Friday, November 23, 2012

An Organizational Leader Wrestles with the New Movemental Leadership Role

The following email was sent out from David Wittenberg who leads the Innovation Workgroup, a consulting firm. As you can imagine my view of leadership and his have different viewpoints and it is quite refreshing to see him wrestle with movemental leadership ideas in an honest and transparent manner. Thought you all might find this helpful...

Here's a link to a short article by Neil Cole. As you know, I'm a big fan of Neil's. He promotes disciple-making and church multiplication more than convert-making and congregation growth.

In this piece, he contrasts movement-based leadership -- a growing trend in the church -- with organization-based leadership -- the current model in most churches. As a business person and a self-styled visionary leader, I felt like arguing with Neil on a few of his recommendations. He wants leaders to empower their followers to develop many, individual visions, whereas I prefer leaders to develop and promote a single vision for an organization. He wants to move away from strategic (controlling) leadership whose goal is to direct the organization toward a predetermined outcome, and replace it with process (order-imposing) leadership that leaves the outcome undefined. I prefer the strategic view for both business and personal reasons (according to the MBTI system, I'm type ENTJ, the "field marshal").

As I reflected on my objections, I was reminded of our model leader. Jesus started a movement, not an organization. While he set an overarching objective for the church -- to make disciples -- he did not communicate a unique vision of church life, nor did he impose on us a list of objectives for the various jobs and functions inside the church. Rather, he left each of us to seek and find our own vision with regard to our place in the body and our ministry. Instead of a church-building strategy with well-defined benchmarks or outcomes, Jesus focused more on the people and the process. Upon reflection, I had to accept, grudgingly, that Neil was on to something with his recommendations.

I'm sure that God has a role in his church for visionaries and strategists like me. I'm sure that he loves to use large congregations and controlling managers, as well. Neil Cole, in this piece, mentions that his new book on Church Transfusion is meant to add movement-style leadership within the context of the current structure, not to replace the current structure. This comment makes his views a bit easier for me to accept and appreciate.

I hope that you will take a couple of minutes to review the article and that it will be useful to you. As always, your comments are most welcome.

Here's the URL:

Love and blessings,

David Wittenberg
The Innovation Workgroup

Below I am including the graphic from the article mentioned that contrasts the old command and control view of leadership with the new movmental...


Don said...

One thing for church leaders to keep in mind is that the shift is happening regardless of whether you move with it or not.

I lead a community group (also known as small groups in some churches). The group is dedicated to equipping singles to serve more effectively, taking advantage of their singlehood in ways that married couples cannot. As the group grows, I'm noticing a trend. Some of the members are more willing to miss church than skip a group meeting. The reasons are not because they were too lazy on a Sunday morning, or because they're slacking off spiritually in their walk. The reasons vary, but I hear things like, "I was listening to a great sermon that I really needed" or "I found an opportunity to serve".

As a side note, there was a time when a believer's sole source of scriptural and spiritual knowledge was the preacher and the church at large. Now, believers are equipped from a wide variety of resources. The danger, of course, is lack of discernment. However, in many churches, I see leaders, instead of engaging in the dialogue, simply dismissing this new medium with a wave of the hand. In an on-demand culture for information and knowledge, the congregation will get it from somewhere. Leaders need to recognize that this new trend is not going away. Engagement can be intimidating and scary, but is well-worth the effort, producing a more rugged congregation into the new century.

Katrina, Sunday School Blogger said...

I'm a big fan of reading everything and anything leadership-based that I can get my hands on. So after reading this blog post, I can't wait to sit down later today and read Neil Cole's article. On a first glance, it looks like it has some fascinating information to share—information that I could get quite a bit out of. Thanks for sharing this!

GrayDawn said...

Forgive my off topic comment. I have been trying to find a method to ask a question ... without much success.

I recently read "Ordinary Hero" and, although not in an LTG, am trying to implement what I can. I have a question about handling the scripture reading. How do you handle the really short books ... like 3 John?

Bethany said...

Hello, I work at Life Baptist church out in Las Vegas, NV and my pastor just finished writing a book and wanted to send you (Neil Cole) a free copy. If possible, would you be able to email me an address or P.O. box that I could send it to? I looked online for a church address or something of the sort but found nothing. Thank you for your time. (