Archive for the 'Leadership Stuff' Category

Influence = Bobby Clinton

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009


I met Bobby and Marilyn Clinton in 1979.

I was taking the first course that Fuller Seminary had ever offered on Church Planting, taught by Peter Wagner, and Bobby was the teaching assistant. Having served as a missionary in Latin America, he was now at Fuller and beginning his teaching career. We later connected in a course on Homogeneous Units and Church Growth where he also helped in the instruction.

When Bobby was added to the faculty in the early 80s, I was privileged to be part of a pilot group that Bobby pulled together to begin testing some of his “leadership emergence” concepts and resources and the next summer, enrolled in his “Implementing Change” course, the content of which I still use and refer to today. These were the first of many courses, both formal and non-formal, where I worked to get as much of Clinton as I could. I felt I had struck gold!

In 1985, Bobby assumed a seat on the CRM Board of Directors and over the next two decades, as a member of the board and with several stints as chair, he made an invaluable contribution to CRM as an apostolic movement. His influence was enormous. Over the years we have drawn deeply from his work, applying it personally as well as to our calling to empower leaders for the church around the world.

And throughout it all, Bobby and Marilyn have remained dear friends and mentors, one of those life-long relationships for which Patty and I are immensely grateful.

Bobby’s capacity for cranking out material is renowned. He is amazingly prolific in what he writes and creates. His reputation for being a leadership “guru” in the contemporary religious context is well deserved when one gets into his stuff and experiences the sagacity of his insights.

The best introduction to Clinton for many years has been The Making of a Leader (Navpress). While most of us had to learn a whole new vocabulary to wade through the book, Bobby thinks it’s actually too watered down and popularize to a fault. That perspective speaks volumes as to the depth and voluminous nature of his work.

Thanks Bobby! Your contribution to our personal lives, our ministry, and our contribution to God’s kingdom purposes around the world has been immeasurable. It is an honor to be considered a friend and a small part of your legacy.


Influence = Caroline Montgomery

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

caroline-montgomeryI met her in 1975.  Patty, my wife, was the one who actually had the relationship and I tagged along.

Caroline was in her 70s and was a widow.  She was the epitome of a gracious, Southern lady.   Under the genteel surface was a life that had been difficult with personal and family challenges and the accompanying pain.

But from it all and through it all, God had taken this women and drawn her deep into a life of prayer.  She knew Jesus in a depth that few attain.  Praying with her was like being ushered into the presence of the holy.

She prayed for us.  She prayed for CRM in our formative years.  In the picture above, David, our oldest, sits on her lap, a product in no small way from her prayers.  We had difficulty having kids and I believe Caroline was an integral part of that process through her intercession as much as doctors and infertility meds.

She was ushered into glory and the presence of the Jesus she loved in 1988.  But like Elijah, her mantle fell not to just one Elisha, but to many who stepped into the gap to pray.   However, heaven only knows what role she played behind the scenes in so many lives, so much ministry, and in so much supernatural change.

Influence – Steve Addison

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

One of the most effective and critical components of a strategy whereby the Christian movement can have a transformational effect on the world is through the multiplication of local churches, ie., groups of people wholehearted committed to following Jesus and together living out the presence of his kingdom in a given locale.

steve-addisonI know of no one today who is a greater, more persistent champion for such church multiplication than Steve Addison.

I’ve known Steve and Michelle for over 20 years.  Throughout that time, through thick and thin, the planting of churches and developing leaders who can do such work has been the consuming passion of Steve’s life.

He’s doggedly overcome considerable obstacles to stay this course.  What has resulted is that Steve has evolved into one of the leading authorities anywhere on the planet – well at least in Australia, which means the whole world to an Aussie – on movements, particularly church planting movements, and how they have repeatedly been God’s vehicle for winning back his lost creation.

It’s all finally getting into print in Steve’s new book:  Movements that Can Change the World published by Missional Press.  There is also a plethora of great resources on Steve’s blog:

Influence = Derek and ChrisTiana Rice

Sunday, May 31st, 2009


“I am not ashamed to confess publicly that next to theology there is no art which is the equal of music, for she alone, after theology, can do what otherwise only theology can accomplish, namely, quiet and cheer up the soul of man, which is clear evidence that the devil, the originator of depressing worries and troubled thoughts, flees from the voice of music just as he flees from the words of theology.  For this very reason the prophets cultivated no art so much as music …

-  Martin Luther, 1530

To lead worship, as expressed in music, obviously requires some natural abilities and acquired skills.  But those alone, do not make good worship leaders.

All of us have been subjected to people who lead “worship” who are more intent on performance and listening to the sound of their own words and voices rather than knowing how to usher participants into the presence of God.

Derek and ChrisTiana Rice are two of my favorites when it comes to the use of music in worship.  And it is not because of their talent – which is considerable – but because of the source of their leadership.  Worship, and leading others in this pursuit, emanates out of their own intimacy with Jesus.  It flows from the depth of their souls and is grounded in their awe of the holy.

I’d like to clone them.  And this actually what will happen in the years ahead as they mentor, coach and develop others with their same sensitivities and passion.

Derek and ChrisTiana serve with NieuCommunities in San Diego, CA.

Influence = Nadim

Friday, May 29th, 2009

It’s a region of the world where everything seems to collide.

Shiite and Sunni Muslims, Druze, Syrians, Palestinians, Iranians, Maronite Catholics, Orthodox, and Evangelical Protestants, all mixed together with the ever-present incendiary threat of Israeli bombs.  It’s an emotional pressure-cooker where the Christian movement is marginalized and routinely on the defensive.

israeli-bomging south-beirut

It is easy to want to flee.  To get out.  Any sane person would do whatever they could to insure the safety of their family and the opportunity to pursue a life free from war, devastation and persecution.

But as those who are serious followers of Jesus know, the call of God is not a call to safety, personal peace or prosperity.  It’s a call to sacrifice and sometimes to suffering.


That’s why Nadim is one of my heroes.  He could take his wife, Julie, their son, and their two twin girls waiting to be born, and he could leave.  But he’s staying.  And more than that, he is committed to being, in word and deed, the presence of Jesus in this strategic region.  He is committed to giving his life to mentor, coach, train and multiply a new generation of leaders for the Christian movement in a region that is unquestionably the most critical flash point on the global scene.

cross-in-conflictThis month, the cover story on National Geographic magazine, entitled The Christian Exodus from the Holy Land, soberly describes how the beleaguered Christian population of the Middle East is shrinking.  In that part of the world where Christianity has its roots, the Church is fast becoming an endangered species.

May God multiply many times over more men and women with the courage, fortitude, and commitment of Nadim who will be the key to steming the tide this article describes.

Influence = Ardath Smith

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

ardath-smithChurch history is full of those unsung heroes who behind the scenes wield enormous influence because they have been connected to God in deep and profound ways.  They hear his voice.  And they are able to take others by the hand and help lead them into such a relationship with the holy.

Ardath is contemporary example of one of these.  As part of the CRM-US Staff Development and Care Team, she serves people all over the globe as a spiritual director.  Through her presence, she helps men and women discern the voice of God and see more clearly his fingerprints on their lives.  She does it quietly.  She does it gently.  She does it with remarkable discernment.  And she does it with class.

Ardath used to be a top drawer musician – cello was her instrument.  But she had to give it up because of physical limitations.  But God has compensated.  She now makes beautiful music with people’s lives that will last much longer than the momentary sounds that please the human ear.  And in that Spirit-empowered process, I am convinced she gives God great pleasure.

Influence = Jeri Little

Monday, May 25th, 2009


I met him in 1988.  He was a run n’ gun businessman from Orange Co, California who decided to go taste and see, in a 2 week trip, what life and ministry was like in communist Romania.  That experience turned his world upside down.

20 years later, Jeri Little has left a profound mark on Romania, 16 of those years having lived with his family in the city of Iasi in the northeast corner of the country, about 10 kilometers from the boarder of the former Soviet Union.

What Jeri and his wife Gloria have accomplished is nothing less than the remarkable.  It is one of the stellar success stories today of what business for mission is all about.  Today, the “Little Texas” complex – a 200 seat Tex-Mex restaurant, 4 star hotel, business and event center – is a testimony to Jeri’s skill, perseverance,  and obedience to God’s clear call.   Not only is it a model business demonstrating to Romanians customers and all who visit that business can be successful and run with Christian values and intent, but the profits from the complex are a major source of funding for an array of ministry initiatives in Romania and nearby Moldova.

littletexas121 littletexas01

It’s all been captured in a recently published volume, Merchant to Romania that’s available on Amazon.   It is a gripping story.   Through it all, I’ve been honored to walk with Jeri as a fan and most importantly, as a friend.


As Jeri turns his sights toward other business for mission projects in the Middle East and other places around the world, my hope is that God will use this story to inspire a legion of young entrepreneurs to follow in Jeri’s footsteps.

Jeri proves again, that all it really takes for God to use a life in extraordinary ways is a willingnss to simply “show up.”

Influence = Dave Everitt

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009


Dave Everitt is one of my heroes.

•    He is an unconventional “missionary.”  He breaks the stereotypes.
•    He puts flesh and blood to the concept of being apostolic.
•    Dave just “shows up” and God seems to do the rest.  No presumption.  No ego.  Just a willingness to be there and then trust God to do the supernatural.
•    The guy oozes passion.
•    He’s larger than life and is a mutation between a cross-cultural Rambo and a big, cuddly teddy-bear.
•    His legacy and influence in Cambodia will be legendary.  The lives he’s touched will affect the Christian movement in that nation for generations to come.

Dave and Lisa Everitt have lived and minister  in Cambodia with InnerCHANGE, CRM’s order among the poor.  For more information, go to

everitt-sf1I was with Dave in San Francisco last month and let him loose on a group of younger men – one in particular who may may have similar  potential to Dave but it’s latent – and Dave held court for four straight hours.   I was in tears at least three times as he recounted stories of God’s presence and faithfulness in Asia.  It was gripping.

There are places all over the world in need of people like Dave Everitt.  God, give us new generations of people willing to just “show up” and see the supernatural presence of God flow through them in word and deed.

Influence =

Friday, May 22nd, 2009


“The word influence is derived from an ancient astrological term describing the power of the stars to affect the destiny of human beings.  The definition has changed over the centuries, but influence remains a mysterious force and a difficult one to measure …

We look for people whose ideas, discoveries, talent and yes, power shape and transform our world.  These are our modern stars who shape our destiny.”

TIME Magazine, May 11, 2009, page 4

I get to rub shoulders every day with people of enormous influence, people who are indeed modern stars who are shaping the destiny of our world.

None, however, were included in TIME’s recent listing of the World’s Most Influential 100 People. That’s really TIME’s problem.  Those who would make it on my list are not the visible movers and shaker that the world would recognize or honor.  They are the unseen people, often deep in the incarnational woodwork, whose lives are playing to an otherworldly audience.

On my list are those whom we will become quite familiar  when we gather for movie night in heaven and look at the video reruns of God’s heroes throughout redemptive history.   They are the people who are really making a difference and whom, as the writer of the book of Hebrews puts it in the New Testament,  ” ...the world is not worthy.”

I’ll be writing about these individuals in the weeks ahead.

Leadership Mentoring Groups

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Few things I do are as enjoyable or as energizing as the Leadership Mentoring Groups that I occasionally get to pull together for younger leaders.  I’ve done these for about ten years.  It’s refreshing to be able to get my head out of the clouds of organizational leadership and all the demands of CRM around the world and engage in a meaningful way with men and women of this caliber.

Men's Group

These groups use some of our reFocusing processes, a good dose of spiritual formation and mentoring concepts, and address issues of being a bible-centered leader.  (Bobby Clinton often joins us for an evening on this topic).   The result is that these younger leaders move toward clarity regarding God’s leading and calling in their lives.  That is significant as most are making decisions now that will affect the future trajectories of their lives and ministry.  I suspect almost all of these men and women will end up in some form of vocational ministry and many will be with CRM somewhere around the world.

Women's Group

What is also remarkable is the % in each group that have pronounced apostolic and leadership calling.  For many, the level of frustration has been high as they have thrashed around searching for their “niche” in God’s kingdom purposes.  As a result of the weeks they invest together, most begin to hit stride in finding the groove that God has for them.  For some, my role with CRM means I can help sponsor them into contexts where their calling can be lived out to the max.

I hope to do such groups a couple times each year.  While I am pleased at the gender diversity represented in this past cycle, I would like to see more cultural diversity that would better reflect the changing face of the Church in North America.  Nevertheless, these two groups above were exceptional, and the destinies these individuals will walk into will contribute profoundly to Jesus and his Kingdom.

Independently wealthy …?

Monday, October 13th, 2008

While I’m at it about the absurdity of “retirement,” I have some energy on another related topic.  Might as well spit it all out.

Frequently I encounter people (particularly those who are successful in business, or younger men and women who want to be successful) who are contemplating what God would have them do with the latter half of their lives, and the line I hear runs something like this:

“I would love to serve God with more of my time and talent in the coming years.  But I want to have made enough money to be independently wealthy.  I really don’t think it is right to ask other people to support me when I could pay my own way.   So I want to wait until my nest egg is secure and then Jesus can have all my time and attention.”

I have rarely seen it work out this way, where independent wealth becomes an essential stepping stone for future ministry.  Rather, it can become a curse for several reasons:

1.  Behind such a desire can be an unwillingness to live a life of dependency, either dependency on God or other people.  The need for financial security trumps one’s ability to step out and trust God for the most basic of economic necessities.

2.  There is a subtle, unhealthy independence that such wealth can engender.  I’ve seen it several times when we’ve accepted folks to minister with CRM who didn’t need to raise money.  They had it all.  Inevitably, when times got tough in the crucible of ministry, or there was conflict, or things didn’t go their way, they could pack it up and leave.  Having one’s own resources makes it a lot easier to cut and run.

3.  When I’m independently wealthy, it can put me at odds with those in the apostolic community or team with whom I minister.  I have options they do not have.  I have resources they do not have.  No wonder historically in the missionary orders of the Catholic and Orthodox tradition, one would divest themselves of such material attachments so that all would be laboring together on level ground.

4.  Unfortunately, needing to make my fortune can become an excuse for never responding to what may be God’s clear calling on my life.  It’s a smoke screen.  It’s a way to rationalize away the voice of God.  Movement toward that calling can be inhibited because the nest egg is never considered by the individual to be sufficient enough.

Let me be clear.  I’m not dissing anyone who is doing well financially and particularly those who have learned the grace of giving and sacrificial stewardship and are called to the marketplace.  Rather, I am calling into question when the drive to attain such financial “freedom” is used as the justification for delayed obedience to God’s leading.

When I look for people who are grappling with the calling of God toward ministry that is apostolic in nature, one of the true tests of that calling is that money and financial security are the last and least issues to be considered.  What’s healthy is when these issues are the stubby little tail and not the dog.  When it is the other way around, it’s a portent for trouble.

Applying the “Informal Theorem”

Saturday, October 4th, 2008

Much of the leadership development theory that emanates out of J. Robert Clinton is a confirmation of the obvious if we reflect long enough to recognize it.  His “Informal Theorem” is a good example of such an intuitive truth:

“The more informal the training medium the more potential for in-depth impact in the life of the trainee.”

One of the most powerful venues I have for such in-depth impact in the lives of younger leaders is an annual week-long boat trip on Lake Powell in the Arizona desert.  It’s an unparalleled opportunity for guys to play hard, share deeply, and relate profoundly.

The group this year – 18 CRM staff or potential staff – will be scattered to the nations in the coming months:  Latin America, Asia, Europe and Africa.  But what has transpired in their lives, and the relationships they have built during this one week in September 08, will stay with them the rest of their lives.  Deo Gratias!

Developmental Narcisscim

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008


In the arena of leadership development and training, there is a subtle trap that one can all too easily fall into. It is the dark side of something very good. I have grown to call it “developmental narcissism.”

Developmental narcissism is when some wonderful concepts get twisted ever so slightly so that the focus becomes inordinately self-centered. It’s all about me …my fulfillment, my calling, my purpose, my ultimate contribution, my life plan, my role, my gifts, natural abilities and acquired skills, my values, my vision, my ministry, my, my, my….

The wheels come off of healthy leadership development and it morphs into developmental narcissism when:

One forgets that never in all of redemptive history does God raise up a leader for the leader’s sake . It’s always for the sake of God’s people.

One fails to realize that leadership is an entrusted commodity. Those who have it are only stewards of a God-given responsibility.

One mutes Luke 9:23 and the fact that the cross is still a cross.

Developmental narcissism means that a healthy developmental mindset and self-care are hijacked and subtly used to justify selfishness and self-absorption. It is a spiritualized form of individualism. I’ve heard it from the lips of leaders I have respected and it sounds something like:
“I need to make this decision, leave this role, turn down this responsibility, take this job that pays better, etc… because I have to be true to myself. If I am going to accomplish my calling, I have to do this. I come first.”

While it may be hard to admit, developmental narcissism is all about the world rotating around me.

Making it Hard to Lead

Monday, June 16th, 2008


Most of the evidence points to the fact that the more formal education that is required for those who lead God’s people, the more detrimental it is to the vitality and the growth of the movements they serve.

Yet it is amazing to see the criteria that institutional, traditional churches continue to require of potential leaders. Of course the most common justification for all the educational and evaluative hoops “clergy” have to jump through before being credentialed is that such a system maintains quality, which is in reality an absurd argument. What actually happens is that such requirements exclude entrepreneurial, visionary men and women and only attracts leaders who can endure such stifling pathways to eventual responsibility. He or she who plods wins.

Such ecclesiastical pathways have been built around the untenable assumption that academic ability = spiritual leadership.

These systems –regardless of the confession or the tradition – are mostly about control and conformity. If existing leaders had to jump through such hoops and pay their dues as they were moving up in the system, better be sure that any young, aspiring leaders have to do the same. What a waste.

The Hidden Mr. Wesley

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

Yesterday, Patty and I were returning from a lunch with a couple in the Marylebone area of central London.

We noticed a very small, shaded urban park on Marylebone High Street and took a detour through it, discovering it to be part of an old church graveyard. And there in one corner, we came across this monument which was over the grave of Charles Wesley.

I think I was stunned by its obscurity. And awed by the thousands who pass it daily in this major shopping area who have no earthly idea of who lies six feet under.

Along with brother, John who was the organizational genius, Charles helped bring into being the Methodist movement. He was the creator of a new epoch of religious music (sometimes called “hymns of the human school”) which, through easy melodies, words and style, made worship accessible to the unlearned masses and the illiterate.

While John provided the intellectual and theological firepower for the movement, Charles provided the emotional fuel by creating music that had an irresistible appeal through such songs as: Jesus, Lover of My Soul; Hark the Herald Angels Sing; Love Divine All Loves Excelling; and Christ the Lord is Risen Today.

What a remarkable legacy and what obscurity in death.

Not Spiritual Enough?

Monday, May 12th, 2008


CRM-US is looking for a new VP for Finance.

Because it is predominantly an administrative role, the person doesn’t have to raise all their financial support. In fact, all we ask is that they generate ¼ of their need via gifts from friends, family and churches who believe in them and their call to such an essential missionary function. We subsidize the other three-quarters.

We recently approached a reputable, well-known head-hunting firm in California to see if we could employ them to undertake a search for this position. They turned us down. The reason?

“ … doing a search where someone raises their own support is in conflict with our goal of presenting four excellent candidates. It takes a special person who trusts the Lord enough to raise their own support…and to find [such]candidates is just too tough a search for us to take on.

While we really respect those in service to the Lord who raise their own support; it take a much deeper spirituality in one sense for someone to do that.”

I guess our option is to accept someone with less spirituality. Not.

Emerging Leaders

Saturday, May 10th, 2008


Each year since 1998, I have tried to pull together what I’ve grown to call a “Leadership Mentoring Group” made up of guys in their 20s and early 30s.

These are men who are usually grappling with issues related to calling and what God wants to do with their lives. Most believe they are headed into some form of vocational ministry. We meet one evening a month for several months.

This is the latest group that wrapped up this week.

They read through several books such as Clinton’s Making of a Leader and Connecting, and we process a lot of leadership and spiritual formation stuff together. The end game is coming out with a sense of personal calling.

When I look at this group, the caliber is remarkable. They have the potential to affect the nations for the sake of Jesus and his Kingdom presence. Dominus, planto is sic!

The Smart Shepherd

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008


The February 18, 2008 issue of Newsweek includes a fascinating article about Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. It is worth a read.

What Tim Keller has done in New York is a superb study in good missiology applied to reach thoughtful, urban professionals with a gospel that is a combination of “orthodox Christianity, challenging preaching, with an emphasis on social justice and community service.” The article goes with the following description of Tim:

“Like so many New Yorkers Keller is a misfit. He’s a megachurch pastor who doesn’t like megachurches. He’s an orthodox Christian who believes in evolution. He emulates the puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards and loves a good restaurant. he’s an evangelist who relishes the power of doubt. New York is the perfect home for such an idiosyncratic Christian.”

High Level Complaining

Sunday, January 20th, 2008

Richard Farson, author of Management of the Absurd and The Innovation Paradox writes the following about how to evaluate complaints and whining within an organization:

“The paradox is that improvement in human affairs leads not to satisfaction but to discontent, albeit a higher-order discontent than might have existed before. This is what historians have labeled the theory of rising expectations. It fuels the fires of revolution and change because it creates a discrepancy between what people have and what they now see is possible to have. That discrepancy is the source of discontent and the engine for change.

Psychologist Abraham Maslow had an interesting way of describing this phenomenon as it applied to the health of organizations. He advised managers to listen not for the presence or absence of complaints, but rather to what people were complaining about—that is, the quality or level of the complaint. He called them “grumbles.” In the least healthy organizations, Maslow said, you can expect to hear low-order grumbles – complaints about working conditions, about what he called “deficiency needs.” For example: “It’s too hot in here.” Or, “I don’t get paid enough.”

In a healthier organization, Maslow said, there would be high-order grumbles – complaints that extend beyond the self to more altruistic concerns for self or society.

There is the absurdity. Only in an organization where people are in on things and where their talents are being utilized would it occur to someone to complain about those higher-order issues. What this means to the manager is that improvement does not bring contentment but its opposite.

Absurd as it seems, the way to judge your effectiveness is to assess the quality of the discontent you engender, the ability to produce movement from low-order discontent to high-order discontent. Easing the dress codes raises expectations for further change, and they now want more informal days, looser codes, clearer policies. Pity the poor manager who can’t imagine how a well-intended action led to such grousing. The paradox of rising expectations helps us better understand why it is on the best campuses that there is the most restlessness and demand for change.”

Decisive Leadership

Friday, January 4th, 2008


A quote passed on from Bobby Clinton this week stimulated some thought:

“When the church was on the move and both the Roman and Jewish leaders were opposing it, someone had to make quick, Spirit-led decisions. And we can only imagine the kinds of issues that could have splintered this frail organization when the church leaped over its cultural boundaries to include Samaritans and Gentiles. Because Peter was a leader whose ego could endure the threat of disagreement and challenge he was not afraid to act. He was not careless, but he was not afraid to move, and under his leadership the church got things done. Peter was a leader who made decisions that mattered.”—from Handbook to Leadership-Leadership in the Image of God, by Boa, Buzzell and Perkins (pg. 14)

I’ve worked and led some strong leaders over the years. Sometimes they are referred to as leaders who lead “hard.” I believe there is a desperate need for such men and women throughout the contemporary Christian movement, but all too often we seem to want to beat out of these people the very characteristics that make them effective. That’s understandable because some of us have been bruised by such people. So we live in a time where collaborative leadership, buy-in, ownership, and facilitation are the prevailing values. Peter, Paul, or Moses probably wouldn’t fare to well.

When I’ve recruited or assumed responsibility for people with strong personalities, (Enneagram #8, ENTJ, High-D, Type-A people), there are several non-negotiables that I particularly look for if I am to coach, mentor or supervise them:

1. Character – Do they have integrity? When push comes to shove, will they do the right thing?

2. Teachability – Can they follow, genuinely submitting to to the leadership of others? Do they have the posture of a learner? Can they be corrected or do they behave like the stubborn fool that Proverbs repeatedly warns us about?

3. Emotional health – How great is their need for affirmation and validation? Are their emotional needs such that they will they suck me and others dry looking for approval? Will they demand strokes which no one can ever adequately provide and in reality, only God can give?

4. Spiritual Vitality – Can they hear from God? If so, are they responsive to the Spirit and the Word and going ever deeper in dependence upon Jesus? Is there evidence that their rough edges are being refined in the process of submission to God’s sanctifying rule?

It’s naive to mistake strong, decisive leadership for authoritarian, top-down leadership. If servant leadership, thoroughly biblical in nature, can be exercised effectively through a person like Peter, there is hope for many others. We shouldn’t shy from recruiting and sponsoring strong personalities into roles of responsibility just because they can be a handful. At the same time, I’m not interested in putting myself in a relational cusinart, trying to help someone who is out of touch with who they really are and exhibits some of the disqualifiers above. They key, as we see demonstrated in how Jesus dealt with the likes of Peter, was knowing the difference.

If only stones could talk …

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

St- Mary Woolnoth 8857
It’s about 3:30 on a gray, cold, overcast London afternoon. I’m sitting in a very uncomfortable, rickety wooden pew at the back of the church of St. Mary Woolnoth.

I’m the only one in the building. Only a few lights are on in a magnificent bronze chandelier that occupies the center of the room. It’s musty, dank and has that old building smell. It’s actually a little spooky

However, St. Mary Wolnoth occupies one of the most prominent sites of any church in London. It stands at the junction of Lombard and King William streets, under the shadow of the Bank of England and a stone’s throw away from the historic site of the London Exchange.

A church building has been on this site since 1191 and the structure in which I am sitting is the fourth iteration. The second was built in 1438, the third by the famous Christopher Wren (architect of St. Paul’s cathedral) in 1674, and the last by Nicholas Hawksmoor in 1727. It’s a majestic example of English baroque architecture.

But what is most gripping is to imagine what happened here in centuries past. From 1779-1807, the rector was John Newton, the author of Amazing Grace. From the pulpit that rises above me, he preached vehemently against the evils of the slave trade and encouraged others such as William Wilberforce who led the battle for the abolition of slavery in the British empire. Also, Claudius Buchanan, who launched significant missionary efforts to India was inspired by Newton in this place as was Hannah Moore, the writer, social reformer and philanthropist, and others.

Newton was buried here in 1807. On my left is a marble plaque that carries the following epitaph which Newton himself wrote:

Once an infidel and libertine
A servant of slaves in Africa,
Was, by the rich mercy
of our Lord and Savour
restored, pardoned, and
appointed to preach
the Gospel which he had
long laboured to destroy.

And now this building is a musty relic. Pretty much forgotten. Thousands of people pass by its doors every day here in the heart of London’s financial district, oblivious to what momentous, world transforming convictions had their genesis within these walls.

If only stones could talk.

Slavery Business Gallery 05 Plaq
John Newton and his memorial plaque at St. Mary’s

Radicalizing Our Children

Saturday, August 25th, 2007

 Nca June21-2000 English Images Children
“If you really want to keep your kids safe, middle-class, responsible people, keep them away from the gospels which will radicalize them. Don’t expose them to Jesus unless you want them to be martyrs.” —Alan Hirsch to CRM staff, August, 2007

I see all too often: parents who want their children to have enough Christianity to be respectable but don’t want their offspring to go overboard and become too committed.

Where this “enough but not too much” attitude may show up blatantly is when the son or daughter makes the jump into vocational ministry, particularly a missionary calling, and they have to raise financial support. Then the fat can hit the proverbial fan!

“I don’t want you begging for money!”
“Don’t ask our friends to support you”
“What are you going to do about retirement?”
“Can you really live off of that?”
“Do you really think this is a good way to use all that education we paid for?”
“You mean you may move overseas? When will we ever see the grandkids?”

Somehow the real Jesus who makes statements like Luke 9:23 gets lost in the well-meaning but mis-directed scramble to protect and preserve those whom we love from a God we do not really trust:
“If any person would come after me, they must deny themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow me.”

As much as we may want to sanitize it, the cross is still a cross.

You can see it in their eyes …

Monday, July 30th, 2007

Mona Lisa
It’s hard to quantify. Hard to describe. It simply happens whenever we gather together a group of folks serving with CRM from anywhere around the world. There is a unmistakable sense of something that permeates such gatherings.

There is a kind of energy and passion about our shared calling that works as a mystical bond. Even when we may not have seen one another for months or perhaps years, there is an intensity that pervades the relationships and things quickly go deep. As one person commented this past week in Vancouver, “You can see it in their eyes …” There is a quality and contagiousness that is tangible, a commitment to the pursuit of God and his kingdom agenda. These are people with whom one is invariably drawn to do life and ministry, to love, fight, laugh and perhaps die with.

Underlying it and perhaps the real reason behind it all is simply the supernatural anointing of God. The Triune God has for reasons beyond my understanding chosen to rest his hand of blessing and his supernatural presence on these people. It’s what the old-timey saints called “divine unction.” And it is an umbrella of spiritual reality and power that has permeated this outfit since 1985.

May it never lift. May it never cease. May it only grow and deepen so that the name of God may be renowned among the nations.

Leadership In Hungary

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

Heisers Heisers Metcalfs

Tamas and Zsofia Heiser are with Barnabas Csoport, CRM’s ministry in Hungary, and are moving toward the role of leading that team.

This comes after a church planting experience over the past decade where God used them to birth and give leadership to a healthy group of believers in Zalaegerszeg in the southern part of the country.

While a highly respected pastor and leader in his community, denomination and throughout the country, Tamas is making the move to Barnabas Csoport because he sees the acute need for leadership in the church that is and the church that needs to be in Hungary and beyond. His situation is also another vivid example of an apostolic leader that needs an apostolic structure to accomplish all that God intends for his life. Tamas’ sense of vision and calling has moved beyond the boundaries of one local context. A gifted musician, teacher and great mom, Zsofia plays an integral role in all that has transpired and how God will use them in the future. She fully shares this step into the turbulent world of the missionary.

While Tamas may not be as “frustrated” in the same sense as Eric (February 7, 2006 post in Apostolic Ecclesiology), he’s cut out of the same cloth. He, Zsofia, and their three children are in the process of selling their home and moving to Budapest. They are taking some bold, sacrificial steps to follow God’s leading in their lives, steps that God will bless and through which the Church and God’s kingdom purposes will be enriched throughout this region of the world.


Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

 Poster 300Movieposter

Saw the movie 300 recently …dark, bloody and violent as well as historically inaccurate.

But there was one leadership lesson that it vividly illustrates: Victory is never won by the multitudes. It is only ensured by the few.

As Robert Coleman so aptly writes when applying this principle to the realm of the spiritual:

“The principle of selectivity and concentration is engraved in the universe, and will bring results no matter who practices it, whether the church believes it or not …. A few people so dedicated in time will shake the world for God. Victory is never won by the multitudes.”