Siburt Institute November 2016 E-news

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Dimensions of leadership

The noted theologian Jürgen Moltmann remarked that in “every period the church has a duty to be clear about its commission, its situation and its goal.”These three things – mission, context and purpose – are very significant for congregational leaders. And each of these things can quickly and easily be lost in the rapidly changing world we inhabit.

  1. Mission – The inevitable reality of any community is the loss of its sense of mission. For congregations, the shift from being God’s sent community to serving our own personal agendas is often slow and subtle. But it does happen! Every congregation deserves to have leaders who constantly remind both themselves and the church that the church’s existence is for others – not for itself. When mission is first and foremost in a leadership team’s mind and practice, other things gain greater clarity and focus.
  2. Context – We are living in what Alan Roxburgh calls the “great unraveling.”2 We face unprecedented change and upheaval in our culture and society. To assume that Christian practices can remain the same and still shape Christian community is to bury our heads in the sand. Rather, Christian leaders must be willing to honestly and openly examine culture and, with imagination, offer hopeful new practices and ways of doing church. God is always doing a new thing; being attentive to our culture helps us to see what that new thing might be!
  3. Purpose – As the people of God our task is to partner with God in the transforming work He longs to do in our world. Our purpose informs our actions, reminding us that God is the agent of transformation and that we do our best work when we are faithful in responding to God’s leadership and action in the world.

I would suggest that leadership teams might find a useful and important conversation by exploring together the questions that follow:

  • How clearly are mission, context and purpose present in your meetings?
  • Do you begin your meetings with a reminder of the sent nature of your work?
  • Are you cognizant of the dynamics of your particular context and what it means to live out mission in your location?
  • Are you paying attention to the ways that you can partner with God’s new work?
  • Does your current ministry demonstrate a clear connection to God’s purpose in the world?

We will never do these things perfectly. However, we will find joy and meaning in our congregations whenever we are leaning into these questions.

Blessings in your practice of leadership!


[1] Jürgen Moltmann, The Church in the Power of the Spirit trans. Margaret Kohl (New York: Harper & Row, 1977).
[2] Alan J. Roxburgh, Joining God, Remaking Church, Changing the World: The New Shape of the Church in Our Time (New York: Morehouse Publishing, 2015).


‘The Crossroads of Art and Faith’ – A Contemporary Christian Conversation

In “The Crossroads of Art and Faith,” Siburt Institute spiritual director Randy Harris interviews Dan McGregor, professor of art and design at ACU. McGregor discusses the value of art to faith in an image-based culture. He highlights how art has the potential of conveying the divine in a way that words alone cannot. As with previous videos in the series of Contemporary Christian Conversations, Harris focuses on the timely issues within the context of personal stories, allowing the interviewee to share how they have been shaped by the topic of discussion as a follower of Christ. Watch the video here.

Electing to follow Jesus

What kind of stances should Christians take in an election year (or any year, for that matter)? Randy Harris and Greg Taylor, co-authors of Daring Faith, dive into this complex question in a five-part series published on CHARIS in the weeks leading up to and immediately following Election Day. But don’t worry – in this series you won’t find the names of any political parties or political figures, nor will you encounter name-calling or positions on current hot-button issues. Rather, Harris and Taylor explore broader topics such as how Christians’ allegiance to the Gospel affects the ways we act in the world, whether it’s an election year or not. We hope you will find some valuable reminders and thought-provoking questions throughout these five posts: Claiming Our Baggage, The Gospel of Peter vs. the Gospel of Jesus, How to Be a Loser, Strangers in a Strange Land and Prophets of Mercy and Justice.

McLaughlin to serve as keynote speaker for ElderLink Houston 

The ElderLink team is excited to announce Don McLaughlin, pulpit minister of the North Atlanta (Ga.) Church of Christ, as the ElderLink Houston keynote speaker. McLaughlin will deliver complementary plenary messages: “Prepared to Receive” and “Prepared to Give.” He and his wife Susan have served their congregation since 1997. A greatly sought-after speaker, McLaughlin focuses his ministry on raising up and equipping Christ-centered, diverse, community-impacting churches.

Along with several breakout sessions, ElderLink Houston will include a panel discussion on “Models of Governance: How Do Elders and Ministers Work Together for the Sake of God’s Mission?” On hand to share their experiences within their respective contexts will be an elder and minister pair from each of the following Houston-area churches: First Colony Church of Christ, New Beginnings Church and West Houston Church of Christ. Dr. Carson Reed will facilitate the conversation.

ElderLink Houston will be held at the West Houston Church of Christ on Saturday, Jan. 28. Register yourself and your leadership team today!



“The true leader serves. Serves people. Serves their best interests, and in so doing will not always be popular, may not always impress. But because true leaders are motivated by loving concern rather than a desire for personal glory, they are willing to pay the price.” – Dr. John White, Excellence in Leadership

“Leaders take three dimensions of leadership into account: the leader’s preferred style, the style (or styles) or the followers, and the particular demands of each leadership situation. The unique mix of factors inherent in each leadership situation shapes the leader’s response to and success with that specific pacesetting opportunity” – Dr. Robert D. Dale, Good News From Great Leaders

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