Thursday, June 30, 2011

Collaboration Does Not Equal Consensus

The most recent HBR is all about collaboration. Morten Hansen has some great insights.

"Collaborative leadership is the capacity to engage people and groups outside one’s formal control and inspire them to work toward common goals—despite differences in convictions, cultural values, and operating norms.

Most people understand intuitively that collaborative leadership is the opposite of the old command-and-control model, but the differences with a consensus-based approach are more nuanced."

Below are some helpful distinctions between the three leadership styles. Just wondering what you think?







Matrix or small group

Dispersed, cross-organizational network


Senior management

Formally designated members or representatives of the relevant geographies and disciplines

Employees at all levels and locations and a variety of external stakeholders


The people at the top of the organization have clear authority

All parties have equal authority

The people leading collaborations have clear authority


Financial results against plan

Many performance indicators, by function or geography

Performance on achieving shared goals


Works well within a defined hierarchy; works poorly for complex organizations and when innovation is important

Works in small teams; works poorly when speed is important

Works well for diverse groups and cross-unit and cross-company work, and when innovation and creativity are critical

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Over the past few weeks I have been reading John Dickson’s book Humilitas. It’s a great read. John has a way of writing that I greatly appreciate. He is consistently able to take complex ideas and make them assessable to everyone.

The definition of humility that John proposes is:

"Humility is the noble choice to forgo your status, deploy your resources or use your influence for the good of others before yourself."
Or it is a "willingness to hold power in service of others."

I think this is a great definition (it’s on our fridge) and his thesis is well supported with illustrations and arguments taken from classical history, the bible, contemporary leadership and personal reflections.

I particularly like the way the book spells out some of the practical implications of embracing humility and does not leave us with only a conceptual framework. Humility generates abilities; develops character and influence; inspires others and is better than tolerance. The final chapter lists some steps to growing in humility.

1. We are shaped by what we love.
2. Reflect on the lives of humble.
3. Conduct thought experiments to enhance humility.
4. Act humbly.
5. Invite criticism.
6. Forget about being humble.

The book has some very useful insights but I do wonder about some things.
  1. In my view he would have been better to stay away from personal examples that illustrate humility but promote the authors status. For example the meeting with U2 at age 16, does illustrate Bono’s humility but also promotes the authors status.
  2. It is clear from the outset that John has a wide audience in mind as he writes both for both a secular and Christian readership. This is fantastic but I disagree with his suggestion that he should or is able to approach the discussion about Jesus’ humility from a position of neutrality as a historian. I would prefer Tim Keller’s approach (in the Reason for God, DVDs). Keller’s approach is that we all come to look at Jesus with a bias, acknowledging this bias is fundamental to understanding who Jesus is and how he shapes(our) history.
  3. With the discussion about honour and shame it is intriguing that there is little recognition of the Asian cultural issues around honour, shame and humility.
  4. I love the steps to humility but I would have liked to see more discussion around the link between God's grace and and the steps to humility.
I recommend Humilitas it is a great read. I read it in e-book format which I found well worth the price. Just wondering what you think?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Saturated Networks

For a while now I have been noticing that the networks of relationships that people have, seem to be saturated. The result is that many of us do not seem to have room in our lives to develop new in-depth relationships. Sure its easy to add new/old Facebook friends but once you have given energy and time to relationships with family, long term friends, work colleagues, clubs and church there is not much room for new relationships. Of course if you are an introvert the problem is accentuated.

Am I right? What are the implications for a Church? Just wondering what you think?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Believing and Belonging – Muddy Waters

At our staff meeting we have been having a discussion about the ways we see people are connecting with us and how we can help them in taking another step – this is what I have come up with after our discussions. You will notice I have tried to muddy the believing-belonging categories because in my/our experience it is messy and I wanted to reflect that in our strategy. Do you agree with the muddy water premise?

The site is here -but this is what we have said:

Welcome to Macquarie Anglican. Our aim is to help you love God and others, and we think this is best done in community. So come and get involved! You choose how.

Perhaps you have not had much to do with a Christian community previously and you would like to investigate how they work. Why not try ours? You would not be alone, we already have a number of people who are investigating and trying things out-no strings attached. Come along to one of our meetings. If you would like to let us know you are coming (you don’t have to) feel free to email info at

Come to church more regularly or join a small group that explores the Christian faith. Our next two groups begin on February 9, 10am-11am or 8pm-9pm. Please RSVP by emailing info at .

Explore a biography of Jesus through a Simply Christianity course. One hour per week for five weeks. Our next two Simply Christianity Groups begin on Thursday January 6, 10am-11am or 8pm-9pm. Please RSVP by emailing info at .

Get involved and join one of our teams serving the community. Most teams have training from time to time, please contact info at for details.

Just wondering what you think?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Lessons, Carols and Biblical Theology

We have a tradition of Lessons and Carols at our Church. Jeff Willey, who is a teacher at the Conservatorium High School, does a great job of training a choir for the day. I have been thinking I would like to use the occasion to tell the big picture story of the bible, to engage in some biblical theology. Better Gatherings has done it! What an excellent ministry resource. If you don’t do Lessons and Carols this could be a good reason to start, you can devote the whole service to reading out loud the unfolding story of God’s grace.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Adversarial Church Planting

Recently I have become aware of a trend that seeks to promote church planting by describing the inadequacies of established churches. Two examples include Total Church and the recent ACL address.

To be clear; I like much of what these authors say and I am not anti church planting. My father and mother were involved in planting churches, our established church has planted, re-potted and revitalised congregations. Many of the criticisms that are made of established churches are valid. It is true some churches and ministers have lost their way and can make it difficult for church planters. Despite this I dislike adversarial church planting for five reasons:

  1. It is not shaped by grace. Paul in writing to the Corinthians writes to a church which is clearly dysfunctional and in desperate need of help. Paul’s solution is not to point out all their faults with a mind to planting another church; instead, Paul confronts their issues with the gospel of grace and continues to plant churches.
  2. Church planting is about the gospel of grace. I am concerned that new churches established in a reactionary way may have DNA’s/ identities that encourage Christians in new church plants to treat their brothers and sisters in more established churches as second class citizens.
  3. It encourages a lack of graciousness in the established churches. I have felt this tension. Near my local church there have been several attempts at church plants. In one case it was another Anglican church who planted a new congregation with very little notice or discussion. I support what they were trying to do, I even thought it was needed, but it was a challenge to be gracious when we were completely ignored in the process. On the other hand, a different Anglican church established a congregation near my church and the leader came and we talked together about the exciting possibilities of his church, he has my encouragement and support. Indeed, some members of our church have gone there with my blessing. I like Broughton Knox's insight when he says: “Moreover, Christian fellowship is naturally not restricted within the local congregation; the congregation is the expression of the fellowship which is the church of Christ. This latter will overleap the limits of geography to create fellowship between congregations.” D. Broughton Knox – ‘Selected Works’ Volume II, Church and Ministry – (Matthias Media 2003) Page 27. S
  4. Established churches are not always the competition. Sometimes the established church would only be too glad to help out-we know we can’t do everything. In my case we have administrative and physical resources, a staff team who would only be too happy to pray with and support a church planter.
  5. It encourages leaders of church plants to be angry-ministers-planting churches out of frustration, disappointment and anger. Although it is true established church leaders face this problem too.

My conviction is church planting has to have at its core, the promotion of the Gospel, not only to those who don’t believe but also to those who do. In the end let’s plant churches and let’s encourage those in established churches to get on with the proclamation God’s grace, but let us not be adversarial in our promotion of church planting. Just wondering – what you think?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Church Planting

I am writing an essay that is considering issues around church planting in the Sydney Diocese. Initially I am looking at the broader literature and have noticed that most advocates of church planting examine either all or some of the following five areas to support and articulate the cause (many overlapping):


For example Keller in the Redeemer Church Planting Manual argues:

“Virtually all the great evangelistic challenges of the New Testament are basically calls to plant churches, not simply to share faith. The Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20) is not just a call to make disciples but to baptize. In Acts and elsewhere, it is clear that baptism means incorporation into a worshiping community with accountability and boundaries.”


This usually involves discussions around ecclesiology and missiology. Murray Stuart’s Church Planting: Laying foundations is a good example


This often includes an overview of the Pauline programme of church planting, references to the Celtic Missionaries, Reformers, 18th and 19th century protestant heroes and more recently C. Donald McGavran's work.


This often includes:

  • Observations about the stultification of the current churches and leadership, for example Al Stewart's ACL address or the Trellis and the Vine.
  • Observations that variously describe the gap between church members and their local communities. These observations are made using the frameworks of philosophical enquiry and or social and behavioural sciences. This includes world views, gender, ethnicity, generation gaps…
  • Observations about the lack of church growth for example in Australia:

o Between 1991-2001 (even with the growth in the AOG churches) Protestant churches in Australia declined by 6% and Australian church attendance declined, by 3%

o In 1991 - one church for every 1561 people in Australia

o In 2006 (estimated) – one church for ever 2054 people,

I have noticed that much of the emergent church material is driven by these observations.


The oft quoted pragmatist Wagner is a good example:

The single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planting new churches. (Wagner, “Church Planting For a Greater Harvest,” Page 7.)

In addition to this there is lots of how to material.

Just wondering if I have missed anything? Comments?