DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Profile of a denominational leader

Written by: on November 13, 2014

After skimming and reading several chapters of “Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice”; chapter ten caught my interest: Mark A. Zupan’s “An Economic Perspective on Leadership.”[1] Don’t judge the chapter by its title – this is very practical.

The economic perspective presented is that of the “prisoner’s dilemma” as a leader’s opportunity: “the prisoner’s dilemma illustrates that there are settings in which the pursuit of self-interest leads to suboptimal outcomes.”[2] This strategy is employed by law enforcement to encourage prisoners to confess to lesser offenses and thus shorter prison sentences vs. not confessing which can result in longer imprisonment. Working with law enforcement is presented as the best possible future.

That approach offers insight for leadership: “leadership involves the creation of a future and promotion of cooperative behavior by parties enrolled in an endeavor such that more is attained jointly over time than could be realized by individual, self-maximizing behavior in any given period.”[3] In other words, “leaders ensure that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” This prisoner’s dilemma framework produces the following successful outcomes that are applicable to leadership: “vision, enrollment, commitment, integrity, communication and authenticity.”[4]

stumbo-smilingThe new denominational leader of the Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA), John Stumbo, has demonstrated those very qualities of leadership. He has been the president of the Christian and Missionary Alliance for about sixteen months, and of note to our GFES community is John graduated in 2011 from George Fox with a D. Min in Leadership and Emerging Culture, and was the recipient of the 2011 Distinguished Dissertation Award. John’s bio can be seen click via this link: John Stumbo’s Bio.[5] For those interested in video blogs designed to share his vision and direction with C&MA pastors, these can be viewed here: Stumbo’s Video Blog[6] My favorite is #4.

This alum is an outstanding leader; what follows is Mark Zupan’s leadership qualities as demonstrated by John Stumbo:

First Vision. Theodore Hesburgh stated, “The very essence of leadership is that you have a vision.”[7] Any leader needs to have a clear picture of the future state that he or she can inspire others toward. Without a vision, collaborative action by the group, in this case a denomination, wouldn’t be possible. In the early months of his tenure, Dr. Stumbo, in collaboration with others, began to understand that a denomination is beliefs that we hold, a mission that we share and people that we value. That understanding applied became the following vision: we are “a Christ-centered, Acts 1:8 family.” While that sounds simple, it’s rich; and it reflects our Alliance distinctive. Moreover, it captures John’s profound sense of being Spirit-led, and his passion to reflect the diversity and scope of the Act 1:8 text.  It’s encouraging to see that many changes—some subtle, some wide-ranging—have already been made to support this vision.

Second Enrollment. This isn’t being engaged because it’s on my position description, or because I’m going to be evaluated for it and compensated appropriately. This type of enrollment is strictly voluntary—the gathering of advocates, promoters, supporters, workers because they believe in you, want to go with you. It’s having followers. Vision and enrollment go hand in hand; people see where you are going and get on the bus. Dr. Stumbo is more down-to-earth than he is dramatic; you wouldn’t be attracted to his charisma, you’d be attracted to his passion. He’s simply passionate about Jesus and about what the C&MA is doing around the world for Christ’s kingdom. His passion and authenticity draws people to follow him with that same passion.

Third Commitment. John’s recent history includes a long, debilitating, life-threatening disease that almost took his life. Giving all glory to God for his healing, he’d say he’s mostly restored. “Mostly” one would never know that by watching his actions. During Dr. Stumbo’s first year as president he’s been on the road with over one hundred speaking engagements: district conferences, churches, leadership forums, retreats, and missionary conferences around the world. His commitment is earnest and sacrificial. He’s sharing vision, teaching and listening; listening to the rank and file, helping us realize we’re all a part of this endeavor. His pace and passion is a great example to all of us.

Fourth Integrity.   From Dr. Stumbo’s widely cast demonstration of commitment and his genuine story, he’s become a type for others to follow. Others will continue to follow this leader as long as his behaviors continue to reflect a life in keeping with the vision that he’s communicated.

Fifth Communication. His communication is compelling and it’s consistent. Every month he offers a video blog designed for senior church and mission leaders (see link above). These blogs, his books, along with his ambitious schedule create an environment of communication and accessibility to the president that hasn’t been known previously.

Sixth Authenticity. According to Mark Zupan, “A number of prominent scholars, leaders, and writes have pointed to the importance of authenticity, character, or “being” as an essential aspect of leadership”. He goes on to quote Frances Hesselbein, admired former CEO of the Girl Scouts and the Peter Drucker Foundation: “Leadership is a matter of how to be, not how to do.”[8] Dr. Stumbo drips with authenticity; meet him in person, read a book, watch a video blog – he is vulnerable and authentic. He’s all out there, so when you experience his leadership you’re getting to know the person.

You might be surprised from reading this post that I don’t consider myself a C&MA cheerleader. I’d count myself as one of the many walking wounded when it comes to encountering denominational leaders. Yet this man makes me believe I can be better than I am. He calls me to a higher vision and a broader vision. Because of his leadership, I’m trusting that a fresh wind of the Spirit is coming our way.


[1] Nitin Nohria and Rakesh Khurana, eds., Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice: an Hbs Centennial Colloquium On Advancing Leadership (Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press, 2010), 265-290.

[2] Ibid., 267.

[3] Ibid., 269.

[4] Ibid.,



[7] Nitin Nohria and Rakesh Khurana, eds., Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice: an Hbs Centennial Colloquium On Advancing Leadership (Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press, 2010), 269.

[8] Ibid., 285-286.

About the Author


Dave Young

husband, dad, friend, student of culture and a pastor.

9 responses to “Profile of a denominational leader”

  1. Travis Biglow says:

    Just loved this blog. I wrote down the same thing last night before reading this

  2. mm Jon Spellman says:

    Dave, you said: “leaders ensure that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” Really great summary man… Leaders serve as catalysts, connecting the right dots and mixing the right ingredients in just the right proportions so that what emerges is exponentially greater than the raw material that went in…


  3. mm Nick Martineau says:

    Dave, I remember during the Advance you talking about John Stumbo and the influence he had on you choosing George Fox. It’s amazing the influence has right? Not only is John doing a great job leading C&MA but his consistent leadership even trickles down to influence decision like what DMIN program should I enter. There’s a snowball effect that happens with good leadership. Sounds like you are fortunate to have a friend in John.

  4. “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
    John Quincey Adams

  5. mm Mary Pandiani says:

    I’m struck by how the effectiveness of a leader, when looking through the lens of prisoner’s dilemma, depends on looking at reality not only of a situation but also of human nature. Sometimes leaders lose sight of reality in all their “visioning.” But it would appear that Dr. Stumbo has not lost sight of reality, in fact through his suffering illness, he seems to have a greater pulse on reality and how to speak true hope from his position.

    • mm Dave Young says:


      His story is certainly one of brokenness much of it is related to a mysterious illness that forced him to eat thru a feeding tube for 18 months. God uses such circumstances to grow us into His image. Enabling a humble leadership.

  6. mm Brian Yost says:

    “Yet this man makes me believe I can be better than I am. He calls me to a higher vision and a broader vision.”
    For me, this is the mark or a truly great leader. A leader who inspires people to be better than they currently are will always have followers.

    By the way, I’m sure it doesn’t hurt John’s success at GFU to look like someone Cliff.

  7. Phillip Struckmeyer says:

    Great synthesis Dave, weaving John’s patterns into the “Zupan Grid.” I think this style or pattern of leadership is on the rise in denominations for this season of denominational life and transition. Sounds like the C&MA has the right person at the helm!

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