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Grand Rapids, MI

Embarking Blog

...on the journey towards restoration of all things

Summit: Session 4 Part 1

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from Willow Creek Leadership Summit 2008: Session 4 Part 1, John Burke, Gateway Community Church, Leading in New Cultural Realities The right kind of soil matters.

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building. --1 Corinthians 3:6-9

Spiritual leadership is all about creating the right soil, the right environment.

  • Spiritual leadership/ church is messy.  Jesus' ministry was messy.
  • Does the soil you're creating allow room for authentic questions and struggling?
  • We have to be willing to get our hands dirty, cultivating the soil as necessary.
  • Who should we be ministering to and reaching?  Messy people.
  • If we are not seeing messy people around us who are becoming part of the church, then we are not leading like Jesus.

The Messy Leadership That Cultivates Environments

  1. Cultivate the soil with grace-giving acceptance.  Come as you are.  God will accept you as is and walk with you to become more and more what he intended for you.  Most people don't experience this kind of grace-giving acceptance from Christians.  [Note:  this reminds me of the book The UnChristian and many of the findings there.  See my posts on UnChristian.]  U2 - "Grace makes beauty out of ugly things."  Too many churches are making it difficult for messy people to come to God.  (cf. Acts 15:10-11,19)  What are the barriers to grace in our context (our particular church/ perceptions, etc.) ie. hatred of gays, how we think about other religions.  How do we answer the culture's questions well without creating barriers to grace?  In every culture, there are cultural barriers to grace.  What are they in yours?  And how do you do that without compromising truth?
  2. Cultivate the soil with authentic confessing community.  Jesus couldn't stand the game-playing, saving face of the Pharisees.  Phariseeism is pretending that we're better than we really are.  When we really live in authenticity with one another, God shows up and something amazing happens.  And that is something the world is looking for.  "...calling out the masterpiece underneath the mud."
  3. Inspiring constant connection to God's spirit.  [John 13-17]  This is one of the most difficult things for self-centered Christians to do.  Stay connected; fruit happens.  [axiom] Spiritual fruit is scandalously simple.

I'm impressed with John Burke because he's connecting a couple of things together that I really like.  He's authetic.  He's leading an effective church reaching many who are far from God.  He's connected to an emerging culture and meeting real people who are really in the real world.  He doesn't back off from solid scriptural truths about spiritual transformation.  He's seeing real fruit in the younger generations and doing creative ministry that is both meangingful and impactful. 


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