Leadership

Revitalization in Rural Churches, Part 1

Republished from Voice, Jan/Feb 2018.

One of my favorite pastimes is driving across rural America and looking at old country churches. It pains me when I see those time-worn yet beautiful church buildings being neglected while nature and the elements take over and lead to their eventual ruin. My passion for old church buildings led me to purchase one particular church building in rural Western Nebraska five years ago. The little church had closed a year earlier. My grandfather John Miles had been the last pastor of the church until he passed away at age 92 and the church eventually closed. The building has nostalgic value to me.

Since purchasing the old church building, my wife and I and some talented friends of ours have been restoring it so that it could become our home. This summer we finally completed this five year process of patiently restoring a church building that was in decline and we moved in.

I have a similar passion for restoration when a local body of believers find themselves in a state of decline. It is difficult to see a local church that is in various stages of decaying or dying. I’ve had the tremendous privilege of pastoring in rural settings and being a part of what I like to call “restoration ministry.” I’ve had a front-row seat as I watched God infuse life into His people in these localities.

2619 reads

Kaizen and the Biblical Model for Continuous Improvement

Kaizen means improvement, or literally, good change. Identified by author Masaaki Imai as “the key to Japanese competitive success,”1 kaizen is the philosophy undergirding continuous improvement at every level of the organization, and involving all personnel. As a philosophy, kaizen is the post-World War II driving force behind the success of a host of Japanese companies, led most notably by Toyota.

Kaizen, as an organizational philosophy, was introduced to Japan through several American post-World War II initiatives designed to help war torn Japan recover and flourish. W. Edwards Deming received an award from the Emperor of Japan for his involvement in developing and implementing kaizen. The W. Edwards Deming Institute remains a significant influence in continuous improvement, including in the promotion of the basic kaizen cycle (PDSA cycle) of plan, do, study, act:

4641 reads

A Modest Proposal: Character Counts, Starting in 2018

"[I]f partisans endorse the unspoken but clear message 'We’ll always protect the unethical ones on our side,' it guarantees they’ll get more unethical behavior. They’re sending the signal to all aspiring leaders within their movement that they would rather live with bad behavior on their own side than give the other side a 'win.'" . . .

2150 reads

Six Principles for Organizational Leadership

An organizational leadership researcher asked me these six questions. These brief answers are from a biblical worldview, and are broadly applicable in any organizational leadership setting. I think they illustrate how helpful the Bible is for (among other reasons) providing reliable and inspirational leadership principles:

(1) When you think about a positive future for your organization, describe what you see in the days and months ahead.

One question I often challenge individuals and organizations with is this: If in five years, your enterprise or initiative fails, what went wrong? What I am challenging them to think about is what are the intermediate and short term potential failures that might lead to an overall failure. From the perspective of looking back from a not-yet-realized outcome, what were the factors that contributed to failure? It is helpful to look forward, look backward, and then reassess what needs to be done now.

2493 reads

When Followers Don’t Follow

People who don’t consider themselves leaders often find themselves in roles that include some leadership responsibility. These roles include everything from committee chairs, team leaders, and project coordinators to ministry leaders, volunteer coordinators, parents, husbands—even older siblings.

Not only are these leaders often unskilled in leadership, but, human nature being what it is, followers are also often reluctant to follow—any leader. (Moses had Miriam and Aaron and eventually Korah; King David had Absalom; even Jesus Christ had Judas Iscariot.)

So you have leadership responsibility, but those you are responsible to lead aren’t following. What do you do? There may be little you can do. But it’s also possible that relatively simple changes in the use of leadership tools will get far better results.

8463 reads

Pages