This image from The Forgotten Ways has a great breakdown of some authors who have influenced my thinking.
The thesis of Chapter 6 is that Christians must move from being perceived as naive and disengaged (“Sheltered” is the title of the chapter) to informed and involved with sophisticated nuance. The creation of Christian subculture has done great damage to the overall integration within the culture at large, and therefore diminished influence and the capacity to speak into the lives of those around us.
- “Most young outsiders…see following Christ as something like belonging to a social club that adheres to a nice set of principles” ~Page 124
I would say that this is the single largest threat to the bride of Christ in this generation. Predominantly the previous generation of churches have cultivated a country club mentality of leisure under the guise of “community” without calling believers to walk the hard road of discipleship into mission. The great joy, however, is seeing our generation respond to the challenge and desire earnestly to engage the global mission of God and share the gospel of the kingdom.
- “Currently more that one-third of children born in the United States are born to unmarried mothers” ~Page 127
This is an absolutely staggering statistic. Through ministry to high school students while I was in college, a simple non-scientific poll showed that over 50% of the students I was reaching out to were from broken homes. This truly is a fatherless generation in desperate need of Godly leadership from men.Ministry to young men is the single most important part of what I am called to in Austin, and I pray that God would raise up men.
- “One thing that prevents us from engaging the world is the fact that our connection with outsiders dissipates as we enter the Christian enclave” ~Page 130
- “If we allow the actions and attitudes of outsiders to shock us, we become either isolationists or crusaders, and neither extreme will have much influence on outsiders” ~Page 131
The true nature of the unbeliever is hell bent toward sin, and we ought not to react with surprise and contempt when we see that true nature come forth. As our culture continues forward without the knowledge of a great and glorious God, we should not adopt a Chicken Little, the sky is falling posture, but instead plead with God to change hearts that new culture might flow from the broken and contrite heart.
- “When people say that America is a mission field, it would be more accurate to say it is many diverse mission fields.” ~Page 134
I have thought long and hard on this particular question, and am still continually perplexed by the idea of a people group in an American/Western context. How can such an individualistic society be understood through this basic missiological lens. I often wonder if the success of mega and micro churches in our context is because of their ability to recreate strong social fabric that most medium sized churches cannot match (mega has a high level of specialization and deep resources, and micro naturally develops intimate community).
The main usefulness of this chapter is for an older generation to begin to comprehend and reach down to a younger. Older church leaders would benefit from not only reading, but actually digesting this material as they seek to engage a younger generation and exegete its culture. I think many young believers hunger for a different expression of Christianity than the glorified country clubs of most suburban churches, and it will require a significant adaptation in order to leverage the older generation effectively in the mission of God to the younger.
Our senior pastor, Matt Carter, was interviewed yesterday by Leadership Network. It’s a great snapshot of who we are as a church…give it a look!
Tonight I was forced to make a decision with GTB:
- Teach him to obey his earthly father as he would his heavenly Father, and simply eat the food in front of him because he was asked to.
- Get creative and generate a desire to eat the food that is placed in front of him through making it generally entertaining, catering to his emotion.
Both options would achieve the desired result, and yet in somewhat different manners. Option 1 is good for a child’s discipline, but not very fun for either and seems somewhat coercive. This option, exercised too often, leads to exasperated and discouraged children. Option 2 tends to be more fun for both parties, and yet is really a form of manipulation, and exercised too often will neglect discipline.
This dilemma forced me to think about leadership as a whole, and how we have choices to use both positional influence and relational influence in leadership. One appeals to our inherent authority based on title or role, whereas the other depends on our relational capital with an individual. Both are necessary and useful in leadership, and both are equally difficult to discern proper use.
Positional influence, characterized by direction and command, is easily turned into egotism and elitism, shifting focus from humbly leading others to self-aggrandizement, as well as simple laziness. Positional influence when leveraged well, uses opportunities of delegation for development of those under the leader’s authority.
Relational influence, characterized by charisma and invitation, can just as easily be manipulative to achieve an end, ignoring the process of discipline and development in favor of simply accomplishing a task. It can be effectively used to empower an individual to discover desires they didn’t know they had, as well as accomplish a task on mutually agreeable terms (a “win, win, win” for Office fans).
In my limited experience, I have found both methods to be useful when my heart is humble, and both methods to be disastrous when my heart is anything other than humble. Effective leadership utilizes both kinds of influence out of humility, and does so to the maximization of a team’s effectiveness. Which takes us back to parenting, and the necessity of discernment in a particular situation.
For those of you that are still reading, I chose Option 2, and GTB ended up eating almost all of his tuna melt using the ol’ airplane in the hanger trick. He’ll learn discipline at other meals…
Some campus ministers have been working toward a unified strategy in reaching UT’s campus. Collaborative work amongst college ministries tends toward the abstract and non-committal variety, but God has been stirring to move the various directors toward strategic and functional engagement.
As we seek to redeem and restore the University of Texas with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we simply must cooperate with one another, sharing resources, ideas, and working together in strategy to accomplish the vision God has given to us.
For a preview of what this might look like, check out www.austinstone.org/college/utmc.