September 2018 E-news from the Siburt Institute

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Church Leadership and the Reversal of Power

To hold power or not to hold power; that is the question. Mediocre Shakespearean parodies aside, a significant struggle facing countless leaders is whether to strive toward acquiring and exercising power, or to seek to relinquish it. As leaders within our congregations and communities, do we hold onto as much power as possible, or do we instead focus on empowering others?

The common practice of leadership within secular contexts is characterized by assertion and control. Power takes the lead, and pursuing power becomes the unwritten creed. But the way of Jesus finds other paths, and Jesus consistently let go of power. Paul, who articulates the way of Jesus clearly, claims that “power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). Of course, the power of which Paul speaks is not human power; rather, it is God’s power that only comes to bear when humans cease their own strivings and assertions. Indeed, as Paul writes, “whenever I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10).

This reversal of power and this path of acknowledging weakness and vulnerability challenges many leadership teams in churches today. Will church leaders be truthful with themselves and with God? Even when signs everywhere suggest that attendance is declining, that fewer guests are showing up for worship, that volunteers for church ministry are harder to find, that people are leaving the congregation and that morale is down, far too many leaders still press on with the worldly model of seeking to figure it all out and to “fix it!” Other times, leaders choose to simply to ignore or avoid the challenge.

Maybe, instead, Christian leaders need to practice embracing weakness and seeking God’s power. Maybe it is time for a revival. What might happen if the next leaders meeting became a prayer meeting?




Carl Spain Center on Race Studies and Spiritual Action launches during Summit

For many people within the Churches of Christ, Dr. Jerry Taylor is synonymous with an ongoing quest to seek true racial unity within the kingdom of God. An associate professor of Bible, missions and ministry at ACU, he has led myriad related initiatives, including National Freedom in Christ Conferences, region-based Racial Unity Leadership Summits and Racial Unity Leadership Retreats. He also has given numerous sermons and presentations on racial unity across the nation. During the 112th ACU Summit, Taylor’s efforts culminated with the launch of the Carl Spain Center on Race Studies and Spiritual Action. Taylor serves as the founding executive director.

The center is named for the late ACU Bible professor Dr. Carl Spain (’38), who delivered a speech in 1960 challenging his alma mater and other Christian colleges to rethink their position of not admitting African-American students. The following year, the university changed its policy.

As noted on the center’s website, the Spain Center “was created to honor the legacy of Carl Spain by conducting research on the historical and contemporary role of race and racism in the church and its Christian institutions.” Future activities will include spiritual retreats, conferences, a lecture series and facilitating conversations among collaborators to address the racial divide among Christians. The center is housed in ACU’s Onstead-Packer Biblical Studies Building.

For more information, visit

Siburt Institute introduces Mosaic

We are excited to unveil our new blog, which curates reflections on Christian leadership, spiritual vitality and cultural engagement. Mosaic includes a familiar writing team and similar types of articles we previously hosted on CHARIS, but in a space more fully devoted to equipping those who serve the church.

Specifically, it includes three primary categories, or areas of focus. “Church” explores various aspects of ministerial leadership and congregational life; “Discipleship” emphasizes the importance of spiritual health in the life of the leader; and “Culture” fosters conversation about what it means to live as citizens in God’s kingdom while also being residents of this world. Like fragments of tile or glass, each beautiful and broken on its own, the offerings in Mosaic converge to form a design more beautiful than the sum of its parts.

Karissa Herchenroeder, assistant director of church relations and the Doctor of Ministry program, is editor of the blog. To connect with Mosaic, visit, subscribe to weekly email updates or multiple RSS feeds, or follow Mosaic on Facebook and Twitter.

Gentry speaks about millennial families at ElderLink San Antonio

At ElderLink San Antonio on Oct. 27, Eric Gentry, an associate preaching minister at the Highland Church of Christ in Memphis, Tennessee, will discuss “Millennials and Their Children: Two Generations at the Crossroads of Church and Culture.” While some churches are still figuring out how to relate to millennials, millennials are beginning families and challenging the religious world to find ways to respond to their children. As a preacher and a millennial with young children, Gentry will provide a firsthand account of what that means to church leaders.

Other breakout sessions will provide opportunities to interact with speakers and fellow participants over topics like congregational vision, women in the life of the church and leadership for God’s mission. The keynote speaker will be Randy Harris, ACU Bible instructor and spiritual director for the Siburt Institute and the College of Biblical Studies. For a full lineup, see the schedule and the list of speakers and staff. ElderLink San Antonio will be held at the MacArthur Park Church of Christ and will be the only ElderLink in Texas for the 2018-19 academic year. Be sure to register by Oct. 21 for the early bird discount.

King leads session at United Voice Worship Conference

Curtis King (’83), associate director for the Siburt Institute, will lead “Code-Switching: One Man, Two Worlds,” a breakout session at the United Voice Worship Conference in Houston, Nov. 3-5. With an emphasis on intercultural experiences, King will discuss the age-old practice of reading and responding to one’s social environment inside and outside of church settings. The conference is sponsored by United Voice Worship, a Houston-based a cappella singing ministry “dedicated to honoring Jesus Christ by promoting intentional dialogue between people of different backgrounds created in the image of God.” The conference will include workshops, singing and several keynote presentations.

For more details, visit

Congratulations to the Summit 2018 team!

We extend our heartfelt congratulations to Summit director Dr. David Wray (’67), Siburt Institute assistant director Leah (Carrington ’90) Andrews, and the entire Summit team for a job well done. This year’s event was well-planned and well-received! Save the date for Summit 2019, slated for Sept. 15-18 with a theme of “Living the Psalms.”

The Summit Team (from left): Sarah Sells, Roland Orr, Judy Siburt, David Wray, Leah Andrews and Darryl Tippens. Not pictured: Sarah Ross.



  • “Exalting ourselves, even under the guise of having advanced integrity, spirituality, and holiness, will end in our spiritual demise. Better to level the playing field on our own than for God to have to knock us off our pedestal. But how? Paul says it comes through Christ-conditioned love. The person who loves as Christ does always believes more about what God can do in someone than what that person has done with themselves.” – Don McLaughlin, Love First: Ending Hate Before It’s Too Late
  • “One of the reasons Jesus continues to be a lightning rod in today’s culture is because he wields tremendous power. This power is not oppressive or flashy: Jesus’ continual seeking of God’s will was an act of power; his forgiveness of the adulterous woman was an act of power; his submission to the cross was the most courageous and powerful act of leadership in human history.” – Dr. Richard S. Lytle, Abandon the Ordinary: Building a Distinctive Leadership Brand in Business, Family, and Church

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