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. 

Commissioning Our Global Leadership Residents to Plant a Reproducing Church

Last week I had the opportunity to commission our Global Leadership Residents at our Yellow Box Location.

These residents are planting a reproducing church in Johannesburg, South Africa, early next year.

Over the course of their 6 months in Chicago, we have become great friends. We have had dozens of conversations about cross culture ministry, church planting, and the global church. I have learned much from them.

Their courage to come to the US, their faith to pursue God’s call on their life, and resolve to plant a network of reproducing churches has inspired me.

And now, I can’t wait to see what God will do through them.

Thank you to all of the people at NewThing and Community that helped make this possible! It was truly a TEAM effort.

Do me a favor and add Charles, Chero, and Justin to your prayer list. They are starting a new thing after all! 

Celebration Generosity – NewThing Global Residency

I am REALLY excited about Celebration Generosity at Community this year because it will coincide with the recording of a brand new Community Music album. It’s gonna be great!celgen

CelGen is the time when all of Community’s locations give away the weekend offering to 4 teams. (Talk about generosity!)

NewThing is one of those teams. If you want to be part of CelGen, GO HERE.

To help people get to know NewThing a little better, we’ve been sending out stories on who we are and what we’re up to. I thought it would be fun to share some here.

This is from Cathleen Rotich, Global Residency Director.


Generosity Goes Global: Global Residency

NewThing is a global conversation about church planting. Celebration Generosity is helping us equip and send young leaders to start reproducing churches all over the world. One of the ways we’re doing this is through our Global Residency Program

Our dream began as a conversation…what if we could train church planters…not just any church planter but those who could plant cross culturally…and not just that but that it be a cross cultural team training together and then plant together…and what if they could be trained in more than one church culture setting so that the training is not just theoretical but in-situ and practical in every sense of the word?

Celebration Generosity has allowed us to make a dream a reality. gr-2016-copy

Our NewThing Global Residency-July cohort kicked off in Nairobi, Kenya. A group of three couples and a single guy responded to this call for gospel adventure and started the journey together. This group of men and women have left the familiar to step into new territory and are being prepared to plant a church in a global gateway city around the globe.

The NewThing Global Residency Program involves many church networks coming together to create an environment of cross cultural exchange and learning. These global networks, host the Global Residents and expose them to church leadership in that cultural setting. The outcome expected is that the global resident with a broader world view of the global church. In this way, they are being prepared to plant a thriving church in a gateway city; which is defined as those cities around the world that have multiple cultures within it for example, New York, London, Dubai and Johannesburg.

This pioneer group consists of

  • Karan and Isha, an Indian family with two boys. He has led a ministry that has planted multiple churches in North India under tough circumstances.
  • Charles and Chero, are a Kenyan couple who have served for the past five years as church planters in a coastal city in Kenya. They bring church planting experience to the team.
  • Travis and Jen an American Couple, have travelled the farthest from Michigan, US to be part of the team and we get to enjoy the flavor of the North American church.
  • Justin, a Kenyan Church planter, who moved to Johannesburg and served in the Anglican Church for about 5 years before returning to Kenya. Justine’s desire for global missions and planting is tangible and he brings youth and flexibility and a lot of cross cultural experience.

Together, these residents paint a beautiful picture of Christs’ church reaching the utmost parts of the world and the power of unity!

Our goal is to train 40 of these Global Residents per year. Your generosity during Celebration Generosity will help us do just that!

–Cathleen Rotich, Global Residency Champion

You can learn more about CelGen HERE.

You can learn more about NewThing HERE.

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