Thursday, 22 April 2010

Discerning Leadership

Discerning Leadership: co-operating with the Spirit of God.

This is the title of the first booklet in a new series being launched by Grove Books in June. It's a series on leadership! And for the series, Grove is in partnership with CPAS.

I'm excited by this first title by Bishop Graham Cray, who recently moved from being Bishop of Maidstone to heading up Fresh Expressions.

All too often, he argues, the 'vision process' in a church can involve the 'hero' leader 'going up the mountain' like Moses, and coming back with his vision. Cray proposes a different model, one which involves more consciously listening to the Spirit of God and a more consultative process, but which is also more flexible, and open to the awareness that maybe a clear vision is not God's agenda at the moment when we think we need one! I'd like to think that women tend to use a more 'post-heroic' leadership style - but then I don't believe in gender stereotypes, do I?!

Perhaps it's fair to say that most women are less likely to adopt a 'heroic' model of leadership, but we need as much as men do to listen to God and be sensitive to his spirit. A consultation process approach could be just as detached from God's agenda as a 'God has given me the vision' approach.

You can hear Graham Cray talking about this subject on one of CPAS' podcasts. And you can hear him talk about 'discerning leadership' at the Leadership series launch event at LICC in London on Tuesday 8th June, 6.15-8.30. More information is available on the LICC website (scroll through 'events' to June).

Monday, 12 April 2010

Bringing Hope

It seems strange to me that it took a message from the US to tell me about a conference taking place in Colchester! But such is life.

The conference is called 'Bringing Hope', and aims to help Christians understand more about domestic violence and support those who are experiencing it. It's long amazed me that much of the church seems oblivious of something which affects one in four women during their lifetime - and which is as common inside the church as outside it.

This important subject has long been one of my passions, and after working as a volunteer on Women's Aid's national helpline and researching the subject, I wrote a Grove booklet in 1994, entitled Home is Where the Hurt is. The booklet went out of print several years ago, but the text is available on CPAS' website here.

According to the conference literature, Bringing Hope aims to launch a new alliance called Restored. (What it's an alliance of, I'm not entirely clear.)

Over the last 15 or so years there have been a number of church initiatives, but none seem to have brought this subject to wide attention. The Church of England debate and report were excellent - but probably not widely read. The Baptists and some other denominations are well served with information, yet this does not appear to have influenced the agenda of most churches.

Perhaps this will make a difference, to a new generation of Christians.