- Hardcover: 208 pages
- Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1st edition (April 2, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0787941190
- ISBN-13: 978-0787941192
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.8 x 9.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 14 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #354,766 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Leading the Team-Based Church: How Pastors and Church Staffs Can Grow Together into a Powerful Fellowship of Leaders A Leadership Network Publication 1st Edition
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"Just when it seems that all that can be said has been said on the subject of 'teams', just when one has tired of the gumming of the label 'team' on everything in sight, along comes perhaps the most significant religious book on teams yet published. Cladis juxtaposes the theological and cultural context for team-based ministry in a model presentation of what a conversation between Bible, theology, and culture should look like." (Leonard Sweet, dean, The Theological School and vice president, Drew University)
"I really like the way [Cladis] ties the Trinity to teams. His unique approach-explaining the role of teams through the eyes of the Holy Trinity-offers a new way of understanding how teams can function in the church." (Bill Easum, president, 21st Century Strategies, Inc., and author, Sacred Cows Make Gourmet Burgers)
"Books on leadership tend to run off the road into either the ditch of theory-heavy counsel or the ditch of practice-only ideas. George Cladis avoids both. He stays on the road because he has built successful church leadership teams and he has studied church leadership theory. For him, team leadership is the key to a faithful church." (Terry C. Muck, professor of religion, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary)
From the Inside Flap
Few responsibilities bedevil church leaders like that of managing a church staff. Faced with staff tension, rivalry, and dramatically high turnover rates, leaders often discover that the reality of day-to-day life in the church office bears little resemblance to their preconceptions regarding how a church should operate. Concerned that fallout from conflict might soon seep into a thriving congregation, church leaders begin searching for solutions that will help them revitalize their staff and ultimately invigorate their congregation. Seeking guidance, they look to themselves, and to God, for answers-answers that can be found embedded in the essence of Christian theology.In Leading the Team-Based Church, George Cladis issues a clarion call for ministry teams to embrace a fresh leadership model that is not based on hierarchy, but on a process of collaboration that mirrors the relationship of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He reminds us that today's cultural environment-where authority has basis in trust, innovation reaps rewards, and spirituality takes root in life and work-has matured past the need for the hierarchy of traditional church leadership where the pastor had the final say. Through down-to-earth stories from his own experience and those of clergy in both mainline and evangelical churches, Cladis offers an exciting alternative to the traditional forms of church leadership, enabling pastors, congregational leaders, and staff to breathe new life into their ministries and unleash the full potential of the entire ministry team.Cladis, pastor of a fast-growing mainline congregation, demonstrates how cultural changes affecting all our institutions-not just the church-are making it easier to adopt this new model of leadership. Even the business world, Cladis argues, has created a modern workplace that parallels Trinitarian theology. Is it any secret that the most successful corporations have been built through the creation of dynamic teams that recognize
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Actually, I recommend any church leader looking to help God's people to get and use this book daily.
Review and Reaction
Cladis's interpretation of the Trinity as perichoresis forged the basis of his understanding of team-based ministry in the local church. While not appearing in the New Testament, perichoresis is a compound Greek word literally meaning "circle of dance" (4). To Cladis the Trinity is a perfect team. For him, the perichoretic image of the triune Godhead provides a helpful way of viewing the church and its organizational structure. Specifically, the church should work in perfect harmony, equality, and purpose, thus reflecting the image of God.
Cladis further asserted that the perichoretic model of the Godhead most accurately reflects the demands of a postmodern society for flatten hierarchical organizational structures that value individual giftedness, equality, and collaborative efforts. Cladis suggested that modernism promotes rugged individualism to the exclusion of community. Church structures that reflect a modernistic mindset are less inviting to postmodern people who value participation in decision making, inclusiveness in action, and personal fulfillment. Perichoretic team-based ministry, therefore, provides a more appealing model for postmodern people.
Cladis overreaches his thesis by insisting that team-based ministries are "the most theologically and culturally appropriate method for church leadership today" (17). His premise is specious at best and arrogant at worst. Such an assertion casts immediate aspersions upon centuries of church history. If one accepts Cladis at this point, then any form of church organization not based on teams is not just inefficient, but incongruent with the very nature of God.
One can make the point that scripture does not provide a definitive model for church organization. Allusions to church organizational patterns in scripture are more descriptive than prescriptive. Even the language of church leadership varies within the New Testament--pastor versus elder versus overseer. First century Christians initially adopted the Jewish synagogue model because it was the one most familiar to them, but later developed organizational models that more adequately met their evolving needs. The early church organized its ministry efforts around the needs of its constituency (such as the addition of an incipient deacon ministry in Acts 6:1-6). Their efforts were more pragmatic than theologically informed. They simply acted to meet the needs of the day.
Cladis makes a better point that a team-based ministry more effectively meets the needs of contemporary postmodern believers. The seven team attributes of covenanting, visioning, culture creating, collaborating, trusting, empowering, and learning, detailed in part 2, forms the book's core strengths. Cladis discussed each attribute biblically and then related each to his perichoretic model. Occasionally, he provided insights from the business world and fictionalized church settings to illustrate the efficacy of a particular attribute. Cladis's frequent references to his perichoresis model and to Rublev's icon of the Holy Trinity were distracting and thoroughly unhelpful. One draws the impression that Cladis is attempting to baptize the business model of teams into the language of the church--an unnecessary effort to spiritualize the secular to make it more appealing to the sacred. If a team-based model for ministry works, and does not violate scripture, then employ the best of what the business world has to offer for the advancement of the Kingdom of God.
Cladis's seven characteristics of team-based ministry can fit well into today's church. Many are intuitively self-evident. The church exists in covenant with God and with one another. This covenant identity does not cease in staff meetings or in church council meetings. What healthy church does not want to have a unifying vision from God that creates a sense of purpose and provides meaning to its efforts? By in large, churches want to develop a cultural ethos reflecting it uniqueness as the people of God. Maturing church members want to contribute their gifts and talents toward a collaborative, trusting, empowering, and spiritually fulfilling mission. Many of Cladis's seven characteristics have an ethereal quality to them. They are better identified by the effect they achieve than the effort needed to achieve them. Nonetheless, they represent biblical ideals church leaders should strive to achieve in their ministry settings.
This reviewer has sought to apply these characteristics to a new preschool ministry team. The team of four mothers of preschool-aged children organized themselves around the mission to create a safe, secure, and satisfying nursery and preschool experience for children from birth through age three. The members have complementary skills and are highly motivated. The initial organizational meeting was unfocused because the members did not know how to work as a team. This pastor introduced the members to Cladis's seven characterizes for healthy teams. Some of the characteristics will take time to formulate, however the team was excited about the characteristics of vision, collaboration, empowerment, trust, and learning. The members embraced their vision of creating a top-notch preschool environment. They made a mutual commitment to work together to fulfill this vision. Only time will tell how well this new team can develop Cladis's characteristics.
Leading the Team-Based Church does what it needs to do. It provides a beneficial contemporary model for ministry leadership in a postmodern world. The old-style hierarchical pyramidal leadership model served the church well for more than one hundred years because it was how people were used to the world operating. It was sociologically consistent, fitting the prevailing worldview. The Medieval monarchical bishopric model worked a thousand years ago for the same reason--it reflected how people related to one another in a feudal society. Through the Renaissance, Reformation, and the Industrial Revolution, the way people viewed leadership changed. Each time this happened the church accommodated these sociological shifts and found the necessary theological support. Cladis does no differently. Sociological shifts notwithstanding, Cladis's seven attributes of team-based leadership are worthy characteristics for any church.
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