36. Review Article # 2: T.J.Addington, High Impact Church Boards (2006).

2. Spiritual Power.   Addington identifies spiritual power as the most important dimension for effective church leadership. He uses texts such as John 15:5 (“without me you can do nothing”) as the basis for his thesis. Of course, he is right in this premise. He affirms that God seeks results from his people’s obedience.  Prayer is central to the possession and exercise of spiritual power.  What is missing, I would suggest, is the influence of the Holy Spirit as the source of this spiritual power. Addington only mentions the Holy Spirit in connection with this spiritual power once or twice. I find this surprising. In John 14-16 Jesus says that a new paraklẽtos (comforter) will come once he ascends to the Father. This third member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, subsequently brings God’s power into conjunction with our lives. Paul in Galatians 5-6 indicates that the Spirit of God generates a harvest of love, joy, peace, etc. as we keep in step with Him. This same Spirit gives us access to the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2). If any leader has spiritual power it is because God’s Holy Spirit has taken up residence. God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives so that we could experience true and constant intimacy with Him.

3. Five other Dimensions of Spiritual Leadership.  Addington considers five other dimensions to be necessary for effective church leadership:  teaching; protecting; caring; developing, empowering and releasing; and leading. I agree that each of these contributes significantly to “high impact board leadership.” Addington is right to challenge church leadership to define spiritual maturity in ways that enable them to measure whether their people are moving towards this goal. Without intentionality in this matter, church boards have no way of measuring the spiritual growth within their congregations.

The category of ‘protecting’ primarily is defined in relationship to Christian truth or divisive members. However, I think the whole area of risk management could also be included under this heading.  Addington’s emphasis on ‘caring’ is good to see, but seems inconsistent with earlier comments about the distinction between the gifts of leadership and caring (17). Paul indicates that looking after the needs of the weak occupied a considerable portion of his ministry (Acts 20:33-35).

His observations that leaders tend to be “spiritualists” or “strategists” (62-64) helps church boards understand why some operate with differing perspectives, an important part of a board’s diversity and a great strength if it can be harnessed well.

Again, one might suggest additional dimensions that could be critical for effective boards. The ability to communicate well with the stakeholders surely has to be one of these leadership dimensions. And what about resource gathering and preservation? We can have great plans and wonderful leadership energy, but if the resources cannot be found to support the vision, then what truly can happen?

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