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

Reasonable Radical

Written by: on June 7, 2019

Part of my journey to faith was spent in the Episcopalian tradition. My father and step mom  went to St. Andrews Church in downtown Ft. Worth and while I lived with them of course, I went with them. My last day inside St. Andrews was my senior year of high school in February of 1989, unfortunately that coincided with my 5 year old brothers funeral.  It was also the last day anyone on my dad’s side of the family went to church until the early 2000’s when I gave my first sermon at the church I was serving.  I always appreciated the reverence one would expect to find in a “high” church setting and I always believed that the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church were one and the same I know that they are part of the Anglican Communion [1] and thus take direction. After beginning to read Reasonable Radical?: Reading the Writings of Martyn Percy, it started to bring back a flood of memories, some good, some not but it brought them back none the less. In reading what others wrote about Martyn Percy, one thing became clear, this minister is on the right track and no matter what denomination you are part of, if you are a minister of the Gospel, you could learn much from this man.

In beginning my look at Percy I found an article talking about his possible removal as Dean of Oxford from last year, in it he is described by the Bishop of Liverpool (a supporter) as ” a decent, kind, infuriating, magnificently mistaken, splendidly articulate, rightly and helpfully prophetic Christian theologian. Many prayers for his resilient flourishing.” [2] and another, Dr Linda Woodhead, Professor of Sociology of Religion at Lancaster University, gives what I would consider the best description of a strong minister, “I know Martyn well as a colleague and a friend. The irony is that he’s a thoroughly decent, old-fashioned establishment man — but he believes in holding the establishment to account by the highest standards.“I know Martyn well as a colleague and a friend. The irony is that he’s a thoroughly decent, old-fashioned establishment man — but he believes in holding the establishment to account by the highest standards.” [3] Percy seems to be a strong proponent of making sure the church is fighting for the right things. A strong belief in Christ, and being an advocate for those who need it the most. 

In the section on Ecclesiology, Richard Lawson describes Percy and his method of tone, “He is curious about real people, empirical but not dry, sacramental in the broadest sense, and usually conversational.” [4] The picture I get from this writing is of a minister who is deeply concerned with knowing those to whom he is ministering and for the church to do the same. It is not to be caught up in the minutiae of doing church but to be Christ to those around us. The idea that people are way more important than a stained glass window, music style, or whatever your church wants to focus on that day seems to be lost in the church today. He goes on to describe a time when Percy was called in for an exorcism because a young boy was unable to sleep in his new house because he saw things that might be lingerings, Lawson writes, “These very personal and often emotional pastoral experiences are the real context in which God is–if not experienced, at least sought” [5] The idea of only finding God in the midst of a worship service is thrown out the door, as ministers our goal is to have a congregation that spends more time in being Christ to those who do not know him rather than playing church, which a great number of people have been doing in my experience. 

This is not to say that the church proper should be abandoned, far from it. In the section on by Gerard Manion, Percy is quoted as “cautioning against abandoning tried and tested (and indeed, cherished) forms of ecclesial life and structure and a rush to allow a “post-institutional structure” to dictate present and future policies” [6] It seems that the “seeker sensitive” churches are just as worried about their structure but they have thrown out all that has come before them as useless. In the town I live in, there is a church that is very popular that has put up billboards around town with the message “Not Your Grandmothers Church”. They want everyone to know how hip and cool they are, but the problem is, they have just put themselves in an aggressive stance against the other churches ways of doing things to attract people to their church. The idea is you wont find your grandmother’s traditions here, her love for God and the people around her are pushed to the side.

Finally, I loved the discussion on the difference between management and leadership. Percy argues that to often the church is governed by management, not “theological leadership and vision” [7] Ministers spend to much time managing the day to day as opposed to actually leading their church. I believe this is the reason behind churches being in a state of decline, people don’t need to be managed, they need to be led. A company that does not focus on good leadership dies, so to a church. They can limp along for quite a long time, but without vision, they are doomed to be ineffective. Living mausoleums of what could have been.


[1] “The Anglican Communion.” Episcopal Church. March 28, 2019. Accessed June 07, 2019. https://www.episcopalchurch.org/anglican-communion.

[2] Davies, Madeleine. “Dean of Oxford, Martyn Percy, Faces Removal from Office.” The Church Times – News, Comment, Features, Book Reviews and More. November 05, 2018. Accessed June 07, 2019. https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2018/9-november/news/uk/dean-of-oxford-martyn-percy-faces-removal-from-office.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Markham, Ian S., and Joshue Daniel, eds. Reasonable Radical?: Reading the Writings of Martyn Percy. Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2018. 70.

[5] Ibid. 76.

[6] Ibid. 87. 

[7] Ibid. 89.

About the Author

Jason Turbeville

A pastor, husband and father who loves to be around others. These are the things that describe me. I was a youth minister for 15 years but God changed the calling on my life. I love to travel and see where God takes me in my life.

12 responses to “Reasonable Radical”

  1. Mike says:

    So sorry about your young brother my friend. Thanks for sharing the connection to your post.
    Great job “digging deeper” to find the behind the book picture of who the person Percy is that the two editorialists wrote about.
    I like your post and think you gained good insights from Percy and how he “leads” the church more than he “manages” the church. I think both are needed, but when either one is out of balance, then it can become unhealthy for sure. I remember the church in Hong Kong where we heard from the “Monday” pastor who did all the Mon-Sat administration of the church, so the Sunday Preacher could lead their people to Christ.
    Stand firm,

    • Jason Turbeville says:

      Thanks for the thought, I managed people (like you I am sure) and leading them is a much more difficult proposition. When I find myself managing I usually am on autopilot, what do you think?


  2. Jay Forseth says:

    Hi Jason!

    Thank you for the glimpse into your growing up formative years. Your brother’s funeral at 5 years old? That is worth another Blog all on its own…

    My favorite sentence from your writing this week, “I believe this is the reason behind churches being in a state of decline, people don’t need to be managed, they need to be led.”

    Well stated!

    Now get to writing that dissertation. (grin).

  3. Wow! I was shocked to read your opening line, Jason and learn that your beginning steps with Christianity stemmed from a mainline denomination. Do you still feel tied to the rituals and traditions within the Episcopal church?

    It’s always painful to read about churches marketing their portrayal of Christ as antagonistic towards certain generations. Yes. Some churches will minister to certain people more so than others, but to isolate the gospel based upon age, gender, or race is a shame to the gospel of Christ. What are some ways that we can integrate the traditions of high church and the casual feel of hipster sanctuaries?

    • Jason Turbeville says:

      To be real honest, I think the best thing about the “hipster” churches is the feeling of belonging no matter what your background. I find that to be very appealing. With high church though, the reverence on display is something missing in many churches today, I wish there were some way to bring them both together.

  4. What a great post. Thanks for sharing so transparently about your life AND for highlighting so many lovely aspects of Percy’s life and character. I, too, am compelled by the idea of management vs leadership, as I see this as an issue in the mission world as well.

    As far as “being” the church, this is our call to all our members. I’m grateful for Percy’s insights into this.

    • Jason Turbeville says:

      I agree, the leadership aspect is really what Jesus showed us through his time spent here. He led, he taught, he poured into those who followed. I don’t think we can do any better. I know from reading your posts and hearing your discussions you are a great leader, keep pushing ahead.


  5. Shawn Hart says:

    Jason, I especially appreciated your last point on leadership. I have always been regarded as part of the church leadership, even though I am not an elder. As a result, there has been this necessity to keep good communication between the church eldership and myself, so that we would attentive to the needs of the church body. In my own experience, the world ministry positions I have had was when the leadership failed to lead well; communication breakdowns or just failure to meet the needs of the people. I fear one of the greatest struggles the church is still facing is based in struggling leaderships.

    • Jason Turbeville says:

      It really is Shawn, I desire to be a good leader and find myself failing to often. This program has helped a great deal just in the books I have been introduced to, wisdom is wisdom, whether it come from scripture or from someone speaking, all truth is God’s.


  6. Chris Pritchett says:

    Excellent read, Jason, thank you. It was fun to learn more of your upbringing in the Episcopalian tradition. I like how you respect Percy and his commitments. It seems that he is quite courageous in his writings. I wonder if in your dissertation on fighting against complacency, you will draw strength and guidance from Percy’s writing. He seems to be quite in line with how you are leading your congregation. Peace and blessings on you brother!

  7. Kyle Chalko says:

    Jason, I really enjoyed your use of words in this post. I think it is some of your most articulate and powerful work. Thank you for sharing about your family tragedy and Im so sorry that happened. Its so refreshing to se Percy really understand pastoral mininstry, even from such an academic voice.

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