Facets of Christian Leadership

Have you ever held up a prism to the light and enjoyed the explosion of color as the light is refracted within? By turning the prism in different ways, we can see the colors change; each turn reveals something new and unexpected.

So it is with leadership. When examined from different angles and diverse perspectives, new, innovative, and exciting insights are revealed. In this issue, we will examine different facets and perspectives of Christian leadership, offering practical application for each concept presented. (You may, in fact, recognize different perspectives on topics we have examined in previous issues!) We hope you will be encouraged and challenged by this issue’s authors.

This issue kicks off with a Biblical Reflection from author Andrew Cavins. Cavins argues that the explosive growth of the early church could not have happened without some degree of creativity and innovation. This article briefly looks at James’s letter, observing principles of innovation that this pioneering Christian leader exhibited. In doing so, this article seeks to apply relevant innovation principles from Scripture to leadership today. The method of exegesis applied to this pericope is the sacred texture of socio-rhetorical analysis. The article concludes by proposing two practical principles for innovation leaders today: (1) turn failures into opportunities, and (2) inspire the will to persevere.

Our Leadership Interview is conducted with Dr. W. Jay Moon of Asbury Theological Seminary. Moon shares unique perspectives on church planting in the North American context, including six models for church planting that are both missional and financially viable. He also offers examples of these models being employed in the “real world.” This interview offers innovative ideas for every reader.

The three Featured Articles in this issue reflect three very different—but valuable—perspectives of leadership. Our first article, brought to us by Boubakar Sanou, highlights the critical importance of leadership development and succession planning to the performance and long-term sustenance of any organization. Unfortunately, the need to plan for leadership succession remains a challenge to both secular and faith-based organizations. This article explores the risks of not having a succession plan in organizations, the inhibitors of successful leadership transition management, and best practices for leadership development and transition. The last section explores ways to prepare the next generations for missions.

Our next Featured Article is brought to us by Simon Lasu and Carlos Biaggi. Biaggi highlights the scarcity of research on the influence of virtuous leadership on organizational performance in Christian organizations. With this in mind, he and his team developed a theory of virtuous leadership and its influence on organizational performance grounded in the perceptions of leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Using classic grounded theory methodology, data was collected by interviewing eight leaders of the Adventist Church from the MENA region. The article concludes with practical implications for Christian leaders and recommendations, specifically for those serving in the MENA region.

In our final Featured Article, Douglas Schonberg examples the increasing anxiety and reactivity across society witnessed in elections, responses to COVID-19, and even within personal posts on social media platforms. He maintains that this is a phenomenon that is growing invasively and is becoming pervasively present in ministry leadership. Using Murray Bowen’s family systems theory (1978), this article outlines the concepts of societal emotional process and emotional reactivity, providing current examples of how they are being experienced by ministry leaders. Biblical examples demonstrate that the phenomenon has always been present in ministry leadership. Schonberg wraps up the article by providing practical guidance for ministry leaders.

In our Leadership Lived article, Lindsey Wilkerson questions if leaders’ pursue glory for their own glory or for the glory of God. After introducing the idea of submissive followership, specifically as witnessed in John 4:31–34, Wilkerson presents the example of followership modeled by Jesus, as well as a biblical view of leadership. She then examines prideful leadership fueled by success, praise, and recognition. This article will definitely make readers think and, ideally, make a daily choice to choose God’s glory over their own.

Finally, in our Dialogue section, Andy Pettigrew examines Christ’s call in Matthew 28:18–20 (known as the Great Commission). Jesus’s call to His disciples, bearing fruit in the activity of the church, offers a path and strategy to Christian leadership development. God’s granting of authority to his creation both defines and drives Christian leadership. This execution of authority begins in the imago Dei, fulfilled in Christ, and continues through the church on account of the salvation of Christ and his followers carrying out the biblical mandate to make disciples. By way of a strategy, increasing Christian leadership intelligence leads to Christian leadership development including a focus on building biblical intelligence, Christ-centered emotional intelligence, and God-purposed cultural intelligence. The heightened understanding of God-given authority and biblical mandate brings about a theological strategy for every Christian.

Our issue closes with book reviews of some of the most recent books published on the topic of leadership. We also include dissertation notices on topics covered in this issue.

May God bless you all as you examine different facets of Christian leadership!

Petr Cincala, PhD, is the director of the Institute of Church Ministry, Andrews University, assistant professor of World Mission, the director of Natural Church Development (NCD) America, and managing editor of the Journal of Applied Christian Leadership.

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