Effective Leadership

Leadership is something that a lot of people talk about, but few actually are able to do effectively. Leading the church is even more complex and rare. This page will continue to explore what it means to lead in this emerging era of the church.

Four years on and the 6 Radical Decisions still shape my life

The official book launch in August 2012

The official book launch in August 2012

As the Olympics approach I am reminded that it was this time four years ago that my book 6 Radical Decisions was launched in London.

The book was really an attempt to name what I was committed to after a few very disorientating years of trying to help Fusion hold together after my Dad, the founder, stepped down from leadership.

While I didn’t know that this would be my last time working as a Fusion leader, there was a deep grief that pervaded the background of my experience of 2012. It was increasingly becoming clear to Leeanne and I, that in order for Fusion to move forward, the son of the founder needed to step away from the organization.

For two decades I had felt as though I was doing something very important, shoulder to shoulder with people I loved. I believed in what I understood Fusion to be about and now, as I worked with these people one last time, I sensed that I was in a process of letting go.

The 18 months of conceiving, writing, editing, re-writing, re-editing and finally proofing the book had been important for me. As I was increasingly finding myself moving to the outside of Fusion, I found my commitment to the core things that originally drove Fusion unshaken. The book was my attempt to name those core things.

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Let me introduce you to the man you should have met a long time ago.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been arguing that we need to rediscover a bloke who changed the world... and who you probably have never heard about.

Today I want to simply share the story of his life.

Basil was born around 329, only four years after the council of Nicaea and only a few decades after persecution of the Christian church had ceased. He was born into an aristocratic family, who Tomas Kopek has convincingly argued were actively engaged in civic matters as part of the curial class.[1]

Basil was born into a family with a rich Christian heritage. His maternal great-grandfather had died in the Decian persecutions.[2] His grandparents had “suffered confiscation and outlaw status for seven years”[3] under Maximin Daia. His paternal grandmother was St. Macrina the Elder, who was a champion of the church founded by Gregory Thaumargus (ca. 213 – ca. 270). His grandmother, his father, his mother and four of his nine siblings were eventually recognized as saints of the church.[4]

Basil received an extensive education, first from his father and then at the age of fourteen at Ceasarea, followed by further studies Constantinople and finally Athens. It was in Athens he met another young student, Gregory from the village of Nazianzus, and their friendship would subsequently shape both of their lives. According to Paul Schroeder, it was in Athens that the two young men “resolved together to pursue the way of ‘true philosophy,’ having only one aim in life: ‘to be and to be called Christians.”[5]

Schroeder believes that Basil’s life was shaped by two “profound shifts.”[6] Initially he took up a position as a teacher of rhetoric, but around 357, in his own words:

Then I read the Gospel, and I saw there that a great means of reaching perfection was the selling of one’s goods, sharing them with the poor, giving up all care for this life, and the refusal to allow the soul to be turned by any sympathy to things of earth.[7]

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If you are a Christian, you should be asking why you never heard about this man.

Basil of Caesarea (who is also known as Basil the Great) is one of the most important leaders the Christian church has had in 2000 years, however you have probably never heard of him...

I'm not sure why we don't hear about Basil. 1700 years ago he was wrestling with many of the same questions we wrestle with today.

Perhaps he made too much sense.

Andrew Radde-Gallwitz asserts that despite the fact that Basil of Caesarea“is one of the most influential figures in Christian history, his work is typically read today only by professional scholars.” [1]

In 2007 Pope Benedict delivered an audience focusing on Basil of Caesarea, concluding with the words “Basil shows us how to be true Christians.”[2]

In his paper “Christian Worldview: Understandings from St. Basil the Great”, Doru Costache claims that “Basilian thinking can surprise contemporary readers by its fresh and balanced approach. In fact, it offers solutions to current challenges, such as bridging scientific and theological worldviews, and depicting a universe full of divine presence and meaning.”[3]

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The kind of leadership that the church needs is changing

As the church moves into the future, the kind of leadership that is required is also changing.

Pastors will need to move beyond management towards empowering leadership as Kingdom Cells become the arena in which most of their people express their vocations.

This video from John Kotter explains more:

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Movements take Risks

The ministry I worked with for 21 years, Fusion, prided itself on being a Kingdom movement rather than an organisation. We would often talk about the danger of becoming like the YMCA, which started with a clear Christian ethos and evolved to simply be a community service organisation.

I am loving reading David Bosch's book "Transforming Mission: Paradigm shifts in mission theology". In it he says:

"There are essential differences between an institution and a movement, says H.R. Neibur (following Bergson): the one is conservative, the other progressive; the one is more or less passive, yielding to influences from outside, the other is active, influencing rather than being influenced; the one looks to the past, the other to the future. In addition we might add, the one is anxious, the other is prepared to take risks; the one guards boundaries, the other crosses them."

I have enjoyed listening to the chairman of Y.W.A.M. talk about the danger of organisation and wrestling aloud with how Y.W.A.M., which is effectively a Christian Multi-National, copes with the dilemma of how organisation can kill the Kingdom impulse. (You can listen to the talk here: Avoid the Institutionalisation of Leadership - Lyn Green) His basic message is that as soon as you start to structure things, the heart can go missing. He affirms that structure is necessary but it needs to be a fluid structure that is regularly changing in response to needs, and even then there is a danger.

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