Daily Archives: March 3, 2008

Flat Leadership: A New Model for Tomorrow’s Leaders?

This morning in an interview with Fox News presidential candidate and former Baptist preacher Mike Huckabee spoke of the need of the Republican Party to reach out to voters between the ages of 18-30. He noted the critical importance of looking to the future and giving these young adults something to believe in.

 I believe this call to reach out to young adults between 18-30 goes far beyond the realm of politics and speak to the life and death struggle faced by local churches and lumbering denominational structures. In the world Thomas Friedman aptly describes as “flat” we must come to grips that we are all standing on level ground and that it is critical that we come together around a common mission and purpose—the Kingdom of God at work in the secret places of the heart and in the public arenas of the greater community and society.

 Recently, I picked an interesting book entitled An Emergent Manifesto of Hope edited by Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones. This book pulls together a series of essays by leaders of what has been nicknamed the Emergent or Emerging Church. One of the essays was written by author Sally Morgenthaler who has been recognized in this movement as an innovator in Christian practices, and advocate for women in ministry. Her essay was entitled “Leadership in a Flattened World: Grassroots Culture and the Demise of the CEO Model.”

 In the essay, Morgenthaler challenges the church and its leaders to come to grips with the sea change happening in our culture. With the stunning “connectedness” of communities and individuals due to amazing advances in communication, information, and the ability of voices to be heard she declares the coming demise of the CEO model of leadership. A model built on the “command and control” principle. She writes:

 “Leadership in a truly flattened world has no precedents. Never in the history of humankind have individuals and communities had the power to influence so much, so quickly. The rules of engagement have changed, and they have changed in favor of those who leave the addictive world of hierarchy to function relationally, intuitively, systemically, and contextually”.

 If Morgenthaler’s observation is accurate the stage is set for the “servant leadership” of Jesus to win the day. Humility, listening, collaboration, community, cooperation, creativity, daring, courage and oneness will mark the vibrant churches advancing the cause of the Kingdom on God in the cities, villages, and remote communities of planet earth. Could it be God is calling us back to our roots? To the fluid living organism of the church found on the pages of the book of Acts.

 We can change the world, but the change will have to begin in us. It could be changing around hearts and our mental images of what leadership looks like in our day may be our greatest challenge. I am ready for the change and look forward to how it will play out in my local church and in my extended family of churches.

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