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.” 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.” 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?
 Charlene Li. Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2010) xi.
 Ibid., 56