Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

DMINLGP as Open Leadership

Written by: on October 21, 2015

Just think about how much has changed in the last 50 years. Just over 50 years ago, the fictional married couple, Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, starred in the number one television show, I Love Lucy, but they couldn’t dare sleep in the same bed. Even though showing the married couple in one bed would be more authentic the TV producers could never image crossing that line and instead had them sleep in two twin beds. A lot has changed in 50 years.

Also, just think about how much technology has changed in 50 years. Just a handful of years ago I never would have imagined the dminlgp blog site enabling conversations with students from all over the world, an online space where vulnerability, openness, and authenticity leads to a greater educational atmosphere and deeper learning. A place where the professor lets go of control to the students. A lot has changed in just a few years.

Charlene Li’s book, Open Leadership, dives right in to explaining the need for a new type of leader in this new day. Li’s Introduction does a great job setting up her book and in particular, I thought her case study on the American Red Cross really painted a picture to the new day we live in and the approach she would be taking us through in her book. Li said, “What’s fascinating about this story is that the American Red Cross started engaging in social media because it sought to control it, but realized over time that it was better to be open and engage with those who are already engaging them. But here’s a critical point: the Red Cross didn’t simply throw open the doors overnight. It was only when Harman was able to put in place the proper procedures, policies, and guidelines that defined how everyone should and shouldn’t behave, that the Red Cross felt comfortable letting go of the impulse to control.[1]” Li goes on to explain that “open leadership” is about how leaders must let go to succeed but not just let go altogether, they must properly plan and think through how to let go.

Li’s premise of open leadership is just what the church needs to her. Too often the church still believes that Lucy and Ricky Ricardo represent an authentic relationship, when a new day and age has come upon us. Change is difficult for all organizations but particularly the church. Yet, the church should be able to embrace the purpose behind Li’s understanding of open leadership. While Li understands there are obstacles to having open discussions she states how these “communications need to shift from relationships that are transactional, short term, and impersonal in nature to ones that are more long term focused, personal, and intimate.[2]” This is the exact message the church needs to hear.

Thirty minute one-way sermons lack the authenticity and motivation our culture has come to expect with the instant impact and feedback that Facebook and other social media forms have to offer. Sermons aren’t going away but I’d love to see churches think creatively, “put in place the proper procedures, policies, and guidelines…” and then let go and watch church members interact with the sermon message and sermon text in a way they might never have imagined 50 years ago. This kind of open leadership creates an interaction that invites commitment and long-term relationships. I wonder what other ways we will see churches embrace open leadership to engage and create more commitment to the church?


[1] Charlene Li. Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2010) xi.

[2] Ibid., 56

About the Author

Nick Martineau

Nick is a pastor at Hope Community Church in Andover, KS, founder of ILoveOrphans.com, and part of the LGP5 cohort.

13 responses to “DMINLGP as Open Leadership”

  1. Jon Spellman says:

    Nick, “A place where the professor lets go of control to the students.” That’s what we have found here for sure! But, don’t we kind of wish our prof was a little bit more present? Isn’t that one of the things we talked about in Hong Kong, that we wish Jason was a little bit (JUST a little…) more formative than facilitative in our educational trajectories?

    So, where is the balance? For me, it seems to be a daily zig-zag; bob and weave; hands-on then hands-off; prescriptive then liberal… As a leader it may be more of an art than a science to know which is best and when. What do you think?

    • Jon Spellman says:

      Enjoy your Baylor Homecoming by the way…

    • Dawnel Volzke says:

      Hmm good questions. My perception is ‘wow’ Jason is so much more present in my life and learning journey that traditional professors that I’ve had in the past. Do you think that our comfort level with social media or digital tools plays into our ability to respond to the relationships offered in this venue?

      When I started college out of high school, it was the old fashioned traditional model. I was popular, because I had a word processor in my dorm room. I didn’t need to go to the library to type a paper. I was also an introvert and shy. You couldn’t have paid me to respond to a professor’s open office hours or to even talk to the professor before or after class. Today, I teach in an online environment. I love the fact that students can easily connect and engage with me anytime. I can respond to them within hours vs. days. Students live all over the world, and I’ve been able to develop really good working relationships with them and even disciple them through the classroom, social media interaction, and email or texts.

      • Nick Martineau says:

        Jon & Dawnel…I’d always love to hear more of Jason’s thought but I don’t think that has much to do with Open Leadership. According to Li, Open Leadership has to do with putting the proper procedures, policies, and guidelines in place for Open leadership to succeed. I think that’s what Jason and GF have done with the program. And Dawnel…I agree. I’ve never had a class where I’ve felt more connected to the prof/advisors.

  2. Dave Young says:

    Nick, I started a discussion with my staff about having more open communication and leadership at church, shared some of Li’s examples. Immediately they came up with a great idea to get a grassroots movement of people engaging in the life of the church. They thought of doing our own version of ‘i am second’ videos. Just the willingness to create room prompted great ideas. I’d like to follow your observations about the pastor creating a more open space to dialogue about the sermons – I believe that would also be very beneficial. Thanks Nick, hope you had a great weekend.

    • Nick Martineau says:

      Dave….Just the conversation about Ope Leadership creates the atmosphere for people to ponder and dream. I love that you talked about it with your staff.

  3. Mary Pandiani says:

    Your point about changing how pastors deliver the message is quite relevant to your generation and younger. I know my daughter (21) has a difficult time sitting to listen to someone without some sort of dialogue afterwards. Isn’t it interesting how we equate authenticity with the ability to converse? I think it’s because it evens out the playing field…everyone has something to offer. I wonder if the day of the expert is gone.

    • Dawnel Volzke says:


      Last weekend, my daughter and I had the same discussion. There is a new church near her college that many students have started attending. They don’t preach. Instead, they sit in a circle and talk about life. Then, they discuss what Scripture has to say about what is happening in their life.

      • Nick Martineau says:

        Mary & Dawnel…I’ve heard of many different ways to do it and I think that’s a good thing. The problem really comes when everyone just does it the same way. I think there needs to be some sort of balance between “preaching” and interaction and it looks like many churches are experimenting to find what is right for them.

    • Jon Spellman says:

      Mary, I’ve heard it said recently that “the expert really is the person that comes from more than 50 miles away to speak to your group…”

      Google is the new expert

  4. Phillip Struckmeyer says:

    Nick, I definitely thought the same thing about our LGP program. I think it is a great expression of open leadership by GFU to create a new platform and framework transforming how a DMIN can be obtained around the world with a relational experience comparable to being “on campus” together. I think the use of the technology and the global classroom experiences of the Advances make for a new model for a new day. I do think we are on the verge of really having to consider how and why we come together like we do on a weekly basis as a church. I think we are very close to ready for some relationally bending forms of the functions of a church that could be a real test of our traditions. It will be interesting to see where we are in another 50 years … who can imagine that???

  5. Travis Biglow says:

    God bless you Nick, I too share the same insight as you do and Li. I believe we are in that time. At the same time it is really delving into new things as we use media like we do. I some times want to be more isolated with my life but we are living epistles known and read of all people so we cant be isolated and expect the world to read the Christ in us! blessings!

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