Leadership in Today's Changing Church


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A presentation by The Rev'd Judy Paulsen about leadership in the context of a rapidly changing church.

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Leadership in Today's Changing Church

  1. 1. Leadership in Today’s Church Cultivating Fruitful Gardens in a Changing Climate
  2. 2. First, let’s talk about leadership <ul><li>distinct from management </li></ul><ul><li>asks different questions ….some examples from parish life </li></ul><ul><li>“ Most organizations and churches are over-managed and under-led.” ( Henry Klopp, in The Leadership Playbook) </li></ul>
  3. 3. A great leadership resource: Ronald Heifetz <ul><li>On the faculty of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Gov’t </li></ul><ul><li>Harvard course: “Exercising Leadership” </li></ul><ul><li>Two Key Books: “Leadership Without Easy Answers” & “Leadership On the Line” </li></ul>
  4. 4. According to Heifetz …. the role of leaders is changing <ul><li>Old role: the leader had the vision ……and the job of persuading people to get behind it! </li></ul><ul><li>New role: the leader helps people face reality and mobilizes them to make change </li></ul>
  5. 5. Leaders do provide direction <ul><li>less by offering definitive and specific answers </li></ul><ul><li>more by: </li></ul><ul><li>posing well-structured questions </li></ul><ul><li>reminding about, and modeling, core values and purpose </li></ul><ul><li>Helping differentiate technical problems from adaptive challenges </li></ul>
  6. 6. Technical problem or adaptive challenge? <ul><li>technical problem </li></ul><ul><li>The solution already lies within the organization’s repertoire </li></ul><ul><li>Requirement: Apply current know-how </li></ul><ul><li>Involves those in authority in the specific area </li></ul><ul><li>adaptive challenge </li></ul><ul><li>The solution lies in a change of the organization’s culture </li></ul><ul><li>Requirement: Learn new ways </li></ul><ul><li>Involves everyone in the organization </li></ul>
  7. 7. Where we are at today: <ul><li>facing key adaptive challenges </li></ul><ul><li>not simply technical problems </li></ul><ul><li>a clear vision is necessary </li></ul>
  8. 8. ‘ vision’ is sometimes thought of as ….. <ul><li>Something abstract </li></ul><ul><li>Something inspirational </li></ul>
  9. 9. “ vision” is actually…our capacity to see <ul><li>The quality of a vision depends on its accuracy </li></ul><ul><li>This requires us to ‘interrogate’ reality: </li></ul><ul><li>What is changing around us? </li></ul><ul><li>What is at our core? </li></ul><ul><li>Do we embody those values? </li></ul><ul><li>What are our skills and talents? </li></ul><ul><li>What opportunities does the future hold? </li></ul>
  10. 10. Hand in hand with facing reality comes facing conflict : <ul><li>The primary engine of creativity and innovation </li></ul><ul><li>We learn by encountering difference </li></ul><ul><li>We must have the stomach for conflict and uncertainty </li></ul><ul><li>We need to have an experimental mindset </li></ul>
  11. 11. Even when change is a must…not everything is subject to change <ul><li>What’s precious and what’s expendable? </li></ul><ul><li>What are our core values? </li></ul><ul><li>What makes us who we are? </li></ul>
  12. 12. Heifetz describes leaders: <ul><li>Leaders ‘get on the balcony’ to observe and interpret the big picture </li></ul><ul><li>Leaders listen </li></ul><ul><li>Leaders assemble confidantes and allies, and build consensus </li></ul><ul><li>Leaders inspire others by identifying where people find meaning </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>Leaders demonstrate courage and stamina: an ability both to generate heat and to take heat </li></ul><ul><li>Leaders demonstrate compassion and empathy </li></ul><ul><li>Leaders treat ‘ripe and ‘unripe’ issues differently </li></ul><ul><li>Leaders manage the timing of distress </li></ul><ul><li>Leaders seek opportunities for catharsis and spiritual renewal </li></ul>
  14. 14. Church Leadership Today <ul><li>What makes it so challenging? </li></ul><ul><li>What makes it so stressful? </li></ul>
  15. 15. Western culture is in the midst of tumultuous change <ul><li>It is increasingly: </li></ul><ul><li>Post-literate </li></ul><ul><li>Post-Christendom </li></ul><ul><li>Post-modern </li></ul><ul><li>Globalized </li></ul><ul><li>Highly technological </li></ul>
  16. 16. The present Canadian context <ul><li>decline in church attendance </li></ul><ul><li>rise in competing ‘spiritualities’ </li></ul><ul><li>thriving individualism and consumerism </li></ul><ul><li>strong environmentalism </li></ul><ul><li>deep suspicion of institutions </li></ul><ul><li>longing for belonging </li></ul><ul><li>improved levels of education & health </li></ul><ul><li>pervasive sense of societal decline </li></ul>
  17. 17. The Church in Christendom <ul><li>enjoyed privileged status in the culture </li></ul><ul><li>was linked to society’s power structures </li></ul><ul><li>relied on strong denominational loyalty </li></ul><ul><li>practiced ‘Foreign’ mission </li></ul><ul><li>was a place for and vendor of religious services </li></ul><ul><li>provided by professionalized clergy </li></ul>
  18. 18. Today’s Post-Christendom Western Church <ul><li>privileged status is vanishing </li></ul><ul><li>denominational loyalty is dwindling </li></ul><ul><li>recognition of local ‘missionary’ context is growing </li></ul><ul><li>increased focus on ministry of the laity, and team leadership </li></ul><ul><li>renewed emphasis on relationships and the community of faith </li></ul>
  19. 19. What will your model(s) of leadership be? <ul><li>Shepherd of the flock? </li></ul><ul><li>CEO of the organization? </li></ul><ul><li>Holder of the flame? </li></ul><ul><li>Cultivator of the garden? </li></ul>
  20. 20. What’s a leader in today’s Church to do? <ul><li>Make time to ask (with others) ‘big-picture’ questions: </li></ul><ul><li>Is our parish growing or declining? </li></ul><ul><li>What’s a healthy church like? </li></ul><ul><li>Who’s not here? Why? </li></ul><ul><li>Are people experiencing transformation? </li></ul><ul><li>If this church suddenly disappeared, who would mourn? </li></ul><ul><li>What is a problem that our church can be the solution to? </li></ul>
  21. 21. What’s God’s dream for the Church? <ul><li>“ It was he who gave </li></ul><ul><li>some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, </li></ul><ul><li>to prepare God’s people for works of service, </li></ul><ul><li>so that the body of Christ may be built up </li></ul><ul><li>until we all reach unity in the faith </li></ul><ul><li>and in the knowledge of the Son of God </li></ul><ul><li>and become mature; attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11-13 </li></ul>
  22. 22. What else should we do? <ul><li>Make time to take a big-picture inventory: </li></ul><ul><li>What resources has God placed in our midst? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the needs in the neighbourhoods around us? </li></ul><ul><li>What new resources do we need? </li></ul><ul><li>How’s my own commitment level? </li></ul>
  23. 23. A Question for Ezekiel (and us): <ul><li>“ Son of man, can these bones live? I said, “O Sovereign Lord, you alone know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.’ Ezekiel 37:3-5 </li></ul>
  24. 24. What else is a leader to do? <ul><li>Make time to dream </li></ul><ul><li>Encourage experimentation and risk-taking </li></ul><ul><li>Trust that God is present and active in His world (and in your parish) </li></ul>
  25. 25. God’s word to Isaiah (and us): <ul><li>Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; </li></ul><ul><li>I will strengthen you, </li></ul><ul><li>I will help you, </li></ul><ul><li>I will uphold you, with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10 </li></ul>