Field Strategy Coordinator John Moore invited both David and I to participate in a day of learning through the region’s Leadership Development Initiative. This event combined both established pastors and rising young leadership such as Brett Crowther, Aaron Park, Emily Po Ching, Chang Po Ching, Charity Kelegai, Watson Po Ching, Cameron Batkin. Many of these young adults pair with established leaders in mentor/protégé’ relationships. John started this initiative as a way of cultivating and empowering young leaders in the region through relationships.
My role was to introduce the nature of mentorship in the United States. I opened by noting the rise of a new cohort of young adults, called emerging adults, who seem to be postponing embracing adult roles as a part of their lives. Jeffrey Arnett was one of the major social researchers in the United States who identified this growing social phenomena, one documented in the church through research by Christian Smith and David Kinaman. The presence of this new cohort invites new models of ministry, particularly around the need for mentorship.
The Australia region is already responding to this need through a mentorship program established by John. I was asked to discuss the diversity of roles that mentors tend to take, some more directive as guides and models, and others more supportive as guarantors and mediators. David built on my closing (that leadership varies based on organizational culture) by discussing how different cultures tend to anticipate and validate different leadership roles.
Between our two presentations, NTC Brisbane professor Rob Fringer (an NTS graduate) provided a powerful introduction to Servant Leadership, exemplified in Jesus. Fringer noted that Christ not only reflects a radically idea of leadership, but also challenges our assumptions concerning the nature of God. Reviewing Philippians 2: 1-11
2 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Fringer noted the term “though”He (Jesus) was in very nature God… could be translated “because” He was in very nature God. In other words, Jesus actions reflect a radically different image of God distinct from other images of God as “power over” creation evident in the world. So God does not “wield” power, instead God “yields” power by releasing and distributing power. God exemplifies authority in terms of presence and freedom:
- Sharing authority with humanity (Gen. 1:26-28)
- Giving the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8)
- And calling the church (and disciples) to continue God’s work (John 14:12)
I was struck by the group’s attentiveness during the day, not only to presentations but to each other, in with those participating through videoconferencing. Small group conversations created “space” for mentors and protégé’s alike, a co-followers seeking to be leaders in the fashion and image of Jesus Christ. Aaron and others had already committed a full evening to worship and relationship building with youth the night before. However, they also committed to this day’s learning process, and to each other as both aspiring and apparent leaders. David and I served as facilitators, but we also experienced the days as learners.
David, Luz Tamayo, and myself concluded the day eating and conversing with Aaron and Cameron’s family, and other church leaders. The relaxed atmosphere afforded us an opportunity to engage and enjoy each other’s presence around a meal. Yet even this environment provided an opportunity to hear the passion of emerging leaders for the church.
It seems evident, that the church of Australia faces real challenges like many congregations across the globe. One of the strengths, however, rests in this region’s willing to embrace, empower, raise up, and learn from younger leaders alongside the established leadership already at work. This collaborative effort, mentoring yet learning, shaping yet understanding, engaging yet yielding, provide a healthy environment for visiting students from NTS in 365M.