Archive for the 'Selection' Category

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!

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.”

Who to Choose?

Thursday, March 1st, 2007

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“Effective leaders view leadership selection and development as a priority function.” – J. Robert Clinton

I was asked recently by a person with whom I enjoy a mentoring relationship why I spent time with another person in such a relationship. In other words; “What did I see in that other person? Why would I invest in that relationship?”

Afterwards, I sat down and tried to capture in writing my answer to that question more thoroughly than I have in the past. It’s an answer honed by my experience and by my own personal sense of calling from God.

So at the risk of being labeled “elitist” and perhaps being too transparent about my own philosophy of ministry, here’s the list of what I look for in people with whom I will go deep in relationships and/or mentor:

Spiritually Alive: They are enamored with Jesus and willing to follow him no matter what. They evidence a palatable spiritual hunger and thirst for the Spirit of God to flow through their lives. They are consumed by love for Christ and what it means to be his Kingdom followers in all areas of life.

Teachable: They are responsive and teachable. They display good followership which I believe to be an unconditional prerequisite for good leadership. They don’t have all the answers and are not contentious or argumentative. They are not in theological cement.

Passionate: I am not interested in motivating the unmotivated. I can help steer a moving horse but I’m not going to invest the limited time I have left in life trying to get an obstinate horse off its rump. I want to see passion for much of the same values and vision for which God has captured my own life.

Character: I am drawn to people of unquestioned character. When push comes to shove, they will default to doing the right thing.

Apostolic Gifting: There are indications that they are apostolically gifted. There is a holy discontent with the way things are and they want to be agents of change. They are flexible, adaptable, and mobile. They are catalytic and evidence an entrepreneurial drive by wanting to create and start new things. They want to pioneer and to create.

Servants: I’m not interested in investing my life in self-absorbed people who struggle to get beyond themselves. I’m looking for individuals who are “other oriented” and willing to sacrifice for the needs of those around them.

Thoughtful: I work best with those who can be intellectually engaged and stimulated. There is great curiosity and they can think for themselves. I resonate with people who are comfortable in the world of ideas yet who also are compelled to see those ideas worked out in real life so change is the result. I am not drawn to theory for theory’s sake.

Culturally Savvy: I gravitate toward those who can read a culture and know how to adapt, whether it’s their own culture or one into which they parachute. There is a winsomeness about them. They are contagious. They attract others because of the depth of their character, their spirituality, and their love of people.

Leadership Gifting: They have clear leadership giftedness. I look for those who will have a reproductive influence in the lives of others.

Sense of Calling: I desire to invest in people who, because of the way God has gifted them, have a sense of calling to vocational ministry. This is not to say that I do not value other callings, only that I believe that God has asked me to focus with the limited resources and energy that I posses on people who are headed in that direction. This is not elitist. I am certainly willing to help scores of people figure this out, but that smaller circle that gets my time and attention are those where this question has some sense of finality.

Chemistry: I want to relate to those individuals with whom I have a personal sense of chemistry. They like me and I like them. We want to hang out together. We enjoy each other’s company. There is a genuine and growing sense of love and appreciation.

The Hand of God: Ultimately, I am looking for people on whom the hand of God rests. It’s that unquantifiable quality of God’s anointing where the holy has indiscriminately blown on a life and the result is a sense of supernatural unction. It is the reason Jesus appears to have agonized over the calling of the 12 in the gospels. Even for him, the master selector, it was a divine process where the Father made the choices in the final analysis.


Thursday, October 5th, 2006

 D Inventors 1 0 E L Edisonpattern
Edison’s Muckers crica 1876

“In selecting what he called his ‘Muckers’, he [Thomas Edison] prized curiosity, reasoning, resilience and versatility over specialization …He was a magnet for talent from all over the world. Over time, a team of virtuosos emerged that he entrusted to deliver on his dreams and generously rewarded in return.”

“Edison was one of the boys yet still the authoritative leader. If expectations on his team were at times impossibly high, the atmosphere was informal and freewheeling. The ‘Muckers’ did not work to any rules,’ said Edison, ‘because they were trying to achieve something.’ Announcing momentous success before the solution was even in his view. He stretched his Muckers, creating an astounding esprit de corps in the process.”

God, give me a life surrounded by a growing number of “muckers!”

(Quotes are from Bill Fischer, professor of technology management at IMD, and Andy Boynton, dean of the Carroll School of Management at Boston College).

Edison the Innovator

Wednesday, October 4th, 2006

 People Images Edison
I’m on a flight to Eastern Europe and browsing through a British magazine with a synopsis of a study on Thomas Edison, the famous American inventor. Several lines have caught my attention:

“Central to Edison’s success was his ‘invention factory’, bringing together great people, constant prototyping and a culture of innovation and enterprise … He believed that, while ‘books show the theory of things, doing a thing itself is what counts.’ He saw failure as part of the inventive process.”

I continue to be amazed at how movements can ossify and institutionalize. Organizational gravity inevitably pulls toward institutionalization. The justifications used by the bean counters, policy makers, and those who must have rules and regulation are legion: “accountability…stewardship…excellence”...can all be admirable labels for clubs that are used to beat innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit out of an organizational culture.

In my experience the only way to keep an edge and a step ahead of the maintainers is to recruit and empower a steady stream of what Edison called “muckers.” They are the trailblazers who simply need running room and someone to believe in them. That’s why recruiting such men and women in the emerging generation is one of my top priorities. I believe nothing has the capacity to bring about as much lasting, transformational change as this. It’s part of my own personal mission statement. Part of that to which God has called me is:

To challenge, recruit, sponsor and empower growing numbers of godly, high potential leaders into apostolic ministry and

To pioneer, nurture and grow apostolic structures which will multiply leadership for the Church in every nation.

The Doctrine of Selectivity – Part 2

Sunday, September 17th, 2006

How does one choose whom to invest in when it comes to leadership development and training? In my experience, an array of factors influence such selection including:

Faithfulness – I’m not interested in people who are flakes.
Availability – I cannot pursue someone who doesn’t want to be pursued. I’m looking for eager people.
Teachability – It is not my desire to cram a blessing down anyone’s throat.
Giftedness – I cannot make someone into something where God has not provided the raw material.
Chemistry – If I’m going deep with a person, I need to like them and want to spend time with them.
Character – A core commitment to personal integrity is an essential.
Passion – I’m looking for people who burn with zeal for the things of God.

In the final analysis, the choice is not mine. Before he chose the 12, we find Jesus spending a whole night in prayer with the Father. This illustrates not only the critical nature of such decisions, but the ultimate sovereignty of God in dictating the choices.

The Doctrine of Selectivity – Part 1

Friday, September 15th, 2006

Calling Of Matthew
Some of my greatest mistakes in ministry have been when I have failed, for one reason or another, to embrace this principle of leadership selection.

“This 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. Some might object to this principle when practiced …on the ground that favoritism is shown toward a select group in the church. But be that as it may, it is still the way that Jesus concentrated His life, and it is necessary if any permanent leadership is to be trained.”

– Robert Coleman in The Master Plan of Evangelism, Chapter 1

In cultures such as mine where egalitarianism strongly influences our understanding of fairness, notions of selectivity run against the grain. If “all men (and women) are created equal,” how can we choose, as Jesus so clearly did, without it appearing discriminatory and prejudicial?

The facts are that sanctified selectivity:

1. Enables one to physically manage relationships and not be spread too thin,
2. Makes it possible to go deep with a few so that the life-change is profound,
3. Is an acknowledgment that not everyone has the gifts and calling to be the object of such intense leadership development,
4. Recognizes that God is at work at different paces and stages with each individual,
5. Is always a means to a much greater end,
6. Is an essential for the sustainability of any movement.

– (Painting is “The Calling of Matthew” by Hendrick Terbrugghen (1588-1629) of the Dutch Utrecht school).

Emerging Church and Mission

Sunday, September 3rd, 2006


What I wrote in yesterday’s post (9- 2-06) is mostly aimed at the church in its traditional, modern setting.

But what about the “emerging” church? How can those within these creative, emerging expressions of the church who have a passion for the world beyond their own communities be effectively stifled? What could be done to straight jacket what God wants to do with them?

1. Believe that the necessity for such workers and such ministry is passe’, doesn’t exit, or is “too modern for us.”
2. Be so enamored with social justice and a holistic gospel that we fail to embrace the clear commands of scripture regarding the evangelistic mandate or reject such categorization out of hand.
3. Have a lack of appreciation and understanding of the doctrine of spiritual gifts and be unable or unwilling to help identify those emerging leaders who may be gifted and called to ministry across social, linguistic or cultural barriers.
4. Convince them that just because they are enjoying life as a missional community in one cultural milieu, they can then duplicate the same forms of community in another.
5. Help them buy into the theological and historically naive concept that structurally the church in its local expression is the same as the church in its cross-cultural missionary form.
6. Encourage them to bury their heads in the sand and ignore the past 500 years of missionary activity and missiological understanding. Write it all off as modern, institutional or non-organic.
7. While astutely helping them apply missiological eyes to their own mono-cultural settings much better than their modern brethren, simultaneously fail in helping them to apply the same understanding to the international and cross-cultural dimensions of the missio dei.
8. Embrace a theological posture that says only “presence” is necessary for kingdom influence.
9. Consider hell a repulsive, outmoded concept for the postmodern mind and work to erase any motivation that could stem from the biblical reality that people without Jesus risk eternity separated from God.
10. Be like many of those committed to the radical discipleship movement or the Anabaptist tradition who have been so concerned for the purity of the church and living counter-culturally that they are rarely able to engage contemporary culture and instead, remain irrelevantly on the fringes.
11. Encourage them to read, think, write and blog about being missional but don’t empower them to do much in practice.
12. Write off mentors from the over 50 crowd as out of touch and irrelevant.
13. Inculcate such an anti-institutional bias and suspicion of authority that they become useless in a neo-monastic or sodalic ministry context which will require discipline, followership and sacrifice.

15 Ways to Handicap a Potential Missionary in Your Local Church

Saturday, September 2nd, 2006


1. Force them to go through a “missions preparation” program which effectively weeds out the entrepreneurs.
2. Don’t consult with anyone who has ever lived with cross-cultural realities when you design your requirements for those who will be sent.
3. Choose people to oversee your mission efforts who have no experience or understanding of cross-cultural realities.
4. Make missions a “program” instead of seeking to make your church missional.
5. Decide to support missionaries 100% of their budget. It creates marvelous dependency.
6. Have standards that Mother Teresa or the Apostle Paul incarnate couldn’t meet.
7. Require seminary.
8. Make sure they have taught 5th grade Sunday School class as a pre-requisite which demonstrates loyalty to the church.
9. Imbue an ecclesiology that believes the sending church is supreme and missionary entities are appendages.
10. Ignore the concept of leverage and only support “front line” workers.
11. Adopt a trendy and unsophisticated view of missions that only supports those going to unreached people groups.
12. Placate the control freaks and don’t let potential missionaries raise money from anyone in the church.
13. Limit whom they can minister with to your own denominational or creedal group. Perish the thought that they would be contaminated by touching those who may be their neighbors in heaven.
14. Encourage “storehouse giving” so that all their money must come through the church.
15. Convince your congregation that short-term, tantalizing overseas experiences are most effective so that there is little money, prayer or commitment left for the few willing to commit their lives to longer term, incarnational, sacrificial service

13 Ways to Squash a Leader

Monday, August 21st, 2006

Under The Thumb
Here is short list on how to frustrate, stifle and squash a leader, particularly those with any sense of apostolic gifting:

1. Force them to go to school
2. Give them too much money
3. Tell them all the reasons why something can’t be done.
4. Swamp them with paperwork and administration.
5. Give them people to lead who are excessively needy.
6. Limit their travel and keep them in mono-cultural contexts.
7. Consistently correct them when they are provocative or prophetic in their communication.
8. Make certain any initiative they take must go through multiple steps of approval.
9. Insert “conserve” and “maintain” into all their conversations.
10. Have someone who “gift projects” strong pastoral gifting supervise them.
11. Tell them to stay when they want to go.
12. Make certain they have plenty of rules and policies to live by.
13. Give them a precise, detailed, inflexible job description.

Any suggestions about what could be added to the list?

Recruiting with Power

Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

Elijah Prophets
J. Robert Clinton writes:

“It is important to note that Jesus demonstrated power ministry as part of his recruiting technique. You must be able to move with power as you challenge people.”

I believe the “power” that Clinton refers to has two aspects:

First, is gifted power. It may emanate from an exhortive or prophetic gift where one can speak with unusual force into a life. Or it may be a gift of knowledge where information is utilized that could only be available through supernatural means. This is what we see in the first chapter of John’s gospel in how Jesus interacts with Nathanael.

Gifted power may also be demonstrated through the types of signs and wonders missiologists refer to as “power encounters” where the power of God directly and overtly confronts the powers of evil. Elijah and the confrontation of the prophets of Baal in I Kings 18 is a example.

Secondly is spiritual authority. Clinton has written much about this. According to him, Effective leaders value spiritual authority as a primary power base…” and “Leaders who dominantly rely upon spiritual authority as the major power base will usually have good followership.” Simply put, spiritual authority results in a leader journeying deeply with God, being able to hear from God, and then acting accordingly.

As Dietrich Bonhoeffer puts it:

“Genuine authority realizes that it can exist only in the service of Him who alone has authority… The Church does not need brilliant personalities but faithful servants of Jesus and the brethren…”

Recruiting from the Fringes

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2006

J. Robert Clinton writes:

“Jesus recruited from the fringes, in terms of leaders who could be shaped, and not from the current religious leadership which had very fixed paradigms.”

This week I spent an evening at a large event that was realted to one of Southern California’s prominent mega-churches. Driving home in silence, I was sobered by the celebrity-satiated scene. Shallow …plastic …superficiality …all are words that seemed to describe the fare. Nothing really bold. Although his name was invoked, his attachment to this venue it was far from the Jesus I see in the context of 1st century Palestine.

That evening was a representation of a contemporary religious establishment in which there appears to be little spiritual authenticity, reality or power. The pool for potential leadership in such a context seems sorely lacking in genuine spiritual authority. It was sad. Very sad.

I have little hope that the leadership of the future will be able to percolate up through such a system. Consequently, we may need to look elsewhere for people who are dissatisfied with the establishment – “on the fringes.” Those are the men and women in whom we need to invest …those on the edge and those willing to go there! God has always used such individuals to shatter the status-quo and bring vitality and health to the Church in every generation.

“One of the most important lessons from history is that the renewal of church always comes from fringes, and we mean always.” – Hirsch and Frost in The Shaping of Things to Come, pg. 194.

Jesus and Leadership Intentionality

Monday, May 22nd, 2006

J. Robert Clinton writes:

“Recruitment refers to the deliberate effort to challenge potential leaders and to engage them in on-going ministry so that they will develop as leaders and move toward the accomplishment of God’s destiny for their lives.”

I see the intentionality Clinton describes as sadly lacking throughout the Christian movement of our day. It is one of the greatest shortcomings in the traditional, institutional church. Regardless of what continent we observe, the leadership gaps are daunting.

In the Western world, the problem persists in new expressions of the church as well. In my exposure with the “emerging church,” this seems particularly true as the movement reacts to the top-down, autocratic, hierarchical models of modernity. But I fear in this reaction, what is lost may be worse than the distortion which has rightly provoked the reaction.

There is no way, if we are faithful to the historical texts, that we can get around the intentionality of Jesus in the cultivation, selection, and development of those who followed him and who were to be the leaders of the movement he left behind. His strategy was elegant and highly intentional. it was not democratic. It was not consensual. It was not egalitarian.

While not mechanistic, Jesus was incredibly deliberate in this pursuit because he knew the future of what he had begun depended upon its outcome. And his “recruiting” to his Kingdom cause was a profoundly spiritual undertaking.

One of the more thorough studies of this theme, overlooked in our time, is Scottish theologian A. B. Bruce’s The Training of the Twelve. First published in 1871, its original extended title – in true 19th century form – was “Passages out of the Gospels Exhibiting the Twelve Disciples of Jesus Under Discipline for the Apostleship.” Nevertheless, for over a hundred years it has been considered one of the major Christian classics of the 19th century.

*Painting is by the Italian master Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1573-1610) depicting the resurrected Christ and Thomas the doubting disciple.

Jesus and the Recruitment of Leaders

Sunday, May 21st, 2006

Galileeseaof Edited
J. Robert Clinton, in his commentary on John’s Gospel, states three principals regarding how Jesus was intentional about selecting and recruiting potential leaders for his movement. Clinton writes:

1. Recruitment refers to the deliberate effort to challenge potential leaders and to engage them in on-going ministry so that they will develop as leaders and move toward the accomplishment of God’s destiny for their lives.

2. Jesus recruited from the fringes, in terms of leaders who could be shaped, and not from the current religious leadership which had very fixed paradigms.

3. it is important to note that Jesus demonstrated power ministry as part of his recruiting technique. You must be able to move with power as you challenge people.

*Painting is Jesus and Apostles on the Sea of Galilee by Eugene Delacroix, early 19th century.

Leadership Selection

Friday, May 12th, 2006

Baton Pass

“The skills involved in selecting and training church leaders on the
mission fields of the world are without question the most important skills that apostolically gifted missionaries can take to most fields today.” – C. Peter Wagner (commentary on Acts, p 326).

Wagner highlights a component of ministry that determines the survivability and health of the Christian movement, regardless of setting. While critical and essential, such a function is not flashy. It’s slow, behind the scenes, and often unnoticed. It’s not emotionally gripping and the type of activity at which people throw lots of money. It demands intentionality. It demands priority. Bobby Clinton articulates this as one of the major leadership lessons of the Bible:
“Effective leaders view leadership selection and development as a priority function.”

– J. Robert Clinton

I know of no better way to invest a life for God’s kingdom purposes than in pursuit of ministry that contributes to such strategic results. At its core, that is what CRM is all about. And personally, wherever Patty and I live, wherever we ministry, whatever team we are part of, whatever we do, this particularly ministry focus is what consumes us.

How Not to Grow People Who Can Lead …

Saturday, April 8th, 2006


“In my own denomination, theological education has become a part of a bureaucratic system that does not allow the emergence of indigenous leadership from the congregations. We deliberately break that pattern. You can’t be ordained in the congregation where you grew up, discovered your gifts, and move into ministry. This is one of the biggest difference compared to …churches which are seedbeds of leadership development.”

– Roberta Hestenes, former President, Eastern College.

The people who don’t fit in …

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006


The famous Scottish poet, Robert Service, penned a brief work that I believe unwittingly captures the emotional dynamic of apostolic gifting probably better then many of the theological tomes that I’ve come across. In the first two verses of, The Men Who Don’t Fit In he writes:

There’s a race of men that don’t fit in,
A race that can’t stay still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and they rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain’s crest;
Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,
And they don’t know how to rest.

If they just went straight they might go far;
They are strong and brave and true;
But they’re always tired of the things that are,
And they want the strange and new.
They say: “Could I find my proper groove,
What a deep mark I would make!
These are the ones who don’t fit in
For whom the world is too small of a place

The last two lines are my edit and addition. Regardless of the gender bias (which is understandable considering the age in which he lived), Service emotionally captures the essence of apostolic gifting …spiritual entrepreneurialship that involves action, crossing significant barriers in the going, and creating something new in a pioneering context.