“World culture, church and leadership – Our three big areas of focus” Jason Clark
Someone once said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” A three year journey has been initiated and, as with any journey of long distances, excitement, anxiousness, questions of stamina, questions of sanity, curiosity and the joy of travel all gush forward like a river that reaches a precipice just before the plunge headlong into the uncertain waters below. Our time is Seoul is evidence of that first step in the journey and the information and sensory overload for me is characterized by that rush over the edge and the plunge into new and uncharted waters. The plunge is behind us now and as I sit in my office and type I can visualize floating in the calm waters beyond the tumultuous falls finding myself gazing downriver and pondering the journey ahead. Dr. Clark, acting as our guide for the journey has provided a mental picture of signposts along the way which we are encouraged to explore in ways that we never have before. A new set of lenses has been given, a three faceted lens to view the journey ahead. The first lens is designed to see clearly the cultures through which we will travel. The second lens has been crafted to view the church in a new and different light and the third, which may be the most complicated and complex of viewing instruments, begs that we seek a new and different dimension of leadership which is inextricably intertwined with the first two sign posts of world culture and church.
Culture – Being in Korea was somewhat of a homecoming for me. During a 5 year period in my career I had spent a great deal of time in Korea and I grew to understand and love the culture of hospitality, hard work, dedication and the continuous exploration of how to make tomorrow better than today. During the Seoul advance I was able to view the same culture with a different lens overlaying the growth and expansion of Christianity intertwined with the same cultural aspects I had experienced in the business world. As a guest in a country and foreign culture I am reminded it is all to easy to view the world and other cultures from our personal lens asking ourselves “why don’t they do it the way I do it?” The key for each of us in the cultural exploration ahead is to first remove our own lens and adopt a new perspective as we observe and learn.
Church – I have been fortunate to be able to attend churches in 14 different countries around the world and several times in the middle of the ocean. I have always experienced a sense of sameness while at the same time being enriched with each unique cultural perspective relating to the local culture and our Christian faith. I was impressed in Seoul both in the mega church setting and in the basement of an inner city building worshiping with the “Nameless Church.” Both were very different and diverse in worship experiences and I learned a little bit about faith in the Korean context.
Leadership – Leadership, whether inside or outside the church, is an equal opportunity encourager or perpetrator of unimaginable evil. We saw both sides of the spectrum and everything in between during our visit. We engaged with high profile leaders who have walked with God to build churches of massive proportions to a powerful woman who grew up in abject poverty devoting her life to helping one refugee at a time with unstoppable determination and a smile that exhibits hope every time it is displayed. We witnessed the middle of the spectrum where good works were closely mixed with pride giving an uneasy feeling regarding the true intent of a given leadership model. We also witnessed the most heinous side of leadership where human beings were led to torture and execute other human beings all wrapped up in the premise of desire for earthly power and control that is self serving, never eternal and fleeting at best.
The journey of a thousand miles has begun and step two in the journey is just ahead. I am prepared. I have a map, signposts to look out for, lenses to see clearly, advisers along the way to keep me from getting lost and the comfort and certainty of knowing that I am not on the journey alone. I have yet to reconcile with the question of sanity, but I have time to work that out.
World culture, church and leadership………the LGP3 explorers are headed your way.