Leading a Healthy Church Culture - Lesson 6

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Discussion of the movie clip

Rick Sessoms
Leading a Healthy Church Culture
Lesson 6
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This is a summary version of the Christ-Centered Leadership class in the Certificates section that includes a study guide and additional resources.

Dr. Rick Sessoms
Leading a Healthy Church Culture
Discussion of the Movie Clip
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:01] So the power and control can be disguised, can it, in a very calm, almost spiritual tone that actually breaks the spirit of people and destroys people in the process. So reflections, what do you think about what you've heard over these last minutes regarding Dr. Vella and Nurse Ratchet? Is it depressing? Does it discourage you? Is it reflective of what you've experienced and what you've seen not just in leaders, but in Christian leaders? Is this an overstatement? What do you think? I think that, you know, that the ground rules get changed. You know, you try to address something like. Everybody here is voting for it. But there's a bigger. I think I've experienced that. Try to bring. Something someone and then find out a. In another segment of this. The goalposts are just constantly moving. Yeah. Depending upon the women in control, the leader was like he was in control. It's been my experience in a couple of different work settings and just thinking about an abstraction and thinking where that iciness comes from is when the leader doesn't really care about the people that we did it with. She cared about her roles first and what she wants first. Then in that thing that kind of cuts off the employees sort of at the knees and their voices are heard and their strengths are closed. You ask if it was depressing or it is depressing, if that's where this chapter ends. This is not the end of the chapter. It is not the final chapter. And so it is something that we as leaders need to be cognizant of, because it's very, very typical that there can be a disconnect between somebody who is part of the team and now is elevated above the team.

[00:02:49] And any time you've got a power imbalance, you've got a power broker. It's an unhealthy thing for that entity. And so I think we as leaders need to be consciously conscious of that so that we create those accountability factors that minimize that possibility of happening where one person is the power broker in and is feeding all the folks down below. He with? Three simple statements to finish this segment. Misuse of power among leaders is epidemic today. And I want to emphasize that this is true in the Christian church, and particularly true in the evangelical church. We have created a power culture that is that that is very, very toxic and carries with it a lot of harm. And in the evangelical church today, for a lot of reasons that I won't go into theologically, but it is particularly true within with our within our own ranks. And it seems to be growing, particularly in the majority world, that where we've exported our brand of Christianity in those. Secondly, church leaders are typically unaware when they misuse power. I think that Dr. Avella back to the conversation a while ago, he would not have described himself as an abuser of power. He would have simply been probably if he's if he's typical in in most of the time, he would have simply seen himself as being faithful to his calling and pursuing the mission to which he had he was committed. And so this is as I work with leaders around the world, we have created a a an atmosphere where we again, we have connected this spiritual leadership with position of leadership. And oftentimes these people find themselves, as Jim has said, sometimes being expected to speak for God at other times, assuming that that's their role and privilege.

[00:05:19] And so they move into a place where they're using God language and are not even aware when they're misusing and abusing power. And it's a big problem. And thirdly, the solution the only solution that I can suggest is that leaders must give access to others who can tell them and will tell them the truth. This is all about community, but it must begin with the leaders. This is part of the difficulty is that when we've connected spiritual leadership with positions of leadership, those with position that also have spiritual power or wield spiritual power, or the misuse of spiritual power and the misuse of position of power often move themselves into a place where they simply will resist others that that come trying to provide help, whether it's a marian Sergio, as in our case study or otherwise, and it's the rare person who will take the risk of speaking into a person like that because of the risk of being rejected or fired or whatever what whatever the case may be. So as I work with leaders and as you move into leadership roles in your life, be aware that it the ball is in your court to initiate the relationships that are going to keep you in community so that you can have that court jester, if you will, to continue to speak into your life from the outside. And it has the access that has the authority to speak in such a way, uh, as Jonathan spoke to David. So I'm just curious about those three statements or questions, comments, disagreements, thoughts. How do those strike you? I would say misuse of among power among leaders. Misuse of power among leaders is epidemic today.

[00:07:34] I would just say as part of the human nature has been going on since man was first created, the fall was created polarization. And from that comes those who have power and those who don't and has been abused all along. How does a phrase go? Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. So I don't think it's anything new. We're more cognizant of it today. We're more aware because of the technology that we have that connects us around the world. So I can look at somebody abusing power in Africa. I can look at somebody abusing power in San Francisco. I can look at it here locally. Good. That's a very good point. And I, I you're absolutely right. Power is part of the human misuse of power as part of the human condition has been since the fall. For certain. I suppose what I should emphasize here is, is that we have created within our evangelical context an unusual situation, at least from my perspective, where power is being misused in the name of God, in a in a new way, simply because the evangelical church has been very good at. Right. Raising leaders on putting leaders on a pedestal. In effect, we have our heroes. And some of those have been faithful where many have not. They've not been able to handle that power. And so I think the evangelical experience over the last 60, 70 years now has proven to be a context where, unlike some of the other church traditions of the past, we have tended to create egos. We tended to create these personages, these personalities, and many of them not just a pope, but many popes, if you will, so that we're creating these kingdoms, if you will, called local churches.

[00:09:35] Our whole megachurch movement has created this sort of momentum that that that is, as I said, being exported literally into India and Africa and all over the world. So it is in that sense, that's what I'm speaking about, it being about being epidemic. That makes sense. Oh, yes. Yes. And I concur with you wholeheartedly. I think the challenge in today's church is if I was building a house, it's a whole lot easier than for me to renovate a house because I've got to deal with what's there. You know, we in the Christian church today are dealing with a lot of folks who don't want to hear the Christian message because they were damaged by Christianity somewhere. And so why would you choose another thing that's going to hurt me as a as I can go out and have fun here, whether it's drinking, whether it's relationships, whatever it is, fame, power, whatever it is, I'm not going to get burned again by Christianity. And so, yeah, I think that we have a whole world now where it's easy to elevate our Christian leaders into godlike creatures that they are. Sure. Just ask the question that we ask. Is this what you're saying? Are you saying that the sin that's been in since Adam of power and abuse has been rampant, that we in an evangelical culture have called that Christian? Yes, that's what that's what I'm saying. Yeah, we have we have put a label on it. We branded it spiritual. Hmm. To others. The lack of human. Yeah. That song can have anything. Ask for wisdom in order to take care of the human heart rhythm that was so pleasing. The whole Middle East is about being about others. The strong first.

[00:11:48] So at the same time, we were created sort of to be figures, but as it's been alluded. And broken relationship with people. Yeah, but I think she said it so well we've, we've, we've branded it Christian in so many ways, which is the ultimate danger isn't it. Especially when we feel so good about that we've taken it for. Yeah, and there's a history to that. And I'll just divert just a second and talk about that because this in one of the books book that we've written, a colleague and I it after World War Two in this country, there was a, a sense of triumphalism where some of the most well-known Christian ministries began not long after World War Two, the Billy Graham Association, Bill Bright with his campus ministry and so forth. And it's interesting that Billy Graham started the Billy Graham crusades. Interesting word. And Bill Bright began Campus Crusade for Christ. Those were militant words because we wanted to conquer the world. That makes sense. And so these ministries and they did great things. I'm not taking away anything from those ministries, but it created a culture within evangelicalism because both of those ministries are very evangelical oriented. And then with the advent of the church growth movement in the 1980s out of Fuller Seminary and so forth, where there was this emphasis that bigger is better if we can, the more people we can reach for Christ, the more we can the millions and millions, the larger our organization is, the better it must be and the more effective it will be at reaching the masses for Christ as you follow this, this line of reasoning. And so what that created in the process was the need for these leaders to be on the top of the heap of these massive organizations.

[00:14:08] And along the way we have tended to Christianize some things that that are not necessarily Christian, but have done it in the name of God in order to continue this triumphant mentality. And again, that's not to say that that all as bad as some wonderful things that have come out of that generation. But the reality is we're starting we have begun in the last 20 to 25 years of paying a heavy toll as a result of the culture, not not the fruit, but the culture of the other Christian organizations that that era produced that make sense. So that's a little bit of the background, the history of how we've landed, where we have within the evangelical movement. Questions, comments, thoughts. I mean, that will megachurches has removed that later stage for the access. Yeah, exactly. You know, you got layers and well, I'm not close to him, but I'm open. This person's close to him. And the accountability, you're not a part of it, but you just Sure it's there. But are you sure it's there? So we're branding the Business Corporation model. Sure. I'm Christian. Yeah. And it's interesting that that I've heard a colleague of mine make a statement that and that thing is true, that in every culture around the world, the Christian church has adopted the power motive of that culture for their pastors. So that in the in the Indian context, pastors tend to function like a little guru. In Latin America, they tend to function like little Communist bosses. In America, they tend to function like little CEOs, to your point. And in in in in China, they tend to function like strongmen. In Africa, they tend to function like tribal chiefs. And so it's that dominant power motif that we have adopted from the culture right into the evangelical church, because it is the perception of how we become successful and how we reach more people as a result.

[00:16:27] So these are some of the trips and pitfalls along the way as we look at and at the need for relooking at what really is Christ centered leadership in today's world. Well, in order to address that that question, I'd like to take just some time together. And I'm going to ask, as you think about this previous session, I'm going to not going to take time now, but but those that are watching this online and then as you have time, as you as you're alone, I wonder if you'd reflect on this question. Assuming that power and control can be destructive, what tendencies might cause you to misuse power or to seek unhealthy control? I know that I have tendencies in in that arena. I think that we all do. So, as we all know, that power and control can be harmful. Then what is it within you and what is it within me that can cause us to misuse that power or to seek unhealthy control in our lives? And I'll leave it to you to reflect on that. On that subject in your own time.


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