Not All Leadership Styles Are the Same

Leadership style and culture is contextual. At least this is my experience.

As NewThing has continued to grow internationally, I have had to learn (sometimes the hard way) that leadership culture varies from one global context to the next. The diversity of leadership styles is a beautiful thing but can be difficult to manage.

(Please note the following observations are anecdotal and based on my personal experience.)

Not long ago we hosted three leadership residents from Kenya at Community Christian Church. I had a front row seat to watch how they were taught to lead and how it was different from how I was taught to lead.

For example, American leadership values buy-in. Leaders don’t lead through command and control, rather they lead by casting a compelling vision casting and negotiating what that looks like. There is a high value on collaboration. We collaborate. We need to get the team to ‘buy-in’ and cooperate. We can’t lead through command and control.

In Africa, it’s different. What I’ve learned about leadership in Africa (specifically East Africa) is that leadership is hierarchical. There is a LEADER who leads down and if you’re on the leaders team you simply carry out what the leader asks you to do. While collaboration isn’t valued as much, African leaders are incredible at focusing a team and moving quickly to achieve results despite the circumstances.

An African leader once told me that in Africa, you never delegate upwards. This leader explained that you never ever create more work for the people above you. Your job is to do the work or figure out how to do it. This can sometimes lead to challenges of workload.

Leaders from the West have no problem coming to their leaders and asking for help to get certain jobs or projects accomplished. It’s been more than one season that I’ve felt overwhelmed by all the work coming my way.

It’s important to note that no leadership style is better (or worse for that matter) than any other. Leadership varies and that’s all there is to it. So if we’re going to become effective global leaders, we need to embrace this fact.

So when you’re working cross-culturally it’s important to acknowledge this and prepare yourself to work through it.

Let me know your thoughts and opinions on this topic. It’s important the church gets this one right. 

Signs of church planting movements in Germany

Something wonderful and beautiful is going on in Germany from a Kingdom perspective.

After talking with several German leaders in recent days, I sense new churches are going to be planted all over that country. And this is going to have tremendous impact on Europe and maybe the world. 

Here are some of my observations/notes from my  conversations with these leaders:

  1. Germany plays a significant role in Europe. As Germany goes, so goes Europe. Whatever is happening there will spill-over to other countries. #Kingdomwin
  2. Many German churches work globally. This means they are well versed with church planting methodologies from other cultures and contexts.
  3. There is a renewed sense of solidarity around MISSION. This is right and good for it will permit leaders the opportunity to work together to plant more churches. Denominations and doctrine are important. But we need to be able to find the opportunities to partner rather than those issues that divide us.
  4. These leaders are praying for Germany – together – and inviting others to join them.
  5. Young German leaders are emerging. We have been joined by a number of German leadership residents at Community. They want to start movements of reproducing churches. There is a new generation of leaders in Germany and they’re dreaming BIG dreams.
  6. German leaders are asking themselves THE KEY QUESTION: what do we need to do differently to multiply churches?
  7. German networks have great systems and training tracks for church planters. (Does anyone want to dispute the fact that Germans are great engineers.) Once the ‘what’ comes into focus, they will bring all of this to bear.
  8. German churches are well resourced. No church is rich, but German churches exist in the German economy, one of the best in Europe.
  9. Conferences are bringing leaders together. German leaders are gathering together.
  10. German leaders believe something is happening! They just need to be encouraged to dream and affirmed that they can do it.

Look, I am an American and I am making all of these observations from the United States so what do I know. I am planning to travel to Germany early next year to see for myself. But in the meantime, I can’t help but be inspired by what I am hearing.

Do me a favor and pray for Germany right now!

And if you want to find out how you can partner with NewThing please contact us.

Called to Plant a Church? This Might Help

I have the privilege to speak to men and woman who are being called to start new things for the Kingdom. I am always inspired after hearing how God is working in their lives; challenging them to move outside of their comfort zone and follow Jesus. It’s because of them that we get new churches.

I’ve learned a few things during these conversations and identified some principles about calling.

One of our strategic partners at NewThing is The Aspen Group. I recently sat down with them to talk about this topic for their Alignment Conference Podcast series.

If you’re thinking of planting a church, it might help.

Check it the full article and podcast HERE.

Here’s the Soundcloud Link.

A Day in the Life of NewThing

Yesterday I was scanning Facebook and came across several events that were happening at NewThing. What struck me is the breadth and scope of what God is doing through our movement. Here’s what I saw:

NewThing Leaders in Indiana

NewThing leaders in Indianapolis met to work on plans to plant new churches all over Indiana. They are dreaming BIG and partnering on a number of levels. This group started with a Catalyst Community.

NewThing Leaders in Kansas City met for their monthly movement / network leader huddle. This is an opportunity for them to check in with each other about their plans to plant churches together. They also take tine to pray for one another. The KC network has been one of our most inspiring networks for a long time. They haven’t let up on the throttle at all.

NewThing Leaders in Kansas City
Dave Ferguson Meeting with German Leaders
Dave Ferguson in Germany

Our fearless leader, Dave Ferguson, is traveling through Germany meeting leaders who want to plant new churches. He’s speaking at conferences and talking about ways NewThing can help fuel movements.

Our Global Catalyst Community team led by Joe Wilson is helping leaders in El Salvador start new reproducing networks. God is truly doing some incredible things through this platform. We have plans to scale this training and help apostolic leaders across the globe reproduce new leaders and churches.

NewThing Catalyst Community in El Salvador

In fact, there was lots more. We’re working with pastors in Chicago to start new networks. Our partners in Michigan are meeting to talk about how they can work together.

All of this really took me by surprise. I mean I am the Global Director of this fantastic organization (just sayin’) and I know all of this stuff is going on. But it doesn’t mean all of this reproducing stuff has gotten old. Nor does it mean that I don’t lose my breath when I actually get to see and hear about all that God is doing.

I’ll admit that sometimes it’s hard to lead an organization like NewThing because I don’t always get to see what God’s up to.

So I want to THANK YOU for all of the leaders all over the world who have said yes to NewThing and are now catalyzing church planting. (And thanks for posting photos so I can see it all! ) Your leadership is why our movement is literally exploding.

Together, we truly are better!

#KINGDOM

May we continue to give God all the praise and glory for all that He’s up to in the world. Amen.

The Rest of the Beloved

Yesterday was a retreat day for me.

Every few months I try to set aside my agendas and to-do lists and really try to spend time with Jesus. While this isn’t easy – and I blow it off more than I’d like to admit – the focused time in the presence of the divine is always good – and necessary.

For me, this means I listen to Jesus. I can’t hear Him unless I set aside everything and focus on HIM. I listen and listen and listen.

I usually plan a FULL DAY to do this. Sometimes my schedule allows that to work out, others times it doesn’t. But at least I am intentional about it.

Now the truth is, I don’t sit still very well. (For those of you who I live and work with this comes as no surprise.) So if I really want to spend time with Jesus and listen I need to go on a long run. Preferably, this is a ‘down and out run.’ I run far in one direction so that I have to run the same distance back. (It keeps me honest.)

Yesterday was a 10 mile so that gave me plenty of time to listen.

While running, I try my best to get rid of all thoughts and aspirations; all plans and agendas; all anxieties and challenges…and just listen. I do all I can to quiet the ‘other voices’ that are always chattering in my head and listen…to the voice of Jesus.

God said much to me during that run: things I needed to hear; things I needed to be reminded about. He told me about the sins I need to deal with. He told me about the here relationships I need to mend. He told me about getting a better handle on my frustrations.

I heard Him and I know what to do.

And I was able to rest during that run. (Yes, you can ‘rest’ even when you’re running or walking or exercising.)

The rest I am talking about is one that happens when God has the chance to whisper into your soul because you’re focused on him and you’re trying to listen. Because when you give God the opportunity and really listen, you will hear from Him. And you will hear that you are beloved and that your life is in his hands and that there is nothing to fear and no amount of striving or pursuing will make Him love you more than you already are.

Because when you listen to God you will hear you are beloved. Yesterday, during that run I heard I was beloved. Again.

May you find the time and place to hear from God as much and as often as possible. Amen.