Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Leaders of the Future :: More than Moral

There are a number of questions and/or challenges facing Christian leaders today, but one central to Nouwen’s writings is the tension between being able to “respond creatively to the burning issues” of our time AND at the same time, being leaders consumed by and “dwell in God’s presence,” listening to His voice.

It seems that many migrate to one or the other, yet both are insufficient to the needs of our day. The Church needs to be able to extend and provide practical solutions to real problems. Yet, at the same time, the Church desperately needs to embody the Presence of God in their communities.

It seems to be a present challenge for the “experiencing God churches” to communicate in such a way that the message is understood by those seeking truth. On the other hand, other churches speak in a language and dialect that’s understandable, even practical, yet they often dance around the reality of the Spirit within, speaking, directing and leading. People, I believe, are thirsty for both and true life-change ministry will only occur when both are present in tandem.

Henri Nouwen in his book In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership, offers some thoughts along these lines, that are as penetrating today as they were two-decades ago:

“It is not enough for priests ad ministers of the future to be moral people, well trained, eager to help their fellow humans, and able to respond creatively to the burning issues of their time. All of that is very valuable and important, but it is not the heart of Christian leadership. The central question is, are the leaders of the future truly men and women of God, people with an ardent desire to dwell in God’s presence, to listen to God’s voice, to look at God’s beauty, to touch God incarnate word, and to fast fully God’s infinite goodness…
Christian leaders cannot simply be persons who have well-informed opinions about the burning issues of our time. Their leadership must be rooted in the permanent, intimate relationship with the incarnate Word, Jesus, and they need to find there the source for their words, advice, and guidance. Through the disciple of contemplative prayer, Christian leaders have to learn to listen again and again to the voice of love and to find there the wisdom and courage to address whatever issue presents itself to them. Dealing with the burning issues without being rooted in a deep personal relationship with God easily leads to divisiveness because, before we know it, our sense of self is caught up in our opinion about a given subject. But when we are securely rooted in personal intimacy with the source of life, it will be possible to remain flexible without being relativistic, convinced without being rigid, willing to confront without being offensive, gentle and forgiving without being soft, and true witnesses without being manipulative.”

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What is the Role of Women in Ministry and Leadership?

Back in the spring, we presented a teaching on the role of women in ministry. In some circles of Christianity this in a none-issue, in others, this has been a controversial topic for many years. Central to the subject, is what is the "role" of women within the church, particularly in the context of leadership.

Does Scripture permit them to teach in venues other than Sunday School?

Does Scripture prohibit more?

The teaching endeavors to look through Scripture for some clear answers to these questions, as well as exactly we read and interpret Scripture to find such answers this question and others like it.

Several have asked for a downloadable version of that teaching. Though the quality isn't the greatest, the following is a link to download both the audio and notes of the teaching.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Learning to Hear God with Your Hands

One afternoon, a number of years ago, while walking across a college campus, I prayed,

"God, I want to hear your voice." It seemed like a simple enough prayer to pray and as far as I knew, I was sincere in my asking.

However, the response I immediately heard back from God surprised me. No sooner had I prayed these words, than I heard the phrase,

"No you don't..."

"Yes, I really do." I responded.

"No, you don't..." God replied once more.

At this point, I thought it wise to stop arguing with God and begin inquiring what He meant by this.

I sensed the following dialogue begin to transpire.

"When the students on this campus go to class, what do they do?"

This was simple, I thought, "Take notes."


"Well, for starters, they're going to be tested on what is being presented by the instructor. Secondly, assuming that they are taking the class for some intrinsic reason greater than academic calisthenics of working their way through the hoops of academia, I imagine they are interested in the subjects at hand and esteem the instructor to be an expert in their field, thus what they have to say is of great value to them and their future."

To which God simply responded, "If students value what these professors say with such note taking diligence, how much more esteemed should My words of instruction be...?"

Out of this conversation, I sensed God saying to me, that He would begin to teach me to hear His voice. It would be with my hands writing, that I would begin to discern His voice more clearly. If I truly treasured what He had to say, I would be diligent in writing it down.

That day, I went out and purchased a journal and began the journey of praying, dialoguing and processing what God was saying and doing in my life. It has been a remarkable journey...

This is what God said to Habakkuk,

"I will stand at my watchand station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.

Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tabletsso that a herald may run with it."
(Habbakuk 2:1-2)