Friday, January 27, 2006

The Leadership Network "Process" of Innovation

The past few days Herescope has been critiquing a 2001 report by Brad Smith, President of the Leadership Network in which he described the plans and purpose for the Terra Nova Project, which later became the Emergent Church. Today's post contains new historical and philosophical material that sheds considerable light on how all of this was orchestrated. Yesterday's post explained the processes of group dynamics that may have been used. Today's post sheds more light on this process.

The Brad Smith report contained a section entitled "The Leadership Network Process." Note the word "process." In this discussion, Smith outlines how Leadership Network has served as a key agent for the transformation of the evangelical church for the past two decades. Keep in mind that this report was written in the context of describing how the Terra Nova Project was formed and its purpose. Smith detailed the "process" that was used to forge this "innovation."

"Leadership Network used a 'forum-style' process that doesn’t force a particular agenda. The process allows the selection of a group of leaders around a common affinity, the right environment to learn from each other, and the ability of LN to understand the implications of the discussion so other groups can be ‘spurred’ to greater innovation. After ‘identification,’ the most important part of this process is LN’s ability to ‘get out of the way’ and allow each affinity group to shape its own way of connecting. This allows LN to serve, for example, profoundly straightforward urban leaders in one meeting, and intensely complex large church executive pastors in the next with equal effectiveness."

Before proceeding, it is important to understand how a "forum" works. In the corporate world, as well as in the political world, a "forum" is a vehicle by which transformation is most easily orchestrated in a group. A "forum," by definition, is supposed to be an opportunity for open discussion. However, the manner in which "forums" have been conducted in the corporate, political and social world over the past two decades has been altered. A "forum" is now more likely to be a group setting in which the participants are "facilitated" to a consensus, most often a pre-determined consensus. This orchestrated "process" of transformation requires the use of "change agents," persons who are trained in psycho-social group manipulation techniques. (See yesterday's post for a detailed explanation of this process.)

In the next paragraph, Smith confirms that this "forum" process was indeed being "facilitated" for the purpose of "moving forward" towards "innovation."

"This process is part of what gives LN the essential strength of its mission – the ability to see the broader perspective and facilitate its friends to move forward. LN identifies leaders who have the mantle of God upon them, connects them with other mantle bearers and creates a 'safe place' for them to learn from and encourage one another in the difficult and often lonely task of innovation.

(Note the use of the terms "mantle of God" and "mantle bearers" again. This New Apostolic Reformation term was defined in the 1/24/06 Herescope post.) Smith proceeds to link this forum "process" to the three types of innovators (paradigm-shifters) which he had described previously in his report. In other words, these three change agent roles were pivotal for the "process" of "innovation" that has just been described.

"This general process works with Adapters, Revolutionaries and Groundbreakers although it is almost impossible to combine all three of them within the same network."

The Truth:

A Word of Encouragement to Young Pastors

It is not unusual for young pastors or new pastors to be intimidated by things such as 1) age, 2) maturity, 3) authority, 4) academic credentials or 5) peer pressure. The two books of the Bible, 1 and 2 Timothy, are particularly addressed to young leaders. In these two books young pastors can find great comfort to hold firm to the Truth of the Gospel. These two books also contain many grave warnings! Paul's final charge to his disciple Timothy, a young pastor, was strong. These words are particularly pertinent to young pastors facing the pressures of group apostasy today.

"I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry." (2 Timothy 4:1-5)

Psalm 119: 97-104 is also particularly well-suited for encouraging young pastors:

"O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts. I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word. I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou has taught me. How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way."

Next -- more history of the early Emergent Church formation. . . .