Thursday, February 24, 2005

Nothing Is More Important Than Leadership

George Barna has been an incredible champion for the Church in America as THE Pre-eminent Christian Research expert. He has studied and surveyed and taught us what America really thinks about the 'Church' and what the' Church' must do to respond if we intend to 'carry the ball down the field' and do what Jesus has called us to do.

He wrote a book called Leaders on Leadership that I'm just starting to read. I'd recommend that you grab a copy and read it yourself.

Here's how George Barna opens up his book...

Nothing Is More Important Than Leadership

I have spent the last fifteen years researching all facets of American life. Using nationwide surveys among representative samples of large numbers of Americans, I have studied people’s values, beliefs, lifestyles, attitudes, opinions, relationships, aspirations and demographics. I have examined the expectations, goals, strategies, strengths and weaknesses of businesses, ranging from Fortune 500 corporations to one-man consulting enterprises. I have devoted thousands of hours to getting inside the world of Christian churches and parachurch ministries, exploring the belief systems, training practices, educational procedures, worship experiences, fund-raising adventures, community-building endeavors, organizational structures and staff procedures of those entities.

Now, after fifteen years of diligent digging into the world around me, I have reached a conclusion regarding the future of the Christian Church in America:
Nothing is more important than leadership.

Now, the theologically minded will immediately attack this statement and say that the most important thing is “holiness” or “righteousness” or “commitment to Christ” or “radical obedience to God.” On a theological level, I wholeheartedly agree. Unfortunately, most Americans do not live on a theological level. The reality is that for any of us to become holy, righteous, committed to Christ or radically obedient to God, we need leaders who will do whatever it takes to facilitate such qualities in us sinful, selfish, misguided mortals.

God Provides Leaders
Oh-oh, there it goes, the escalating noise of the wailing and gnashing of teeth on earth. I think, however, that such a squaller is not taking place up in heaven in response to this statement. Why not? Because God has provided us with leaders year after year to attempt to guide His people forward spiritually. If leaders were not required for us to progress in spiritual depth and Christian formation, He would not have sent them. He would not continue to send them. We do not serve a God who tinkers or fools around with our lives out of curiosity or idleness. He could, of course, but He doesn’t. Therefore, leaders must be necessary.
If leaders were not necessary, He would not have included leadership among the spiritual gifts He instills within the chosen few. The Bible would not provide so many incredible principles of leadership, and the Holy Spirit would not have inspired the authors of the Bible to incorporate so many examples of strong leadership. For instance, Jethro would not have rescued Moses from the flood of administration. Jesus would not have trained the apostles. Paul would not have mentored Timothy, and so on.

Churches Must Be Led by Leaders
I have witnessed pastor after pastor, extensively trained to exegete the Scriptures, and gifted to communicate God’s truth, undeniably fail when it comes to guiding the Body of believers. They have failed in mobilizing them for action, holding them accountable for their behavior, motivating them to sustain a spiritual revolution and attracting the resources necessary to do the work modeled by Christ.

I have discovered through our research that even in evangelism, we place our emphasis on preaching, when, in fact, the greatest evangelistic effect comes from relationships between believers and nonbelievers.2 That is a matter of strategy—a leadership issue.

Most recently, I have tracked people’s exodus from the Church—those who have leadership gifts and abilities—because they can no longer stomach being part of an alleged movement that lacks strong, visionary leadership. These are people of capacity; those who can make things happen. I have watched with sorrow as they have tried to penetrate the culture of the Church and offer their efforts. They have been unable to do so because their churches are neither led by leaders nor by those who understand leadership. Yes, thousands of ministries have such leadership, but in the larger scope of American ministry, those churches and parachurch ministries are the exception to the rule.
I have studied modern history to comprehend the dynamics of revolutions, people movements, societal systems and national fortunes. The result is the conviction that there have not been—and are not likely to be—any significant and successful movements, revolutions or other systems in which strong, visionary leaders were not at the front of those groups, leading the way for change in thought, word and deed.

I believe in preaching the Word of God, confessing our sins before one another, celebrating the miraculous works of the Holy Spirit, returning at least a tenth of our stuff to God’s work, the power of prayer and salvation by grace alone through the atoning blood of Christ: I believe all this and much more. I also believe that in America today, fewer and fewer people will embrace these things unless the Church can raise up strong servant-leaders who will commit their lives to using their natural abilities, marketplace experiences, education, training and spiritual gifts to maximize their call to lead God’s people forward.

I am not saying that leadership is more important on a spiritual or eternal level than our theology and spiritual commitments. I am saying that without effective, godly, Christ-honoring leadership, most people in America seem destined to a life in which Jesus Christ is little more than an expression uttered in times of frustration, or an ancient and personally irrelevant teacher of nice principles and antiquated religious practices.

That realization wounds me deep in my spirit. I want my non-Christian neighbors and my Christ-rejecting family members to know Him, love Him and serve Him as I do. I have come to discover, however, that unless we can develop effective leadership within the Church, we are not doing all we have been called by God to do to effectively and obediently serve Him.

That is why I believe nothing is more important for the future of the Christian Church in America than leadership.
-George Barna from Leaders on Leadership

Wow, that fires me up!

As the Leader Coach of Rising Leader and the Student Ministries Coach at Crestwood Baptist Church this is exactly what I believe and it's precisely why I'm so gung-ho about building a strong online Leadership Collaborative at Rising Leader The only thing I would add to George Barna's comments is that I believe that the Global Church needs Leaders as much, if not more, than the American Church. He captures the heartbeat of Rising Leader with the opening comments of Leaders on Leadership.

Don't know if I can sleep tonite after getting all jazzed up about this!
Jeff Fuson

p.s. If you are a 'rising leader' who's excited about advancing the Kingdom of God, then you need to RUN to Rising Leader and splash around a lot! Join the community, sign up for FUEL, grab some cool tools, maybe even post your story so that other leaders will be inspired by what God is doing in your life!

p.p.s. If you lead an organization that could use an ENERGY INJECTION then consider bringing me in to do a Custom Crafted Training Experience for you. I'm launching some very cool Adventure Training and Action Learning Experiences that you and your team could benefit from. Drop an email to me and we can talk more.

p.p.p.s. Host a Daddy Power (tm) Event at your church to encourage the Dads in your congregation to excel at their most important task -- being 'DADDY'. Drop me a email to learn more.

p.p.p.p.s. Okay last one! Feel FREE to distribute this content as long as you pass it along in it's entirety with all links in place pointing to original urls. Give credit where credit is due and use this to build other people up. Thanks for playing and thanks for passing this along. Jeff Fuson


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