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Back from seminary at Fuller Tuesday, July 31, 2007 |

This is my MAGL cohort at Fuller. MAGL stands for Masters of Arts in Global Leadership, which is somewhat of an arrogant title, if you ask me. It's just a couple of notches below an M.A. in Benevolent Dictatorship, I think. We've all spent the last 2 years together in a learning and praxis community. Praxis is a fancy word for reflection and action... All of the people in this group are in ministry somewhere in the world - from Turkey to Chicago to Israel to Cambodia. What a phenomenal group of people!

The last week of classes went well. I've also got a couple of 30 page papers to write between now and December, as well as a few book reviews to complete.

Here's a picture of the books I've either read or will read and review for the classes that I'll be finishing up over the next few months. The stack on the left is for the course called Global Leadership: Implications for Ministry, and the stack on the right is for a course called Organizational Dynamics. The stack in the middle is my beautiful wife on the computer...

We have to write a 30-40 page paper for each course, and I'm actually a little excited about both (don't tell anyone I said that)... I think I'm going to write my paper for Org. Dynamics on how to apply Emotional Intelligence theory to the organizational change process, and specifically use the Austin Stone Community Church as my reference and case study. Since we're going through a church-wide change process, I thought this would be the best use of time and energy. My second paper is an integration paper - I have to integrate everything I've learned so far in the last 2 years, so I think I'm going to write on what it will take to build a movement of missional communities. You know... fun stuff.

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Live blogging from MAGL in Pasadena - Friday, Week 1 Friday, July 20, 2007 |

We learned alot about Emotional Intelligence yesterday. It's a fascinating area of leadership. From Goleman's research, he noticed that great leadership had little to do with logical intelligence, creativity, or even hard work. Here's what he says:

“There are four basic domains or aspects of emotional intelligence (self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management). These domains are closely intertwined with a dynamic relationship between them. For example, a leader can’t manage his emotions well if he has little or no awareness of them. And if his emotions are out of control, then his ability to handle relationships will suffer. In summary, self-awareness facilitates both empathy and self-management, and these two, in combination, allow effective relationship management. EI leadership, then, builds up from a foundation of self-awareness.” Daniel Goleman, Primal Leadership, p. 30

Let’s look more closely at each of those basic domains:

There are several kinds of self-awareness: knowing one’s feelings and their impact on others, knowing one’s strengths and limits, and having an accurate sense of worth and capabilities. Communication begins with being able to express one’s own needs and being able to listen attentively to others. Self aware people recognize and manage patterns of inner thoughts, are clear about feelings and hence have better control of moods and emotions, and get beyond emotional ‘noise’, which enables better and deeper listening. Lack of self awareness results in being unclear of true motivation or goals, being incapable of candor or assertiveness, and reduced ‘deep listening’.

This involves the following six elements:

Emotional self-control—Keeping disruptive emotions and impulses under control
Transparency—Displaying honesty and integrity; trustworthiness
Adaptability—Flexibility in adapting to changing situations and overcoming obstacles
Achievement—Drive to improve, be effective and meet inner standards of excellence
Initiative—Readiness to act and seize opportunities
Optimism—Seeing the positive in events

Leaders can’t manage emotions in others without first handling their own.

Social Awareness
This involves the following components:

Empathy—Sensing others’ emotions, understanding their perspective, and taking active interest in their concerns
Organizational awareness—Reading the currents, decision networks, and politics at the organizational level
Service—Recognizing and meeting follower, client, and customer needs.

Relationship Management
Relationship management is friendliness with a purpose: moving people in the right direction. This involves the following critical elements for effective leadership:

Inspirational leadership — Guiding and motivating with a compelling vision
Influence — Use range of communication for persuasion
Developing others — Bolstering others’ abilities through opportunity, feedback and guidance
Change catalyst — Initiating, managing, and leading in a new direction
Conflict Management — Resolving disagreements
Building bonds — Cultivating and maintaining a web of relationships
Teamwork and collaboration — Cooperation and team building

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Live blogging from MAGL in Pasadena - Friday, Week 1 |

Yesterday we looked at the subject of Emotional Intelligence — which is how leaders handle themselves and their relationships. This idea is based primarily on research coming out of Harvard University by Dr. Daniel Goleman and his team.

Goleman asserts that self-absorbed leaders can often be clueless, but that gifted leadership occurs where head and heart – thought and feeling – meet. These are the two wings that allow a leader to soar.

He asserts that there are key reasons for leadership failure due to lack of Emotional Intelligence:

  1. An inability to manage relationships well
  2. An inability to implement change successfully

Stop and think about yourself. Have you ever…

- Demonstrated anger that didn’t make sense to you?

- Been unable to express what you had to say?

- Felt like the other person wasn’t really there?

- Been unable to listen attentively because of your mood?

Then maybe you have something to learn about Emotional Intelligence, which I'll post more about later...


Live blogging from MAGL in Pasadena - pt. 4 |

Evangelism in A Post Christian Culture

ok, so we're reading through a ton of books, and I've already mentioned this one... From the same book [ Exiles by Michael Frost ] - here's a great way of viewing evangelism through the lens of the incarnation of Christ:

"...only a compassion that acts is acceptable in incarnational ministry. Thus, following Jesus' example, incarnational Christian witness will include the following four aspects:

1. An active sharing of life, participating in the fears, frustrations, and afflictions of the host community. The prayer of the exile should be, "Lord, let your mind be in me," for no witness is capable of incarnationality without the mind of Jesus.

2. An employment of the language and thought forms of those with whom we seek to share Jesus. After all, he used common speech and stories: salt, light, fruit, birds, and the like. He seldom used theological or religious jargon or technical terms.

3. A preparedness to go to people, not expecting them to come to us. As Jesus came from the heavens to humanity, we enter into the "tribal" realities of human society.

4. A confidence that the gospel can be communicated by ordinary means, through acts of servanthood, loving relationships, good deeds; in this way the exile [ incarnational Christian ] becomes an extension of the incarnation in our time. Deeds thus create words."

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Live blogging from MAGL in Pasadena - pt. 3 Thursday, July 19, 2007 |

I'm in Pasadena as part of a seminar for the MAGL (M.A. in Global Leadership). We've been reading through quite a few books, and wanted to share a few gems from them as I come across them. A little quote from a book called Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture by Michael Frost:

"'Christendom' is the name given to the religious culture that has dominated Western society since the fourth century... The death of Christendom removes the final props that have supported the culturally respectable, mainstream, suburban version of Christianity. This is a Christianity expressed by the "Sunday Christian" phenomenon wherein church attendance had very little effect on the lifestyles or values or priorities expressed from Monday to Saturday. This version of Christianity is a fascade, a method for practicioners to appear like fine, upstanding citizens without allowing the claims and teaching of Jesus to bite very hard in everyday life. With the death of Christendom the game is up. There's less and less reason for such upstanding citizens to join with the Christian community for the sake of respectability or acceptance. The church in fewer and fewer situations represents the best vehicle for public service or citizenship, leaving only the faithful behind to rediscover the Christian experience as it was intended: a radical, subversive, compassionate community of followers of Jesus."

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Live blogging from MAGL in Pasadena - 2 |

In an organization, different people and groups take on different roles and functions. I find that I am more of a Creative Designer - I like to design the big picture, build it and then let others take it and implement it. According to Harvard scholar Henry Mintzberg, organization structures should divide and coordinate the work. They also should provide 5 basic functions:

The Operating core is the heart of every organization, the part that produces the essential outputs that keep it alive. It encompasses those members who perform the basic work related directly to the mission, to the production.

Strategic Apex – refers to the leader(s) in the organization who have final authority/responsibility for decision making for the organization as a whole and who insure that the organization serves its mission in an effective way.

Middle Line – refers to those leaders in the organization who have line responsibility, that is, have formal authority to supervise others in the middle line and operating core and have accountability for this supervision to the strategic apex.

Technostructure – refers to the analysts and their clerical support people who serve to provide back-up analytical work for the strategic apex, middle line, and operating core as well as standardization in terms of work, planning, and personnel practices. These are the people who ask “how can we do things better? What will help us accomplish our vision?” People in the technostructure serve the organization by influencing the work of others. These analysts are removed from the operating work/flow – they may design it, plan it, change it, or train the people who do it, but they usually do not do it themselves.

Support Staff – refers to those workers in an organization who provide support (administrative) to the organization outside its operating workflow.

image: cog-wheels and springs by Little Niels

Live blogging from MAGL in Pasadena Wednesday, July 18, 2007 |

I'm in a 2 week intensive course at Fuller Seminary as part of the MAGL (M.A. in Global Leadership) degree. The first week is a course called Understanding Organizational Dynamics, so I'll be blogging about the highlights from this course this week.

The Fifth Discipline, a book by Peter Senge, is a book about how organizations can grow and develop through learning. He asserts that an organization achieves its goals by providing an environment conducive to the CONTINUOUS LEARNING and development of individuals,teams, and the organization. He says that a learning organization is one in which people at all levels individually and collectively are continually increasing their capacity to produce the results they really care about. It is an organization that, when a mistake is made, notices the mistake, fixes it, figures out what caused the problem and corrects the root cause, with an emphasis on the root and not the symptom.

He goes on to list the core of learning organization work is based on five "learning disciplines"—lifelong programs of study and practice:

Personal Mastery--learning to expand our PERSONAL CAPACITY to create results we most desire and creating an ORGANIZATIONAL ENVIRONMENT which encourages all its members to develop themselves toward the goals and purposes they choose.

Mental Models--reflecting upon, continually clarifying and improving our internal pictures of the world and seeing how they shape our actions and decisions. Knowing the paradigms out of which we operate.

Shared Vision--building a sense of commitment in a group, developing SHARED IMAGES OF THE FUTURE we seek to create, and developing the principles and guiding practices by which we hope to get there.

Team Learning--transforming conversational and collective thinking skills so that groups of people can develop intelligence and ability greater than the sum of individual members' talents.

Systems Thinking--a way of thinking about and a language for describing and understanding forces and interrelationships that shape the behavior of systems.

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Some Thoughts on a Biblical Theology of Mission - Part 3 |

Charles Van Engen, in God’s Missionary People, makes the point that the local church is in essence a band of missionaries, and that church and mission are interwoven. In fact, he quotes the International Missionary Council in saying that “…there is no participation in Christ without participation in his mission to the world” (Van Engen: 29). He continually makes this link by adding that “only as congregations intentionally live out their nature as the missionary people of God will the Church begin to emerge to become in fact what it is by faith” (Van Engen: 44).

Van Engen draws on Scripture to make the case for the link between church and mission, therefore making the Body of Christ, by nature, a missionary venture. In commenting on Acts 1:8 he poses this question:

“Could it not be that Jesus is telling his disciples that they are a certain kind of fellowship which in its essential nature is an ever-widening, mushrooming group of missionary witnesses?” (Van Engen: 42)

Acts 1:8 is really a fleshed out version of one of the many Great Commission verses like Matthew 28:18-20. Although Acts 1:8 is more of a promise than a command, it carries with it the authority of Jesus who propels us outward, as Van Engen points out, as an “an ever-widening, mushrooming group of missionary witnesses” (Van Engen: 42). These commands, together with a vision of the future of God’s reign and the under girding of Jesus’ payment with His blood, gives us a robust and biblical theology of mission.

Van Engen, Charles Edward
1991 God's Missionary People: Rethinking the Purpose of the Local Church. Grand Rapids: Baker.

image: crossroads by PedjaP

Some Thoughts on a Biblical Theology of Mission - Part 2 Saturday, July 14, 2007 |

The Bible opens with a dance. The first three verses, in fact, draw a picture of this dance – a waltz of universal proportions with the elegance of flawless yet artistic expression. God creating – the Spirit hovering – the Word being spoken. God the Father, God the Spirit and God the Son moving and flowing in those first opening lines of Genesis. Lesslie Newbigin, in The Open Secret, gives a framework for this dance, this mission – a Trinitarian framework. He looks at mission through a three-pronged lens – “as proclaiming the kingdom of the Father, as sharing the life of the Son, and as bearing the witness of the Spirit” (Newbigin: 29). Newbigin’s theological framework is deeply embedded in the Trinitiarian perspective of mission as faith, love, and hope as a reflection of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. His perspective echoes that ancient dance that continues to being light and life into a dark and rebellious world.

Certainly Newbigin is on to something when he observes that “God is indeed active in history” (Newbigin: 39). It is by faith, love and hope that this activity manifests in regards to mission. It is by faith that we proclaim the reign of God, love as Jesus loved by virtue of the incarnation, and put our hope in the obedience to the Spirit. It is when we join the dance that we fully live in mission and for mission.

And Revelation chapter 5 gives a glimpse of the picture of an overarching theology of why we do mission. Speaking of Jesus the text says that “You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (NASB). Jesus has purchased all of God’s people of all time. Because of this purchase we can be guaranteed that the work of mission, the work of evangelism, the work of indiscriminately preaching the gospel until His elect come in, cannot fail. We have the purchase of the Son with the work of the Spirit backed by the sovereignty of God. His purposes cannot fail, and therefore we have the confidence to be on mission with God.

Newbigin, Lesslie
1994 The Open Secret: An Introduction to the Theology of Mission. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

image: crossroads by PedjaP

Some Thoughts on a Biblical Theology of Mission - Part 1 Tuesday, July 10, 2007 |

The Bible tells a story. A grand, overarching narrative of God’s grace and beauty. It tells the story of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and even Renewal. But often we stop at Redemption. As important as the cross was and is, it is not the final resting place of God’s dealings with the universe. After the cross was the tomb – and then the Resurrection, that great stake in the ground where God cracked open the rebellious and fallen vault called “The World” and began to flood it with the light of life. This light of life that fills the world is the resurrected Christ. He typifies what all of the new people, new heavens, new earth, new city and new universe will look like someday. That is the end goal – the complete and total renewal and restoration. God initially saw the creation as good, but it was lost in the Fall. But the only thing better than an original creation, is a creation that has been lost and then restored.

Biblically we are to be about both redemption and renewal. The separation of these two is unbiblical, and does not reflect the gospel of the Kingdom. Unfortunately, it wasn't until the early 1900's that we in the U.S. began to see a bifurcation in these two areas, mainly because of a reaction to German biblical criticism. This criticism led to many of the mainline denominations dropping the deity of Christ like a rotten tomato, yet still holding to the "social gospel" of outreach to the poor and oppressed. This caused a reaction in the "fundamentalist" camp that then said that the "social gospel" is of the devil, and we need to retreat to biblical inerrancy and hold our ground for the truth, throwing out the poor and oppressed baby with the bathwater.)

Lesslie Newbigin, in his book on the theology of mission aptly titled The Open Secret, asserts that the dichotomy of justice verses conversion must change, adding that the “first need” of these dichotomies “is for theological understanding” as well as a “restructuring of structures” (Newbigin: 11). This holistic perspective of mission is crucial. Newbigin asserts this by pointing out the implications of the confession of “Jesus as Lord.” This confession, he notes,

“…implies a commitment to make good that confession in relation to the whole life of the world – its philosophy, its culture, and it politics no less than the personal lives of its people. The Christian mission is thus to act out in the whole life of the whole world the confession that Jesus is Lord of all” (Newbigin: 17).

I believe that these two orientations should, and must, go together. On the cross, God purchased redemption. But the Bible doesn't end there. It goes on through to the book of Revelation where there is, guess what, a renewed heavens, a renewed earth, a renewed city, a renewed Jerusalem, and us, yes, us with a renewed body. God is going from redemption toward renewal. He is going somewhere with all this - to the renewing of all things (see also Colossians). And the resurrection was a stake in the ground to say, "Look, you want to know where I'm going with all this? Look at Jesus and his... yep, you guessed it - renewed body." God is moving toward the renewal of all things.

It is far too easy to focus primarily on redemption, living out the vestiges of the inner-Gnostic in all of us. But we also have to focus on renewal as well. The fundamentalist want to focus on the spiritual aspects of redemption while the social gospel folks want to focus on renewal. Both are needed because both are what God is actively doing right now. Jesus is not a disembodied spirit - his is in a renewed body as a foretaste of the ultimate renewal we will all see one day (see also Colossians and Rev. 19 & 20). As N.T. Wright once said, “There is life after ‘life after death’” (Wright: 219).
There is life after heaven - heaven is a holding tank, not a final resting place. The renewed earth, whether we like it or not, is our final home. This means that we must be committed to the whole gospel for the whole person.

Newbigin, Lesslie
1994 The Open Secret: An Introduction to the Theology of Mission. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Wright, N.T.
2006 Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense. New York: Harper Collins.

image: crossroads by PedjaP

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