Leadership Lessons from ASU

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My son is a student at Arizona State University (ASU).   Having been residents of Arizona for 10 years, we have watched ASU go from having a “questionable” reputation to being a well respected, nationally ranked university.  How did this happen through a decade of downturn and uncertainty?  In this video, ASU President Dr. Michael Crow talks about his innovative approach that directed the turn-around of this University – which is now the largest in America.

As I watched, I couldn’t help but note what I saw as several relevant connections to the Church in America today.  See if these sentiments seem applicable to today’s Church leadership to you:

To have institutions that are static means then that at some point that our dynamism will be greatly reduced.

We became self satisfied at our achievement of success (of being highly selective on who we admit)

We needed to be excellent and grow at the same time.

How do we become deeply committed to the community?

We want to be driven by the desire to serve.

Most universities have become implementers of traditions that they can’t even explain why they exist.

We’ve decided to take innovation and adaptation and make that equal to or more important than tradition.  Not eliminating the traditions but just not making them the driver.

Bring these disciplines together because we know that if we can bring these together we can solve problems in ways that hadn’t previously even been able to think of them.

We will not be separate from society. We’re not interested in separation.  We’re interested in service.

You can’t be of service if you are separated. (no more ivory tower).

Can be innovative and adaptive

How can we make our impact greater?

The question and challenge for us church leaders is are we willing to admit that the church as an “institution” is facing many similar “pressure”s as ASU faced – changing economics, changing demographics, changing priorities among the constituents we serve and hope to reach?

Are we willing to make changes to reach people? In ASU’s case, they wanted to reach new students, but they had to change their approach to faculty and admission to do so.  In the church, can we think through how we design our institution so that it can reach new people?  Perhaps we need to change our approach to who we exist for?  What would be the parallel to faculty and admission in the church? How can we embrace “traditions” in the church but not allow them to become the driver in our mission?

Have we become self-satisfied at our current achievements? Do we in the Church tend to think “ivory tower” and separate ourselves from society?   Could we be so bold as to make the firm statement that we “will not be separate from society?”    And are we always asking the question “How can we make our impact greater?”

Food for thought!  May God guide our churches in ways of reaching more and increasing the harvest for Christ’s Kingdom!

Disciple Making Churches

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I was blessed to be able to hear Edmund Chan speak at a lunch meeting yesterday. To introduce him, they showed this video: http://vimeo.com/43709940

He’s a pastor in the Philippines, and he has a passion for returning the Church to it’s Disciple Making roots. He made this point, and it really resonated with me. He said that Christianity started with Passion in Palestine, then as it moved to Greece, it became a Philosophy, then it moved to Rome and it became an Institution, then it came to America and it became an ENTERPRISE. He intended no offense, but was trying to give us a wake up call as to where our focus is in ministry. He said that we tend now to put our focus on Buildings, Bodies and Bucks. In other words, when pastors get together they talk about the size of their church campuses, the number of people in the pews and the amount of money flowing through the ministry. The problem, he suggests, isn’t that these things are bad, but that we tend to think that if we can get MORE buildings, More Bodies, or More Bucks, then the church would be healthier or better. And that’s not the solution. The solution is to have the church create passionate Disciples of Christ who desire to live like Christ and serve Him and do His work.

So that is quite a challenge for us as we lead ministry in our church. What are we doing to help grow disciples who are passionately committed to serving God and sharing His Word? As we do that, God will provide the buildings, bodies and bucks necessary for His mission. We can be confident of that!

If you watch the video, it’s focused on a particular conference in the Philippines next year, you can disregard that part, but what he says about the Church and the World, and the mission and call of the Church is the most relevant.

I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts and comments!

Who’s in the Driver’s Seat?

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Click on the video below to play. Then click again to view in full-screen if you wish.

Here is the story/poem that was read at church on Sunday.  Isn’t it a marvelous picture of faith?

“At first I saw God as my observer, my judge, keeping track of the things I’d done wrong so as to know whether I merited heaven or hell when I died.  He was out there sort of like a president.  I recognized His picture when I saw it but I didn’t really know Him.  But later on when I met Christ it seemed as though life was rather like a bike ride.  But it was a tandem bike.  I noticed that Christ was in the back helping me to pedal.  I don’t know just when it was that He suggested we change places, but life has not been the same since.  When I was in control, I knew the way.  It was rather boring but it was predictable.  It was the shortest distance between two points.  But when He took the lead He knew delightful long cuts, up the mountains, through rocky places at break neck speed.  All I could do was hang on.  Even though it looked like madness, He said pedal.  I worried. I was anxious.  I asked, “Where are You taking me?”  He laughed and He didn’t answer and I started to learn to trust.  I forgot my boring life and I entered into the adventure.  When I’d say, “I’m scared!” He’d lean back and touch my hand.  I didn’t trust Him at first to control my life.  I thought He’d wreck it.  But He knows bike secrets.  He knows how to make it bend around sharp corners, how to jump to clear high rocks.  He knows how to fly to shorten scary passages.  I’m learning to shut up and pedal in the strangest places.  I’m beginning to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with my delightful constant companion Jesus Christ.  When I’m just sure that I can’t do it any more, He just smiles and says, “Pedal!”
(Author Unknown)

God’s Blessings,


PLI St. Louis Trip Summary

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Pastor Augie & Rachelle summarize their recent trip to St. Louis with PLI (Pastoral Leadership Institute). Pastor Augie shares his highlight segment from the conference – “Movement vs. Structure.” Rachelle shares her highlight – “Spiritual Warfare”

View this video directly in GodTube (larger image size): http://www.godtube.com/view_video.php?viewkey=3a29d1821f1e8430b6f8