Tuesday, September 28, 2010

what do you need to be a pioneeer leader?

Tim Costello, currently CEO of World Vision, Australia, kicked off the Church in the City 2010 conference today. He spoke about his experience at Collins Street Baptist in Melbourne and the formation of Urban Seed. It was a mixture of challenge and inspiration.

During discussion was when Tim really (for me) excelled, a great mix of practical wisdom, reflection and astute cultural observation. He talked a number of times about the place of leaders as both prophet and leader, as taking risks and challenging the status quo. He ended with a fascinating quote (from my notes):

Our leadership issues are not to do with our structures. They are more to do with our spiritual intelligence. And our emotional intelligence.

I couldn’t agree more. Starting things is about seeing both what is and what might be. That takes honesty and vision. And faith, to believe in what is not yet. And the ability to align that with the stories of Jesus. In other words, spiritual intelligence!

And between what is and what is not, is the status quo. And inertia. And people who like the status quo. So to see change means challenging people. And leading through change. And dealing with conflict. That takes emotional intelligence!

So many times I feel when speaking to leaders the desire for easy answers and quick fixes. It’s hard to say, “There aren’t any. It’s just hard work.” The quote by Tim today gives me another frame and an affirmation, that of the need to deepen one’s spiritual and emotional intelligence, to let the slow processes of composting – emotional and spiritual – happen.

It made me glad of the Missional Church Leadership course I run, which seeks to offer spiritual practices, and to focus on Biblical narratives, especially Luke 10:1-12 and Luke 1:39-45. No easy answers, just invitations to listen, to discern i.e. spiritual and emotional intelligence.

Here at Uniting College, we’re working on three further ways (alongside the Missional Church Leadership) to access pioneer training

  • a one year Mission-shaped ministry course, hopefully taught ecumenically, introducing mission, church, leadership
  • the new Bachelor of Ministry which will include an “innovation” focus, allowing have-a-go learning
  • a Masters in Missional Church Leadership, which offers in-service training, with a mix of coaching, peer group support, reading and a praxis/theory thesis in which people work, over 4 years, on missional leadership in their own context

Tim’s input was a great reminder that in the midst of all of these changes, the greatest gift that can be offered is fostering spiritual and emotional intelligence.

All in all, a great start to the Church and the city 2010 conference.

Posted by steve at 08:05 PM


  1. Sounds good Steve… had a load of Uniting Church leaders etc. (inc Lindsay Cullen and Ross Neville) over this summer (on Cheryl Lawrie’s trip) and Lindsay came to our Mission Shaped Ministry Course. Hoping we may be able to work out enough bookings for me to be able to get over to Aus in the spring.

    Comment by Mark Berry — September 28, 2010 @ 8:28 pm

  2. Mate, great summation and some important thoughts / themes in your post. Thanks.

    Comment by Paul Fromont — September 29, 2010 @ 4:13 am

  3. […] comments are brief, but very helpful. Get to it here:  sustain:if:able kiwi » what do you need to be a pioneeer leader?. Share this […]

    Pingback by tasmission » Blog Archive » what do you need to be a pioneeer leader? — September 29, 2010 @ 10:45 am

  4. thanks paul, mark, tasmission. i realised this morning that it resonates with the final paper presented at the Evaluating Fresh expressions conference, which had done research on the participation of youth and children in existing churches and in F Ex and found that in both places, people were growing. What was important was not so much the type of church, but the ability to encourage participation, celebrate faith as a search not a formulae, etc

    ie leaders with spiritual and emotional intelligence


    Comment by steve — September 29, 2010 @ 12:21 pm

  5. great stuff Steve you make me wish I was there. It certainly resonates with some of things experienced here in Newcastle, but as you say in the end it is just hard work and slog. The idea of building spiritual and emotional intelligence is just such a simple but ever so practical step on the journey. cheers

    Comment by Geoff — September 30, 2010 @ 3:26 pm

  6. Thanks Geoff. Easy answers would be nice wouldn’t they! Then we could market them as 10 bullet points!


    Comment by steve — September 30, 2010 @ 4:00 pm

  7. or write another book!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by Geoff — October 1, 2010 @ 8:56 am

  8. once again glad of the internet 🙂 There are certainly not easy answers around your home town at the moment Steve. But I have had a week of break throughs after over a year of slog and doubt. Significant meetings with the council and many local churches. Thanks for continuing to help me develop emotional and spiritual intelligence.

    Comment by Jo Wall — October 3, 2010 @ 2:48 am

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