August 2007

A Book Review
William T Chaney Jr


In the Name of Jesus
Reflections on Christian Leadership
Henri J.M. Nouwen

in-the-name-of-jesus.jpgThis book is about Rev. Nouwen’s journey from Harvard as a professor to L’Arche as a member of their community and caregiver. I have skimmed the book several times but this morning I read it as I begin to prepare for charge conference and calling leaders to ministries within the church. The subtitle really made an impact on me this morning so I read the entire book this morning.

This book should be read by all pastors as they evaluate their leadership. There are three movements in the text.

  1. From Relevance to Prayer
  2. From Popularity to Ministry
  3. From Leading to Being Led

Each movement is packed with wisdom from his experience. The most powerful chapter is From Leading to Being Led. Servant Leadership is often oxymoron in the church. Clergy and lay leaders are called to lead by serving using Jesus as our example yet, so often we have adopted corporate mindsets and infused them into how we do church. As a result we loose the essences and effect of leading like Christ.

Professor Nouwen also addresses the role of clergy to truly be God’s representatives in our local communities of faith.

“Most Christian leaders today raise psychological or social questions even though they frame then in scriptural terms. Real theological thinking, which is thinking with the mind of Christ, is hard to find in the practice of ministry. Without solid theological reflection, future leaders will be little more than pseudo-psychologists, pseudo-sociologists, pseudo-social workers. They will think of themselves as enablers, facilitators, role models, father and mother figures, big brothers or sisters and so on and thus join the countless men and women who make a living by trying to help their fellow human beings cope with stresses and strains of everyday living. But that has little to do with Christian leadership because the Christian leader thinks, speaks and acts in the name of Jesus who came to free humanity from the power of death and open the way to eternal life. “

As I survey the leading televangelists, popular revival preachers and many pastors who are leading mega churches I see the fruit of Dr. Nouwen’s wisdom. Beyond the desires for popularity, beyond the denominational politically correct framework, and beyond the “I want people to like me” neediness; the church needs leaders who are theologically centered deep, reflective, critical thinker who can analysis the world and be God’s representatives in the world.

Today begins The Thanksgiving Challenge. I have received a few emails from people who are joining us as we develop this new spiritual discipline. I began last week and it is truly a discipline. I have actually set a tickler on my blackberry to remind me every hour. It is easier to develop new disciplines when you have an accountability partner.

At West Baltimore UMC I began a preaching series on Worship. The central text was Psalm 100

1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth. 2 Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing. 3 Know that the Lord is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name. 5 For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

Driving paraphrased Quote for the week – You can not properly worship God without totally giving God thanks for everything in your life. Rabbi Stall

Drop me an email and let me know how you engage The Thanksgiving Challenge. Have a blessed week!

The Deadly Virus of Celebrity Christianity
By J. Lee. Grady

Some bigheaded preachers demand rock star treatment. If the apostle Paul were around today he might throw rocks at them.

Just when I thought we charismatics had finally taken enough abuse from the egomaniac ministers in our midst, I’ve learned that some of our leaders are taking things to a new extreme. We’ve moved beyond the red carpets, limousines and entourages of the 1990s. A new strain of the celebrity virus is spreading in large segments of the church.

One friend of mine in Texas recently inquired to see if a prominent preacher could speak at her conference. The minister’s assistant faxed back a list of requirements that had to be met in order to book a speaking engagement. The demands included:

* a five-figure honorarium
* a $10,000 gasoline deposit for the private plane
* a manicurist and hairstylist for the speaker
* a suite in a five-star hotel
* a luxury car from the airport to the hotel (2004 model or newer)
* room-temperature Perrier

This really makes me wonder how the apostle Paul, Timothy or Priscilla managed ministering to so many people in Ephesus, Corinth and Thessalonica. How did they survive without a manicurist if they broke a nail while laying hands on the sick?


While I was in Georgia I remember driving to North Carolina, Florida. Alabama and Tennessee to preach a revivals and provide training for churches where I would stay in the pastor’s home, enjoy meals with the family and pray that the honorarium would cover gasoline back home.

The big question……………How do you become a Celebrity Christian if we are created to worship God and called to serve God’s people? Our calling is to serve not to be served. Why are so many “regular” preachers so silent about this disease in our ranks? We (Christians) are enablers for these power addicted Celebrity Christians. It is hard to be on a pedestal if there is nobody in the audience. I hope that this article represents a small minority of preachers .