May 2019 E-news from the Siburt Institute

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Three Dimensions of Leadership for Growing (and Dying) Churches!

Last month, I offered a brief introduction to a wonderful book on leadership by Tod Bolsinger titled Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory.1 One significant feature of the Bolsinger’s book is his contribution to thinking about the sort of leadership needed in congregational contexts today. When I say congregational contexts, I am speaking of churches that are likely aging and in significant decline, and I also am speaking of young churches experiencing vitality and life. Both kinds of churches need the things that Bolsinger offers!

Bolsinger names three vital dimensions that need to be in play for leaders. First is the dimension of technical competence. Bolsinger reminds us that even in new and uncertain times, churches still need certain basic things done well. All these matter: faithful stewardship; handling the nuts and bolts of congregational care and life; the ability to maintain effective, streamlined decision-making; and caring for the unseen and unexpected crises that emerge. Leaders must be trusted to do what the congregation has hired or affirmed them to do. Without technical competence, a church will be unwilling to try new things or step out in faith toward a new future.

Second, leaders must demonstrate relational coherence. Undergirding all congregational life and vitality is the reality of strong, meaningful relationships. Relational coherence refers to the credibility, connectedness and character leaders must possess to facilitate and nurture trust. Relationships must cohere; that is to say, relationships need to reflect honesty and authentic empathy. A lack of solid relationships will severely limit the capacity for a church to engage with its mission.

Third, leaders need adaptive capacity. This dimension refers to the ability to get on the balcony and see the big picture. Having seen the bigger picture, then the task is to undertake an experiment and try something that might extend mission. Being adaptive means being willing to take a risk, to try something new and then learn about it. It also can mean looking at reality and reframing something that may appear to be a bad thing to see the opportunity that lies latent within it.

When leaders possess all three of these dimensions and practice them, their churches will be well positioned to pay attention to God’s preferred future. More than that, those leaders will be well positioned to act as dynamic partners with God in kingdom activity. May God bless you as you develop your technical competence, your relational coherence and your adaptive capacity, all for the sake of God’s work in the world!


Carson 1. InterVarsity Press, 2018.
2019 Ministers’ Salary Survey results now online
Thank you to all who participated in the 2019 Ministers’ Salary Survey. The results of the survey are now available! This nationwide survey, an ongoing service of the Siburt Institute, gathers information about current compensation levels for ministers in Churches of Christ.

The survey compares minister compensation packages, including allowances and benefits, and provides information on the number of years in ministry, educational background, experience, and various other factors. To reflect up-to-date information, the survey was administered during the first few months of the year, requesting data on 2019 compensation packages. Once again, the survey process was led by Dr. Carley Dodd (’70), professor emeritus of communication and research director for the Siburt Institute. Dodd was kind enough to offer several reflections on this year’s data, including key takeaways for elders and ministers.

If you serve in a paid ministry position within the Churches of Christ and would like to participate in the 2020 survey, please complete this brief online form. Email us at with questions or feedback.
Ministry of reconciliation
In a special guest series on Mosaic, Maurice Dent and Drew Baker (’12) offer insights into the complexities and importance of pursuing racial reconciliation within the church. In part one, Baker reflects on how our vision of God’s kingdom relates to our (often flawed) perception of diversity. In part two, Dent and Baker discuss practical challenges to racial reconciliation in our worship practices. And in part three, the authors suggest three key commitments necessary for moving toward reconciliation. Dent (pictured, left) is lead minister for the Gate City Church of Christ in Greensboro, North Carolina, and Baker (pictured, right) ministers in Lewisville, North Carolina.
Register for Summer Seminar with Randy Harris
Join us for our Summer Seminar, “Rich Heritage, Unfolding Future: Renewing Churches for God’s Mission,” Aug. 9-10 in ACU’s Hunter Welcome Center. Under the leadership of Randy Harris (pictured, right), our growing team of presenters and panelists includes (pictured below, from top left) David Bearden, Dr. Wes Crawford (’02 M.Div.), Alejandro Ezquerra, Dr. Douglas Foster, Dr. Suzie Macaluso, Dr. Royce Money (’64), Ian Nickerson (’16) and Dr. Carson Reed (’95 D.Min.). Watch our website for additional presenters!

Register today! The event cost is $60 and includes meals. Registration closes Aug. 2.
Cross-Cultural Pathway at Summit 2019
It matters how we engage in multicultural relationships within our churches and leadership teams! All people are welcomed into the body of Christ, and the church is the physical embodiment of that welcoming.
This year at Summit, Dr. Jared Looney (’96), executive director and team leader at Global City Mission Initiative; Manny Dominguez, youth minister at the Hills Church; and Seth Bouchelle (’13), team leader at Global City Mission Initiative, will lead a full-day pathway on Tuesday, Sept. 17.
Global City Mission Initiative gathering
The pathway will focus on the challenges of multicultural leadership and discipleship, offering useful advice for any church concerned with its multicultural relations. Speakers also will explore unique challenges and benefits facing leadership teams as they seek to diversify their staffing in response to changing demographics and shifting religious and spiritual perspectives.

Please plan to join us Sept. 15-18 in Abilene for the 113th annual Summit.
Summer Seminar, Aug. 9-10Lunch and Learn with Dr. Jerry Taylor, Aug. 29ACU’s 113th Summit, Sept. 15-18Minister Support Network Retreat, Sept. 19-22Contemplative Ministers’ Initiative Retreat, Oct. 7-10
“Being a leader inevitably involves disappointing people. Someone will eventually misunderstand or criticize our decisions. But our goal is pleasing God, not trying to make everyone happy. Our goal is to serve the church with our gift of leadership.” – Bob Kauflin, Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God “The thoughtful, relationship-oriented person in an organization may not always be the one with the most important title on the door or the one who dominates meetings. It may not even be the person to whom others turn for action. But in every successful organization there is at least one person who is oriented toward relationships and who guides others. The official leader does well to identify and encourage this person.” – Philip Crosby, The Absolutes of Leadership

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