Monday, May 12, 2008

Intuitive Leadership Series

Today I finished probably the best book I've read in over a year, Intuitive Leadership by Tim Keel. It is a book rich with metaphor, story and insight into church leadership in our changing context. I am still not sure I have adequately taken in all that this work has to offer, and so to that end, I begin a series on this book. I'm not sure how many posts it will cover, but I plan to work my way through this book again, slowly and intentionally, highlighting important themes, ideas, and implications. As a way of introduction, let me offer one general insight.

It bears noting that Keel does not seek to offer a leadership manual for the Emergent church, or postmodern context. This is crucial for in so doing he offers, in large measure, an implicit ecclesiology that is deeply conversant with sociological, cultural, and scientific research; a truly interdisciplinary based theology of leadership. Throughout, I remarked in the margins how at the core of Keel's analysis and proposal was an unspoken question of ecclesial identity: who are we church?

This may seem somewhat passe, yet the incredibly rich context of Keel's own church, Jacob's Well in Kansas City, enlivens what on the surface could appear to be a somewhat mundane question. To be fair, Keel never directly asks this, but my read is that this question is constantly hovering in the background. And because his ideas are embedded in his own local context, Keel calls forth fruitful possibilities and genuinely new horizons for the church and her leadership. All throughout I continually found myself asking how this would play out in my own context, precisely because I was invited into Keel's. This put flesh on the question of identity, and forced me to consider how leadership ought always to be attendant to this question.

For the systematicians there is probably a prior question, I'm sure (Christological in nature...never fear Barth still casts a long shadow over my thinking). Yet, it is with this basic ecclesiological question that I wanted to begin as I look forward to unpacking this book more thoroughly. If you have not read it, please pick up a copy. I'd love to hear your thoughts as I wade through it.


At 3:32 PM , OpenID ypguybrit said...

hey Erik i haven't read the book but just put in on my list. i will check it out. i have this continuing thought about how we use the word leadership in church...and how we do indeed model a very leader oriented form of 'business' but the more i study the gospels, and how Christ taught...the last thing we are called to do is lead. i know this word becomes some what that a word..yep.... but i fear and see to often in ministry we take the head of leadership and try to lead...when we are to follow in Christ's footsteps which is always in service...just thoughts

At 3:51 PM , Blogger WTM said...

It may be time for you to read Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Sanctorum Communio, while also reflecting on Barth's ecclesiological material in CD 4. Bonhoeffer, while not Barth, shares a lot of Barth's concerns and instincts, and thinks more about the practical questions facing the church than did Barth, who left it largely to the churches themselves to develop fitting ways to implement the ecclesiology he provided.

At 9:04 PM , Blogger Erik said...

ypguybrit --

Keel would certainly not want to eschew leadership within the church, but would rather like to reform or reorient it, so that it gives away contributions to others in the community. He talks a lot about being environmentalist leaders, rather than strategists or autocrats. Yet, leadership is still vital, but of the proper and correct kind.

WTM --

I've been thinking much about picking up Bonh's *Sanctorum Communio* so maybe your encouragement will force me to do so. And, just tonight I used something from CD 4 in a youth talk, so never fear, I have not shelved Karl (hence the shadow comment).

Keel and Barth share a similar vibe in that they want to provoke and inspire the imagination of the local churches. Might be an interesting presentation at some Emergent event or something; bringing Bonh, Barth, and Keel into conversation.

At 4:23 AM , Blogger WTM said...

Not only interesting, but valuable.

At 6:27 AM , Blogger Chris TerryNelson said...

Thanks for putting this book in the spotlight, Erik. I look forward to your posts.

At 2:32 PM , Blogger David Hallgren said...

Hi Erik,
I ordered the book on Amazon. I have come to rely on you for good book reviews! I think it will inform my work here at UPC. I hope things are going well for you guys. What are you up to?


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