Project Documents

Date of Award

2012

Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Stanley E. Patterson

Abstract

Problem. French history (the French Revolution) has shaped a country considered as one of the most secular in the world. The Seventh-day Adventist Church in France is profoundly affected and challenged by this environment. With 11,617 members among over 65 million French in 2010, the penetration ratio is very low (0.0185%) and a deep malaise is felt in the French churches. Reports indicate a lack of consecration, internal conflicts, discouragement of isolated churches, a lack of vision, and spirituality in decline. Today, the Adventist Church is unknown, despite its efforts in communication and visibility. Many change efforts have also been developed, especially relational evangelism models, but the results did not meet expectations. An important factor to this unchanged situation appears to be a lack of leadership training and vision of leaders. Hence, there is an urgent need for a new type of leader, one leading the church in spiritual renewal and empowering members with a new missionary zeal.

Task. The Adventist Church in France needs new spiritual leaders (especially lay leaders), trained and empowered by the Holy Spirit, for initiating and developing new creative visions and new missionary projects. The task of this project is to develop a Christian servant leadership model and training to articulate an intervention plan.

Methodology. The construction of the servant leadership model was based on two important chapters. The first was the theological foundation, which defines a biblical theology of leadership and describes key concepts such as authority, power, and leadership in a Christian perspective. The second chapter was a current leadership literature review, engaging scholarly debates and discussions, especially concerning the servant leadership model. Then, a Christian servant leadership model and training was developed, followed by a strategy for future implementation in the French context. A summary, general conclusion, and the final recommendations concluded the research.

Results. From the information gained by the biblical research and the current scholarly contribution, a Christian servant leadership model was proposed. It establishes a Christian theology of leadership based on a new definition of leadership, which includes a relational process characterized by a complex network of interdependent relationships (human and spiritual). The church is described as a spiritual body shaped and empowered by the Holy Spirit and by a deep sense of members’ calling to serve God and the world. Their vision is based on their faith in Christ’s redemptive work and in His power. This relational dynamic and vision of the church as a body requires many organizational leadership elements, such as teamwork, shared leadership, empowerment, mentoring, and ongoing learning, etc. Team leadership also naturally implies many traits, such as moral and spiritual values (love, faith, obedience, honesty, integrity, and humility) and many behaviors, such as a servant posture, which is the capacity of a leader to serve people and “to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served” (Greenleaf, 1977, p. 13). Finally, a leader is called to lead with many management and leadership competencies such as planning, mapping, pioneering, and managing conflicts, etc. This Christian leadership model is clearly defined through Christological leadership and Spirit-empowerment leaders. Outside of this foundation, the process for experiencing the Christian servant leadership is threatening. In the end, there is a new Christian leadership model that is emerging that may deeply change the course of the Adventist Church in France, if leaders are ready to walk by faith.

Conclusions. The Christian Servant Leadership Model is an important tool as a response to the serious challenge the Adventist Church in France is facing. First, this leadership framework is challenging the old leadership paradigm and the disillusionment generated by outdated visions/missions. Some important leadership concepts such as team leadership, shared leadership, empowerment, mentoring, and trust show how the church, as a living body, can be structured more effectively and can live more enthusiastically. Secondly, servant leader theory is a call to restore relationships within the church, to develop in our communities a new sense of belonging and unity through a servant posture, a shared vision of our mission, of our calling to serve God, the church and the world. In the image of Christ, leaders are called to lead by serving and serve by leading, always seeking the common good of the group and God’s glory. Is it a challenging leadership vision? It is, because the natural human inclination is to search for honor and glory. In contrast, a Christian servant leadership model is the humble and perfect road of faith and love, following Christ as the ultimate model to mimic. This is finally a road of faith in Christ’s promises, His power and wisdom, but it is also a road of humility, service, self-abnegation, sacrifice and consecration for experiencing a new wind of hope and grace in our churches in France.

Subject Area

Servant-leadership--France, Servant-leadership--Religious aspects--Seventh-day Adventists

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