Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Quotes from Leading in a Culture of Change

Fullan, Michael (2001). Leading in a Culture of Change. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. 161pp.

fullan Fullan has written this book for the purpose of demonstrating how five key themes of leadership will allow leaders in business and education to have an advantage in today’s messy conditions of rapid change. These five themes are: moral purpose, understanding of the change process, developing relationships, knowledge building, and coherence making.

  • This book is not about superleaders. Charismatic leaders inadvertently often do more harm than good because, at best they provide episodic improvement followed by frustrated or despondent dependency. Superhuman leaders also do us another disservice: they are roles models who can never be emulated by large numbers. Deep and sustained reform depends on many of us, not just on the very few who are destined to be extraordinary (p. 1).
  • The litmus test of all leadership is whether it mobilizes people’s commitment to putting their energy into actions designed to improve things. It is individual commitment, but it is above all collective mobilization (p. 9).
  • In summary, leadership, if it is to effective, has to: 1) have an explicit “making a difference” sense of purpose, 2) use strategies that mobilize many people to tackle tough problems, 3) be held accountable by measured and debatable indicators of success, and 4) be ultimately assessed the extent to which it awakens people’s intrinsic commitment which is none other than the mobilizing of everyone’s sense of moral purpose (pp. 20-21).
  • The most fundamental conclusion of this chapter is that moral purpose and sustained performance of organizations are mutually dependent… “The theory of sustainability is that it is constituted by a trinity of environmental soundness, social justice, and economic viability. If any these three are weak or missing, the theory of sustainability says that practice (i.e. what the organization is doing) will not prove sustainable over time” (p. 29).
  • Leading in a culture of change means creating a culture (not just a structure) of change. It does not mean adopting innovations, one after another; it does mean producing the capacity to seek, critically assess, and selectively incorporate new ideas and practices – all the times, inside the organization as well as outside it (p. 44).
  • In other words, weak collaborations is always ineffective, but strong communities can make matters worse if, in the collaboration, teachers (however unwittingly) reinforce each other’s bad or ineffective practice. This is why close relationships are not ends in themselves. Collaborative cultures, which by definition have close relationships, are indeed powerful, but unless they are focusing on the right things they may end up being powerfully wrong (p. 67).

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Inward and outward looking churches

Is there any legitimate reason for Christians to have a missional focus on those inside the church? Frost and Hirsch in The Shaping of Things to Come describe a teachable moment they experienced which helped resolve this contentious question:

“In a recent conversation with Leonard Sweet, we were stimulated to think about how the church’s stance is alw41A-WwVaYHL__SL500_AA300_ays so inward. Len told us about how he will often get Christians who come to his conferences to stand in a large circle around the room. He said that they always stand shoulder-to-shoulder facing inward. When he points this out, they immediately adopt the opposite stance and face outward. But Leonard Sweet reminds them, a totally outward-facing church isn’t being everything a church should be. He then asks them to stand facing each other with one shoulder facing the center of the circle and the other facing out. It might seem like a small shift, but by standing in this less natural position they gain a powerful reminder of the missionary stance. It’s both inward and outward looking.” (2003, pp. 45-46)

My favourite quote about education

41A3HF9KCNL__SL500_AA300_ George R. Knight, PhD wrote Philosophy and Education believing it will be a helpful guide for analyzing education purposes and practices. Overall, Knight hopes to assist the reader in developing a positive educational philosophy built upon a distinctly Christian worldview.

My favourite quote from this book captures my love for a career in education: “Since the function of Christian education is one of reconciliation and restoring the balanced image of God in students, education must be seen primarily as a redemptive act. And if education is viewed in that manner, then the role of the teacher is ministerial and pastoral in the sense that the teacher is an agent of reconciliation.” (Philosophy and Education: An Introduction in Christian Perspective, 2006, pp. 210-211)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Pastor’s Role: Assumed Until Proven Clear

American actor Henry Winkler (a.k.a. the Fonz) once said that assumptions are the termites of relationships. After several years of participating in and studying church leadership, I’ve become particularly concerned about the expectations that exist between senior pastors, church boards, and congregations. In these relationships, much conflict appears to be created by the assumptions each respective party carries about what a pastor is to be and do.

For example, Greg Ogden (1998) contrasts two paradigms about the role of the pastor in today’s church culture:

A. Older Traditional Paradigm:

  1. Teachers of Doctrinal Tradition: Pastors chose to be ordained into a denomination based upon its distinctive theological heritage. Pastors kept those distinctives alive through teaching and preaching. People identified with their tradition and practiced denominational loyalty.
  2. Caregivers: Pastors were to be present in people’s lives in times of crisis. Real ministry did not occur until the pastor was present.
  3. Public symbols of the sacred: The role of the clergy is to be strong, central, and unquestioned. It is a high-status role, carrying authority within a hierarchical model.
  4. Presiders over rites of passage: Pastors presided over rites of passage that marked people’s incorporation into the tradition of which they were a part. They baptized, confirmed, married, and buried.

B. Newer Emerging Paradigm:

  1. The Pastor as visionary leader: Pastors are needed who can 1) cast vision, 2) rally God’s people around a shared mission, 3) clarify and institute ministry values, and 4) establish boundaries that distinguish between what’s “on purpose” and what’s not.
  2. The Pastor as organizational engineer: Emphasizes skills in team building and facilitating group learning cultures.
  3. The Pastor as leader of change: Pastors find themselves letting go of the traditional paradigm with one hand while reaching for the emerging paradigm with the other. Leading the process of leading change will be at the heart of the pastoral profile for years to come.
  4. The Pastor as missiologist: Entails thinking as a translating theologian, a cultural anthropologist, and ministry entrepreneur and partnership-maker.
  5. The Pastor as leadership developer: One of the highest priorities of pastors under the traditional model was to respond to the neediest people in their congregations. However, this leaves little time for equipping people to do the work of the ministry (c.f. Eph. 4:11).

These paradigms complement Roy W. Oswald’s (1991) description of effective ministry according to church size. He points out that difficulty arises when a church’s size transitions from what he calls Pastoral (50 to 150 active members) to Program (150 – 350 active members) or vice versa. One challenge in this situation, as Oswald states, is that “congregations may be Program size yet still require their clergy to attend to all the [Pastoral] activities. This is a perfect prescription for burnout.”

Some key questions at this point, such as: “How much can one pastor do?”, or “Which elements of these paradigms are critical for us at this time?”, and perhaps most importantly, “What are everyone’s expectations of the pastor here?” Some robust dialogue between pastors, boards, and congregations must arise around these issues.

Crucial conversationsIn his book Crucial Conversations (2002), Kerry Patterson defines these kinds of talks as discussions where 1) stakes are high, 2) opinions vary, and 3) emotions run strong. He points out that the free flow of relevant information is central to the success of every crucial conversation.

With that in mind, any church leadership team will benefit from sitting down together and discussing Ogden’s paradigms and Oswald’s article. This will set the stage for a frank conversation about each other’s assumptions and expectations. The outcome may be extremely significant and alter the values, ideas, dreams and mission of a local congregation.


Ogden, Greg, “Pastoring Between the Paradigms.” The Pastor’s Update, audio series from Fuller Theological Seminary, Tape # 7021, Vol. 82, 1998.

Oswald, Roy M. “How to Minister Effectively in Family, Pastoral, Program, and Corporate Sized Churches.” The Alban Institute. Originally published in Action Information 17, no. 2, March/April 1991, pp. 1–7 and no. 3, May/June 1991, pp. 5–7., accessed October 20, 2007.

Patterson, Kerry, et al. Crucial Conversations. New York, NY: McGraw Hill. 2002.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Coverage in the Curriculum

I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth pass away, not one iota, not one serif will pass from the [curriculum] until everything [is covered].

Pardon my ironic paraphrase of Matthew 5:18 but I trust you will see my purpose as I discuss Shulman’s (2004) comments on the principle of coverage. He states, “A particularly glaring problem is the eternal universal question of curriculum, namely, “How can we possible teach everything we know when we have so little time?” (p. 494). One solution, he says, is coverage – for if we cover everything, we no longer feel guilty, even though coverage fails to explore the depth, variation, and richness of “the essential questions and central ideas of the disciplines and interdisciplines” (p. 442).

But there are also political reasons to opt for coverage. The stakeholders and constituency of a given school have perceptions of knowledge they value. Therefore, coverage of those values tends to convey “more is better” or perhaps “nothing succeeds like excess.” Coverage was the principle adopted by many Bible Institutes during the 1950s – 1980s. In other words, the curriculum was “better” the more it was filled with studying books of the Bible. Such a solution looked great to their constituencies, who equated Bible coverage with faithful, trustworthy education. However, other voices began to ask for something broader, more practical, and more integrated. With reluctance, many of these Bible schools began to offer courses in practical skill training (like typing or other administrative skills) along with a realization that teaching disciplines like philosophy had a lot to do with forming a faithful Christian worldview, understanding the world around us, developing confidence about our beliefs, and defending them in the face of opposition.

In doing so, students and faculty began to experience something Shulman points out. Rather than taking a shorter list of ideas and merely addressing them more deeply, the ideas themselves change character (p. 442). Suddenly certain doctrines were no longer irrefutable and some ideas became more “elusive and multidimensional in their complexity (p. 442). As Shulman points out, “The great challenge of teaching these less-is-more essential ideas is that they do not permit clear, clean, direct propositional expositions” (p. 444).

As Bible Institutes morphed into Bible colleges the curriculum did become more complex, troubling those who preferred direct propositional education, but nonetheless it did allow students to explore the depth, variation, and richness of essential questions. One college president I knew defended the eschewing of coverage by actually pointing to the Bible: “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” (John 21:25 TNIV). In citing this verse he explained, “The Bible is our measuring rule for exploring the wisdom of God not recorded in Scripture.”

Works Cited

Shulman, L. S. (2004). The wisdom of practice: Essays on teaching, learning, and learning to teach. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What is Effective Teaching?

Albert Einstein once said, “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” To “awaken joy” seems so fitting for a teacher in Christian education environments, which is my context for this assignment. Consider Psalm 119:16 -18: “I delight in your decrees; … I will not neglect your word. Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law” (New International Version). With this in mind, I believe the pursuit of effective teaching must address not just cognitive areas but the emotional, spiritual, and creative capacities of each student as well.

There’s a common adage that says effectiveness is doing the right thing, in contrast to efficiency which is the ability to do things right. For example, it appears the right goal of teaching God’s Word is to increase the maturity of believers (Col. 1:28). Paul describes this process as “attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” resulting in unity and collaboration (Eph. 4:11-16, New International Version). As for doing this the right way, Klaus (2001) points out, the spiritual gift of teaching requires tangible expressions of love if it is to be credible and effective (1 Cor. 12:1–3). Moreover, the function of this gift is often seen in conjunction with the character qualities of spiritual leadership (1 Tim. 3:1–13)

Effectual teaching is contingent upon the interplay between the instructor's subject-matter knowledge and pedagogical ability. To echo Hendricks, when these qualities come together well, “it should provoke something, unsettle some preconceived notions, and open people’s eyes to things they’ve never realized” (Hestenes, Hendricks, & Palmer, 1991, p. 109). This kind of teaching is a catalyst in the mind and emotions, causing a spiritual reaction between teachers, students and God. This assumes, however, that there is a distinctly Christian teaching and learning process wherein the goal is that the truths of God become living and active in their hearts and minds of people (1 Cor. 2:10–16; Heb. 4:12). In short, I believe effective teaching promotes learning, collaborating, and maturing. It does not guarantee these things, because that is an outcome a teacher cannot control, but it is a mutual goal that teachers, students, and the Holy Spirit strive toward.



Hestenes, R., Hendricks, H. G., & Palmer, E. F. (1991). Mastering Teaching. Carol Stream, Ill: Multnomah Press.