disciples. Absolutely consumed. Making disciples of Christ was unquestionably their most important aspiration and the deepest desire of their hearts. And that characteristic fueled all four of the practices.
I don’t know if you’ve ever had those nagging doubts that I had: Do I really know what’s going on in the hearts and souls of my people? Is all this activity and programming moving them closer to God, or are we all just spinning our wheels? The REVEAL survey told us the truth about how our people experi­enced church, and some of what they told us wasn’t pretty. But it also showed us how to do a better job of helping people grow spiritually, which, after all, is why all of us — you and me — do what we do.

Friday, 14 October 2011


KIndness. It's part of the fruit of the spirit. It's one of the practices, which helps Christians look like Christians.

We got onto kindness at a discussion this week. The discussion was supposed to be around Alisdair's presentation of his dissertation findings re whether people who lived some distance away from the building they use to gather together for worship was a missed opportunity? Another time . Because it was at one of our leaders for 'larger' (over 150) Baptist Churches network days, we debated, for a long time, over the first bar on the first graph (!!), but we also got caught by kindness.

Kindness - "I wish our people would just work at being kind to other people" - probably not an exact quote and probably more politely put, because there was a fair bit of angst directed towards 'our people' (!?).

It raised the issue again - what is discipleship all about and how do we establish an environment in which it happens?  We are all disciples, but  of whom? We often assume the answer, within the Church, is Jesus, but is it?

I've often said we must begin with the end in mind, but I was reading something by Alan Hirsch again this week and he raised a lovely both/and for me. It's not simply about beginning with the end in mind, but also ending with the beginning in mind. What is it exactly we are multiplying? Dare we take a close look at the results of our practices?

Lest we (those of us who look as themselves as Christian leaders) think this is an issue simply for 'our people' and, therefore, merely a case of changing our home group structure, or whatever, let us think again.

Yesterday a friend and colleague sent me this prayer of Mother Teresa: "If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. be kind anyway."

Missional includes kindness.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Steve Jobs .... great speech.

In case, like me, you're not one of the 10 million plus people who have viewed this clip on YouTube already, I recommend you have a listen. Not spoken from a Christian viewpoint, but I'll be quoting a few bits over time, I'm sure of that. Very moving & deeply profound.

Monday, 10 October 2011


Yesterday, I was driving to Cheltenham to preach at Salem BC in the morning and back to Gloucester for a Cluster gathering in the evening. On both journeys I was listening to Five Live, which was dominated by the Rugby.
OK dismal from England, well done Wales, great match between the Aussies and South Africa (how did they lose?), sorry for the Irish.
Anyway, what dominated was the post-mortem on England and the RFU. I felt I was listening to the same conversation in stereo - out of one speaking I was hearing 'RFU" and the other 'BUGB' (Baptist Union of GB).
Both a pretty boring, it seems to me, to most Rugby fans,a s well as most members of Baptist Churches .... unless you happen to be involved in the structures themselves.
However, what people are interested in is 'how can we find a supportive structure, which helps, rather than hinders, England  winning Rugby matches.
What is the relationship between who's the CE of the RFU and who are the Board members, etc. and who manages the team and the results of the fixtures?
Translate all that into our Christian ghetto and I get to the same answers. You can change the structures all you wish, but in and of themselves they wont necessarily make any difference.
However, if the actual structures are getting in the way of empowering churches to plant churches and disciples to make disciples, then something needs to shift.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Steve Jobs and Jeremiah

I don’t envy Jeremiah. To be told, at your induction service, ‘today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and to tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant’ (Jer. 1:10) is not what anyone wants to hear .... neither the messenger, nor those to whom they’re sent!
I’m writing this on the day I’ve heard the news that Steve Jobs has died. Jobs was co-founder of Apple and the man behind the iPod, iPhone and iPad (I haven’t bought the latter …. yet!) However, the tribute I want to pay, and the reason why I mention him in the same breathe as Jeremiah, is to his role as a disruptor. 
Apparently, he was not an easy guy to work with, or for, because he disrupted people’s thinking, time-scales and plans. Every church needs disruptors, but hardly any welcome them. We all need disrupting from time to time. I’m not suggesting we need disrupting all the time, none of us could cope with that, but comfort zones are hugely appealing places to live. I simply suggest, if we are called to Christian leadership and we are feeling comfortable, then maybe we need to listen more carefully for God’s voice, or go out and find a disruptor!

As Einstein said (another fairly bright guy): “The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before.” 

You don't get innovation, unless you have disruption.

After Christendom & Restoring Hope details

Here's the details for the next Crucible weekend 5th-6th. November @ IMC, Selly Oak, Birmingham. Bookings via crucible @urbanexpression.org.uk

My conundrum this week.

I find myself thinking more about gospel planting than church planting this week. The problem I encounter, whenever I say "church planting" is the image I can almost imagine forming in the mind of the person in front of me.

Because most of the leaders I speak to tend to be Baptists you might imagine these mind-pictures would not automatically feature a paid full-time Minister, a church building and a music-group led worship service. Wrong.

Therefore, I am beginning to wonder whether my usage of the term church planting is really helping convey what I'm thinking about any more. The problem then becomes what do I say?

If I want to plant the seed of the good news, which is Jesus Christ, in a new community - I'm often left with a Home Mission application form in front of me, which demands a whole list of questions to be answered. Good questions (usually) but pre-supposing an ordained person, paid, meeting in an existing building and preaching to the an already legally constituted group (church) of people. My instinct and conversations, however, suggest 'forget about a constitution until you need one, which wont be until you've at least gathered 25 fully committed people.

My problem is I'm a Regional Minister and everyone presumes our system can answer such conundrums. That leaves the words 'Regional Minsiter' and 'problem' in the same sentence!