Leadership in the Church (2 of 3)
Mark Yarbrough:Welcome to DTS Dialogue - Issues of God in Culture. I'm your host, Mark Yarbrough, Executive Director of Communications at Dallas Theological Seminary, and today our discussion topic is "Leadership in the Church".
Let me piggyback on that, because, Aubrey, you're talking about dealing with the emotional side. You actually reference the spiritual formation process, if you will -- that's not the best term to use, but Andy, could you talk about that just for a minute? Because it really relates to what you're talking about.
That's one of the ways that we're trying to address that here at the seminary with our students. But there is such a need for it to go beyond just here. And we're working with churches now, and you both, in organizations that you relate with, are doing that on a regular basis, and in seeing that dynamic of spiritual formation as it is helping to identify these emotional issues that will help prepare someone to be a better leader.
You want to talk about that as it relates to spiritual formation?
Dr. Andy Seidel:Spiritual formation, people talk about it from a lot of perspectives. Sometimes they talk about it just in terms of spiritual disciplines or somehow spiritual growth. We've really taken a little bit different tack on that.
While we include those things, our view is that spiritual formation really has to do with understanding yourself and relationship to God and allowing God to work in your life. And inviting Him to do that and really working through that process.
We talk about a number of critical things in spiritual formation, first of which is identity, and that's why we think it's so critical as a foundation for leadership that our identity is grounded in our relationship with Christ, our acceptance by Christ, our gifting by Christ, all of those things that God has done for us. And providing us with that one relationship in which we can be absolutely secure, so that we don't have to try to establish identity for ourselves.
We can serve others by the way that we lead.
And we talk about integrity, because integrity is a critical thing, and by integrity we're talking about more than just being honest on the outside, we're talking about being honest on the inside. And understanding what's going on, it's related in some way to what Aubrey was talking about in terms of understanding what's going on in your own life, emotions being a part of that.
But understanding your own weaknesses. One of the things that we do in that semester is students write a Screwtape letter about themselves. "How would I be best tempted?" And it's really a process of understanding what's going on inside, you know, where our weaknesses are.
And so we talk about those things. We also talk about communication. We talk, later on, about ministry. We talk about community, a major issue, because we really believe that life change happens in the context of community.
Not by yourself, but in the context of a community of people that can speak into your life, people that know you, that you allow to know you, and God uses those things to develop us spiritually.
Mark: That's great. Thanks for covering that.
Andy: You bet.
Dr. Aubrey Malphurs:I can imagine that some in the listening audience are sitting and thinking, saying, "This is fine for seminary students, this is really going to make a difference in pastors in the future, but how can we take advantage of this..."
Andy: "What can we do now?"
Aubrey:..."In our church -- and I'm not going to be a pastor, I don't plan to be a pastor, I plan to be more of a..." I hate this term, "'lay leader', but I plan to be a leader in the church." But I don't see any reason why the typical person in the church, typical believer, could not become involved in this.
I'm not trying to do a sales job on anyone here, but isn't some of this information available to the public? Can they not get a hold of it?
Andy:Yes. Actually, the curriculum has been reworked for use in the local church, and so they can get a hold of it through the Center for Christian Leadership at the web address...
Mark: You can go to the main website...
Andy: Main website of Dallas Seminary...
Mark: dts.edu. And you can go to the Center for Christian Leadership.
Aubrey:And you could take this in a church, especially if you have a small group approach to ministry, and that would be very powerful material for a small group to work through together.
So if any out in the listening audience are saying, "How can we get a hold of this?" or "How can we do this?" there's the answer. This material is available, and I'm sure there are other materials out on the market as well.
So they can avail themselves to it.
Mark: That is great.
Well, let's take the flip side of this. We've asked questions of qualities of effective leaders. What are some of the pitfalls and dangers of many church leaders today?
Again, Aubrey, let me start with you. In terms of churches that you go into on a regular basis for consultation, what are some of the patterns that you see of these pitfalls that you see that folks, leaders, churches, even organizations are stumbling into on a regular basis?
Aubrey:Well, on the part of the pastor, let me address that, because I have a group called the Malphurs Group, and I did a lot of consulting with churches all the time. And one of the things I'm observing in the pastors is a lack of adequate preparation.
Now seminaries exist to help pastors prepare, and we can only do so much. But I'm seeing guys out in ministry that are just at a loss as to what to do. And many of them feel like their sole purpose, and the expectations of them, is to preach and teach the Bible.
And gosh, certainly we're to do that! What else would we teach and preach but the Bible?
But a sort of limited to that, and I think it gets back to having a bigger picture of the leader, we see the leader in terms strictly of teaching and preaching the Bible.
And again, as important as that is, I think that we need to help people like this, and laypeople as well, understand that there are other aspects, important aspects, to leadership.
And so I think we could do a better job there in terms of preparing them from other perspectives such as the vision casting, understanding the importance of a mission, understanding that every church has core values and that if you get at those core values, they tell you everything about the church and those kinds of issues. And I'm finding that pastors are not schooled well there.
In terms of church strategies and how they do what they do. How they can get into the community and begin to win people and reach out into the communities, these are all things that I'm seeing that are missing in the preparation of men. Now some get it intuitively, and others don't have a clue.
Mark:Right. That's interesting. It makes you think through, because when you talk about -- if we're just focusing in on pastor, on the role of a pastor -- you do think of, "What's the primary role?" It's to preach and teach.
And what you're saying is that you see a lot of guys that are out there in the field -- they're fine with that, they can craft the sermon, exposition, research, package it together, it's fine-tuned in terms of homily, right?
But there are all of these other demands on their life in today's church that relate to these -- leading a group of people beyond just the preaching and teaching of the Word.
That's what you're saying; you've got these things that are beyond that, that they are feeling they're not prepared in those areas.
Aubrey:Well, what I'm hearing from a lot of pastors out there who have been to seminary, for example, especially in the twentieth century, and the sixties, seventies, and eighties, is that we were taught that all we need to do is preach and teach the Bible and everything would take care of itself. And a lot of them are angry about that. They're saying that that's not really true.
Yes, we want to preach and teach the Bible. We want to do a good job of that, but there is more to it than that. And I was told that was it, therefore I don't feel adequately prepared.
Now fortunately a lot of these men can go back and there's training available. From a seminary level, there's the Doctor of Ministry Program, but there are churches that have pastor conference. And there's a lot of material out there being written, in terms of books, articles, and that type of thing. And so a lot of the guys are going to those for help.
And, then, the Center for Christian Leadership puts on seminars periodically. Pastors come in and they're trained there as well.
I'm putting in another plug for the Center for Christian Leadership.
Andy: I know. I appreciate that!
Aubrey: Andy sitting here, soaking all this up, saying "Keep up! Keep on!"
Mark:Just briefly, let's just talk to the pastors that are out there, listening to this, going "Yeah; hey; that's actually my situation right now. I can preach it; that's what I've been trained in. But all of these other areas..."
What word of encouragement would you give to those guys right now?
Aubrey:Well, mine is very selfish, and that is, buy my books. I write a lot in this area. Andy has written in this area, and I've written in this area. And I have a trilogy on leadership that I've done. One is Being Leaders, in which I try to get at "What is a leader?", trying to define a leader, because everybody is using the term "leaders", and that's a popular term today and everybody wants to be called a leader, and my question there is "What is a leader? What are we talking about?"
We say, in our church, that we want to develop leaders; well, what does that mean? What does one look like? How do we know whether we've developed a leader?
And, then, I wrote another book on Building Leaders. In which we get at how do we do this, especially in a local church? Then I did a third book, of that trilogy, which is called Leading Leaders, in which I focus specifically on board leadership.
And, interestingly enough, the last book is the best-seller for me. When I wrote that book, I was thinking that maybe we could help some people out there, but I didn't think that it would be a big seller. And it has been selling quite well.
Andy:It's a great book, because it's touching a particular need now. As churches grow, the way in which they are governed needs to be restructured.
Mark: Let's go to your website, because somebody's out there writing notes right now, going "Where can I get these resources?"
Aubrey:Well, you could go to Amazon, obviously. You just need to remember the name. The publisher is Baker Book House. And they could go online, and they could tap into Baker, and they could get these books from Baker.
Mark: Now, they can also go to your website. Correct?
Aubrey:Yes; but we don't sell books. That's just too much; that would be overwhelming. And then there's the local Christian bookstore, Lifeway, some of these organizations either they have them or they can order them for you.
Mark:So, in other words let me put a larger topic on that, because, in one sense, all of this is talking about continuing education in many ways. Today's pastors out there and they're finding themselves in the situation that we're describing right now there are great resources that are out there to help them in these areas.
Aubrey:So they don't need to be angry, because some of the guys I come across are angry, quite frankly. They're angry at their seminaries; and I'm saying "Don't be angry. There's material out there."
Andy:Well, yes, I think things have changed. To the pastors out there, I think pastors have one of the most difficult jobs that exist. And things have changed over the course of these years. I think, probably, back in the '60s and '70s, you could build a big church just on preaching. I don't think you can do that now, because the demands have changed and people expect more.
The more technologically has advanced, the more people expect. And it generally takes a larger church to do the kind of excellence in production that people are looking for, because that's what they're used to. And so it's a much more difficult thing to lead a church today as a pastor. And leadership, beyond just preaching, is much more of a requirement today for pastors.
Aubrey:I agree exactly with Andy. I don't think he could have articulated it any better. Peter Drucker says there are three organizations that are most difficult, in his opinion. And of course, when Peter Drucker speaks, many of us listen. He said one is being the administrator of a large hospital, another is being the president of a large university, and the third is being the pastor of a large church or the pastor of a church.
I think that's interesting, that a man of the stature of a Peter Drucker, who knows so much about leadership and is respected by everybody out there, not necessarily Christians, but non-Christian types, would say that about the church. So a man with that expertise recognizes the difficulty of leading a church today, which says that our pastors out there have to be continually educated. And those who aren't are slipping behind.
Mark:Wow, that's interesting.
Let me go back to this question of pitfalls and dangers; and then I want to move away from pastors as leaders, because, we all know, it's not just there, leadership must permeate the local church.
But are there any more pitfalls that you see? In one sense, if I can summarize that little topic that we just had, it was the need for continual preparation, additional training, to be up to speed, to be prepared for what we need to do in the church. We focused that in on pastors. But what other pitfalls do you see, in terms of church leaders, that they face today?
Andy:Well, I think one of the largest is the whole idea of change. Change is forced on churches and on their leadership, just by the changes in the society around us, by the growth of the church, particular local church, as it grows, it has to change. And, so, the whole issue of change is a major one.
If change isn't handled well, it becomes a huge pitfall, because any kind of change takes people out of their comfort zone and there's going to be some reaction. Even if it's a good change, the pastor thinks it's a minor change -- we're going to change the time of the service by 15 minutes -- somebody is going to be upset by that, just because we all have difficulty making change, because we get comfortable where we are. And so that's one of the major things that pastors have to deal with.
Mark:Don't you think that's a struggle? When we talk about change that just gets every one of us, every human being that hears that word just kind of goes "Oh." And, when you think about change and church, sometimes growth forces change. And it's not within your control. That's actually one of the great struggles, isn't it, with change? Is that it's something that's almost forced upon you. But, when you grow, it demands that you adapt to that growth.
Aubrey:Isn't that what the heart of Christianity is all about? You can use the "change" word, but the biblical term, rather than "change" is "transformation". But isn't that at the heart of Christianity? I try to point these out when I work with these people in the churches. And I say to them "I know it's difficult; it's hard for you. But keep in mind that this is at the heart of the gospel, and that it's all about that I be more Christlike this year than I was last year and that my goal is to be even more so next year."
And, then, we look at what we're doing and how we're doing it, and we have to ask the question "What changes do we need to make so that this happens?"
Mark:That is great because, if you can take it back to that, then about any external changes, you can say "Why should we be surprised?" Because, if God wants us to be changing constantly in our inner life and our relationship to Him, it should flow out in a congregational if we're all changing inwardly, there should be a constant change with us, outwardly and collectively, as a local body of believers.
Aubrey:I like to use an analysis with muscle memory. My wife works out at the Landry Center, which is here in Dallas; and she has a trainer. Every time she works out, he gives her a different routine. And she always feels it, because she's sore a little bit later on. But what they have discovered is that muscles, if you keep exercising them in the same way, they stop responding after a while; and their term for that is muscle memory'.
I got to thinking about that in terms of Christianity. If we keep doing the same things over and over in our church, for example, maybe the hot issue, of course, would be the area of worship, but there are other ministries as well, then perhaps we grow maybe hardened or callused to spiritual things. So, by changing these things and maybe doing them a little bit differently maybe that's a way to revive us and help us in the transformation process.
Just a thought that we had a while back, rather than look at these things as changing the way we've always done things around here, maybe this would be good spiritually to get me out of the rut and to get me going, by changing and doing something a little bit differently.
Announcer: This concludes part two of three. For more information about Dallas Theological Seminary, please visit our website at www.dts.edu.