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JR Woodward has written a book that gets to the point and one that makes its point very well.
The point of this book is to move the church from merely an institution (although indeed it will stay an institution and that's a good thing), to a vibrant community of disciples making disciples.
The book is setup in three parts.
1. The Power of Culture
Here JR pushes the envelope to show the reader where our culture is going and how we, as the church, should not only engage in it, but create within it. JR navigates to show some of the major ways we are seeing our culture change through the "megashifts" that we are part of. As an example, how do we navigate as the church in the media shift from print and broadcast to the digital age? And so on. JR presents some compelling thoughts on how leadership must be structured, and how the church should be the foretaste of Jesus to our culture within these new megashifts, by going back to the Scriptures, not leaving them. This part 1 really gets your mind going and desiring to hear JR's conclusion. Exactly what Part 1 of a book should do.
2. A Leadership Imagination That Shapes Missional Culture
While JR gives you some overall examples of leadership that he believes will not only engage our culture, but also be Scripturally based, he now moves on to the specifics of the megashifts and how we must now look to engage this as the church. He shows how our leadership Structure is actually making a theological statement to the world (and each other) and how much we truly desire to engage the world. Not only that, but makes the case that we must change (or really go back to our roots found in Paul and Jesus) or we won't actually engage the world in the most compelling God glorifying ways. He really starts down this road to nail down what he is meaning as he starts in with his ideas of polycentric leadership. Meaning, leadership that is decentralized, yet still leading, not merely having a bunch of people running rampant with no leaders in place. I believe this is one of the major things the church needs to take note of. We need to hear what JR is saying here if we desire to multiply disciples, instead of merely multiplying church buildings and services. He shows how polycentric leadership works in a myriad of places, such as politics and business. The understanding of this is that the people feel empowered to be led by the Spirit and part of the whole without having to continually "check in" to make sure the powers that be are in agreement with the Spirit.
He states it in this way:
The apostle Paul was ahead of his time, for he does not propose a centralized leadership structure or a flat leadership structure. Rather he reveals to us a polycentric structure, where leaders interrelate and incarnate the various purposes of Christ in such a way that the entire body is activated to service and matures in love.
This chapter of JR's book needs to be read over and over again as the church moves forward as a multiplying movement of disciple makers.
3. The Five Culture Creators
For the final part, JR now gives you full handles on what he is speaking on, with Ephesians 4 being his anchor for discussion. He lays out what it looks like to have each of the culture creators working together and what each of them embodies. They are laid out as the Scriptures lay them out for us in Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds and Teachers. While JR further contextualizes each one of these with his own descriptor, the task of giving his insight to what each one does is very helpful. Not only does he give descriptors and stories, but he also adds at the end, questions, to reveal which culture creator you most likely represent.
This third part, is very helpful and one that will aid anyone that is looking to transition their leadership structure in the way that is described in Ephesians 4.
Overall, this book is very well done. After speaking further to JR, I learned that this is something that isn't merely theory for him, but one that he has been studying for over 12 years and actually practicing for the past 10 years.
The book leans heavily on the power of the Spirit and the insight given to us by the Scriptures and also those outside the Scriptures. Many helpful quotes come alongside JR's extensive research and helpful articulations of his end goal.
What JR does not do, and I am totally fine with it, is try and persuade you to believe in the Ephesians 4 5 fold ministry from a theological, exegetical framework. It seems as though he is leaving that argumentation to Alan Hirsch and Tim Catchim with The Permanent Revolution.
Again, because he does this, he is able to get to the point for the audience he is aiming for. He is aiming for those of us who are on the missional edge knowing that we have been missing something. Knowing something within our leadership structures and methods of engagement is off.
In the end, the reader comes away with a book that pushes them in these ways:
- Be led by the Spirit
- Leaders are true equippers, not saviors for their church
- Leaders become servants, not lords
- Our methods should be derived from the Scriptures, yet not ignoring the cultures we are sent to
- We will be evaluated by one thing: our disciples...are we making them?
By returning us to a polycentric, 5 fold ministry of equippers for the church for the sake of God, JR allows Jesus' words in Matthew 16:18 to be believable for us today:
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
I recommend this to anyone looking to be the church to the culture they are sent to. But don't just read the book and do nothing about it. Read the book with the expectation of making changes, by the power and wisdom of the Spirit, so that disciples are made to the ends of the earth.
You can win a signed copy of this book. Details found here: [...]
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
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Creating a Missional Culture is a timely book on congregational culture and collaborative leadership. There is a growing dissatisfaction with hierarchical models of leadership that major on control, stunt the imagination, silence dissent and are slow to welcome new leaders. That is not just an unfair caricature. In my denominational tribe, the Baptist Union of Victoria, the National Church Life Survey shows us we are twice as slow as the national average to welcome newcomers as leaders until they have hung around five years, and we are less likely to appoint younger people as leaders! (See our forthcoming article at http://aejt.com.au). Moreover, for all our talk of teams, almost every church has a solo or senior pastor. Where is our experimentation with other models of leadership, or do we want to limit experimentation to worship styles? Polycentric leadership makes more sense than hierarchical leadership, especially in a networked digital age – let alone also postmodern and post-Christendom – when leaders function mutually through collaboration, maintain cohesion through relationship, and rotate leadership functions around a team. In my local context at AuburnLife, we are in exploring how to cooperate with what God is doing in our neighbourhood and how to best reimagine our staffing and leadership. We have things to learn from this book.
J R Woodward is a church planter who cofounded Kairos Los Angeles (he and a colleague were co-leaders who shared the load) and the Ecclesia Network (a relational network for missional churches to dream together and share resources). Woodward’s writing is far from merely theoretical possibilities – he has experimented with and trialled what he teaches.
The thesis of the book is that church culture is more important than strategies and plans. Edgar Schein suggests that leaders create culture while managers act within culture. Woodward explains you can discern a church’s “cultural web” through its language, rituals, institutions, ethics and narratives. For example, he says a church’s narrative is its guiding story that answers the question “What is God’s calling for our church?” He encourages leaders to reflect on what theology, doctrines and Bible, testimonies and the church’s history are rehearsed, and to evaluate to what extent they are missional.
The encouragement of the book is to identify and release a team of equippers in a church with different focal concerns. Woodward adds to the small but growing library of books (alongside Alan Hirsch Permanent Revolution and Neil Cole’s Primal Fire) that unpack the potential of the Ephesians 4:11-13 APEST leadership matrix. Woodward summarises the different roles as:
• Apostle (dream awakener), focusing us on living out our calling and cultivating a discipleship ethos
• Prophet (heart awakener), focusing us on pursuing God’s shalom and calling the church to a new social order and standing with the marginalised
• Evangelist (story teller), focusing us on incarnating the good news and connecting with people who ache for a better world
• Pastor (soul healer), focusing us on seeking wholeness and holiness with life-giving spirituality and reconciliation
• Teacher (light giver), focusing us on inhabiting and being mastered by the sacred text and living out God’s story.
Woodward upholds a high view of the mission of the whole people of God, but also a high view of the need for equippers across this spectrum of APEST roles to help a healthy missional culture; including its thriving environment, liberating environment, welcoming environment, healing environment, and learning environment.
Jesus embodied each of these aspects of fostering the kingdom of God – as an Apostolic sender, prophetic questioner, evangelistic bridge-builder, pastoral mercy-giver, and teacher who applied Scripture to help people love God and people more. I seek to reflect Jesus as a leader in my church, but I am not Jesus. I need others around me who can reflect the breadth of what Jesus wants to do in us. It’s more like a jazz band than a solo performance, or geese who fly in a V but rotate the point position, or bike riders who different riders go forward in line to draft behind them (see Woodward’s interview http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2013/april/creating-missional-culture-interview-with-jr-woodward.html). Woodward has convinced me that we need different kinds of leaders, and a polycentric leadership. His argument is that a collaborative approach is healthier and less isolating; better reflects a Trinitarian God of community, consensus and mutual participation; and leaves control with God where it belongs and relegates leaders as under-shepherds who work together:
“If missional leadership is about joining God and helping people and communities to live up to their sacred potential–living lives of daily worship to God, bringing the reality of the kingdom to bear at home, at work, in the neighbourhood and within the congregation–then leading in community, in the round, with God at the centre might be a good way to approach leadership.” (p.79)
A critique of the book is that although it preaches against the heroic approach to leadership, some of the stories were of apostolic superstars. I would love to read more local and accessible stories of people functioning apostolically and prophetically, and love to read more about Woodward’s application.
The book includes practical steps for exploring and implementing a polycentric model. Woodward suggests forming “equipper guilds” to gather different types of leaders together (e.g., gather the evangelists as a learning community). He suggests creating more co-pastors rather than senior pastors. His advice to leadership teams is to write the senior pastor’s role and discuss how to share those responsibilities rather than presuming they need one person, or rotate them around. Working on some projects together as a team, such as worship and teaching rosters, might create a more balanced and creative liturgical year anyway. There are questionnaires and tables in the appendices that help people discern their best fit; reminding me that sharing leadership means sharing functions, but does not mean that everyone has to preach. The important thing is to release people to do what they do well and to be open to the creativity that may foster. G K Chesterton’s words were helpful: “The more I considered Christianity, the more I found that while it has established a rule and order, the chief aim of that order was to give room for good things to run wild.” (p.197)
This is an excellent and practical handbook for church leaders and planters, and those responsible for training and consulting them, when they are ready to explore and implement more collaborative approaches to leadership around an APEST model, not just to tinker with organisational restructuring but with the intention of creating missional culture. (Supplementary resources are accessible at http://jrwoodward.net).
This review was originally published in
‘Creating a Missional Culture, by J R Woodward’, Journal of Contemporary Ministry 1 (May 2015), 102-104,