Most people who serve as church leaders realize what an important time it is in our religious landscape. Because of demographic, generational, technological and economic shifts, we realize that many churches are coming to the end of their seasons. In this important moment, we will need leaders who can experiment, create, test and plant.
As important as it is to minister from those wounded places, to preach about real emotional issues, and to write from a place of spiritual depth, there is also danger in it—for us and for our communities.
At the end of the year Joan Brown Campbell will conclude her nine-year tenure at the helm of the National Council of Churches. But she won't be relinquishing her role as a champion of the ecumenical movement. She will become director of religion at the Chautauqua Institute in New York state, overseeing religious programs and interfaith services.
This month the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and representatives of its 35 member communions will journey to Cleveland, the city of the NCC's founding in 1950, to celebrate (a few months early) its golden anniversary.
Jesse Jackson is a complicated man. He has been right on most issues most of the time, though certainly not all the time. No one is more eloquent on the topic of human rights, and no one more personally committed to the cause of justice for minority and marginalized people.
Seminaries generally do a fine job of educating the minds of people who are called into ministry. But how well do they form the hearts and spirits of those people? Do seminaries build leaders who are servants of Christ?
There may be no other feature of American life that contains as much bias toward extroversion as leadership. Since our leaders epitomize our cultural values, it is no surprise that Americans want their leaders to be extroverts. Psychologist and author Marti Olsen Laney cites a study that was repeated three times with the same findings: when asked if they would prefer their ideal leaders to be introverted or extroverted, both introverts and extroverts chose an extrovert as “their ideal self and ideal leader.”
In Transforming Church, Kevin Ford tells the story of a scientific experiment involving four monkeys and some bananas at the top of a pole in their cage. At first the monkeys competed against each other for the bananas, and the strongest ones got the most. The weaker ones had to find strategic times to get their bananas. But all of the monkeys were able to eat regularly.