Comings and Goings is a blog written by Theology, Formation, and Evangelism Director Charles B. "Chip" Hardwick as he travels throughout the church. God is on the move out and about in the world, working to redeem all things in Jesus Christ. As we join this mission, by the power of the Spirit we see God on the move. This blog contains glimpses of how Chip finds this to be true in his comings and goings.
You can follow Chip on twitter (@chiphardwick) or find him on Facebook (Chip Hardwick).
One of the hats I wear for the Presbyterian Mission Agency is serving as co-leader for one of our strategic directions: identifying, cultivating, and sustaining transformational leadership for new and existing worshiping communities as they join Christ’s mission to the world. In this capacity, I recently went to Huntsville, AL, to join a two-day workshop conducted by Stan Ott, a widely-respected leadership development and church revitalization expert within the PC(USA) who heads up the Vital Churches Institute.
There were many things that I deeply appreciated about my time there (though the unexpected snow storm was not one of them. I knew I was in the south when the TV weatherman said, “If it usually takes you twenty minutes to get to work, plan for an hour and a half.” Thankfully the one inch of snow did not slow me down too much!) More seriously, I gained many important insights from our time together and from Stan’s leadership.
Stan had us read a very provocative book, The End of Leadership, by Barbara Kellerman. Although she makes many points, one was particularly salient to our work in the church to develop transformational leaders. She asserts that the leadership industry—the ever-multiplying group of speakers, workshop coordinators, authors (and, apparently, church leaders) who are trying to develop leaders in America are largely unsuccessful. There is not much evidence that leaders’ behavior is changed for the better by reading a book or attending a seminar, no matter how skillfully imagined and executed.
Ott has developed an approach that addresses this concern, and it is twofold and interrelated. Its first aspect is that the people who take part in his leadership development seminars do so over a period of months and years, rather than hours. There are four in-person two-day sessions over two years, and skype sessions in between the four in-person seminars. Moreover, participants pray and talk together on a monthly basis to reinforce what they have learned.
Perhaps more importantly, however, they challenge each other to embody the concepts and not simply to learn about them. Ott distinguishes between the Greek style of learning—to gain knowledge so that we will be more intelligent—and the Hebrew style of learning—to embody, to gain knowledge so as to change our lives and others’—and his approach emphasizes the latter.
The combination of a longer duration for the training and the challenge to embody as well as to learn the concepts gives me more hope for its success than other approaches. Pray with me as I wrestle with how to implement this learning with our efforts at the Mission Agency (and, more specifically, whether and how we might partner with the Vital Churches Institute).