Well, I’ve started a blog. I’m now another one of hundreds of millions people pounding out a weekly blog. But, of course, like all those other people, I think I have a message – an important message – to share. So, I’m going to give it a shot and see what God does with it.
But, first, let me answer the question that titles this post: Do we really need another blog?
No, not when you look at how many blogs are out there talking about church and ministry leadership.
But, yes, when you realistically assess what’s currently out in the blogosphere on the topic I’ll be addressing: teamwork and collaboration in the church and ministry organizations. Sure, lots of advice is being offered on teamwork, but it is almost always based either on personal, anecdotal, experience or on Biblical principles, or both. But there’s a vast knowledge base that’s not currently being tapped – that knowledge gained from careful study of the interaction of God’s creation (or social science).
And it’s from that base of knowledge that I will write and share insights regarding:
- developing and working in elder/leadership/executive and ministry teams,
- creating collaborative organizational structures and practices, and
- facilitating life-changing small group (a.k.a. community, home, or discipleship group) experiences in church and other ministry contexts.
As I begin this endeavor, I want to make 3 things clear, perhaps to set your mind at ease. You should know some of my core beliefs relevant to this matter.
1. I believe God’s word is true, complete, and sufficient.
By offering these insights from social science, I want to be clear that I am NOT saying that God’s Word is incomplete in any way in its instruction to the church. Instead, God’s Word is wholly true and communicates God’s nature, love, and desires for His church. And those who write and admonish just from the Scriptures offer good, necessary, and sufficient resources. However, pastors don’t just read the Scriptures when they preach, but use illustrations and other support material, based on God’s general revelation in creation, to contextualize and apply the truths of Scripture. And I seek to do something very similar.
I want to utilize the findings in social science, which is, simply, the careful study of God’s creation and our cultivation and stewardship of it, to help us put into practice Biblical principles of community, collaboration, and connectedness. After all, God himself is an “us” and created us in His image as social beings (Gen. 1:27-28; 2:18), He refers to the church as the “body” (I Cor. 12:12-30), and Jesus invested in a few and entrusted the church to their care (e.g., Matt. 16:18, Matt. 28, Mark 3, Acts 1:8). However, the Bible is not a leadership or teamwork manual either, and thus, Scripture only goes so far in detailing how we can be most successful in being that body, whether working, playing, or growing together. In fact, George Barna has commented: “While I believe the Bible is a great text on leadership, it directly discusses leadership in relatively few passages; most leadership principles derived from the Bible are inferential” (The Power of Team Leadership, 2001, p. 31). Thus, I will share insights to help you actually succeed in working, serving, and growing as the body for the building of Christ’s bride, the church.
2. Just because something works doesn’t make it right. First, it must be Biblical.
In the last 30-40 years, social scientists studying God’s creation (even though many don’t see it as such) have found great benefit in collaboration, or working together well to advance shared visions despite our differences. In fact, they’re just discovering the truth of Scripture by looking at God’s created order. Of course, those of us who know God’s Word already recognized the value of being the Body, because that’s how God designed us. So, the fact that some folks are recognizing value in collaboration does not make it something that we should care about in the church. Instead, we should care about collaboration because we want to be Biblical in our leadership, and then use the findings of research to flesh out and bring about the truths in Scripture in today’s world.
Thus, if anything we did find in social science did, in fact, contradict scripture, (which, honestly, no “truth” I’ve ever encountered in the social science does – because God’s creation is consistent with the revelation of Scripture), finding it in science would not make it a legitimate practice for the church. In other words, you’ll never read anything (or at least I hope you won’t) from me that contradicts or undermines Scripture in any way, only things that support and flesh out Scriptural principles in today’s organizational context. And if you ever do read something that is not Biblical, will you please challenge me and help me think through the issue?
3. I want to bring a vast amount of knowledge the church in general is not using to your phone, tablet, computer, and your church or ministry organization.
As I mentioned above, other than the Biblically-based suggestions for practice (which I addressed above in #1 and #2), most of the rest of the leadership and team advice aimed at church and ministry leaders is based upon personal experiences of success, shared with the masses. While such personal experiences are good and helpful, there’s no guarantee that what worked for one leader/church/ministry in a particular time/place/situation will work for another. Ministry by mimicry, described by George Barna as “finding a competing or similar organization that is successful and copy[ing] whatever that group seems to be doing” (The Power of Team Leadership, 2001, p. 69) is so commonplace in the church. But, such strategies often fail, simply because the key ministry philosophies and situations in the model organization/church are never an exact match (or sometimes even similar!) to the imitator’s situation. This frequently causes the imitating organization to fall drastically short.
To supplement the current offerings, I base my insights on lots of studies (not just my or someone else’s personal experiences) and help you apply those findings to your particular situation and context, all with the goal of building the church and embodying the character and compassion of Jesus.
So, I hope you’ll read and subscribe to my blog posts, as I try to offer some grounding for team and organizational practice in social science past “one’s one personal experience” and in line with the Scriptures, but not based solely on just the Scriptures. And as you do, my prayer is that you’ll be further excited and equipped to do all that God has called you to do!
Be blessed, and thanks for reading this blog. I pray it will encourage you!
P.S. If you haven’t already, please click here right now to subscribe to the blog. You’ll then get an email with each post as soon as I put it up! And let me know if you have any particular things you’d like me to address – my blog exists to serve you and the people God has entrusted to your leadership and care.
Photo Credit: Sandra Westbrooks