Questions We Answer

communities

What is distinctly Christian about being a Christian leader?

How do my Christian convictions shape the way that I lead?

It is the end — the goal, the purpose, the telos — that shapes Christian leadership and makes it most distinctively Christian. Our end is to cultivate thriving communities that bear witness to the inbreaking reign of God that Jesus announces and embodies in all that we do and are. (more…)

 

How can I be renewed in the midst of great needs, declining resources and uncertainty about what comes next?

Sustained renewal requires participation in a community that shares a common vision. Christians have a vision, described in Scripture, of God’s reign. As the story of Acts shows, it takes considerable effort from the community to keep the end of God’s reign before us.

In our educational programs, participants are invited into a pattern of life that includes worship, study, rest and fellowship. We seek to embody Christian practices such as hospitality. We invite participants to imagine how to adjust their typical pattern of work to include more of these elements.

When resources of time and money are scarce, it is very difficult to reach out and join or renew relationships. Yet that is exactly what is required.

 

What is the biblical vision of healthy Christian community?

A thriving community may exhibit the features found in the Acts of the Apostles. They include networking; visibility; room for the weak; incorporating disagreement; articulacy of belief; and taking suffering seriously.

Foundations of Christian Leadership involves an in-depth study of the Book of Acts and its model of Christian community.

 

Why are organizations beyond the local congregation needed to sustain vital Christian community and ministry?

Thriving communities that are signs of God’s reign, to which all of our work points, need institutions because institutions allow practices to flourish. Our call is, therefore, not to malign institutions or allow them to languish; rather we are called to serve and improve them and start new ones so they can be bearers of tradition, laboratories for learning and incubators of leadership. This is a core belief of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity.

 

What trends are shaping the future of Christian ministry?

Wise leaders know that it’s important to pay attention to deep trends shaping society and its institutions. These trends give leaders the raw material that enables them to retrieve key insights and practices from their traditions, tinker with new ideas and solutions in their organizations, and adapt to substantive cultural changes.

In an essay on Faith & Leadership, L. Gregory Jones and Nathan Jones describe seven “deep trends” affecting Christian institutions: the digital revolution; a multimodal world; reconfiguring denominations and emerging forms of congregating; the questioning of institutions; economic stress; shifting vocations of laypeople; and the lure of cities.

The challenge, they write, “is to cultivate patterns of discernment, guided by the Holy Spirit, on how to adapt faithfully and creatively to them rather than to pretend they don’t exist or to acknowledge but ignore them.”

 

Why are Christian institutions often isolated? What creates opportunities to relate effectively with one another and with other institutions in the larger society?

Many Christian institutions have a big vision, limited capacity and few strong relationships. To have lasting impact, such institutions are challenged to work differently and with each other.

Institutions create spaces that shape and pattern human life.  One of the keys to addressing the challenges of limited capacity is to strengthen relationships with partners that do similar work shaping human life. Identifying such partners requires leaders to articulate how and why their institutions do this work and to develop a means of assessing the similarities of others.

Another key to creating stronger relationships is to invite others to work with your institution on a problem that is so challenging no one is sure where to start. Tackling such “wicked” problems with several stakeholders requires both building relationships and doing important work that stretches everyone involved in healthy ways.

Christian institutions often are constrained by limited resources, which can cause fear and isolation. Focusing on building relationships in such a time may seem counter-intuitive. Yet a vision of God’s reign and a sense of how our institution contributed to God’s work pulls our eyes to a longer view that provides hope that counteracts fear.

 
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  • Denominational Leadership

    Denominational Leadership

    An ecumenical, four-day educational event designed for people transitioning from parish ministry to executive-level positions within denominational governing bodies.

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    Foundations of Christian Leadership

    A learning community that trains individuals new to leadership roles by cultivating practices essential to transformative leadership of Christian institutions and congregations.

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