Friday, October 5, 2012

Old vs New Leadership: A Study in Contrast

Someone wisely pointed out that our organizations are perfectly designed for the results that we are currently seeing. More of the same will only produce more of the same.

Today there is something new happening. With the advance of technology making the world flatter and mass communication easier we are rediscovering movements. Bestselling authors are pointing us to a more movemental paradigm of how to lead. The Tipping Point (Gladwell), The Starfish and the Spider (Brafman/Beckstrom) and Tribes (Godin) point us toward a new way of leading as well as organizational principles that defy the status quo and break open new ways that are actually quite ancient. Jesus and Paul both catalyzed this sort of movemental influence in the first century. My own books Organic Church (Jesus) and Journeys (Paul) describe how these masterful leaders ignited movements. I address many the specifics of movements by answering the most common questions I get asked in my book Church 3.0

In our new book Church Transfusion, Phil Helfer and I go to great lengths to adjust the leadership paradigm in order to release healthy movemental influence within an established church context. 

A few things are obvious. You cannot lead the way you have always done so in the past and expect different results. What brought success in the old form of influence will actually bring failure in the new. Drawing a crowd and dispersing a people movement are exactly the opposite sort of task. You can suck water in a straw or you can blow air out, but you can't do both at the same time. You cannot continue pursuing what once made you a success in the old way of influence and expect to be successful in the new.

The way you attract people, train them and organize them all must change. The old standard of what is success must be replaced.

In this spirit I have compiled a chart contrasting the old and the new ways of influence:


Don said...

An insightful post. Social media is transforming every aspect of our lives, even that which is "offline". As you pointed out, it really isn't anything new, but a return to the old with a technology twist.

If you are not already, I recommend following Tim O'Reilly, a tech expert that has his finger on the pulse of the change wrought by social media. Twitter: @timoreilly Blog:

No, I'm not a paid endorser, just thought it might be useful to you. :-)

Anonymous said...


I am new to your site, and love your insights on organic church. I was referred to you by Frank Viola regarding organic body life now that he is in a new phase in his ministry. I just came across this post, and wanted to share something that the Lord has shown me regarding the idea of influence in the body of Christ.

There are three basic forms of motivation in everything we do. The first is our own natural desires for self preservation. The second is influence, and is the primary motivation in our lives and among our earthly kingdoms. The strongest and the most intelligent rise to the top, and exert their influence to accomplish their objectives, agendas, and desires on the masses.
This can be best characterized by a a single word. Monopoly, which means one in control of many.

We have all been taught that we need to influence people for Christ and His kingdom, but is this really the form of motivation we should be using? This is the way of the world, but I don't believe this is the type of motivation that Jesus used or taught, or the way the kingdom of God operates.

The word influence means to cause something to move by an external force or pressure. It can be by way of overt, physical means, or it can be through more covert, manipulative means, like a heaping healthy dose of a guilt on someone. However, influence as motivation doesn't have the ability to permanently "change" anyone since the motivation is coming from an external force. It only has the ability to get them to move as long as fear of that force is in place. Remove the pressure or the fear of it, and they will return to their old ways. This influence can be used in a negative way or even in a positive way through hype or emotionalism. Since the Lord has shown me this, I have been increasingly aware of how much we as Christians use influence to try to motivate people to accomplish our desired outcome. But our Lord never uses influence or pressure to motivate us to come to Him. He uses the third form of motivation called inspiration. The root of the word inspiration in the Greek is spiro which means breath and also means spirit. In Hebrew the word is Nephesh. This word is used in Genesis 2, when God created Adam. He exhaled into Adam's nostrils and as Adam inhaled, God literally "inspired" him to life. Within that spirit is the seed of truth. This seed, Jesus talks about in the parable of the sower. When we hear the truth and accept it, it resonates within our spirit (it germinates) and new life or growth begins. Inspiriation is the only form of motivation that can cause true and lasting change, because it comes from deep within at a spiritual level.

So what inspires us? Think about every book, movie, song, or story that inspires mankind, and you will find the resounding theme of sacrificial love at the center. Why? Because despite the fact that is contrary to everything our natural man desires, which is to put self first, it has been written on our hearts from the foundation of the world for the sole purpose of pointing us to His Son. So in essence, every act of sacrificial love that we see in life is a mini portrayal of Jesus' love for us as He breaths spiritual life into us, and draws us to Himself.
So the question is not, how do we influence others? Rather, how do we inspire them? You can motivate them through eloquent words or powerful speech, which will influence them temporarily, and make them dependent on you for more. Or you can motivate them with sacrificial love, so they see Jesus, and let Him insprire them for life.

Thank you for your ministry!

God bless you,