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  • Direction: Response to James R. Nikkel
    minded in their approach to leadership as the church growth theorists advocate They must lead the church in the direction of the total vision of the Conference SOME QUESTIONABLE ASSUMPTIONS Second there is an assumption that we can move easily from the image of a shepherd to the image of a rancher This has two problems One is theological It creates a hierarchy in which the pastors put most of their time and energy into resourcing and supervising people in middle management roles rather than dealing directly with people in the congregation The shepherd imagery keeps leaders in personal contact with individuals The other problem is sociological For the most part Mennonite Brethren people live in cities far removed from ranches It would be easier to bring theological issues into focus if more familiar images were used to describe the pastoral task Urban centres know about entrepreneurs or receptionists at shelters for battered wives The latter image is closer to the biblical image of shepherding than is the image of the entrepreneur Third there is an assumption that bigger is better I find the preoccupation with breaking numerical barriers troublesome It may be a mute point but I find the language of Ezekiel more helpful seek the lost bring back the strayed bind up the crippled strengthen the weak watch over the fat and strong lead them in justice 34 16 This is a more personal approach than the preoccupation with numbers suggests Fourth there is an assumption that large churches are more effective in bringing people to Jesus Elmer Towns observes that the most efficient way of reaching lost people for 100 Jesus is through planting new churches Wagner 1988 142 149 James Engel and H Wilbert Norton say that it is a demonstrated principle of church growth that Christianity gains in a society only to the extent that the number of existing churches is multiplied Multiplication of new congregations of believers then is the normal and expected output of a healthy body 1975 143 144 Fifth there is an unspoken assumption that the cathedral is the model for the center of life and worship of the church The paper gives no consideration for leadership in at least one New Testament church type namely the house church I will stand by my statement as cited in Nikkel s paper Quite possibly the small church in which the pastor functions as an enabler among the people is the optimum size for a church when theological considerations are taken into account 10 The church growth leadership theory is based on having people at the head who have the power to lead Without centralized power the system cannot work This is inconsistent with the example of Jesus in John 13 Philippians 2 and 1 Corinthians 8 9 In conversation with his disciples Jesus made the point that in the kingdom of God it is inappropriate to aspire to positions of power Luke 22 24 27 From a sociological point of view I

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  • Direction: The Church Growth Theory and Mennonite Brethren Polity
    says the Scripture 107 Changes in the Basic Model Until the 1930s in the United States and the 1950s in Canada the ministers and elders in local churches were bivocational people With the transition from an agrarian to an industrial professional and commercial culture the need emerged for paid pastoral leadership For many years the context of a multiple ministry model remained in tact for this new full time ministerial leadership This transition to paid leadership provided the occasion for repeated testing of the biblical teachings on leadership The official position of the Conference on the character and model of leadership as recorded in numerous conference resolutions continued to be that of multiple leadership A clear preference was given to the emergence of this leadership from within the congregation The importance of the spirit of servanthood and mutuality was stressed even more than before 6 The basic model of local church governance began to change with the introduction of the paid pastoral ministry The structural change was from the elder system to a church council model in the 1930s in the United States and in the 1950s in Canada The dislocations of people brought about through immigration and the Depression as well as the professionalization of the ministry disrupted the organic spiritual process of leadership development within local churches People in growing urban communities no longer knew each other as well and pastors preferred more centralized forms of church leadership Church councils began to emerge as an alternative form of church governance Church council polity offered a representative form of leadership Leaders came from the various programs within the church e g Christian education youth music deaconate board of trustees etc The model was functional in character The tenure of membership was limited to specific terms one two or three years 7 By virtue of its composition its functional character and the brevity of tenure the church council form of governance had less authority The process of selecting church leadership became more democratic and authority shifted to the pastor The collective responsibility for the spiritual nurture watchcare and leadership was lost The pastor became the center for all of these responsibilities Church history will describe this model as a provision for pragmatic leadership which 108 accommodated itself to the dominant cultural milieu during the second half of the twentieth century In recent years some Mennonite Brethren churches have returned to a board of elders model The return to this earlier model is very much a part of a search for responsible authoritative church leadership In the absence of established organic processes to restore leadership from within the churchly community various approaches have been used to reestablish the eldership pattern The transition to eldership with authority has been rather rapid in some churches in order to break existing spiritual plateaus In the absence of integral spiritual relationships with the congregation giftedness and leadership talent have now become strong factors in the selection of elders Church Growth Theory has had a major influence in these developments The need for the change from the church council democratic leadership to a more biblical model is urgent THE POLITY OF CHURCH GROWTH THEORY Church Growth Theory defines itself as that science which investigates the planting multiplication function and health of the churches as they relate specifically to the effective implementation of God s commission to make disciples of all nations Matt 28 19 22 It strives to combine theological principles of God s Word concerning the expansion of the church with the best insights of contemporary social and behavioral sciences based on the foundational work of Donald McGavran with focus on the homogeneous principle as reflected from his missionary ministry in India 8 Church Growth does not claim to be an ecclesia Its theology the relation of biblical truth and social science principles by its own definition is selective according to the concerns of church expansion It is a theology of function The effort to integrate the social science paradigm into a consistent biblical theology has proven difficult Mennonite Brethren committed to biblical theology question a hermeneutic that selects passages that prioritize evangelism e g The church must grow without an equal emphasis on discipleship e g The church must be and do Matt 5 7 Luke 10 25 37 Delos Miles while recognizing the contributions of the movement correctly concludes that the functionalism 109 fantasy and pragmatism of the movement lacks theological consistency 9 The polity of Church Growth Theory is designed for success in outreach and growth Centralized pastoral leadership is defined as the key for vision and motivation in the assignment 10 Church Growth theorists provide the following definition of leadership that will be effective for growth This army has only one Commander in Chief Jesus Christ The local church is like a company with one company commander the pastor who gets the orders from the Commander in Chief The company commander has lieutenants and sergeants under him for consultation and implementation but the final responsibility for the decision is that of the company commander and he must answer to the Commander in Chief If you believe God has called me to pastor this church then you follow me 11 The pastor has the power in a growing church Or as Robert Schuller puts it Let there be no dodging of this issue Pastor Do you hear me You should be the sparkplug You should be the inspiring commander leading the troops up the hill 12 The military paradigm requires no interpretation It contains no biblical grounding or qualification The reference to Jesus Christ as the Commander in Chief is hardly the language Jesus or the New Testament uses to describe his leadership style The leadership model is clearly highly centralized and autocratic The pastoral role is defined as the Chief Executive Officer CEO of a corporation or the commander of an army The broader functional task of this leadership is provided in numerous publications 13 The autocratic model of leadership as

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/20/2/church-growth-theory-and-mennonite.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: Response to J. B. Toews
    illustration of our move toward local autonomy can be seen with respect to ordination In the United States and perhaps in Canada district provincial conferences have become less involved in ordinations In study conferences we hear repeated calls for ordination not to be restricted to pastoral roles Without arguing the biblicity of that idea such calls give another example of moving with our polity to local churches rather than to the conference I see little in the Church Growth Movement with its emphasis on size success numbers and strong leadership that holds promise for giving the conference priority The more powerful and successful the leader becomes the more powerful the congregation is apt to grow The more powerful the church becomes the less need it has for a conference CONFLICTING IMAGES OF LEADERS More basic to our discussion perhaps is the emphasis of the Church Growth Movement on a leadership pattern centered in the pastor rather than in corporate congregational leadership As Toews has aptly pointed out the language of Church Growth adherents with respect to pastors as commanders hardly agrees with our understanding of the servant leadership style A leadership model that is blatantly promoted as highly centralized and autocratic does not blend with leadership styles exemplified in Christ s life or modeled in the early Church We may have to ask however if it is possible to function as a large super church without employing the corporate model of governance Can leaders working under a highly centralized and authoritative polity be shepherds How does the shepherding image inform us on our practice today when we turn to a management style of leadership The shepherd image hardly allows for leaders being bosses and manhandling the sheep While suggesting that the jury is still out Brother Toews illustratively points out that the Church Growth Movement builds quantitatively but lacks quality Illustrations might well 116 be offered of other churches led by low profile pastors who fail as well in qualitative leadership Is it really true that smaller less evangelism oriented churches with less autocratic leadership necessarily produce more quality persons How do you determine qualitative growth The more recently publicized pastoral scandals have indeed usually involved super pastors Many other pastors in smaller churches however not enamored with Church Growth theories have fallen to the same sins Perhaps the key to most such moral failures is that leaders in small and large churches whether using or ignoring Church Growth principles fell more easily because they took advantage of power as leaders A word of warning is appropriate for strong autocratic leadership that tends to be unaccountable to others Is a successful emphasis on outreach incompatible with longterm qualitative growth Can highly centralized leadership also be servant leadership Can church growth centered in the pastor build strong stable and enduring churches Can churches majoring in numerical growth also maintain a corporate leadership style We want both strong and shared leadership Both are biblical Either when drawn to extremes is dangerous Strong

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  • Direction: Response to J. B. Toews
    decision making where appropriate There also will need to be some renewal in our understanding of the concept of the priesthood of believers understood as meaning that every member is involved in ministry rather than that every member votes on every issue The lack of clear guidance from the conference level regarding leadership models on the local level has resulted in the emergence of a variety of esestructures This has made for confusion conflict and hurts Of equal concern is the growing sense of fragmentation regarding commitment to the work of the larger conference The fear of any kind of hierarchy with any authority has negatively impacted the function of leadership in our conference As stated by Anabaptist scholar Rodney Sawatzky Unless we recapture a more balanced view of leadership which includes respect for the office as well as that of function we are in danger of total disintegration as a conference The New Testament supports such a view 1 Thess 5 13 1 Tim 5 17 Heb 13 7 17 Without a change of support and respect for those discerned for leadership roles we essentially cast a vote for a chaplaincy approach to leadership which has little hope of calling individuals and local churches to be accountable ASSESSING STRONG LEADERSHIP J B Toews recognizes that the Church Growth Movement has contributed to the renewal emphasis on evangelism but on the issue of leadership he sees this movement as having more negatives than strengths Some of the weaknesses cited cannot easily be ignored e g the over emphasis on the pastoral role defined as the CEO of a corporation or the commander of an army Such leadership models are highly centralized and autocratic and clearly do not fit our understanding of a New Testament leadership model On the other hand the Church Growth Movement does address the functional responsibility of leadership which includes motivating and training lay leadership to reach 119 people for Christ and the church Both of these functions could be much stronger in many of our churches The examples of our early Anabaptist leaders and the record of the New Testament reflect the kind of leaders which were clearly visionary and committed to aggressive evangelism They may well appear autocratic to our generation Toews three cases from three Mennonite Brethren churches appear one sided We obviously cannot deny that these churches grew rapidly under strong centralized leadership and then declined and or experienced a crisis when that pastor left There are however some additional factors which must be considered in such church experiences 1 Since the assimilation of newcomers is a key factor in retaining such members how did the more traditional members accept these newcomers or was the pastor the primary association for the newcomers 2 Active participation and the sense that I am needed is another important factor for staying in fellowship Some churches carefully protect leadership positions for the inner circle 3 What kind of responsibility does a congregation have in choosing a suitable

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/20/2/response-to-toews-neufeld.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: Church Growth Consultation: Findings
    we commit ourselves and our churches to pray and work toward the achievement of these goals To achieve this we must give freedom for diversity We want to use various means in evangelism and church planting We want to discern the positive and the negative in all church growth methods including the Church Growth Movement church leaders must model evangelism and the multiplication of churches and both congregations and leaders must take risks Diversity in the size of our congregations is good God is building his church in different forms and cultures He is present wherever his people gather in his name Being Good Leaders We affirm strong leadership in our congregations and conferences We believe leaders are gifts of God to the church We agree that leaders must be people called by God and legitimized by the discernment and affirmation of the church diverse models and styles of leadership are valid and that all leaders must promote the mission of the church and conduct themselves as servants They must also adapt their leadership to the setting of their congregations Leadership and accountability can go hand in hand Leaders are accountable to God their congregations and the conference Accountability is also mutual Pastors and congregations congregations and the conference and our denomination and the larger Christian community are all mutually accountable We need continuing leadership development Too often we stop growing and developing as leaders after we leave school Senior leaders from our conference and schools should come alongside younger less experienced leaders to mentor them more systematically 123 Confronting Our Culture We are in the world and the world is in us The world also seeks to conform us to its ideologies and values Therefore we must discern how to be both counter cultural and missionary Biblical faithfulness calls us to confront our culture evangelize pagan people and disciple authentic Christian men and women CONCERNS WE NEED TO WORK ON Managing Healthy Conflict in the Church Many of us seem to fear conflict and dissent Others of us believe that disagreements can be healthy and should be managed openly and honestly Using the Social Sciences in the Church Some of us use the methods and data of the social sciences freely Others believe we should use the social sciences carefully because these sciences are built on assumptions and worldviews that can be in conflict with our theology We need to discern the use of these sciences in a way that is appropriate to the church Understanding Our Church Polity We are confused about what a Mennonite Brethren modified presbyterian polity looks like Some of us are not certain that such a polity represents historic Mennonite Brethren practice There are a variety of polities at the congregational level and we have mixed thoughts about this diversity Relating as Local Congregations to the Conference How do we build congregations which simultaneously show vigorous growth and strong conference loyalty Understanding the Nature and Use of Power Some of us are fearful of

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/20/2/church-growth-consultation-findings.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: Paul's Success in the Conversion of Gentiles: Dynamic Center in Cultural Diversity
    among the Gentiles Not only are the ideas interrelated they are charged with generative energy that Paul would call the power dynamis of God that leads to salvation Rom 1 16 As such this truth of the Gospel Gal 2 14 as a generative center is open to cultural variety and diversity of expression But more on this point later For the present we should highlight three principal facets in the schema of Paul s thought that drive his mission to the Gentiles and open the door for their inclusion in the new people of God Christ event There is no denying that the figure of Christ stands out in bold relief in Paul s letters His thinking about Christ is vast majestic overpowering dynamic Paul acknowledges that the Christ was in the form of God Phil 2 6 that God sent him into the world for the redemption of humankind Rom 8 3 Gal 4 4f that he died in weakness on the cross to be raised again to universal lordship 1 Cor 1 20ff 15 3 5 Phil 2 8 11 that his full presence in the world is still future 1 Cor 15 20 55 1 Thess 4 13 18 that his Spirit indwells the community of faith in Christ to give life and hope 2 Cor 3 17f Rom 8 9 27 And he further affirms that anyone from the human family who believes in this Christ thereby participates proleptically in a new creation that God has in mind for the world 2 Cor 5 17f cfr 1 21 22 Despite the spiritual overtones of the language just cited the Christ of Paul s thought is not a mystical figure cf Rom 8 9f 2 Cor 3 17f The revelation of the grace of God toward humankind comes not in mystical but in historical dress The resurrected Lord has an antecedent on the other side of the third day cf 1 Cor 15 3 5 There cannot be a resurrected 130 Christ apart from the crucified Christ crucified in ordinary time and in human flesh to redeem both Still the Christ in Paul is defined primarily in transcendental terms not restricted to the historical Jesus Instead Paul s Christian thought in the letters is centered on the act of God in raising the crucified Jesus to universal lordship It is a saving event for the world represented every time the gospel is proclaimed It makes Paul s preaching good news Something of great moment has happened in the world and for the world God has brought out of human mortality a new form of incorruptible life in the person of the resurrected Christ Paul lives and works in the experience of this event and interprets all other saving events recorded in Scripture in its light The message that Paul finds in the Old Testament says Richard Hays is the gospel of Jesus Christ proleptically figured a gospel proclaiming the inclusion of the Gentiles among the people of God 4 Now to the second principal element The Change of Aeons The change from the old age to the new was not merely a piece of information Paul acknowledged It became for him a reality of immense proportion one that shaped his thinking and impelled his mission to the Gentiles A cluster of questions present themselves When did the change occur What new frontier has the change brought about And what are the consequences for Paul s mission to the Gentile world The questions interlock as do the answers that follow C J A Hickling has made the point that for Paul God has already brought about in Christ a decisive and final transformation of time 5 What was decisive and final for Paul was the reality of the resurrection of Messiah to universal status Christ was the Messiah of the whole world and of all humanity Paul s new understanding of himself in relation to the plan of God was of one standing at a cosmic frontier 6 God had raised Jesus from among the dead signalling the dawn of a new order of life in the midst of ordinary history The resurrection of Jesus Messiah marked a turning point for humanity and for the cosmos From that point onward resurrected life in Jesus Christ was the new ontic reality to be reckoned with it belonged at the end of the ages and the beginning of the new age to come 1 Cor 10 11 7 The Adam Christ typology of Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 131 fits within this pattern of thought a typology that lies at the heart of the inclusion of Gentile people in the people of God The first Adam human being became an animate physical being psuchen zosan 1 Cor 15 45a whereas the last Adam became a life giving spirit pneuma zoo poioun 15 45b The new creation in the last Adam constitutes a different order of existence from the first Adam Yet both are Adam human The new rises out of the old by the power of God and is related to the old as fulfillment to promise antitype to type 8 cf Rom 5 12 21 Significantly Paul views the new Adam as the resurrected Christ the life giving spirit the man from heaven v 49 not the historical Jesus The change from old to new from physical to spiritual from mortal to immortal occurred at the point where a radically new reality appeared to the eyes of faith the resurrected Christ 1 Cor 15 3 5 Such a new reality in the church and in the world was bound to have cosmic consequences and it did It transformed Paul s worldview his understanding of the Law Torah and his attitude towards Gentiles His new way of understanding the Law was more than anything the catalyst that attracted Gentiles to the Messiah Christ of Paul s preaching More on this presently But what of the third major element

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/20/2/pauls-success-in-conversion-of-gentiles.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: The Holy Spirit and Church Renewal: Coimbatore, India, 1906
    on furlough and with friends in St Petersburg Russia March 1905 he found a new impulse toward the search for a life of fullness with God Hence he was prepared for the experience back in India at Coimbatore Friesen helpfully summarized the kinds of sins that were confessed in that holiness convention and throughout the awakening of 1904 1906 judgmental and unforgiving attitudes carelessness in word and deed lack of family and personal worship unedifying reading avarice and failure to tithe lukewarmness toward God s cause and people conceit and spiritual pride and resistance to complete submission to God These and many more that we would ordinarily not think worth mentioning brought us into the dust before God He mentioned another of which he was repeatedly somewhat guilty as my research indicates being too sharp with correspondents over awkward issues 15 RESULTS OF REVIVAL IN THE MENNONITE BRETHREN MISSION One month later Abram Friesen reported that God had brought the revival to his church in Nalgonda It was not something he had tried artificially to work up God met the needs of the Nalgonda church when spontaneous simultaneous prayer broke out in an evening service There was a storming of the throne of grace with confessions For a whole week all else was neglected in favor of getting the congregation 139 right with God On Thursday a person considered to be demon possessed was released from captivity 16 Johann and Helene Wiens returned to their station at Hanamakonda only to find the Holy Spirit already at work For a period of eight weeks there followed nightly services when prayer frequently lasted long after midnight 17 For part of that time in September the Friesens Hueberts and J H and Maria Pankratz from Malkapet Hyderabad were present The last mentioned had come from America as recently as 1902 John Pankratz wrote that two couples H Unruhs C Unruhs had visited them on September 30 1906 When he and Maria heard about the revival at Coimbatore and on the stations served by his Russian Mennonite Brethren colleagues they wanted the blessing in Hyderabad also 18 No one on the field at that time wanted to be left out of the blessing Heinrich Unruh at Jangaon wrote to say he had been busy with a heavy building program but his readers should not think that his station had been overlooked In fact God had used a Telegu preacher K Moses to bring the revival to them His brother Cornelius Unruh with wife Martha new on the field reported that at a Telegu Convention about 100 preachers had come together only to experience an awakening comparable to Coimbatore 19 In India since 1904 the Daniel F Bergthold family from America had settled at Nagarkurnool some distance away When they heard of the blessings received at Coimbatore and at Hanamakonda they also prayed that all hindrances the last one being unbelief would be removed Once removed they too received a fresh infilling of the Spirit

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  • Direction: Issues in Church Life and Polity in Germany
    becoming accultured to the majority culture These are issues of identity of transition of leadership from experienced missionaries to young native leaders and of conference structures and organization We struggle to incorporate young visionary leaders in the weak conference structures Several agencies with specialized and effective ministries have emerged from our churches but we find it difficult to provide a solid financial base and have enough suitable people to staff all the different boards Most of the leaders get their theological training in different German interdenominational institutions that stress apologetics and foreign mission The church and the practical ministries do not get the same attention Thus a unified Anabaptist view of the church and a solid biblical theology of the brotherhood is of great urgency How to maintain the independence of the local church and at the same time to live as a community of faith as a family of God that consists of people of diverse origins and backgrounds and meets in different places is the question that we have to deal with By now the Aussiedler churches form the larger part of the German Mennonite Brethren church From the mid seventies until now there has been a constant influx of immigrants Aussiedler from the Soviet Union Their numbers dramatically increased in the last two years The state authorities have taken measures to disperse them through the whole country Thus almost every week a new local church or a fellowship is formed somewhere It is difficult to keep track of them Some estimate there are as many as two hundred Aussiedler churches at the present time others count a total of one hundred to 145 one hundred fifty There are small churches yet there are large churches with as many as six hundred to twelve hundred members In fact they take the lead in the list of the best attended churches in Germany The issues in these churches are numerous and could fill books There are personal questions about living accommodations jobs schools and language difficulties There are many practical and organizational concerns for the organization Who are the leaders and what is the orientation in the philosophy of ministry When the church grows there are questions How to get land in short supply and consequently quite expensive and permission for the construction of church property how to incorporate the large numbers of newcomers from diverse congregational backgrounds etc But theological issues are even more pressing What is a Christian what is worldly what is our brotherhood and with whom do we affiliate STRESSES OF CULTURES IN TRANSITION Little understanding for culture and the zeal to be faithful to the Bible often legalistically and narrowly interpreted make the ethical questions of daily conduct thorny issues in the churchly life The practice of church discipline raises a whole set of questions in the churches Families experience great stress in this context Young people struggle a lot to find their way under the authority of a church that is foreign to

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