The Functional Church Blog

koinonia * kerygma * diakonia * marturia

Archive for the ‘leadership training’ Category

Cultural Dependency & Systematic Theology: At Odds in the Search for Emancipation?

Posted by functionalchurch on 2010/11/14

A lot of my work involves finding solutions for economic problems. Quite often I am that solution (at least on a short-term basis). But we haven’t found a long-term solution yet. We do teach on Capacity Building at SEATS but some things I have been reading lately have made me wonder if we are on the wrong track. Recently I have been thinking about the following questions and ideas:

If cultural & economic dependency are linked (as per Ali Mazrui), what does that say for teaching systematic theology cross-culturally? Since theology defines church culture, must it then be developed by those within the culture so as to not contribute to cultural dependency? Is it just adding to the problem? Is developing Asian Theology then the key to eliminating economic dependency in Asian churches?

These questions came as a result of reading my Dad’s Master of Education thesis from 1990. Kind of makes me wish I had read it earlier. Referencing Mazrui, Dad makes the statement “that cultural autonomy can be achieved through a strategy of domestication, diversification, and counter-penetration.”

Examples of this strategy (with comments) as applied to my cultural setting might include:

1. Use local language. SEATS training is conducted in a blending of English and Tagalog so perhaps we are going in the right direction here.

2. Connect to other Asian churches/cultures. SEATS itself is cross0-cultural but we haven’t been able to really link up Filipinos with other Asian church groups at this level. This will allow Asians to have more voices in the conversation than simply westerners.

3. Diffuse Filipino values into the mission. This, as pointed out in the thesis, is already on the way to being accomplished since there are a large number of Filipinos in Canada and Filipino churches working with the BGC Canada. Early in our career we even had a Filipino director of Global Ministries. His influence was definitely felt in our movement, even though he later moved on to other things. SEATS itself has a completely Filipino board. One idea would be to allow other Asian board members to help fill out the conversation and bring balance.

In your opinion, what is the best answer to this problem?

Advertisements

Posted in capacity building, christian life, cross-cultural, leadership training, missional, missions, pastoral training, philippines, theology, transformation | Leave a Comment »

Building the Kingdom: Essentials vs Non-Essentials (Part 2)

Posted by functionalchurch on 2010/07/24

A few months ago I wrote about the concept of Essentials vs Non-Essentials. At the end I expressed frustration about not having enough time in class for closure on the issues raised. Yesterday we had that closure in class.

The issues related to Essentials and Non-Essentials are quite often fought out in the issues on the periphery of our belief. That is, the battles waged in this area in our churches are primarily fought over non-essential practices as opposed to essential beliefs. The class did  an assignment  that called on them to list their core beliefs as disciples of Christ — that is the things that are absolutely essential to their life as Christians, the kinds of things that if they were not there would cause them to walk away from the group. I was mildly amused to see that the issues they considered to be core were almost exclusively theological in nature: Who is Jesus? What is the Church? Ordinances. etc. There was very little practice listed.

Which led us to the discussion of core beliefs and core practices. Of course, we all need to have core beliefs. But I just can’t survive on core beliefs. At some point those core beliefs need to come out — I need to show them in my actions.

For example, I remember watching a show called Venture on Canadian TV about 20 years ago. One episode hightlighted a new company that had developed a machine for turning garbage into potable water. The scene has stuck in my mind forever of the inventor of the machine holding a glass of water that had come from his machine. He proudly declared the water to be safe to drink. However, when asked by those present to prove his beliefs with action — in other words to drink the water — he refused saying, “I prefer wine.” Guess what? I have never heard of that machine again. Why? Because even though the inventor’s core belief was that the water was pure, his core practices did not include actually drinking the water himself!

Of course, I am not saying that everybody’s practices needs to be the same but that we find unity in the beliefs we share together. One issue that has come up in our faith community lately is how the practices that older Christians have relate to the practices that young Christians have. If we focus on the practices themselves, we will be divided. But if we focus on the core beliefs we can be unified and support a variety of legitimate core practices.

As a Theology teacher this truth strikes home for me. I must reexamine not my beliefs, but my practices so that my beliefs will be proved true in the things that I do.

How about you? Do your practices align with your beliefs?

Posted in christian life, christianity, church, church impact, conflict resolution, cross-cultural, ecclesiology, leadership, leadership training, transformation | Leave a Comment »

SEATS School of Ministry starts in a few

Posted by functionalchurch on 2010/07/11

SEATS School of Ministry starts in a few hours: We’ll be finishing up Essentials vs Non-Essentials http://ow.ly/29JAp

Posted in church impact, cross-cultural, ecclesiology, kingdom of god, leadership, leadership training, pastoral training | Leave a Comment »

If Powerlessness Means No Power How Can I Lead My Church?

Posted by functionalchurch on 2010/05/23

“You know, Mike. The hardest one of the 4 for me is Powerlessness. As Pastors we need to guide our churches. Without our power, people will not move and the church will not grow. So there needs to be a balance.” Phil was wrestling with one of Michael Frost’s Four Ps of Incarnational Mission. As a churchplanter among middle-class Filipinos, he is concerned about the future of his church and the best way to minister to this group.

Phil was a part of SEATS latest School of Ministry class. In an effort to return to the roots of our movement we have been revisiting the Gospels under the guise of a hermeneutics class. Called “Understanding Jesus: Mark.” I thought it might be interesting to combine Frost’s understanding of Incarnation and Incarnational Mission with the stories we see in Mark. Here is a brief summary of each of the four:

Presence – Do what Jesus would have been doing, if he were here.

Proximity – Identify with those to whom we are ministering, much in the way Jesus identified with nearly everyone to whom he ministered.

Powerlessness – giving up our position of power – be it money, position, education, or whatever – and depend upon God for the things we need in ministry. Rather than trusting in my own power, I trust in God’s.

Proclamation – it is all worthless if we never get around to discussing and presenting Jesus as the good news.

Granted these summaries may not accurately reflect Frost’s concepts since they are my summaries but they did form the basis for our discussion in class.

Of course, like Phil, we are all ok with 3 of the 4. We are happy to see that we represent God’s presence in the world, that we drawn near to others just as he drew near to us, and that ultimately, without the good news being proclaimed, there is no value to our mission. But when we get to that pesky #3 – Powerlessness – something seems to hold us back. We begin asking questions like Phil: How do we balance leadership with servanthood? Am I just supposed to sit back and let my church fail? To sit back and let people just do what they want?

The key to all of this is to remember that in Powerlessness we are imitating Jesus. Perhaps the Trinity had a similar discussion “before the foundation of the earth” where they debated the nature of the Incarnation. Perhaps they thought about all the positives and negatives as they discussed the plan. Certainly God’s concerns are bigger than ours. If I am concerned about my church and its growth, God is concerned with the universe and its growth. But yet, when all is said and done, God chose to use powerlessness as a key part of how he presented his love and salvation to us.

Another key is to remember that it is not really Powerlessness that is being spoken of but rather a dependence upon power that is not our own. Jesus is constantly speaking of how he is the one who depends upon the Father for certain things. We also read how it was the Holy Spirit who filled him and enabled him to do his marvelous acts. When we embrace powerlessness, we set aside our own resources, powers, abilities, etc and embrace humility and dependence upon God in it all.

I thought of a few points that might help us focus on the key concepts that relate to Powerlessness:

1. So does the ‘Pastor’ have to be the best at everything? If we believe this, we will never be able to embrace powerlessness since we will need that power to keep up the hectic pressure and pace we need to set for ourselves.

2. Does the church depend upon the ‘Pastor’ for its existence? Obviously we need to answer “No.” It is Christ upon whom we depend for our existence as a church. As such, maybe we need to let go a little bit and see where God is leading. (See #1, above).

3. How do our gifts play into this concept of powerlessness? The fact that the Spirit manifests himself through gifts he gives to each Christian as he sees fit means that one person can’t carry the whole load. We need to give up our idea of the pastor as the key figure in the church, as the one with whom the church lives or dies and embrace the fact that each part of the body is crucial to the future of what God does through us!

4. The concept of team understands powerlessness and uses it effectively. “There is no ‘I’ in team” is an old saying that has some truth to it. Team means we do it together not that you or I do it alone.

5. Is ‘Pastoral’ leadership based upon leadership through power, or leadership through example or leadership through serving? Jesus is pretty clear in saying that power isn’t to be the basis for our leadership. In fact, in his example of washing the disciple’s feet, he showed that it is really through servanthood and example that our leadership lies.

What are your thoughts on powerlessness and how it relates to leadership?

Posted in church, church impact, ecclesiology, jesus, leadership, leadership training, missional, pastoral training | Leave a Comment »

what is the truth?

Posted by functionalchurch on 2008/05/26

What is the truth? In the Jim Carrey movie, Liar Liar, a lying attorney is faced with the issue of having to tell the truth all the time. Of course, in typical Jim-Carrey fashion, the story is a little outrageous, but it does raise an interesting question in each of our minds: Am I a truth-teller or just another liar?

Of course, I feel this in the greatest way with my kids. How many times have I promised, “I’ll play with you when I’m done” but then started something new? Or set a standard for their behaviour that I then went on to ignore in my own life.

When I was a child our family had a rule: No TV shows about murder for the kids. One night I realised that my parents were watching a show that featured a murder. The next morning I said that it seemed unfair for us to not be able to watch but ok for them. Do you know what they did? They agreed and subjected themselves to their own rule. As I type I am asking myself if I would do the same thing in my own family? (Do I have to answer that?)

Actually if truth be told, we did face this in our family just the other day. In our family, we have decided that it is improper to use the s-word (not that s-word! This one has 6 letters and refers to a person’s intellectual capacity or lack thereof). My assumption was that it was the kids who couldn’t use it but I – being the father – could use whatever word I want. Of course, they called me on it. So now I have agreed that the rule applies to me also.

As a church leader I find it difficult to know how much of a truth-teller I should be. It may sound strange, but it’s true. There are so many factors to take into account: What is my relationship to the person I need to confront with the truth? Am I the best person to do the confronting or is there someone else? If I confront someone with the truth today, will our relationship ever be the same again? Is it really all that bad, whatever it is they are doing? Going beyond the basic relationships I may have from day-to-day, how about those things that I see in our society that are wrong? How do I confront them? Do I really have a say in the corruption of our nation? Do I really have a say in how various government agencies operate? Can I really do anything about a system that pervades every family home? How effective is my truthfulness when I drive? Isn’t it bad to impose my own cultural values on someone else?

I guess it comes down to how much I believe the truth. Have I been truly convinced of the need to extend my personal views of truth into the marketplace?

Mike Fast welcomes feedback on any of the articles he writes. Please leave your comments below.

Posted in church, church impact, ethics, leadership training, legacy, marturia, pastoral training, personal impact, transformation, truth-telling | Leave a Comment »

to the second and third generation

Posted by functionalchurch on 2005/07/25

the bible is constantly talking about how generations are affected by that actions of their forebearers. if the parents sin, then their children will feel the effects and continue in that sin. if the parents do something well, then that blessing will extend to their children.

on saturday, 30 july 2005, this generational principle will be proven true once again.

generation 1: in the late 1980s a group of young men and women underwent training to be pastors. a vast majority of those people are still in pastoral ministry today. one of those guys is my partner in ministry here in manila.

generation 2: for the past year or so we have been involved in training some of the second generation. each month we help shape their minds and ministries by showing them how to lead their churches to be agents of transformation in filipino society. these pastors have finished 9 of their required 15 courses. we are very excited to see them grow. god has blessed them by giving each of these a church with many potential leaders!

generation 3: on saturday, we will begin training generation three! a group of our students in cavite, philippines have decided to take our program to their followers. on saturday we will introduce this third generation to the basic foundations of the christian worldview. i am very excited to begin this new stage!

will you pray with me for this third generation?

Posted in leadership training, pastoral training | Leave a Comment »

your pastor

Posted by functionalchurch on 2005/07/06

have you ever thought about your pastor and what it has taken for him to be who he is? what makes him a good pastor?

his personality?
his training?
his love for god?
his love for you?

just what is it?

how much work did he have to do to get to be who his is today? some stuff is caught and some stuff is taught: how much of what makes him who he is is taught?

my own seminary training really prepared me well for life in the ministry.

i got a good biblical foundation,
i got a good theological foundation,
i got a good handle on who i am as a leader.

but most importantly, i learned how to think.

my job involves teaching pastors how to think so they can face the world and find solutions to its problems.

Posted in leadership, leadership training, legacy, pastoral training | Leave a Comment »

monkey world

Posted by functionalchurch on 2005/07/06

i was watching “monkey world” on animal planet the other day and it had this couple who basically built a zoo for monkeys over the past 15 years. i wondered where they got their funding and realised that they found groups and individuals who shared their passion for monkeys! my passion is not monkeys (not by any stretch of the imagination!!!). my passion is training pastors. so i began to ask myself the following questions:

1. who has a passion for pastoral training and churchplanting? in the Philippines? in Canada? in the US?

2. what kinds of people are they? pastors? professors? schools?

3. are there businesses/ businessmen (ie. people with financial resources) who are into seeing pastors trained?

4. how can i partner with them here in south east asia so we can continue our pastoral training and churchplanting?

do you have the answers to my questions?

Posted in leadership, leadership training, legacy, pastoral training | 1 Comment »