Authority is not as effective as it used to be. We are living in an age when people don’t accept things because an authority said so. In today’s world, nobody escapes the scrutiny of cross-examination. Whether you are the pastor of a small church in rural America or CEO of a multinational corporation, we all get challenged.
We live in a world of continual questioning. Students question the expertise of their professors. Church members question the theology of their denomination. Employees question the wisdom of their company. Customers question the quality of the products they buy.
In the retail world, they talk about customers today having more power than at any previous time in history. If they don’t find the quality or the function they want from company X, they Google it to find the product matching their needs at the price they’re willing to pay, and switch loyalty in an instant. And, guess what? They bring that same perspective into every other relationship, including their relationship with God.
This means people always question things. They’re not willing to accept solutions because someone in authority said it was so. They believe no group or organization has all the answers.
Some people respond to this new world by remonstrating over the loss of what WAS. Instead, we should try to understand what IS and look for ways to respond to these new circumstances. In many churches across America, there is a failure to understand what is happening: that the world is experiencing epic changes–bigger than what happened when the Gutenberg press appeared over 500 years ago. Longing for the past will not return the world to the way it was.
Is this a corruption of what OUGHT to be? I don’t interpret it this way. This new perspective may prepare the church to understand more accurately what Jesus had in mind when he said, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). More on that later.
Leadership is more complicated than it used to be. Customer empowerment has broken the direct line between what a leader says and how people respond. Cultural shifts require learning a new set of skills: the skills of indirect leadership. Today, Christian leaders must think systems, cultivate culture, motivate by invitation, trust the process, and practice the presence of Christ. I hope to write more about these topics in future posts.
Greg Waddell provides consulting services for churches and organizations. Contact Dr. Waddell today at gregwaddell[at]leadstrategic.com to discuss the needs of your organization.
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