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

Nohira and Khurana, Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice.

Written by: on October 18, 2019

I appreciated Nohira and Khurana and their approach to leadership. Even dough they addressed a secular audience, they are very inclusive in pointing out essential elements to practical guidance. The author writes about two chapters that are very close to my heart.


At the start of every age, a new culture confronts us with new challenges. This happens today with postmodernity and multiculturalism. Postmodernity presents challenges for the Church as it becomes more prevalent in the twenty-first century. The main cultural problems that the Church has to face in its mission can be identified, and they are issues that come to mind when analyzing the Church and its mission. 

I am doing ministry in a reality that involves the future of the Church in the United States in a very multilingual, multi-ethnic, multi-generational, and postmodern context, pp 2-22. These challenges, in turn, lead me to think of theology, mission, leadership, and structures that can help me understand the impact the Church has on the local community today. How we contextualize the challenges will reflect in the ministry that we have been entrusted with. 

How can we address the challenges of contextualization and determine how a church can “be aware and engaged in a context while not defined by the authorities and assumptions of that setting,” pp 68-71 The Church is seeking to be the missionary element that will dive into the culture to find the characteristics that separate the world from the Church. 

It has to merge into a new paradigm that is sensitive to the contextualization of its functions without compromising its identity. It has to think in terms of an intercultural mindset to understand culture and contextualization and serve with relevancy in multicultural and postmodern times. 

As a Latino pastor seeking to lead a church in a multicultural and postmodern context, I must have a missionary mindset to not only know how to contextualize ministry but to have the ability to depend on the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It comforts me to know that He is guiding me on the right path (Jn 16:14). 

There are many other challenges that we have to face when serving a diverse community. At times, the ministry can be tiring, messy, and confusing, but by sharing with different ethnic groups around the community, we have felt an urgency to understand the complexity of the Kingdom of God. 

Many pastors prefer to stay in a monocultural church rather than take on a higher level of frustration that is often present in a multicultural congregation.  

I have been in ministry for the last twenty-seven, eight of those having been spent in Africa, and the rest in multicultural Latino and Anglo congregations. These years of experience have shaped me in a very unique and special way. God has given me tremendous sensitivity and empathy for all people regardless of their cultural backgrounds. 

As difficult as it may seem to lead diverse congregations, I take great joy in doing so. Lee and Kurt quoted William Willimon by relating that “It is a joyful thing to be a pastor, to have one’s life drawn towards dealings that are divine; to bear burdens that are, while not always light, at least more expanded in some vocation that is greater than one’s self,” pp 45.  


One of the five freedoms of the Free Methodist Church denomination is to ordain women into ministry. Historically it has been a value of the FMC theology statement and rooted in the teachings of John Wesley and later carried on to the FMC by its funder B.T Roberts. Since its birth, women, called into ministry by the Holy Spirit, have served in the Free Methodist Church. As early as 1861, when the church was just one year old, the minutes of the Genesee Convention report the discussion of women preaching. Bishop B.T. Roberts believed strongly in the equality of men and women, pp 131   

He argued that women should be working side by side with men in building the kingdom of God. His vision was to lead the denomination toward the ordination of women, pp 68-69.  In spite of the long-rooted history of this practice, there is still a strong pushback toward the core value of the denomination by some members of the clergy. There is also a new diversity in the membership that comes from many cultural backgrounds such as patriarchy and machismo. That alone added more weight to the long tradition that we are now trying to redefine in practice. 

In an independent study of the Free Methodist USA, one of our ministers, Beth Armstrong, found that only 5 percent of females are in higher levels of leadership. Many of the women choose to work part-time because childcare is needed in the home, and also because the pay of their husbands is insufficient. Women are more likely to be willing to take no payment to do ministry work than men because they feel called to do ministry. 

The bottom line in Armstrong’s findings is that there is not a lack of desire for leadership, but a lack of opportunity for women in leadership in our denomination. Of the 5 percent in the highest level of leadership, all of them had benevolent male advocates — the males’ voices matter. The men were very supportive of them getting to that level of leadership, but when they did get the position, the men typically felt threatened and removed their advocacy. 

In 1974, our general conference passed a resolution, “giving women equal status with men in the ministry of the church,” pp 388. You would expect that this time, a resolution of this kind would resolve the issue in the minds of everyone; however, forty-two years later, the denomination’s position has not changed. On the other hand, outside the denomination, the opposing women in ministry and limiting the leadership roles of women in the local church have become more authoritarian.

Daniel Garcia, A Future of the Latino Church: Models for Multilingual, Multigenerational Hispanic Congregations(Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2011).

Mark Lau Branson and Juan F. Martínez, Churches, Cultures and Leadership (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2011).

Richard Niebuhr. Christ and Culture: (San Francisco: Harper, 2001).

General Conference Minutes 1890.

B.T. Roberts, new edition by Benjamin D. Wayman, Ordaining Women (Eugene, OR, 2015).


About the Author

Joe Castillo

11 responses to “Nohira and Khurana, Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice.”

  1. Simon Bulimo says:

    AM not understanding the book you are referring to. I thought we were dealing with Doing Visual Ethnography by Pink. Kindly advice

  2. Joe Castillo says:

    My friend this is a personal post nothin to do with the books

  3. Darcy Hansen says:

    I see your remarks above to Simon. It seems this post is generated from this week’s reading in Nohria and Khurana?

    Regardless, I appreciate your perspectives and willingness to share. In my Transforming Culture and Systems class, we read Divided by Faith, by Smith and Emerson, and United by Faith, by DeYoung. Their studies showed that the more diverse a church context is, the less likely the church is to survive in our greater American context, because the affinity of “belonging” becomes lessened when people are from so many backgrounds. They showed that many churches that began with diverse populations, eventually moved toward more homogenous populations over time. What are some key strategies that you as a leader utilize to ensure that all people experience a sense of belonging despite the vastly different backgrounds and realities they come from?

    Thank you also for sharing the historical context of your denominations support for women in ministry leadership. But it is disheartening that only 5% of leaders are female within a denomination that believes women are co-laborers in Christ. How are you working to help give women more opportunity to develop and lead within your extremely diverse ministry context?

  4. Joe Castillo says:

    Yes, I think he’s referring to an old post?
    Preach it, posted, teach it, model it, been intentionally about it and always have the courage to speak up when necessary. We minister in a space of transition and people are constantly moving. Migrating for work reasons or many else opportunities. Depending on the church ministry I would say but in the contexts of southern Cal, we have both phenomena.

  5. Greg Reich says:

    The challenge with the multi-cultural concept is that as churches age the cultural mix tends to stabilize and stagnate short of intentionally bringing in diversity. We would love to be politically correct and say that we are living in a tossed salad cultural keeping individual identities at the forefront but in reality it is a melting pot due to the mixing of ideas and cultural norms. This in and of itself recreates the culture and in many ways it becomes a mono-culture. Have you ever looked at the early churches multi-cultural world and viewed how through time how a single culture emerged?

  6. Joe Castillo says:

    Good question. That would be a very good topic for research. I think of the church and Acts and how multicultural it was but how there is always the tendency to also segregated.

  7. Steve Wingate says:

    You wrote, “How we contextualize the challenges will reflect in the ministry.” Is the world going to fast in your part of the world for most people to not have the chance to say, “No, I’m going to be affected by cultural change?”

  8. John McLarty says:

    You wrote, “many pastors prefer to stay in a monocultural church rather than take on a higher level of frustration that is often present in a multicultural congregation.” I think this is true to a degree, but I also think it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy for many churches to remain monocultural. Whether it’s explicit or implicit, there are many people who attend churches where people look just like they do. They may talk about a desire to be diverse, but they make little to no effort to connect with people of other cultures. In many cases, they are happy to welcome people of other cultures, as long as it does not require any changes. What tips can you offer to the leader of a monocultural church who would like the congregation to be more diverse, yet the congregation shows no real motivation to do what it would take?

  9. Nancy Blackman says:

    Thanks for your post. My response is really more for those who responded to you and not so much you because you already know this stuff ;-).

    I also skimmed through the comments and after having a short conversation about where you are in relationship to LA, I find it crazy that you are there because you moved into a predominently white neighborhood and your church has an ethos of being ethnically diverse.

    I think one of the things that many people who might not be as familiar with LA is that there is a population of 3.8 million, being the third largest city in the world. Tokyo and New York hold spots one and two respectively.

    Los Angeles is home to individuals from over 140 countries and 224 languages have been reported as being spoken. After the Caucasian population, Latinos (Mexicans, El Salvadorans, Hondurans, etc) and Asians (Koreans, Taiwanese, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Cambodians, Armenians, etc) make up a large percentage of the population, but that does not account for the many Africans and Middle Easterners who also live within the sprawling city. After the Asian population, the next largest population is the Black community.

    Los Angeles is also a melting pot city, which means that neighborhoods are not necessarily homogenous. They can be, but I see that changing. I think context needs to be remembered when thinking of churches in LA.

    LA is also home to Hollywood and there is an underlying element of unnatural which I think pastors have to navigate through. On the opposite side of the spectrum, LA is home to a very large and ever growing homeless population.

    I don’t think that congregants want to escape what is already laid out for them. I think they come to church to figure out how to love their neighbor given the fact that they might be from a very opposing culture from theirs. It’s either that or they leave LA altogether.

  10. Simon Bulimo says:

    Joe, as a leader we need to understand the cultural background of our people we lead. Its true contextualization is an issue. Culture opens the minds of leaders. Its unfortunate that the devil is using ethnicity as a weapon to fight the innocent.
    Thanks for your inspiring words

  11. Chris Pollock says:

    I appreciate your leadership Joe. I remember your swagger on the streets of England and thinking, ‘this guy is the boss.’

    Your attention to context is sweet. Wow, your attention to context, compassion to the details of who you walk with and lead, added to your ‘boss-ness’…this equates to something easy to follow along with.

    Life experience, Joe. You’ve seen and experienced so much. For leaders today, life-lived well through thick and and thin with Christ is essential to quality involvement as a leader of community.

    Thankful for you Joe! Praying for you as you lead your community through some trying times, through the fires going on around you. God bless you, bro!

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