A stimulating summer read

If we are to raise kids in meaningful communities of faith, what must we understand about a world that is “fragmented, remixed, suspicious, and yet full of possibility?” What are the implications of postmodern thinking for our schools and churches? As institutions and individuals how will we need to change? How can we be leaders who move beyond the pragmatic into realms where who we are and what we are trying to do is not as clear as it once was?

A book recommended to me several times, which I likewise recommend to you, is Intuitive Leadership: Embracing a Paradigm of Narrative, Metaphor, and Chaos by Tim Keel. Keel uses story, context, and possibility as ways for leaders to consider their role in and approach to making sense of our world of rapid change. He points to Boomers as the last generation to have their identity shaped by a modern, Christian view of reality (e.g., Willow Creek as “final creative response,” 151), which has tended toward homogenization/standardization: “Our churches are the religious equivalent of strip malls with the same ten massive retailers,” 77). Keel believes that with “the increasing secularization and radical individualism of American culture, combined with the relegation of faith to the realm of personal preference and private expression,” the church is now “moving back into the margins where it began” (143). His thoughts on the impact of church change in our lifetime are very cogent and helpful.

To whet your appetite, here are some quotes that give various points of emphasis in the book:

  • “[W]e no longer live in a society that by default shares the same language, beliefs, values, or structures that we believe ought to shape American identity” (143).
  • “Our post-Enlightenment culture is birthing a language all its own: creative, artistic, intuitive, organic, prophetic, and poetic. . . . The ways in which we process information, make decisions, and interpret our environments are going through profound transitions” (123).
  • “Truth is not just an idea that can be claimed; for it to have any traction in the world today, it must ultimately be a relational reality that is embodied incarnationally in demonstrable ways over time” (116).
  • “If hypocrisy is the cardinal sin in a postmodern context, then authenticity is the cardinal virtue” (117).
  • “We desperately need to discover, recover, learn and live out the ancient Christian practice of hospitality, which is the postmodern means of evangelism” (111).
  • “The missional context of our culture is one that increasingly demands creativity, both because this is the currency of our culture and because in order to respond to an environment that is new to us, we must be creative” (199–200).
  • Keel quoting Alan Roxburgh, “The role of leaders is to cultivate environments that release the missional imagination of the people of God” (209).

What I liked about the book is that Keel encourages leaders to consider our need for an authentic relationship with God and others starting with heart commitment, and then responding to culture in creative ways. He describes the kind of leader and leadership we need for our schools and our churches if we are to nurture communities of authentic Christian faith.


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Filed under change, mission development, staff development

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