Frameworks Toward Post/Decolonial Pastoral Leaderships

Frameworks Toward Post/Decolonial Pastoral Leaderships

Kristina I. Lizardy-Hajbi

“We have seen that colonization materially kills the colonized. It must be added that colonization kills [us] spiritually. Colonization distorts relationships, destroys or petrifies institutions, and corrupts [humans], both colonizers and colonized.”[1]Albert Memmi, The Colonizer and the Colonized, expanded ed. (Boston, Mass.: Beacon Press, 1991), 151.

Abstract

The current state of Protestant Christianity within the U.S. context calls for prophetic pastoral leaders who resist and disrupt empire and colonial being-thinking-acting, creating space for re-envisioning and re-existencing within faith communities. Presented here is the first in a two-part series introducing post/decolonial pastoral leaderships, with this article focusing on grounding definitions and frameworks that challenge constructed westernized notions of leadership and church. The second article in the series, to be published in the following issue, will highlight various processes for engaging and embodying post/decolonial pastoral leaderships.

Introduction

Postcolonial and decolonial theories and theologies, though acknowledged widely and engaged across various disciplines, have remained largely within the realms of academia due in part to their philosophical and theoretical underpinnings. In this moment of time, however, these frameworks contain critical relevance as events and circumstances have exposed not only the deeply racist systems of policing in the United States, but also the short- and long-term effects of racialized access to health care, mortality rates, and employment security in the context of a global pandemic, among other dynamics.

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About the Author:
Rev. Kristina I. Lizardy-Hajbi, Ph.D., is Term Assistant Professor of Leadership and Formation and Director of the Office of Professional Formation at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado.
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References

References
1 Albert Memmi, The Colonizer and the Colonized, expanded ed. (Boston, Mass.: Beacon Press, 1991), 151.
Frameworks Toward Post/Decolonial Pastoral Leaderships2021-03-11T10:18:23-06:00

Voices from the Margins: A Renaissance of Black Prophetic Preaching and Leadership in Problematic Times

Voices from the Margins: A Renaissance of Black Prophetic Preaching and Leadership in Problematic Times

The Rt. Rev. Edward Donalson III

Abstract

As the nation and the world face numerous evils that dwarf problems of the past, religious communities are being called to action. Whiteness shrouded in religious language, centuries of slow responses to radical suffering, and the privileging of Evangelicalism in the Black Church have all silenced the prophetic impulses needed today. This essay offers an invitation to a renaissance of Black prophetic leadership, refusing relevance and survival within a system for whom the system was not constructed. The God of Exodus needs destabilizing so the God of Exile and Hagar may now invite and inspire constructive reform of church and society that does not prioritize the dominant gaze or whiteness. Prophetic Black preaching leads the way in renewing the biblical narrative, awakening to the power of language, the need for holistic embodiment, and representative educational leadership for curriculum revision leaning toward justice, human flourishing, and transformation.

We are now faced with national and global evils of epic proportions that call for religious communities to respond with a clarion call to action. The empire known as the United States of America currently has a Commander in Chief who invites a Tuskegee Airman and honors Rush Limbaugh simultaneously at the State of the Union with no sensitivity to how polarizing that is, particularly during Black History Month. The occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. should discern the optics, which clearly commodify Black bodies while simultaneously extolling the system of white supremacy that continues to marginalize and disinherit those bodies. This divisive and demoralizing behavior is made possible because a support base of religious folk is trafficking in a theo-logic that they look to enshrine in public policy to secure supremacy for themselves and their children for generations to come. The present administration and the religious supporters of this administration have worked tirelessly to manage the perception that people are only suffering what they deserve for being “illegal aliens,” from S-hole countries, who are dangerous criminals, bent on destroying our culture and taking our jobs. It is said that theology arises from the freedom and responsibility of the Christian community to inquire about its faith in God (Migliore 2014, 1). This is for me true, and yet I see the responsibility of theology to continually examine the proclamation of the church by continually critiquing and revising the language of the church (Cone 1997, 84).

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About the Author:
Edward Donalson III, DMin, is the Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program, Seattle University.
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Voices from the Margins: A Renaissance of Black Prophetic Preaching and Leadership in Problematic Times2021-03-11T10:19:05-06:00

“Next [Wo]-Man Up: Examining Prophetic Leadership Transition in Moses and Martin Luther King, Jr.”

“Next [Wo]-Man Up: Examining Prophetic Leadership Transition in Moses and Martin Luther King, Jr.”

Phillip Allen, Jr.

Abstract
Relating the transitions in leadership from Moses to Joshua and from Martin Luther King Jr to the Civil Rights Movement, this article argues that it is imperative that prophetic leadership discerns leadership succession for a community, organization, or movement in order to fulfill more successfully its vision of the preferred future. It discusses the qualities necessary for both current and prospective leaders to increase the chances of a healthy leadership transition as well as the practices required to discern the next leader(s).

In 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered a speech famously known as “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” in Memphis, Tennessee. He eerily and prophetically spoke about his impending death, which would prevent him from continuing to lead the Civil Rights Movement (CRM). The next day, on April 4th, standing on his balcony on the second floor of the Lorraine Motel, King was assassinated. His leadership of arguably the most culturally transformative movement in U.S. history came to a tragic halt. Once the dust settled after his funeral and a period of nationwide grieving, one question needed to be answered: “Who would now lead the movement?” Within a decade, the movement declined and eventually lost its potency and relevance. This dynamic raises the question of the movement’s preparedness for life after King. Was this a critical weakness in King’s leadership? Was the responsibility to prepare a successor to continue the vision of the CRM left to King?

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About the Author:
Pastor Phillip Allen, Jr. is a Ph.D. student in Christian Ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary and the founding pastor of Own Your Faith Ministries in Santa Clarita, CA
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“Next [Wo]-Man Up: Examining Prophetic Leadership Transition in Moses and Martin Luther King, Jr.”2021-03-11T10:13:01-06:00

Introduction: Engaging the Prophetic Dimension of Christian Leadership

Introduction: Engaging the Prophetic Dimension of Christian Leadership

Rev. Dr. Robert K. Martin, Editor

Welcome to the Fall 2020 issue of the Journal of Religious Leadership. As is our custom, the fall issue takes its theme from the preceding Conference of the Academy of Religious Leadership and is constituted largely by its presentations. As we gathered online in April 2020, we were treated to rich array of intellectual offerings that delighted our minds and challenged our hearts.

. . .

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Introduction: Engaging the Prophetic Dimension of Christian Leadership2021-03-11T10:21:07-06:00

Book Review: Loonshots: How To Nurture The Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, And Transform Industries

Loonshots: How To Nurture The Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, And Transform Industries

By: Safi Bahcall
New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2019  |  249 Pp. Hardcover  | ISBN 978-1-250-18596-9

Coming from a background in medical innovation and organizational consulting, Safi Bahcall offers insights into how groups of people innovate. For ministries professionals—whether they are pastors seeking to help a church try something new, judicatory executives seeking to support congregations, or seminary professors seeking to nurture budding leaders—these are common questions: How do we get pastors to be creative? How do we get churches to take risks and try new things? Bahcall’s answer to these questions is to have leaders be on the lookout for “loonshots.” Loonshots are “widely dismissed ideas whose champions are often written off as crazy” (2). With examples that range from the invention of the transistor to the development of Star Wars, Bahcall uses principles from the physics of phase transitions (think water becoming ice) to help leaders understand how to nurture fledgling ideas into reality. He wants to change the structure rather than the culture of organizations in order to support creativity.

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Reviewed by:
Michael Wilson
Donegal Presbytery
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
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Book Review: Loonshots: How To Nurture The Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, And Transform Industries2021-03-11T10:30:21-06:00

Book Review: Leadership In Christian Perspective: Biblical Foundations In Contemporary Practices For Servant Leaders

Leadership In Christian Perspective: Biblical Foundations In Contemporary Practices For Servant Leaders

By: Justin A. Irving And Mark L. Strauss
Grand Rapids, Mi: Baker Academic, 2019  |  218 Pp. Paperback  | ISBN 978-1-540-96033-7

In Leadership in Christian Perspective, Justin Irving and Michael Strauss present a compelling vision of how Christians might lead in their places of work. Whether this work is in a religious or secular setting, a Christian leader’s goal should be “empowering and equipping others to effectively engage God’s purpose in the world” (5). The authors bring together leadership research and biblical scholarship to show that empowering servant leadership has strong biblical foundations and also support from the social sciences regarding its efficacy. Each chapter is split into three sections to guide readers through this interdisciplinary work— biblical foundations, leadership research and theory, and practical examples and recommendations. Each chapter also ends with next steps to help readers critically reflect upon their personal leadership praxis.

Part One focuses on the internal aspects of leadership. The authors contend that in order to be an effective, empowering leader, one must be authentic and purposeful. This begins by modeling key values to others in the organization. Just as Paul encouraged believers to imitate him, so also Christian leaders must provide an example for others to imitate. However, it is difficult to model key organizational and personal values without honest self-evaluation. The authors contend that two of the most common reasons for failure in leadership are self-doubt on one side and pride on the other. Because a Christian’s identity comes from God, Christians are to have neither too high of a view of themselves nor too low. They should have an honest view of themselves, their relationships with others, and their spirituality. Because servant leaders are honest about themselves and model key values, they can prioritize collaboration in their organizations without worrying about competition or being overlooked. They can involve others in crafting and executing the vision, knowing that their identity comes from God and that increased collaboration is a “statistically significant predictor of effective leadership practice” (61).

Part two moves outward toward a leader’s interactions with followers. While much of the text focuses on individual leaders, Irving and Strauss also emphasize the importance of relationships in leadership. Consequently, the second part of this book guides leaders in their relationships with others. Because every person is made in the image of God, Christian leaders value and appreciate others—not only for their contributions to the organization but also for their inherent worth as humans. One way to value and appreciate others is to make space for individuality. Christian leaders are called to move away from an assembly line view of employees where people are easily replaceable and toward a more organic model where the structure of the organization changes based upon who is present. This allows followers to thrive, benefitting the organizations for which they work. The authors conclude this section by focusing on the relational skills leaders must acquire if they are to value others effectively and make space for individuality. They contend that leaders who prioritize relationships in this manner are more likely to be effective in their organization.

Finally, Irving and Strauss shift toward strategies that Christian leaders can use to be more effective. The first of these is communicating with clarity. Servant leaders focus on what followers are hearing rather than on what they as leaders are saying. In addition to communicating their organizations’ priorities and vision, leaders should communicate clearly the expectations that they have of followers. This leads to a second strategy to be effective—holding followers accountable to carry out their responsibilities competently. Irving and Strauss insist that it hinders the development of the organization and the follower when leaders do not hold followers accountable. Of course, as they insist in a third strategy, servant leaders must do their part to resource and support followers as they fulfill their responsibilities. Unlike Pharaoh, who forced the Hebrew slaves to build bricks without straw, effective Christian leaders know how to serve, empower, and equip those who work for them. With these three strategies, servant leaders are more likely to be faithful to their Christian beliefs and effective as leaders in their organization.

While Leadership in Christian Perspective excels at pulling together the disciplines of biblical studies and leadership theory, its reliance upon the concept of servant leadership will be a problem for many. As many practitioners and scholars in marginalized communities have shown, the concept of servant leadership can serve to continue their marginalization as some communities are more servant than others.

Although some examples are provided that church leaders will relate to, this book is written primarily for Christian leaders in the secular workforce. Its accessibility and the thought-provoking questions at the end of each chapter will make this work attractive primarily to small church groups or Christian book groups. Those who are emerging leaders or new to the Christian leadership conversation also might find this work helpful. Leadership in Christian Perspective could become a helpful guide for those who seek to integrate their faith into their daily leadership praxis.

Reviewed by:
Zachariah Ellis
Fuller Theological Seminary
Pasadena, California
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Book Review: Leadership In Christian Perspective: Biblical Foundations In Contemporary Practices For Servant Leaders2021-03-11T10:28:52-06:00

Book Review: Longing For Revival: From Holy Discontent To Breakthrough Faith

Longing For Revival: From Holy Discontent To Breakthrough Faith

By: James Choung And Ryan Pfeiffer
Downers Grove, Il: Intervarsity Press, 2020  |  240 Pp. Paperback  | ISBN 978-0-830-84591-0

The word revival might evoke anything from “holy rollers” and false prophets to street corner evangelism and tracts to deep repentance and renewed mission. In some circles, the word is a rallying cry. In others, it is a disappointment or even an embarrassment. InterVarsity vice president James Choung and young adult pastor Ryan Pfeiffer tackle these reactions head-on in their new book, Longing for Revival: From Holy Discontent to Breakthrough Faith. Drawing substantively from Scripture, global and historical Christianity, personal experience, and the writings of spiritual leaders and academics, Choung and Pfeiffer make the case that charismatic and noncharismatic Christians alike should desire revival and prepare themselves to participate in revival in a mature and strategic way.

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Reviewed by:
Jessica Duisberg
Fuller Theological Seminary
Pasadena, California
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Book Review: Longing For Revival: From Holy Discontent To Breakthrough Faith2021-03-11T10:33:07-06:00

Book Review: You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power Of Habit

You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power Of Habit

By: James K. A. Smith
Grand Rapids: Mi, Brazos, 2016  |  210 Pp. Hardback  | Isbn 978-1-587-43380-1

Why do you eat that cookie you know you don’t need and that you were determined not to eat? And why do damaging patterns like this continue? Smith argues that rather than human behavior being largely logical and led by the brain, it is primarily instinctive and originates in our gut. Humans are largely “visceral not cerebral” beings (33) shaped by cultural practices that function as liturgies, some of which are acquired intentionally, but many of which are absorbed from our environment. According to Smith, “we unconsciously learn to love rival kingdoms because we don’t realize we’re participating in rival liturgies” (37).

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Reviewed by:
Neil Dougall
St. Andrew Blackadder Church
North Berwick, Scotland
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Book Review: You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power Of Habit2021-03-11T10:35:24-06:00

Book Review: White Jesus: the Architecture of Racism in Religion and Education

White Jesus: the Architecture of Racism in Religion and Education

Alexander Jun, Tabatha L. Jones Jolivet, Allison N. Ash, Christopher S. Collins
New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2018  |  119 Pp. Paperback  | ISBN 978-1-43315-769-1

White Jesus: The Architecture of Racism in Religion and Education engages the difficult conversation regarding the practice of Christianity in the United States and its inseparable connection to the White supremacy and racism that mars the history of the United States and much of White American Christianity. The book begins with a poignant description of the stark reality of racism in religion. It ends with a summary of proposed, yet necessary changes that could be catalyzed by Christians who follow Jesus without changing him into a self-protecting image of themselves. In White Jesus, Jun, Jones Jolivet, Ash, and Collins hope to engage in a conversation to expose the past realities of complicity in attitudes and actions that perpetuate racism on the part of much of U.S. Christianity and to construct a more biblical theology that is void of the idol of a human-made White Jesus.

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Reviewed by:
Jeff Clawson
Asuza Pacific University
Asuza, California
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Book Review: White Jesus: the Architecture of Racism in Religion and Education2021-03-11T10:36:32-06:00

Book Review: Ecclesial Leadership As Friendship: Explorations In Practical, Pastoral, and Empirical Theology

Ecclesial Leadership As Friendship: Explorations In Practical, Pastoral, and Empirical Theology

By: Chloe Lynch
London and New York: Routledge, 2019 | 258 pp. Hardback | ISBN 978-0-367-02893-0

Books on leadership are myriad, but books that dissect the presuppositions of leadership are few. In Ecclesial Leadership as Friendship, Chloe Lynch serves the church with thorough scholarship as she carefully analyzes models that shape the ecclesiastical scene. Managerial (12) and servant leadership (63) paradigms receive attention due to their infiltration in ecclesial models. Managerial patterns seek to shape the church’s work in organizational categories mimicking business styles (19). Servant- leader patterns seek to find refuge in Jesus’ servant work on earth but fail to adequately conceptualize a holistic understanding of the telos of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Furthermore, such models tend to proof-text their ways through Scriptures, which end up presenting a less-than-divine Christ.

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Reviewed by:
Uriesou Brito
Providence Church (CREC)
Pensacola, Florida
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Book Review: Ecclesial Leadership As Friendship: Explorations In Practical, Pastoral, and Empirical Theology2021-03-11T10:37:34-06:00
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