Leading a Healthy Church Culture - Lesson 3

Global Trends Affecting Leadership

In this lesson, Dr. Sessoms talks about the importance of healthy leadership, which involves having the right qualifications, being humble, and being accountable. You will also learn about building healthy relationships, including communication, conflict resolution, forgiveness, and grace. Additionally, the lesson covers healthy structures, such as organizational structures, strategic planning, and policies and procedures. Finally, you will learn about healthy practices, including worship and prayer, discipleship, and service and outreach.

Rick Sessoms
Leading a Healthy Church Culture
Lesson 3
Watching Now
Global Trends Affecting Leadership

I. Healthy Leadership

A. Introduction

B. Leadership Qualifications

C. The Role of Humility

D. Accountability

II. Healthy Relationships

A. Introduction

B. Building Healthy Relationships

C. Communication and Conflict Resolution

D. Forgiveness and Grace

III. Healthy Structures

A. Introduction

B. Organizational Structures

C. Strategic Planning

D. Policies and Procedures

IV. Healthy Practices

A. Introduction

B. Worship and Prayer

C. Discipleship

D. Service and Outreach

  • This lesson covers the importance and characteristics of a healthy church culture, the biblical foundation of church culture, diagnosing the health of a church culture, and cultivating a healthy church culture through prioritizing relationships, creating a safe environment, nurturing spiritual growth, empowering the congregation, and celebrating God's work.
  • You will gain knowledge and insight into the characteristics, and importance of a healthy church culture, how to diagnose and address unhealthy church culture through biblical leadership and communication, and how to cultivate a healthy church culture.
  • You will gain insight into how to lead a healthy church culture by learning about the importance of healthy leadership, building healthy relationships, establishing healthy structures, and implementing healthy practices.
  • In this lesson, the class discusses a fictional case study called "The Shadow of a Leader," which describes the decline of a Christian leader named Dr. Robert Avella, who became obsessed with power and control over time, causing damage to the ministry and losing trust in his team, as they reflect on the early and later stages of his leadership.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insight into the challenges and pitfalls of leadership, particularly when leaders lose focus on their spiritual values, become driven by fear and control, and lack accountability and community support. By understanding these factors, you can recognize and address toxic leadership in various contexts.
  • By engaging with this lesson, you will gain insight into the complex dynamics of power and control in leadership, the prevalence of misused power within the Christian church, and the critical importance of fostering accountability and community to maintain a healthy balance of power.
  • This lesson explores Jesus' unique leadership style in the context of the foot-washing event in John 13:1-17, highlighting principles such as leading from a secure sense of self, addressing the deepest needs of followers, and paying it forward through service to others.
  • This lesson teaches you about the significance of developing a Christ-centered church culture, including the exploration of culture's components and the positive and negative aspects it can have within a church setting. You will also learn about the role of leadership in building a healthy church culture, adapting to change, and overcoming challenges.
  • This lesson provides insight into church culture by examining its components, revealing how assumptions and values impact products and practices, and discussing the importance of addressing these core beliefs and assumptions for lasting change.
  • This lesson examines assumptions and worldviews in church leadership by comparing different mental constructs and their influence on leadership values and roles, while also exploring the machine metaphor's impact on organizational life and the new generation's response to this worldview.
  • In this lesson, you learn the importance of cultivating and nourishing people in a garden model of leadership, comparing it to the machine model, and discovering how various biblical metaphors shape the understanding of the church. Emphasizing core beliefs and values, you realize effective leadership focuses on following Christ and maintaining the right attitudes.
  • You will gain insights into the importance of leadership in creating a healthy church culture, including the role of leadership in setting the tone and creating an environment that fosters spiritual growth, discipleship, and healthy relationships. You will also learn about the characteristics of a healthy church culture, practical steps for building a healthy church culture, and the challenges and obstacles to building a healthy church culture.
  • By studying this lesson, you will gain knowledge and insight into the importance of creating a healthy church culture and practical steps for doing so, including the role of leaders in modeling and promoting a healthy culture, building relationships, developing a shared vision, fostering communication, and encouraging accountability.
  • This lesson covers Luke 5, gleaning lessons regarding Jesus' leadership and the four pillars of Christian leadership, which are relationship, influence, follower potential, and common purpose.
  • As you go through the lesson, you will learn about the four primary handles for developing a healthy church culture, which are stories, rituals, symbols, and power structures, and how they shape the values that become the real values within a culture.
  • By understanding the importance of what we measure, we can determine what is significant to us. Measuring something objectively makes it valuable, while not measuring something can result in losing its importance. The example of churches measuring attendance and donations is used to highlight this point, and the lesson suggests that churches should also measure other important aspects like outreach, discipleship, and community service.
  • This lesson discusses how Jesus prepared his disciples to establish the church, and how his actions and values during his time with them set the groundwork for the culture of the church; you are encouraged to explore the principles Jesus instilled in his disciples by examining specific stories, such as the healing of the demon-possessed man and the clearing of the temple.
  • Learn to lead a healthy church culture by analyzing current values, identifying actual values, and creating a strategy matrix to establish and support desired values using four embedding mechanisms.

This course is one of many taught by Dr. Rick Sessoms. It can be taken as a stand alone course, or as a part of the Christ-Centered Leadership Certificate. 

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Dr. Rick Sessoms
Leading a Healthy Church Culture
Global Trends Affecting Leadership
Lesson Transcript

Well, we need the encouragement of Hebrews Chapter 13 and the memory of the leaders in our past, because leadership has become increasingly difficult in the 21st century due to several global trends that are unprecedented in modern history. These trends increasingly increase, particularly among youth and with urbanization and globalization. In other words, young people in Belarus tend to have more in common with young people in Baltimore than they do with folks in their own neighborhood in today's world. So these global trends are deeply impacting leadership and our capacity to lead, and it's making leadership a much more difficult challenge than it has been in the past.  

The first global trend is what we refer to as rising cynicism. This rising cynicism is not just among young people, but everybody is growing more cynical. A barometer that reflects this current social attitude that is particularly apropos for this year is the bumper sticker that reads, “Don't vote; it will only encourage them.” And I don't know if you've seen that people are pessimistic about the future, and they're pessimistic about leaders in almost every aspect of life, whether it's business or, you know, education, the church, what have you.  It's difficult to lead when people have the high level of cynicism that exists today.  

The second global trend is shifting power. I've been told that there is more computing power in this little device than existed on Earth in 1950, and that means that those with technology have more power today than those with titles, and so the old way of leading simply doesn't work. IBM once referred to their mainframes as masters and the terminals that sat on our desks as slaves. Some of you may not be old enough even to remember that kind of language.

But in the computing world today, of course, the new relationship is client-server relationship. Power has gone to the people, it's gone to the clients, it's gone to the people with that access to information.  With access to information at our fingertips, what does that mean? It means that power has shifted away from those in the corner office to those that have this computing power, that have this access to information, wherever they may be. Thomas Friedman wrote The World Is Flat. He also wrote The Lexus and the Olive Tree, but in The World Is Flat, he contends that this power shift is responsible for the flattening of hierarchies and the movement of the center of gravity from the powerful boss to the empowered people. We work in India, Tim and I, a lot, and today, a person from a lower caste in India can be connected literally to the whole world sitting there in their village. This shift is threatening India's caste system for the first time in hundreds, if not thousands of years.  In today's client-server world, yesterday's master-slave, that power and authority motif, just doesn't work anymore. And to stand up in front of a group of people and say, I have authority because I am the boss is not even a relevant conversation in today's society.  

I remember several years ago I was asked to give a lecture -- it was a three-hour lecture, seemed like a marathon -- to a group of PhD students at Regent University on leadership development. I had done my research in the field of leadership development, and they had asked me to do this lecture for the incoming PhD students. There were 75 students, incoming brand-new PhD students, and they were sitting in this huge lecture hall, and at Regent University, these lecture halls are the most modern thing you can imagine. You know, it's kind of these theater seat type things with the long tables, and they're all wired and all this stuff, and so they're all sitting there with their computers; every single one of the 75 has his or her computer, and I start to talk, and I go on for about an hour and a half, and there's this one young man. He's sitting down in the front row about three people in and I notice him over here. He never looks up. He never looks at me the entire hour and a half. He's just staring at his computer screen. Well, I have no idea what he's doing, but I just keep on going. We got to a break time, and he makes a beeline to me, and he introduces himself. He actually was a 27-year-old guy that inherited millions of dollars, and he's now running a foundation, and why he's taking this doctoral program, I really don't know, but he was taking the doctoral program. He introduced himself, and I started to tell him a little bit about me, and he stopped me. He says, “Oh,” he says, “I already know all about you.” I said, “How do you know all about me?” I had not really told them much about me. He said, “I've been Googling you for the last hour and a half, and not only have I been Googling you, but I've been Googling every reference that you mentioned; when you shared something from a book or from some quote, I looked it up. And he said, “You know, you're legit.”  And, you know, I breathed a sigh of relief.  

But those kinds of examples are a reality check in our lives; we live in a world where those with computing power really hold a different sort of sway, and so in today's world, that power and authority motif simply isn't effective, so there has to be a different way to lead in today's world.  

The final global trend that I want to mention -- there are probably more -- is changing contracts. Permanent jobs are becoming scarcer while the temporary workforce is on the rise. More people are self-employed than there were 25 years ago, many not by their own choice. Project teams are formed to provide a service, and when the project is over in a year or two, the team is disbanded, and the person is looking for a job again.  The organization's loyalty to people and people's loyalty to the organization is becoming a relic of the past, and the new contract promises employment only in exchange for a commitment to excellence. There is a little cartoon that is kind of cute, but it's sad as well:  “These are our motivational posters. They are resumes of people who can replace us.” It's no surprise that in such a climate, employees are hiring themselves out to the highest bidder.  

I was consulting with a Christian organization recently, and this is an older organization, and some of the people have been in the organization for 35 or more years, and they've been missionaries in this organization, and as they began to share with me when they first came into the organization 35 years ago, they were simply asked the question, “Are you called and committed to this ministry for life?” And they actually had to sign a statement that they were committed and called to this organization and this ministry for life.  But over the last 5 to 10 years, the organization has shifted, and they said, we're no longer committed to you. If you don't keep up your skills, you're going to be out of a job. So the land underneath the employees has radically shifted, and so employees’ commitment shifts as well. People sense no loyalty from the organization, and so they're hiring themselves out. IBM a number of years ago moved from what they called lifetime employment to now lifetime employability. That's a huge shift in the thinking.  

So it's difficult to inspire commitment in that kind of a world. What do you think about these trends? Have you seen these trends? How do you react to those? What do you think about these three, rising cynicism, shifting power, and changing contract? Have you experienced those yourself? Have you seen that in the emerging generations? What are you seeing? What do you think? I'm really interested in your input, your feedback. I've mentioned rising cynicism. Do you sense a rising cynicism in our world?  

STUDENT 1:  I would certainly say rising distrust, which is part of cynicism, and any time you can go global with a thought, a picture, an image which the computers allow us to do, the Internet allows us to do, you have a whole sense of power, and with that power comes a distrust, I think, and so there is a rising distrust, which I would have to say would be a part of cynicism. Now, we’ve come over the centuries from the haves and the have-nots to a whole different definition of the haves and the have-nots, and how you get to be a have from a have-not is a less clean line; I mean, you used to be able to do that, and now you can't, so there's a whole lot of dynamics that I think would feed to cynicism.

STUDENT 2: I don't know if hopelessness is just way far away from cynicism, but certainly, with the third-world terrorist countries now, the hopelessness and the behavior that leads to that, I mean, I guess that really is rising for us in the United States; you know, our poverty and hardship is nothing compared to the environment that has led to the hopeless attitudes of these Palestinians and Middle Easterners. 

I think part of the rising cynicism, at least in my way of thinking, is due to the access to information. Back when John Kennedy was president, he was a rascal in some of his doings, but the press and the media were not on top of it. Even going back to FDR, Franklin Roosevelt, we know about his charades as well. But the press and the media and the access to information wasn't nearly what it was, and so we held these leaders in much higher esteem, whereas today, the access to information that we have through the media and through the Internet and so forth brings these people into living color in our family rooms each night, and so there isn't much -- at least we don't perceive that there's much -- secret anymore, and so it's brought them down to size, so we've sort of done it to ourselves. We've made caricatures out of our leaders because of the access to information. So I think those two can play hand in hand perhaps. Other comments? Did I see somebody over here that wanted to say something?  

STUDENT 3:  Well, I was just going to say that I'm probably part of the cynical generation just in terms of, or the cynical problem or whatever, just because, I mean, people my age and younger grew up where every Christian leader -- I mean, not everything, obviously not every Christian leader -- but you could at least say five or you could keep counting, that would profess one thing but then do something very contrary, and so it makes you think, ‘What is real?’ and not fall into that, and it sort of breeds a cynicism in our culture, which I think is super cynical about people who want to aspire to Christ.  I think we've confused it some, where we are saying, ‘We are the good people; be like us,’ and we're not pointing to Christ in that, and for so many generations, they see that what has been portrayed as the Christian culture, or whatever, is being very false. I think that just in terms of that cynicism _____ [13:52] 

STUDENT 1:  Isn’t it wonderful that the word that you picked for the person who believed in you was authentic. 

Yeah, that is. Well, thank you for the input. I'm sure that there are other trends that are going on, but these trends make it very important for us to reassess what is leadership all about, and I want to submit to you that as we talk about Christ-centered leadership, I believe that Christ-centered leadership effectively deals with all three of these issues in a very powerful way, and we'll get to that. I'm going to ask you to take a look at a little survey and just ask yourself some questions. This is just for you; nobody else is going to be looking with you at the answers, so please be honest, and when you're finished with those we’ll take a little break. But when you are done with those, I’d just suggest that you'd stick those somewhere because we'll refer to how you reflect on those questions a little bit later in the course, but this is just to get us started.

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