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UNLEASHING POTENTIAL IN STORYCENTRIC COMMUNITIES

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Remember Your Story

Remember Your Story

The Discipline of Remembering Remember your leaders who spoke the Word of God to you – Hebrews 13:7a Since childhood, the churches I’ve attended emphasize “holy habits” that should be part of a Christian’s routine; bible reading, prayer, and deeds of compassion are always high on the list. However, the practice of remembering never seems to make the cut. That’s a mistake. Remembering our story of God’s faithfulness is essential to our present faith and our future hope. Rooted in the History of God’s People The discipline of remembering is rooted in the history of God’s people. In the Old Testament, the people of Israel successfully crossed over the Jordan River on a dry riverbed. Before they moved on, God instructed Joshua to appoint twelve priests – one from each tribe – to return to the riverbed and take up twelve stones. God directed the priests to pile these stones

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The Wow Factor

The Wow Factor

Telling the Story As a global team in a faith-based nonprofit, a big part of our job is to tell our story. Depending on the audience, we might craft the story a little differently or choose to hone in on a specific kind of story that resonates best. But our job is to tell the story. It is the story of Freedom to Lead International. They are the stories of men and women in Asia and Africa who are being developed as Christ-centered leaders in their areas of influence. We tell stories of people who are seeing communities impacted and churches coming together and peace being made. Yes, there are even stories of hardships and challenges with prayerful hopes that God will make his way in these situations. Telling the Story Well As storytellers, however, we want to be a good steward of that which has been entrusted to us. We strive

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The Blind Men and the Elephant

The Blind Men and the Elephant

Effective Christ-centered Leadership Over the past five weeks we’ve examined what we mean when we refer to “leadership development” (specifically, that which is Christ-centered). This is a term that is widely used but not commonly defined among churches, ministries, and organizations. Rather than run the risk of becoming like the Wild West of the 19th century, we’ve tried to come to terms with what leadership development means and what it contains. Today we conclude this series. Last week examined the categories for effective Christ-centered leadership development that make up its components. An organization or ministry may focus on one or more of these categories. character formation biblical literacy context-specific skills ministry development By sizing up the task before us, knowing we are functioning in these categories, we think that all’s well that ends well, right? Yes, but here’s the caveat. Research shows that “while every emerging Christ-centered leader needs all four of

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Sizing Up the Task of Leadership Development

Sizing Up the Task of Leadership Development

Leadership Development Over the past several weeks we have been looking at how the term “leadership development” means a lot of things to a lot of people and without a common understanding of terms we might get lost in the wild west of expansion. Last week we at Freedom to Lead defined Christ-centered “leadership development” as “adult-focused, intentional cultivation that seeks to establish and enhance effective Christ-centered leadership practices.” However, merely having a working definition of leadership development is not sufficient to make the way forward. We need to size up the task before us. Rick Sessoms in his book Leading with Story: Cultivating Christ-centered Leaders in a Storycentric Generation asks his readers to do this:   “Picture in your mind’s eye an emerging leader you know. As you think about him or her becoming all that God wants them to be, what will it take? What will be needed

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Coming to Terms

Coming to Terms

It was William Shakespeare who said, “Some people are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” Are leaders born or made? Are leaders in leadership because of natural giftedness or because they arose to the occasion at the time it was needed? Development or Emergence The first thing we need to establish if we’re going to have a working definition of leadership development is to differentiate it from leadership emergence.

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The Wild West of Leadership Development

The Wild West of Leadership Development

Leadership development is often like the Wild West expansion in the mid 19thcentury. When I was in my elementary and middle school years you would most likely find me building forts in the woods creating a world of my own. My brother and I and our neighborhood friends would create new paths and “discover” new streams and ponds. These were simpler days when our time was set by the arrival of lightning bugs that signaled dinner was ready. One of my favorite forms of creative outside play was to imagine we lived in pioneer days, the days of covered wagons and panning for gold. Perhaps it was a unit we studied in school or this new computer program called “Oregon Trail” that inspired me, but I liked to imagine that quest of making our way west. At the time we lived just across the Hudson River from New York City.

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What is Leadership Development – Speaking the Same Language

What is Leadership Development – Speaking the Same Language

Leadership development. It’s become something of a fad. Today organizations love to talk about it. If a church or ministry offers a “leadership development” program, then they feel like they’re well on their way. But what is leadership development? How do we define it? More specifically, what are the elements that are needed to see a leader “developed”? What works, and what doesn’t? Freedom to Lead International is all about seeing leaders developed. We are deeply committed to cultivate leaders so that they can be all God wants them to be. The cultivation process involves using whatever tools work. In our case, the effective tools are story, symbol, and song. However, if we ever find that those tools do not work, then we’ll try something different. But when all is said and done, we are primarily about leadership development. Over the next several weeks we’ll look into the foundational principles of

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Power and Leadership – Stewards of Power

Power and Leadership – Stewards of Power

Every ministry leader is a steward of power. The use of power can either cultivate potential in others and achieve desired results, or it can harm people and stall progress. Here are four lessons for leaders to keep in mind as we navigate the power at our disposal. Lesson #1: The exercise of power is not the same as the practice of leadership. As author Jim Collins says in Good to Great and the Social Sectors, “If I put a loaded gun to your head, I can get you to do things you might not otherwise do, but I’ve not practiced leadership; I’ve exercised power.” If people follow because they have no choice, then that’s not leading. Lesson #2: Power can either create or destroy; it is almost never neutral. Power used wisely has enormous potential for good. God’s creative power brought the universe into being. But according to the

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Through the Eyes of Indigenous Leaders (Video)

Through the Eyes of Indigenous Leaders (Video)

When FTL began nine years ago, we did not imagine all that is happening in this ministry today. God is doing something through The Garden Project that is beyond our capacity or even our predictions. And we are grateful to be part of the tapestry He is weaving. But as I write these words on a long-haul flight from Istanbul to Atlanta, I am reminded by the passengers around me that we have hardly scratched the surface. Most of my fellow travelers appear to be from the Middle East. Their clothing and head coverings represent billions of people who have not yet experienced Jesus’ forgiveness and love. The task of cultivating leaders to reach people and communities is monumental.    Thank you for being part of FTL’s journey as we continue to follow God on His new paths into the unknown.   To view a video that highlights the impact of the

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It’s Just a Piece of Paper

It’s Just a Piece of Paper

When participants complete all eight modules of Freedom to Lead’s The Garden Project (a four-year investment that involves training and transference to another generation of leaders), they receive a certificate from Belhaven University. It’s really just some nicely printed words on a piece of paper. Or is it? In 2014 Freedom to Lead entered into a relationship with a church planting network in Ethiopia. That means that Ethiopia was FTL’s first footprint onto the African continent. As pace setters and as ones who’ve led the way for FTL’s presence in Africa, we have a lot indebted to this group of Ethiopian brothers and sisters, influencers for Christ. Last December we were almost at the end, with the next-to-last leadership module before us. Times in the country of Ethiopia were tense, as fractures throughout the region were threatening to crack wide open in the face of government and tribalist conflicts. We left

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Jesus the Master Communicator (part 6)

Jesus the Master Communicator (part 6)

  The past few weeks we began talking about Jesus, the Master Communicator. When we encounter Jesus in the New Testament we tend to view him through the lens of him as our Savior and Lord. But how often do we view him through the lens of Jesus the Master Communicator? In light of this, what are some ways we can adopt this communication style in our own communication of the gospel in formal and non-formal ways? Over these six weeks we are highlighting some of the communication styles of Jesus. To review, here are the first five: Jesus used good stories. Jesus used rich imagery. Jesus asked good questions. Jesus related truth to real life. Jesus spoke “the people’s language”  Today we are wrapping up this series to talk about the sixth way Jesus communicated. 6. Jesus often summarized stories Jesus understood that he was talking with an oral-based storycentric

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Jesus the Master Communicator (part 5)

Jesus the Master Communicator (part 5)

The past few weeks we began talking about Jesus, the Master Communicator. When we encounter Jesus in the New Testament we tend to view him through the lens of him as our Savior and Lord. But how often do we view him through the lens of Jesus the Master Communicator? In light of this, what are some ways we can adopt this communication style in our own communication of the gospel in formal and non-formal ways? Over these six weeks we are highlighting some of the communication styles of Jesus. The first week we talked about how Jesus used good stories. Then we looked at how Jesus used rich imagery. Next we discussed the way Jesus asked good questions. Last week we looked specifically at the Sermon on the Mount and the way Jesus related truth to real life. Here’s the fifth one. 5. Jesus spoke the “people’s language.” Think about the

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