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Comings and Goings

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Comings and Goings is a blog written by Theology, Worship and Education 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. 

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February 24, 2014

Leadership Development over the Long Haul

transformational leadership, Stan Ott, Presbytery of North Alabama

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.

 

The End of Leadership book coverStan 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).

Tags: kellerman, north alabama presbytery, stan ott, transformational leadership, vital churches institute


  1. Thanks to all of you for your comments and affirmations. I'll shoot Stan a note to make sure he sees them! I am meeting tomorrow with a colleague to start thinking about how we could partner going forward. Blessings on all of you!

    by Chip Hardwick

    February 27, 2014

  2. Hey Chip, so glad your time with Stan was worthwhile. The quick-fix approach to leadership in our churches doesn't work. Stan gets that. I look forward to how you and your team might partner with Vital Churches. The Spirit is moving!

    by Steve Ebling

    February 25, 2014

  3. Chip, it was a joy meeting you and I look forward to the next two-day event. Your participation in this group is a gift!

    by Rev. Toby Mueller

    February 25, 2014

  4. Stan's Acts 16:5 Initiative is the best educational program offered by the church (in this instance Mid-Kentucky Presbytery) that I have ever experienced. It is excellent. I'm intrigued by the leadership development process mentioned here. It sounds very much like the Acts 16:5 process modified for leadership development. Enjoy.

    by George Love

    February 24, 2014

  5. Chip: Great to meet you recently in Hollywood and thanks for this post! I hope to read the book and find some ways that we might partner with Stan.

    by Ken Baker

    February 24, 2014

  6. Thanks--glad to hear the affirmation! I'm hearing the same from a lot of people.

    by Chip Hardwick

    PC(USA) Staff

    February 24, 2014

  7. I have been using Stan's leadership concepts for years of productive ministry within PCUSA. PCUSA would be richer to partner with Stan.

    by Rev Linda Jaberg

    February 24, 2014

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