Leading Ideas with Alan Nelson

imageDo You Interpret the Bible Literally?  Take the Quiz… According to Miguel De La Torre, No one reads or interprets the Bible literally -- regardless as to what they profess. To do so is simplistic, if not dangerous. All of us read our bias, our theology, and our social location into the text. There is no such thing as an objective reading; all readings are subjective.

There is, however, the power for some to make their subjective reading objective. Those with the power to shape reality can impose their reading of Scripture -- a reading that justifies their privilege and lifestyle -- upon everyone else. For the marginalized to accept the predominant Eurocentric reading of Scripture, whether slaves of old or the disenfranchised of today, is to participate in their own self-policing.

Although the mythology of taking the Bible literally must be sustained so as to maintain a privileged social location, I will wager that those who insist on objective literalism have never bothered to live their lives according to such a literal, exhaustive reading. If they did, they would live illegal -- if not immoral lives...

imageWhat’s Your PDP (People Development Plan)?
Sounds like some new cholesterol count or personality profile, but its not. PDP stands for People Development Plan. Even though we’re all in the people business, practically no church in America has a PDP, at least one that is written, clearly defined, and communicated to those attending. This summer, I taught a DMin course at Denver Seminary. The theme was on developing people, a take off from my latest book, Me To We (shameless plug). What dawned on me as I prepared to teach the course is that I’ve never seen a clearly defined people development plan in a church.

Sure, there are mission statements with cute acrostics or alliterations galore, not to mention baseball diamonds with four tier meetings to attend, but a people development plan is different. One of the closest examples of this is Willow Creek’s “Reveal” project that seeks to measure congregant satisfaction, growth, and appropriate response in terms of events and programs.

We’re a lot like the classic Peanuts cartoon, where Charlie Brown shoots arrows into the fence and then draws circles around them. “That’s no way to target shoot,” Linus critiques. “Yeah, but that way I never miss,” Charlie retorts. At the end of the ministry year, most of us draw circles around our previous year’s calendar, budget, staff, and ministry review. But what are we really accomplishing? How do newcomers know what to expect? What kind of people are we turning out? Are the people in our care experiencing spiritual growth? If we think so, how do we know?

imageLeading Ideas with Alan Nelson:  Are You A Manager or Leader?
I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was driving back on the freeway, through Silicon Valley, when I saw a delivery truck on the other side of the road with a big word on it, “HOPE.” It was apparently the name of the charity that collected used items for its thrift store. While I rarely laugh out loud when I’m alone, I did that day because the HOPE truck was behind a tow truck. If only I had a camera.

Given the current economy, I thought it a perfect metaphor for many of us in ministry. I was in Phoenix a few weeks prior, connecting with various churches. One had just laid off nine employees. Another informed staff they needed to cut a big chunk out of their budgets. The next was on a total spending freeze. Still another had long lines of people standing for groceries...
imageLeadingIdeas by Alan Nelson: What’s Your LDP?
Last time in LeadingIdeas (MMI), we talked about the importance of a PDP, People Development Plan. The goal of a PDP is to develop a clear, written plan of how your church seeks to develop people who come to it, with measurable results. You can be one of the few churches in the country to have one, since most of us wing it when it comes to growing people.

Even rarer than a PDP is an LDP, Leader Development Plan. My bet is that if you had a good LDP, the PDP would take care of itself. My new ministry impetus is to help congregations, large or small, create LDPs. When you’re able to focus on people with God-given gifts of influence, you will naturally take care of everything else...

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