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Reflections on China: Joe's thoughts following China Challenge 2011

16 November 2011 (15:59) | posted by jhandley |

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of serving with China Challenge 2011. As you probably know China is at the center of global activity these days and the country faces a number of changes in the coming year: one of which is a significant change in their overall country leadership. These changes and activities have thrust them into the center of much thought and discussion including the 2012 U.S. political presidential campaigns.

As I sat through various presentations by some of the leading China watchers and professionals, I was reminded of the key role China will face in the future of the world. It reinforced my conviction that investing in key Chinese leaders is paramount for this era of Christian faith and practice.

I worked with a team to both facilitate the event and lead a special track on Leader Development and the learning was significant. Together, the implications for ministry and the development of leaders are profound.  Of particular interest to me were several challenges for the next 30 years presented by an Asian Access/China alumnus. He mentioned the following and then personally encouraged the American Church to partner with them in engaging these most pressing issues:

  1. China has the greatest potential both for and of World Mission: With many unreached people groups remaining in country as well as one of the fastest growing church movements worldwide, China is both a sending and receiving nation when it comes to global mission.
  2. There will be a breakthrough in Church/State relations which will facilitate a new wave of revival and growth.
  3. As society changes, the role of believers will be significant as Christians engage the most pressing social issues the country faces.
  4. Pastoral ministry is facing a particularly unique challenge with the fast paced changes affecting the country. Investing in them is paramount for the future of the Church.
  5. The development of leaders is of paramount importance.

These challenges highlight the work done over the course of the 3 days, especially in the area of leader development. Brent Fulton's comprehensive study on this topic in 2006 proved a terrific catalyst in this regard in addition to a few additional insights during our time together. Dr. Fulton's excellent study is available from ChinaSource for $90.00 and is well worth the price for those interested in learning more and engaging the major issues.

Where do we go from here?:

Throughout the event, the need for leader development was presented as critical in all sectors of Christian faith, church and society. Whether it be the emerging needs of younger generations, the development of Godly business leaders, or leaders within the society or church at large; all were of paramount importance as noted in one of the top six challenges above.

Core to the future are the following key issues:

  1. Mentoring – Life on life relationship investment to help people grow in their roles as believers and engagers of society is of crucial importance. Training that does not include this type of investment is missing the primary need.
  2. Women in Leadership and Ministry – There is a significant need to invest in women as they carry a significant mantle of leadership within society, church, and business.
  3. The challenge to provide quality training (that takes time) and the fast paced growth of churches and leaders. 
  4. Learning in Groups – Chinese society and broader Asian culture often grows more through a group dynamic than an individual dynamic. Thus, the importance of cohort models of learning will be core to the future growth of leaders.
  5. The need for servant leaders within a society that values hierarchical models of leadership.
  6. Character and values are critical to the development of leaders. Too often, leadership training has focused on skills and abilities and not on the most pressing issues Christian leaders face today, as noted in the recent Lausanne Study: How to build a new generation of Christ-like leaders.
  7. Leadership selection was seen time and time again as foundational to the development of capable leaders.
  8. The process of leadership development needs more hands on training rather than just lecturing. Models that include the processes of situational leadership as leaders grow and develop will prove most helpful.

Two suggestions coming from our time together include the following:

  1. An update to the 2006 study would be of great help in given the dynamic changes facing society.
  2. An example of leadership selection process would be very beneficial to ministries as well.

If you'd like to learn more, join ChinaSource for their upcoming webinar: Building Godly Leaders in China: Looking at the Dynamics that Effect Mentoring Relationships, on November 30th/December 1st.

Thanks to Dr. Brent Fulton and the entire ChinaSource team for their leadership in helping those of us serving in China.

For His Kingdom,

Joe's blue web signature

Joseph Handley
President, Asian Access


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