UNLEASHING POTENTIAL IN STORYCENTRIC COMMUNITIES

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Freedom From What?

For the FTL Summer Blog Series, we are unpacking our Vision Statement for the next five years. Today, we look at the “Freedom to Lead” part. Where do we get this idea? Why do we choose this as the name of our organization? In John 8:36 Jesus said, So, if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” We believe the freedom he was offering was not just about eternity, but this freedom is a reality in this present lifetime, as lived out in our lives, in our ministries, and in our leadership. This kind of freedom sets leaders free to be all that they can be for Christ. Defining Freedom Usually when we talk about freedom we talk about being free from something. tyranny. sin. slavery. even our own bad attitudes and behaviors. Freedom to Something However, it can also be towards something as well. If we

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Summer Blog Series

Summer Blog Series

2020 Vision Statement Several months ago, the team at Freedom to Lead gathered together to think strategically about the future. One of the things that came out of our meetings was a Vision Statement for the next five years. Over the last few weeks, this Vision Statement has been unveiled for partners, friends, and supporters. This Vision Statement reads, The 2020 Vision of Freedom to Lead is that in five years we will see 5000 storycentric leaders in 25 under-resourced countries being transformed into competent Christ-centered leaders.” This summer on the Freedom to Lead blog we are going to unpack this Vision Statement piece by piece to reveal our hearts and intentions behind it. Each word has been chosen carefully and prayerfully. For example, the next blog post will discuss what we mean by “freedom.” Freedom from what? Another blog post will describe where we get our numbers like “five” and

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What About the Women?

God is doing a new thing. I (Michelle) live and work in the world that is global church leadership. As a woman I am limited; as an unmarried woman without children, even more so. Lately I have been challenged by how I can maximize the freedom I have in Christ, not just in terms of my salvation, but also in terms of my life and leadership. Better yet, how can I encourage other women in the same way? As we study scripture, we see how women like Esther, Deborah, and Mary influenced others, pointed them to God, and helped them walk in His purposes. These women remind me that I can’t change the world, but I can be an influencer of it. We are hearing stories of how Christ is transforming the leadership of ministries all throughout the Indian subcontinent and Africa through Freedom to Lead. Men are being challenged to rise up

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Church Leaders: Leading Change in the Church

Pragmatism in Practice “It doesn’t matter if it’s right; it only matters if it works.” This motto for leading change dominates 21st century corporations. It’s pragmatism in practice. Pick up any popular book on leading change. The odds are that you’ll find several underlying themes: Shareholder profit is paramount. Growth is deified. People are disposable. Speed is king. Decapitating opponents is part of the game. Ethics is expedient. If these themes are not explicitly stated, then they’re just below the surface. And much of the recent literature on leading change targeted at church leaders borrows heavily from this thinking. Leading Change in the Church To be fair, much that comes from the corporate sector can be helpful for church leaders. However, the default mode for running a secular company is not predisposed to a biblical approach. Too often corporate views are being baptized among church leaders with bible verses and

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Evangelism and Missions: What’s the difference? And what difference does it make?

Is there any real difference between evangelism and missions? Evangelism and missions both flow from the Great Commission – Christ’s command to “make disciples of every nation” (Matthew 28) by reaching them and teaching them. Isn’t this all just Great Commission work? Yes and no. There is a big difference between those that have been reached with the gospel and those that have not. First, what did Jesus mean by the word “nation?” This term doesn’t refer to geo-political entities, but rather people groups. People who share a common language and culture, who often live in the same area. A people group is considered “reached” with the gospel when a viable, witnessing church has been established within that group. Viable in that it will be able to reproduce itself, and witnessing in that they take the Great Commission seriously. The two go hand in hand. In order to “reach” a people group, some

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The Odds of Finishing Well

Most leaders I know want to finish well. Yet studies show that the majority of us don’t. Money, sex, pride, power, family problems, and plateauing are cited as the big barriers facing leaders who want to finish well. But what causes leaders to fall prey to these pitfalls? Why do successful, talented, and bright leaders so often sabotage their professional and personal lives through immoral and destructive behavior? Self-Centeredness In most cases, a fall is neither sudden nor without warning. On the contrary, the path of leaders to bad behavior is often a predictable process. The first step toward a downward spiral is growing self-centeredness. Leaders become increasingly confident about their accomplishments until they start to believe that they are special. As a result, they begin to make decisions in isolation, discounting the contributions and counsel of others. Self-Centered Leadership When self-centered leaders become convinced that they alone can steer

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Shipwreck Leadership

Recently I was reading the New Testament book of Acts. I wondered, Why would Luke the author devote such a long chapter of his book (27) to describe a voyage and shipwreck? Surely he could have spared us all the detail! But skilled as a writer and inspired by God, Luke presented important facts about Paul the courageous leader in a time of great crisis. Paul was prisoner aboard a ship bound for Rome. The ship had already encountered adverse winds, and November storms were looming. Speaking from experience – he had already been through three other shipwrecks – Paul warned the crew of impending danger. But as men in charge often do, they ignored him. Their attitude was a costly mistake. Before long the wind became a typhoon. The crew did all they could to keep the ship afloat. They even threw their cargo overboard to lighten the load.

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Riding the “Movement” Wave

Movements and Institutions. It’s trendy to criticize institutions. Decaying behemoths that cater to the elites of a bygone cause are easy targets. Across the political and religious landscape, many prefer to associate with “movements” that eschew the traditional establishment in favor of an idealized future. Yet a nagging reality remains: any movement that does not institutionalize will not have lasting impact. In politics, movement is in; institution is out. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has referred to Trump’s popularity in the current Republican race for the White House as a “movement.” Bernie Sanders’ “movement” has also resulted in his unlikely surge among disaffected voters. Institutions get backhanded in the religious world as well. For example, I just read another Christian leadership author who repeats the predictable mantra that movements are preferable over institutions. Although the vast majority of his book’s endorsements are from institutional leaders, the author pontificates that movements

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The Dark Side of Literacy

Literacy is an extraordinary gift to people and societies. In 1439, Johann Gutenberg was tinkering around with an old winepress and adapted it to become the first movable-type printing press. His invention lit the fuse on a reading revolution. The wide distribution of ideas became possible for the first time in human history, and the mass production of books made it harder to suppress the flow of thought among common people. Printing led to a higher degree of accuracy and standardization of texts. The decrease in the cost of books made it possible for people to learn outside the traditional educational system. In short, reading and writing came within the reach of the masses, thus fueling unprecedented intellectual development, distributing political influence beyond the privileged elite, an improving overall economic security. Literacy is an extraordinary gift to people and societies. The Downside of Literacy However, there is a dark side

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Prudent Leadership

Prudence Democritus, the ancient Greek philosopher best remembered for his atomic theory of the universe, once said, “Do not trust all men, but trust men of worth; the former course is silly, the latter a mark of prudence.” Prudence has been an essential leadership virtue historically, but the word has largely fallen out of use. Prudence was considered one of the greatest of virtues two thousand years ago. A hundred years ago it was part of moral philosophy, and today it is the punchline of a joke. For people of a certain generation it will forever conjure up the memory of Dana Carvey impersonating George H. W. Bush saying, “Wouldn’t be wise; wouldn’t be prudent.” Prudence comes from the Latin term meaning insight, foresight, and wisdom. It is the ability to judge between worthy and questionable actions, and it also has a practical component. Aristotle referred to prudence as “practical

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Lessons from a Zombie

A few weeks ago I was sitting on a plane watching the recent movie release, Maze Runner – The Scorch Trials. One of my sons recommended it. The opening scenes of Maze Runner occur in a devastated and desolate urban landscape with towering skyscrapers toppled into each other; the wealth and highest architectural achievements of a previous generation crumbling to dust. Additionally, many human inhabitants have mutated into something else – something diseased and contagious with a voracious appetite to devour those who are normal and healthy. I was surprised and at first annoyed that this was yet another story of twenty-somethings dealing with a post-apocalyptic landscape; a landscape that included zombie-like creatures (which are never called zombies in this film by-the-way). I groaned at this addition to a long list of similar films and video games. Suddenly it hit me – what the stories of this genre have in

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Just Tell Them The Stories

Tell us the Story I have this recurring memory of sitting on my grandfather’s lap as he would tell us the story of Brer Rabbit and the Briar Patch. He didn’t need to read the story from a book, but made the tale come alive with his animations, character voices, and lively descriptions. “Tell it again, Grandpa!” my brother and I would exclaim over and over again. Grandpa also had this signature clicking sound he did with the back of his throat that sounded like the clopping of a horse. It was a sound that no person in the following generations has ever been able to recreate. Grandpa has since passed on from this world, but his stories remain. I grew up with stories. Some of my earliest memories are of when my pastor father dressed up in biblical clothing and in front of the congregation told the Parable of the

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