The Language of Leadership

Tragedy looms large over church leadership as it often adopts the language, the values, and strategies of the marketplace to explain the incomparable mission of the church. We have forgotten that the kingdom of God is not a business enterprise and the missio dei is not like any plan that was formulated by the brightest human minds. This tragedy is prevalent all over the world and India is no exception.

Leadership is always contextual and faith has to be lived out in the midst of challenges it encounters. The situation in India is alarming not only because the church is facing unprecedented persecution, is divided along ethnic lines, and caste discrimination is also visible in the church and the way Christian NGO’s operate. The church as a community of the Holy Spirit bound by cords of love, in order to be light and salt of the society remains a big challenge for church to model. Does it show the insecurity of the leadership? I think so. When the identity and security is sought in ethnicity, language and colour of the skin, it is not then a sign of insecurity of leadership.

When the Bible states “God is love” (1 John 4:8) it shows God’s ways are highly personal. Its more about who we are then what we do. God’s personal intervention in the painful and violent world in Christ sets the model of leadership. Jesus lived life “full of grace and truth” (John 1: 14). He fully identified with our humanity except sin. This lesson is not taught in leadership books which hit the market selling dreams of successful researched principles of leadership. We easily succumb. Our need is to return to the old and ever fresh principle of incarnate leadership that empowers the powerless, gives hope to the hopeless. While Jesus said, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12: 32). We often hear fear not big flock you are the kingdom for we have the numbers.

The number game gets incentive from the phrase often used: “Return on investment.” This mantra is elevated to the status of prophetic word by its worshippers. Grants fall or shower depending on how you provide numbers.

God became one of us and lived among us in order to lead us out of darkness and into a marvelous light. Remarkably enough, God’s chosen way for leading us to salvation and liberation- through the humanity of Jesus- remains his preferred way: incarnating divinity through humanity to love a hurting, sinful world. But leadership fails- every time – when it becomes mechanistic or in any way impersonal or relationally anaemic to all of community of Christ or to all of God’s creation, it takes a position on a pedestal, treating the people down below as projects or causes or problems. There is no substitute to incarnation full of grace and truth.

Rev. Dr. Richard Howell
General Secretary

Asia Biblical Leadership

Numerous articles and books have been written on Biblical Leadership. The topic of our conversation is whether culture and context in different part of the world speak into and shape the expressions of Biblical Leadership? Would Biblical Leadership expression among the church leaders in the US differ from the expressions of Biblical leadership demonstrated by the church leaders in Japan or Thailand? Or in a smaller scope, would the expressions of Biblical leadership among the church leaders in Korean churches be different than the expressions of Biblical leadership among the Javanese Christians? And if so, in what way they are different?

One even argues that Jesus’ and the New Testament’s idea of leadership is a significant departure from the leadership concept in the Old Testament, let alone the contemporary understanding of leadership in the surrounding nations. So when we talk about Biblical Leadership, we might be referring more of the Jesus’ and the New Testament’s idea of leadership.

So, what are some new leadership concepts Jesus introduced? First, when Jesus compared His idea of leadership with those of the world, he emphasized radical servanthood, service instead of dominion.

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28)

Second, Jesus associated leadership with love, extreme love, love till the end, love that sacrifices the leader own life for the followers (Mark 10:45), love instead of fear.

Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end (John 13:1c)

For three years Jesus showed His disciples how one should make disciple of other people, the key phrase for the Jesus’ disciple making is “follow me” (Matthew 4:19, 8:22, 9:9, 10:38, 16:24, 19:21, John 21:22). Just before Jesus left the world, at the end of His last 40 days with His disciples, he revolutionized leadership concept and practice, when he commanded His disciples to make disciples of all people (ta ethne), wherever they go (Matthew 28:19).

Every Christ’s follower who obeys His command, ‘to make disciple,’ that is to invite other people to follow her/him, is a leader. So, third, Through the Great Commission Jesus has democratized leadership. Leadership is no longer belonged only to the ‘blue blood,’ or certain tribe, or certain class in society (caste). Anyone who obeys Christ, and disciple others in the same way Jesus made disciple of the first disciples (follow me), is a leader.

If disciple making is leadership, its core must be radical servanthood, extreme love and modeling of a total obedience to God (follow me).

How would Christian leadership in Indonesia, or Thailand or Korea translate these three into the local and national context, both at the church and in public sphere?

Bambang Budijanto, Ph.D.
Asia Evangelical Alliance – Associate General Secretary

Consultation on Defending Religious Freedom: A Legal Perspective Colombo, Sri Lanka

Persecution against the church in the South Asian region has continuously increased over the past few years. According to the World Watch List for the period of 2017/2018, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are within the top 50 countries where persecution against Christians is highest.1 One of the main reasons behind this has been the rise of religious nationalism in the region. For instance, India and Nepal have witnessed the spread of the Hindutva ideology by extremist groups such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its affiliates and Sri Lanka has seen the rise of the Buddhist nationalist ideology by groups such as the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS). Continue reading “Consultation on Defending Religious Freedom: A Legal Perspective Colombo, Sri Lanka”

Religious Liberty trends South Asia

Yamini Ravindran (Attorney-at-Law, LL.B)
Ex. Director, Asia Evangelical Alliance, Religious Liberty Commission

In a study conducted by Pew Research, it was revealed that Christians were harassed either by governments or social groups, in 102 out of 198 countries (52%), making Christians the most persecuted community worldwide. The study also revealed that Muslims were reportedly harassed in 99 countries (50%).

Continue reading “Religious Liberty trends South Asia”

Narrative Report South Asia Legal Consultation – ‘Defending Religious Freedom’

Colombo, 17th – 20th July, 2018

The South Asia Legal Consultation titled ‘Defending Religious Freedom’ was held from the 17th to the 20th July, 2018 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The Consultation saw the participation of 22 lawyers and academics (in the field of law) from the South Asian region. The countries represented were Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Continue reading “Narrative Report South Asia Legal Consultation – ‘Defending Religious Freedom’”