Takeaways from Leadership Institute

From today’s marathon day, three concepts stood out from today’s sessions, which all come out of a desire to impact non-religious or nominally-religious people.

Adam Hamilton, in some of his final thoughts, talked about his approach to preaching. While many of us were taught in seminary to follow something like this:

  1. Start with Bible
  2. Exegete the text
  3. Apply
  4. Illustrate

Preaching from the lectionary would be an example of following this approach. While Adam still uses this approach about half the year (although he doesn’t follow the lectionary, except in December), he follows a different approach for the rest of the year:

  1. Start with the human condition (e.g., marriage issues, etc.)
  2. Exegete the human condition (what are the root causes? etc.)
  3. How the Bible speaks to the condition
  4. Illustrate

While this model isn’t new to us, it validates it. Some people find fault with this approach, but there is biblical precedence. In fact, Adam said, Jesus virtually always started with a story about the human condition; only once did he use what we’d call the lectionary (i.e., his first sermon where he read from the scroll, Isaiah 61).

Another area that struck me was Adam’s talk about 21st century evangelism, which he calls “service evangelism.” Adam suggested an alternative view of Rick Warren’s illustration of the four bases that culminates with mission. Adam suggests that this cycle is now reversed. Today the model starts with mission, which helps people discover their passions/spiritual gifts. People begin to understand Scripture and they eventually accept Christ, before ultimately becoming in mission. Adam drove the point home, saying, mission and service comes first, not last.

The other major thing that struck me came from keynote speaker, Jim Wallis. Wallis, pointing to the great awakenings, talked about revival and said it’s not revival until it changes something in society. This comes from his study of the great awakenings. Revival needs to be both personal and social.

In talking about repentance, Wallis asked what might repentance mean for us. What about simplicity, stewardship, putting economic values above family values, the sin of covetousness, cultural values of worth versus kingdom values, living beyond our means, etc.?

Finally, Wallis encouraged us to be the change we want for the world. Also, he said our congregations need to be the change, to be responsible for the neighborhoods in which they’re located.

Now that Leadership Institute is over, we have a lot to process!

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