Tag Archives: church leadership

leading without power, part 6

in this series of posts (part 1, overview; part 2, competency facilitator; part 3, culture evangelist; part 4, mission curator, part 5, storytelling host) i’m ruminating on the suggestion that leadership in the church needs to move away from the traditional notions of hierarchical power we’ve embraced for so long. and i’m unpacking 9 new metaphors for “powerless leadership”. here is metaphor #5:

Champion of Hope

i’ve been doing more than my normal share of thinking about hope in the last year or two. in some ways, at all started when i was asked to speak on the subject of hope at a youth ministry event very early in 2010. i did some thinking and praying and digging, and realized that there are a handful of things that often rob us of hope in our churches:

  • optimism and pressure to be content. it’s not that optimism is a bad thing.  it’s just that we’ve spiritualized it in the american church and re-labeled it as hope.  but they’re not the same thing.
  • being well-resourced. honestly, what church leader would choose being under-resourced over being well-resourced.  but as i meet hundreds — thousands, even — of church leaders and youth workers around the globe, i’m amazed how being well-resourced can lead to a variety of destructive things (hoarding, protecting, confidence in things) that make hope impossible.  because hope has embedded in it some longing.
  • living without pain. i’ll expand on this a bit more in a second, but pain seems to be the necessary b-side to hope.  or maybe it’s the other way around: hope is the b-side to pain.
  • technique. we loves us some technique in the american church, don’t we?  technique is a distraction, and quickly becomes (in many, if not most cases) the object of hope.

but my perspective on hope was rocked by my trips to haiti this past year (which i have blogged about extensively). and that idea that suffering and hope are two sides of the same coin really started to click for me.

as i wrestled with this more (including developing a book proposal that’s under consideration at some publisher or another), i read more on hope — particularly some stuff by bruggemann. and i saw the biblical pattern: honest and healthy dissatisfaction with the way things are –> crying out to god, admitting your need for god and dependance on god for a rescue –> the gift of hope. it’s most clearly seen in the exodus. and it’s seen again in the exile. it’s even seen in jesus’ cry from the cross.

but here’s how this applies to ‘leading without power”: organizations need to have hope (not just individuals). while this isn’t talked about often, it’s intuitively true. we’ve all been part of, or visited, organizations (churches, business, whatever) that lack hope, and ones that seem to be bursting with hope. really, this isn’t just christian organizations — my visit to zappos.com, the online shoe retailer, gave me a visceral experience of hope embodied.

but the leader who wants to lead without power (because, really, there’s NO WAY to hierarchically force someone to have hope!) becomes a champion of hope in the organization. the powerless leader listens for and is present to suffering — not brushing past it or sweeping it under the rug (easier said than done, btw). and in the midst of that safe articulation of struggle, the powerless leader points people to the source of hope (jesus), rather than cul-de-sacs of optimism, technique, and other hope thieves.

a few practicalities:

1. remember Romans 5:3 – 5 — …we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

2. provide reminders of who we place our hope in; reminders of what our hope feels like; reminders of why we have hope.

3. cultivate a language of hope with your team, and with parents.

leading without power, part 4

in this series of posts (part 1, overview; part 2, competency facilitator; part 3, culture evangelist) i’m ruminating on the suggestion that leadership in the church needs to move away from the traditional notions of hierarchical power we’ve embraced for so long. and i’m unpacking 9 new metaphors for “powerless leadership”. here is metaphor #3:

Mission Curator

we’ve all heard the importance of leaders articulating and embracing the mission of the organization. but i see three significant flaws in how this often plays out:

first, this often merely means creating a mission statement that gets stuck on a website — a mission statement that sounds nice, but doesn’t actually shape how things are done. while creating a mission statement necessarily bad, this surfacy approach misses the point. the mission of the organization (business, church, youth ministry) is difficult to fully capture in one or two carefully word-smithed sentences. those sentences are often cerebral; while the real mission is more gut. real mission is the embodied fuel of why we exist. it’s something that needs to be felt more than written into a sentence (i’m not suggesting that articulation is misguided; but mission is more than that).

second, that approach to creating a “mission statement” is often produced with outdated (and unbiblical) hierarchical power approaches. a real mission is discerned. and, i would suggest, should be collaboratively discern, not brought down from the mountain on stone tablets.

third, real mission (the kind that can be lived out) has an unrelenting core, but liquid edges. real mission has some fluidity. real mission assumes a posture of humility and openness to change — not only in the implementation, but in the mission itself. real mission says, “this is who we believe god is calling us to be, for now; and we hope god will continue to reveal newness.”

mission provides rails for “where are we going?”

curator is an important word choice here. a curator doesn’t create everything. a curator creates space for interaction, participation and enjoyment. a curator understands that her power is in the role of ‘host’, not ‘dictator’. a curator points to others, to works of beauty and discomfort, and never points to self.

listening to a dozen speakers at last year’s willow creek global leadership summit, i had one take away. it was bill hybels’ point that leaders can’t merely say “this is where we’re going;” leaders have to start by helping people understand “why we can’t stay here,” why ‘here’ is not acceptable.

i’ve railed against our goal-setting obsession before; and it’s because i think we all too often get the cart before the horse. here’s the progression that is essential:

mission → values → goals

in other words: why we exist (leads to) what we’re passionate about (leads to) how we’ll embody this.

the powerless leader doesn’t dictate this progression; the powerless leader curates the process, hosting the dialogue and discernment, showcasing beautiful examples of the mission as well as examples that bring discomfort and move us toward the mission or away from things that are off-mission.

leading without power, part 2

yesterday i started a series of posts on a shift in thinking about and application of power in leadership. my framing contentions are:
power-based leadership has no place in the church.
(and: power-based leadership is a culturally-waning paradigm in all contexts, because we live in a wiki, prosumer culture.)

church leadership needs to move from a paradigm of control to one of facilitation.
in this context: facilitation = identifying and nurturing competencies

with that in mind, i’d like to suggest nine new metaphors and mindsets for powerless leadership. here are the first three:

Competency Facilitator

i admit this is a little repetitive of the paradigmatic shift i just suggested. but “competency facilitator” is such a potent metaphor, such a pregnant imaginary job title.

as a competency facilitator, my leadership role is to be curious about strengths, potentialities, and each person’s unique made-in-god’s-imageness. i am not exerting force on people, but am leading through nurturing. my greatest leadership is to call out what others might not (yet) see, or even what the person might not (yet) see about herself. and, more than only calling out these competencies, my role is to create supportive spaces for the person to test-run these competencies. i support, offer feedback, and continue to point out growth and development.

i posted this quote once before, but it’s such a great reminder of my natural proclivity to be the opposite of a competency facilitator. it’s from max depree’s brilliantly-title, but otherwise somewhat mediocre book called ‘leading without power’:

Esther and i have eleven grandchildren. One of them born weeks premature is now in 3rd grade, and while she has some special challenges, she is really doing quite well. One day when she was three years old, she came to visit me in my office, which is in a small condominium. She said, “Grandpa, would you like to see me run?” And I must tell you, my heart jumped. I thought to myself, this little girl can hardly walk. How is she going to run? But like a good grandparent, I said, “Yes, I’d like to see you run.” She walked over to one side of the room and started to run, right across in front of my desk and directly into the side of a refrigerator. It knocked her on her back, and there she lay, spread-eagled on the floor with a big grin on her face. Like any good manager, I immediately went over with a solution. i said, “honey, you’ve got to learn to stop.” And she looked up at me with a big smile and said, “but, grandpa, I’m learning to run.”

i’ve been challenged in recent months about the importance of meaningful responsibility, particularly in terms of teenagers and young adults moving to adulthood. i am witnessing a real-life example of this with my daughter. liesl (almost 17, a junior in high school) is passionate about the environment. she was one of two participants on the dwindling ‘planet team’ in our church’s high school ministry. the team’s primary responsibility is to collect recyclables from the church, to provide funding for some sponsor children. the team was without an adult leader. and, while all the other leadership teams in our high school ministry had an adult leader, our astute high school pastor saw liesl passion and competency, and took a chance on her. he asked her to lead the team. she has completely risen to the responsibility, recruiting a larger team, producing a recruitment video, training the team and hosting them for social stuff, and ensuring the work gets done. it has been a major win in terms of her development, and a great experience of owning meaningful responsibility.

of course, this isn’t just about competency in teenagers – this applies to all our leadership relationships, not the least of which is with volunteers in church ministry.

next up: Culture Evangelist

leading without power, part 1

i don’t think i’m alone when i admit that i’ve had issues with power, probably for most of my life. and it’s strangely paradoxical that my struggle with power (as in, i want it, too much) has played a huge role in me being put in roles where i had power. that twisted reality is, i think, a reflection of our church culture buying into broader american power values. no need to harp too much on that — we see nasty abuse of power all around us in the church.

my current employment status (as in, self-employed) is the first time in about 20 years or so that i haven’t had employees who report to me. and i’m starting to see these questions of power and leadership in a new light. maybe it took a complete lack of power in order for me to learn something about this.

of course, i’m challenged by jesus. he’s certainly not powerless. dude had/has plenty o’ power. so the question shifts from quantity to quality; or, the question shifts from if one can exercise power to how one exercises power. and, what form that power takes. i’m sure there are a hundred more forms, but here’s a short list of power forms, good, bad and indifferent:

• Coercion
• Manipulation
• Positional authority
• Official dispenser of rewards & punishment
• Paycheck signer
• Ability to control
• Personality
• Ideation
• Encouragement
• Truth telling
• Serving
• Facilitation

jim collins’ notion of ‘level 5 leadership’ (here’s a helpful harvard business review article on level 5 leadership, written by collins), developed first in his book good to great, has been messing with me for years. i’ve blogged about it many times (here’s one), actually, because it haunts me. the level 5 leader (a very, very rare leader, btw) possesses a “paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.” and, at the end of the day, isn’t that a pretty good description of jesus’ leadership and use of power? it’s also, unfortunately, not the approach to power we see in most churches (or other places of leadership, to be fair).

let me dive in with this proposal: power-based leadership has no place in the church.
(and: power-based leadership is a culturally-waning paradigm in all contexts, because we live in a wiki, prosumer culture.)

sure, we can argue semantics and reframe power in positive ways (like the power of servant leadership). but, for our purposes here, let’s just stick with the more common understood (and exercised) concept of power — the ability and practice of exerting influence over others whether they want it or not. that’s the kind of power i’d like to see (mostly) excised from church leadership. (i concede with a little “mostly” there, because if i were the exec pastor or senior pastor of a church today, i’m sure there would be times when i would ‘exert influence over others when they didn’t want it’ — whether i’d be right or wrong is a separate conversation.)

here’s a paradigmatic shift idea: church leadership needs to move from a paradigm of control to one of facilitation.
in this context: facilitation = identifying and nurturing competencies

if you follow this blog at all, you’ll likely recognize that language. i picked it up in a conversation with dr. ropert epstein, while talking about how his parenting has shifted, in the midst of a broader conversation about infantilization and extended adolescence, and have mentioned it here more than once. but i’ve started to see that shift’s applicability in so many other contexts of my life. and, really, doesn’t it make great sense here?

where this post series is headed: i’ve come up with 9 new metaphors for ‘powerless leadership’. i hope they’ll stir your thinking and nudge you (and me) off balance a bit. i hope we can take them on a road trip together — test ’em out a bit. i’ll unpack one or two per post, and see where it takes us.


a new web portal launched this week for church leaders, appropriately called churchleaders.com. the have some original content and some aggregated content, as well as lots of other stuff. i like that they have the home page that includes a variety of content, but sections divided into specific content for pastors, worship, youth (ministry), children (‘s ministry), small groups, and outreach.

i’d been asked to be part of the advisory team (or something like that) for the youth ministry section, and agreed to that. and, they asked me and a handful of other youth ministry bloggers if they could aggregate some of our blog posts. here’s what i like about how this website is aggregating content, though:

let’s be honest — not every blog post by every blogger is worth reading. some are, some aren’t. i chuckle when i look at some aggregators that include every post from a handful of bloggers. if i wanted to read every post by them, i’d add them to my reader. a good aggregator should be selective, imho. so, the youth ministry section of churchleaders.com has blog posts from me, adam mclane, josh griffin, and many more; but only those posts that are specifically about youth ministry and would have interest or application to a wider audience. that’s helpful.

anyhow, i encourage you to check it out. a friend of mine is in the final throws of becoming the “channel editor” for the youth ministry section, and i expect the quality and depth of the content will increase when that happens.

principles of rest

i LOVED april diaz’s article in the recent fyi (fuller youth institute) email, called “Activating and Resting (New Yoke Series, Pt 1)“, and am looking forward to the other parts in the series. april is a deeply gifted youth leader and church leader, whip-smart and relationally gifted. one of those truly rare, exceptional leaders who are fun and thoughtful. i listen when april speaks (or writes).

i particularly liked april’s four “principles of rest”:

Principles of Rest

Principle of TRUST. Ultimately choosing to rest is about whether or not we trust God. I find that when I don’t rest, it’s because I don’t acknowledge he is Lord of heaven and earth…and I am not! God is ultimately responsible for the kids and programs and parents and events and needs in our ministries. We have all the time we need to accomplish everything he has called us to do. So maybe if we can’t find rest it’s because we don’t trust God with the big and small things in our lives.

Principle of WILLINGNESS. God doesn’t force rest – you have to be willing. Never does God guilt us into another thing to do. Rest is simply an invitation to “come to me” and offer our burdens and exhaustion to the One who is capable of handling it all.

Principle of PARTNERSHIP. This is an incredible principle! The yoke Jesus is offering is about partnership with the Triune God in the activities of the world. In the Old Testament, yoking was only lawful for two like animals; only two similar animals were allowed to be partnered with each other for the work they were to accomplish together. And yet Jesus offers us a partnership to yoke or connect ourselves with him to find rest and work. Rest is about trading our heavy yoke for an easy and gracious yoke.

Principle of EXPERIENCING GOD. We are to say “yes” to rest not just because we’re tired but because we need to connect with God our Father. Rest is a gift for you to experience intimacy with the Father so you know all he wants for you to say and do. Then, as we find rest, it creates space in our souls for connection and gratitude.

read the rest of the article here.

leading without power

when youth specialties asks speakers to do a seminar at the national youth workers conventions, they ask for a handful of possible seminar titles. then tic long chooses the ones that fit the overall mix. i’ve been through this process for 20 years or so, including all the years i worked at ys. so it was nothing new to me: i suggest a half dozen or more ideas, some of which are fully developed, and some of which aren’t much more than a title. and, when tic picks one of those that’s only a title… well, there’s work to be done!

this year at the ys conventions, i’m doing four seminars (3 in each of the 2 cities). and two of the seminars i’ll be leading were those “only have a title” kind: soul care for busy non-contemplatives (which is a “fishbowl” discussion), and leading without power. this morning, i had to turn in descriptions for these babies, which meant i had to think a little bit about what they might actually cover!

here’s what i wrote for leading without power:

Leadership guru Max Depree wrote a book with this title, identifying the unique challenges of leadership in a volunteer organization. This is our reality in churches, in youth ministry. We don’t lead with the power of a paycheck, or the power to hire or fire. Instead, we live in the unique space of leading through invitation rather than leading through demands. We’ll contrast this with power-based leadership a bit, then get into a bunch of ideas for leading laterally (and sometimes, leading up).

depree’s book, leading without power, was one i read more than a dozen years ago. and i haven’t read it again since (though i’ve often ruminated on writing a book based on one of the chapters: organizational hope). and, while i couldn’t actually tell you much about the content, other than that one chapter (i’ll need to re-read the book in prep for the seminar!), the title alone has haunted and challenged me for years.

so much of what we read, hear, and absorb about leadership has an embedded power dynamic in it. and i see this all over the church today. it’s certainly dripping from most of the lexicon of leadership books written for church leaders. in fact, i think it’s interesting (and frustrating, and sad) that the few books i’ve read that model a very different kind of leadership are not from or about the church (another amazing and weird book with this vibe is let my people go surfing, by patagonia founder yvon chouinard). certainly, a wonderful exception from power-leadership-in-the-church books is nouwen’s classic, in the name of jesus (man, i have to read that one again also!).

but we do not lead with power. sure, you might counter that we have spiritual power. but that’s not the kind of power i’m talking about. we (let’s use youth pastors, for example) don’t possess the power of the paycheck. and we’re leading in a space where we believe (more in theory than in practice, in many churches) in the priesthood of all believers, and in the sons-and-daughters of god reality that means we’re all siblings, on equal power-ground.

after a dozen years of leading with the luxury of paycheck power (hopefully i didn’t wield that like a light saber most days), i’m back in a space where all of my daily involvements — from my volunteer work at my church, to my consulting work with churches and ministries, to my writing work — involve the opportunity to lead, but no platform for power. i suppose the only arena where i could “lead with power” is in my home; but i’ve found it doesn’t fly well there. :) (yes, i used an emoticon in a blog post.) and it’s bringing me back to these questions again.

the san diego cohort of my youth ministry coaching program had an interesting discussion at one of our meetings about leading laterally and leading up (this is where i grabbed that wording for the seminar description). we talked about what it looks like to lead other church staff over whom you have no responsibility or authority; and what it looks like to lead your senior pastor (a position many youth workers are put in). of course, things like demands and “clarified expectations” go right out the window, as they’re useless. instead, questions of vision, communication, suggestion, transparency, example, story, and healthy politics (yes, politics can be healthy) come into play. and, while good leadership should always be embedded in a soup of support and grace, it becomes a non-negotiable when leading without power.

for example, in my consulting work: i can give great ideas and walk away in disgust if the organization chooses not to embrace them. but that’s not leading; that’s banking (at best), or drive-by consulting (at worst). in order to lead in a situation like this, i need to come in with compassion, understanding, and a posture of listening. that’s an interesting tension to live in, when active listening is, ultimately, not what the organization is paying me for. but, i’m learning, it’s the only route to leadership in this context.

what about you? what struggles are you experiencing with shedding power-leading? what struggles are you experiencing with lateral leading and leading up?

conflict on teams

mark mains had an excellent post on the fuller youth institute blog recently about conflict on teams, based on a gallup management journal article called What Strong Teams Have in Common: The five sure signs of an excellent team.

here are the five commonalities they say exist on strong teams:

1. Conflict doesn’t destroy strong teams because strong teams focus on results.

2. Strong teams prioritize what’s best for the organization, then move forward.

3. Members of strong teams are as committed to their personal lives as they are to their work.

4. Strong teams embrace diversity.

5. Strong teams are magnets for talent.

in his post, mark focuses on that first one — the point about facing conflict. i’ve found this to be so true with the leadership team of youth specialties. we’re really found that our conflicts, when approached with grace and a curious perspective, deeply tied to a commitment to our mission and values, actually makes us stronger in the long run. conflict is good, and makes us better.

but the other four traits are important also, and i can’t help but think of how they apply to youth ministry volunteer teams. great stuff. how does this reflect the youth ministry team at your church?

junior high pastors summit notes, part 6 (final)

each year, for the past 8 or so, about 20 middle school ministry specialists from around north america have gathered for a few days of fun and discussion. this year’s participants were: myself, Corrie Boyle (Mars Hill Bible Church, Grand Rapids, MI), Kurt Brandemihl (Sunset Presbyterian Church, Portland OR), Jeff Buell (McKinney Memorial Bible Church, Fort Worth, TX), April Diaz (NewSong Church, Irvine, CA), Ken Elben (Christ United Methodist Church, Memphis TN), Heather Flies (Wooddale Church, Eden Prairie, MN), Andy Jack (Christ Church of Oak Brook, Oak Brook, IL), Mark Janzen (Willingdon Church, Burnaby, BC), Kurt Johnston (Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, CA), Brooklyn Lindsey (Highland Park Church, Lakeland, FL), Sean Meade (Stuck in the Middle, Andover, KS), Alan Mercer (Christ Community Church, Leawood, KS), Jason Raitz (Willow Creek, S. Barrington, IL), Alan Ramsey (Fellowship Evangelical Free Church, Knoxville, TN), Ken Rawson (First United Methodist Church, Wichita, KS), Nate Rice (Forest Home Ministries, Forest Falls, CA), Christina Robertson (Journey Community Church, La Mesa, CA), Johnny Scott (Jr High Believe, Oronogo, MO), Nate Severson (Hillcrest Covenant Church, Prairie Village, KS), Phil Shinners (Mariners Church, Irvine, CA), and Scott Rubin (Willow Creek, S. Barrington, IL).

for the past few years, we’ve invited a guest to join us for a half day, to present some stuff that would become discussion fodder for the rest of our time. we’ve had chap clark, scot mcknight, an adolescent brain specialist, and christian smith.

this year, our guest was dave gibbons, pastor of newsong church in irvine, CA, and author of the monkey and the fish. we talked about third culture, adaptability, leadership, fringes and vortexes, and a variety of other stuff.

i’ll be posting edited notes from our discussions here in a series of posts. our hope is that these discussions will be helpful to others also…

this last post in this series is our discussion about R&D and ministry to/on the fringe:


What are some of our swirling vortexes and/or what are some of the things on the fringe that we need to be fueling? R&D (research and development) – what would it look like to have an R&D department built into our ministry?

Define: Fringe = marginalized – R&D is a principle of “release early and release often” because often times we don’t do something until we have it all figured out and this tends to kill innovation. If we are to honor our past and not blow up all we are currently doing in order to change everything, we also need to have something coming that will sustain us when the vortex of what we are currently doing subsides.

Kurt J: We are talking about some change. The decision we made was to allow parents and kids to choose what type of small group they are in. Instead of having ten kids in a group who are all over the map, each group is formed around a “depth” and allow kids to choose the type of group they have. The first option will be a “connecting” group that will be about 20 kids that might be 70% hanging out and 30% growing in Bible study etc… The second option would be a “growing” group where there might be 30% hanging out and 70% Bible study. The idea is full of potential problems, but it seems like there are some benefits that we could gain from.

Sure there will be things that are not going to work and problems, but how will we figure it out unless we try it. In some places not having it all figured out might be a problem, but in others it may be a struggle to do something without having all the kinks worked out before you roll it out.

Nate R:
How much “R” did you put into this? If we do our homework, things like this can come off much better.

Kurt J: We don’t need a bunch of research to make a change. Our leadership trusts us enough to know what we should be doing. There are going to be issues, but the tension we feel is when our groups are filled with kids who are all over the map on how much they want to grow and even that seems to change weekly. Is there a way to give kids a better small group experience?

Jason R: One of the biggest struggles is communicating expectations because most parents would want a “growing” group for their kids when many of them should be in “connecting” groups.

MarkO: It sounds like we are talking about moving the vortex. But the whole point of working with the fringe is more about starting something small and allowing it to fail or succeed. The fringe idea is not if you are going to change ALL your small groups, but rather, will you change two of your small groups to see if what your idea is might work. It’s beta testing.

Johnny S: We just don’t do this well, we typically change everything.

*So who is doing something this fits this – is truly fringe?

Brook: We’ve started looking at our leaders more like “what can you give and how can I use that?” Rather than “this is what I want/need, will you do it?” We need to listen to what they are passionate about and plug that in.

*We need to talk about the process we use to get fringe things going, not specifically talking about what we are doing.

Heather: Our divorce care group would fall into this because we tried it for a short period of time. It started because of the number of phone calls I was making and the kids I was working with who all deal with the same thing. So, we “pilot” a three week program and if it works we keep it going and if it bombs, it dies. Our church is big into the “pilot” type thing. At the end of the three week gig we evaluated and decided to move it to Wednesday night before program because the three weeks went well, but that bombed. In the midst of this though we found some great things that were really helpful.

The idea was to start support groups and this was the first one. There are so many support groups for adults, but none for the kids.

Phil S:
Kurt J has a system of “streams of feedback” so that people can really communicate with you.

Brook: Paying attention to signals and allowing people to speak and I need to listen.

Andy J: How do we get that feedback? Triangulate with students, parents, and your volunteers. Run ideas past all three groups and see where they come down on ideas.

Phil: That’s a different stage of R&D – that’s more focus groups rather than getting the ideas in the first place.

Kurt J: The trouble is I typically hear from the vortex, not the fringe. The fringe is hard to hear from because they are not the ones who are coming to speak up. Maybe the thing we need to do is take the vortex ideas and help people “not play by our rules” and use these ideas that might be good to reach the fringe rather than the vortex. Can we also find people who are thinking or can be pushed to think outside the box?

MarkO: Are we asking kids outside our “norm” what we can try that might be good for them?

Nate S: Do we have a boss that is really behind this? In our context we have a boss that is telling us he wants to “pull back the reins on what we try, not kick us in the pants to get us going.”

MarkO: Medici Effect is a book we should all read that can help us with this thinking.


ym3.0 in the words of dave gibbons

dave gibbons’ new book, the monkey and the fish, is a great look at the kind of perspective and leadership we need in the global church today. i’ll post a longer review of it soon.

but there were so many moments, while reading it, that i felt like i was reading a parallel book to youth ministry 3.0. i had that sense (and i told dave this, in an email) that i was driving down a city street and, at the intersections, noticing another vehicle on a parallel streets traveling the same direction and speed.

i’m starting to sense that some of the stuff i wrote about in ym3.0 isn’t merely epochal, but broader and more fluid than that. one of the places i really sensed this was in a little chart gibbons included deep into the book. the sentences leading up to the chart say:

some of us thought it would be a helpful exercise to list the attributes of jesus — especially those that people through the centuries have been so captivated by — and then list what the church at large is known for. here is what came up with:


don’t misread me here: i’m not saying i have it all figured out, or that youth ministry 3.0 is clearly a reflection of everything about jesus. but i so resonated with the words on this chart, and felt they reflected much of the shift i wrote about us needing. not in every case, but in many of the rows, it would be easy to swap out “youth ministry 3.0” for the left column heading and “youth ministry 2.0” for the right column heading.