Thursday, February 28, 2008

Non-Therapeutic Ministry

Dr. George N. Malek, a well known Church consultant in South Africa, a psychologist and theologian, states: "Ministry is not a therapeutic encounter, but the encounter with the Holy. Rapport establishes friendships and 'therapeutic alliance'. Ministry stands on its own every time." (Malek G N 1997:9). QUESTION: Is ministry a "therapeutic alliance"? Or does it facilitate an “encounter with the Holy”? What is the difference?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Third World Literatures

Ngugi wa Thiong'd (Philosophy from Africa) writes: “I have noted from a spell of teaching in the USA that Third World literatures tend to be treated as something outside the mainstream. Many epithets and labels ranging from ‘ethnic studies’ to ‘minority discourses’ are often used to legitimate their claims to academic attention. ... But the languages and literatures of the peoples of Africa, Asia, and South America are not peripheral to the twentieth century. They are central to the mainstream of what has made the world what it is today. ... Institutions of higher learning in Africa, Asia, and America should reflect this multiplicity of cultures, literatures, and languages in the ways they allocate resources for various studies” (Coetzee P H and Roux A P J 2002:57) QUESTION: Agreed? In the field of leadership, how has your institution of higher learning allocated its resources?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Essence of Religion

Here’s a quote from Encyclopaedia Britannica 2007, about American theologian and revivalist Jonathan Edwards: “At Stoddard's death in 1729, Edwards became sole occupant of the Northampton pulpit, the most important in Massachusetts outside of Boston. In his first published sermon, preached in 1731 ... Edwards blamed New England's moral ills on its assumption of religious and moral self-sufficiency. Because God is the saints' whole good, faith, which abases man and exalts God, must be insisted on as the only means of salvation. The English colonists' enterprising spirit made them susceptible to a version of Arminianism ... it minimized the disabling effects of original sin, stressed free will, and tended to make morality the essence of religion.” QUESTION: Was Edwards right about “the essence of religion” in New England? Has anything changed?

Friday, February 8, 2008

Definition of Transformational Leadership

Transformational leadership is a dominant leadership paradigm in the Church in the Global North. George Barna (Leaders on Leadership) prefers the definition of Gary Wills: “Leadership is mobilizing others toward a goal shared by the leader and followers” (Barna G ed. 1997:22). Tonight I completed a draft definition of Christian transformational leadership for my thesis, based on an analysis of some forty Christian authors. Here it is: “Transformational Christian leadership is effective leadership, by which a Christian leader’s character lays the foundation for personal persuasiveness, influence, and the formation of shared goals.” QUESTION: If my definition should be broadly correct, then character is the touchstone of leadership. Yet being such a central concept (a "centre", in Derridarean terms), might it not merely be serving to give leaders an imaginary handle on success?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Historic Turnaround

The Invasions decimated the Church in Europe around 600 A.D. Bishoprics fell one after the other. The Church decided on a plan to reverse its losses -- which turned out to be a historic turnaround. What was the plan? According to the great Church historian Henri Daniel-Rops (The Church in the Dark Ages), "The essential weapon was preaching" (Daniel-Rops H 1959:258). In addition to this, the preachers were instructed "above all to refrain from 'bombastic pathos'". Daniel-Rops gives a fascinating insight into the content of their preaching. QUESTION: Would it work today?

Monday, February 4, 2008

God's Spirit is Sufficient

My academic supervisor, Dr. Vincent Atterbury, in his doctoral dissertation, describes eleven (largely unwritten) tenets of early Pentecostal leadership theory (Atterbury V E 2002:65). Some of these tenets are characteristically Pentecostal. However, it is striking how many of them would seem typically Global South. Here are two examples: “[Tenet No. 9]. Persons who have been baptised in the Spirit, and have thus directly experienced the touch of God, will also have the faith that God’s plans for them, and for His church, will be fully developed through them. [Tenet No. 10]. Any other means, which might be described as a means of assistance, should be regarded with suspicion. God’s Spirit is sufficient to build up His church. He does not need any means of assistance. All that is needed to effectively lead the church, and to build it up, is persons, baptised in the Spirit, who live obediently under His leading. The proof of this is found in the Scriptures. In the Scriptures, the Spirit led -- while obedient, called persons, such as Peter and Paul, acted as His instruments. Where needed, the charismata worked through them. Nothing more than this is needed.” The original text (only in Afrikaans) is available free at (5.8 MB). QUESTION: What is meant by: “He does not need any means of assistance”? Would this be true without qualification?

Friday, February 1, 2008

Homogeneous Principle

Aubrey Malphurs (Planting Growing Churches for the 21st Century) believes in the “homogeneous principle” for Churches -- that is, grouping people by culture -- a view that originated with Donald McGavran. He considers that “singles tend to prefer to meet with other singles ... The same is true of couples”. This applies, therefore, to “ethnic peoples” (Malphurs A 1998:179). But did he consider that e.g. singles or couples of different ethnic groups might group together? Malphurs considers that it all comes down to the changes people are willing to make (or not) to their "values", but that people resist such changes (:180). And here, perhaps, lies the problem. It is values that separate. But the desire to worship -- the desire to love -- the desire to minister to each other unites. In my view, NON-homogeneity of various kinds is a litmus test of spiritual health in a Church. QUESTION: How would NON-homogeneity (heterogeneity) indicate spiritual health (or otherwise)?